Summary: Prayer is essential to our own personal transformation. For change to happen, we need three components: 1) confession and repentance 2) contentment 3) giving and receiving forgiveness
Introduction: One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Rom 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: in other words, through the gospel one becomes exposed to the power of God that can radically change their lives!
The word salvation here means to be delivered, to be made whole or complete. Pointing to the reality that when God comes into a person’s life, a total transformation begins to happen. They are healed at every level… Spiritually, emotionally, relationally and ultimately physically… which happens at the resurrection!
You see… when a person puts their faith in Christ and surrenders their lives to him… A supernatural exchange happens. As they surrender and give their life to God… God then gives them his life. His spirit takes up residence within their lives and Scripture says… their spirits are reborn!
Eph 2:1-6 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
This is what Jesus was getting at when he told the Pharisee Nicodemus…John 3:3 "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
Being born again means they experienced that spiritual exchange with God… where God by his Spirit… has given birth to a new life within their heart. At the moment of that exchange… Not only is a person made right with God, but God infuses them with a whole new DNA consisting of new desires and passions and spiritual gifting!
But the change doesn’t stop there, because immediately God begins the work of sanctification in that person’s life… Meaning he begins to transform that person into the image of Christ.
This includes emotional healing. When a person surrenders their live to God, their guilt is wiped clean, their shame is removed, and God begins to heal them from their past wounds.
This results in the transformation of their perception or their view of themselves and life and others. This of course begins to impact all their relationships as God begins to heal and restore their broken relationships through the power of forgiveness!
You see… when God really gets hold of you… everything changes! I am sure all of us have a story to tell about how God is changed your own life when you first put your faith in him. And I am sure you have heard of amazing stories of how God has radically changed other people’s lives.
One of my favorite stories that I’ve told before… Is that of a pastor named Jim Cymbala. He is an American author and pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City. He was unique in that he felt his calling was to preach in the slums of New York. Obviously a place filled with hard-core addicts and criminals.
He tells the story of how on one Sunday morning… he was so tired at the end of the service that he just went to the edge of the platform, pulled off his tie and sat down and draped his feet over the edge.
At that point he looked up and saw a man who looked about fifty, unkempt, and absolutely filthy. He looked up at him rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?”
At this point let me share with you his own words about what was running through him at that moment…
We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”
He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?”
“David.” “How long have you been on the street?” “Six years.” “How old are you?” “Thirty-two.” He looked fifty--hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed. “Where did you sleep last night, David?” “Abandoned truck.”