Summary: Have you ever made a new year’s resolution? Maybe it’s time you try lasting change.
Have you ever made a new year’s resolution? Of course you have. We’ve all made them. This year I’m going to:
Spend more time with family
We’ve all tried to make changes and most certainly we’ve all blown it!!! In fact many of us have made the same resolutions every year for 10 years running now. This year I’m going to show you how to not just change, but transform.
Today we are going to use the verse that was the inspiration for naming our church, as the background. Our scripture today is 2 Corinthians 5:17. I will be reading this to you from the NASB and the CEV translations this morning.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEV)
“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.”
The first thing we can take from this promise is that all are welcome. Have you ever heard this, "We don’t serve your kind in here!!!" Our world is a place of discrimination: Race, Color, Sex, Religion. Don’t believe me...try going out to your favorite restaurant this week with no shirt and no shoes....chances are you will get no service. Some of us have been left out. I can remember those times as a kid, when no one wanted me on their kickball team. Exclusion hurts!!! The good news is that Christ died for all people. That means the jerk, the bully, the axe murderer and you.
Everyone has the opportunity for newness in Jesus Christ. No one is ever turned away.
The question then becomes, are you in or out? There is only one requirement for newness. You must belong to Christ. To belong means to be a part of – You must be a part of Christ. Being a part of Christ means that you must repent of your sins (change course), believe that Jesus is Lord and ask Him to take control. You must surround yourself with His presence. Jesus uses the word "abide" in John 15:4 to describe this type of relationship:
John 15:4 (NASB)
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
If you are going to truly abide it will take some commitment on your part. You must be willing to spend time with Jesus. You must communicate with Jesus. Let’s not treat our Lord, like we often treat our families...you know what I mean. You and your wife sit in the same room for 2 hours. You watch T.V. and she reads a book, but you don’t talk. I would not call that quality time, because there is no communication. The same is true in your relationship with Christ. Immerse yourself in Him. Let me give you another illustration. Suppose you and the love of your life come here to the altar on your wedding day and as I go through the vows and ask for the "I Do" your groom tells us that I’m only going to spend 1 hour per week with you, his new bride. The rest of the week He’s going to go hang out at Trish’s house. Now he reassures us that his relationship with Trish is strictly physical, that you really are the love of his life. Now I see some of you laughing, but aren’t we guilty of doing the same to Jesus. "Jesus I love you, but I’m only going to spend from 11-12 on Sunday morning with you. The rest of the time I’m going to go sleep with my mistress the world, but I want you to realize Jesus...You really are the true love of my life..." Immersing yourself in Christ meanst that you go where Jesus wants to go. Take an interest in what’s on His heart. Listen to Him as He speaks to your life.
Now the change we’re talking about is not just a change of scenery. You know what I mean. When the world thinks it’s time for a change, what do people do? The world looks for newness with a:
Change of address
Change of hairstyle
Change of employment
Change of relationships
One MAJOR problem here...all of these changes are external and temporal. We’re not just talking change...We’re talking transformation here!!!
To be transformed you must become something completely different than you are now. Think about the caterpillar it goes into the cocoon as one thing and re-emerges as another. Think about it this way, if I repaint my house, isn’t it still the same house, just a different color? If I gut the interior, move studs, hang sheetrock, add fixtures and windows and doors...it is no longer the same house it is structurally different. Look at what Romans 12:2 says about this: