Does your life look different because Jesus is in it?
How are you different? How has your mindset shifted? How have your behaviors been tweaked? What has been removed from your life? What has been added to your life?
The end of a year is a good time to pause and reflect on how you have changed in the last year. Human nature for most of us is to avoid change because change often means discomfort. Change means getting used to something new, instead of resting in the comfort of what’s known.
As we journey through on our path with Jesus, one thing is for sure. We will encounter change. Change on the inside, as well as change outside & around us.
We encounter change as we allow God to move and work in our hearts to do the refining work, the sharpening and clearing out the debris piled up from living life on our own terms.
Life on our own terms creates debris. Life on God’s terms is a life open to allowing God to take the debris and make it into something renewed and usable for his purposes.
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to the impact and implication of transformation through the hands of God. Paul had a miraculous transformation from persecutor or christians to persecuted for his faith in Christ. From one extreme to the other Paul’s heart, mind and soul were shaped, sifted, and saturated in the presence of God.
He was transformed into a new man.
Our role in the masterful transformation where God takes the debris of our lives and turns it into something usable is to simply be surrendered. Surrendered in trusting that he can take what is a mess, and straighten it out. He can make each of us – no matter our story – and use us for his glory.
Paul understood the roles at work to advance the gospel. One role, God’s role, is that of the transformer. The second role, our role, is that of the transformed.
The transformer has the power, ability, wisdom and knowledge of what is needed. And the transformed, to be willing to be a molded vessel in the hands of the transformer.
Paul, as he was evangelizing, wrote a letter to the church of Thessalonica. In the opening of his letter he greeted the church by highlighting the transforming work he had witnessed God do in the lives of the body of believers there.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 says, “We always thank God for all of you, regularly mentioning you in our prayers, calling to mind before God our Father what our Lord Yeshua the Messiah has brought about in you — how your trust produces action, your love hard work, and your hope perseverance.”
Paul points out that Christ working in their lives grounded them in truth, and their faith in Jesus resulted in a drive to serve.
Paul points out these three foundational truths from Jesus that were prevalent in the hearts of the Thessalonians.
The fruit or the transformation that resulted from trust, love & hope were:
- Hard Work
These transformations of heart and action are not just for the new testament church. These transformations are alive and well in us today as we choose to live surrendered and submitted to Christ.
It is in Christ, through Christ that we can be changed. We can be used for His kingdom purposes. And just like the church of Thessalonica, the fruit that comes through our trust, love and hope in Jesus will be tangible, visible and will bring GLORY to God our Father.
Let’s take some examples, when’s the last time you did something because you felt God speak to you even when it seemed strange? What did God prompt you to do? Was it something comfortable or convenient? Or was it slightly uncomfortable and inconvenient? Was it your trust or faith in God that allowed you to say “yes”?
Has there been a time in your life when you felt so burdened for someone that you prayed on your knees, cried for them tears of anguish and concern? When have you walked out the hard work of love with someone? Was it the Christ in you that compelled you to love in such a way that it drove you to work hard to show love?
When was the last time you had to endure, to persevere or to wait for the answers to come? How has hope grown in you as you have made a choice to persevere?
Romans 5:3 also tells us, “suffering produces perseverance, character and hope.”
Jesus is already at work in you! He is already in the midst of the transforming work of His love in your life and in mine. Let’s choose today to stay close to him, to stay surrendered to him, to stay obedient to him so the transforming power of Christ in us to bring our God glory and be a blessing on those around us!
For more resources on growing in faith & hope, check out my devotionals.