The following is a summary of the sermon I preached on Sunday, February 5, 2017.
THE POWER FOR PERSONAL REFORMATION
Part 1 of Reformation Now! Psalm 143:10
February 5, 2017. The Cornerstone Church.
PRAYER AND BIBLE READING: PSALM 143
Over the holidays, I found a documentary on Netflix. It was about a superstar self-help guru. The movie focused on an annual three day event he leads in California. A thousand people pay $5000 each to learn how to change their lives. I’m always interested in motivation and change, so I thought it might be interesting to watch. And it was. But I had to turn it off. His techniques gave me the creeps - cursing, yelling, bullying, pulsing music & lights.
There will never be a shortage of people willing to pay big bucks to learn how to make changes in their lives - especially if they can make back their money through increased sales or productivity or creativity.
But there has to be a better way of doing it. And there is: God’s way!
David wrote Psalm 143 to say, “I know I need to make changes, but I’m losing the battle. I’ve got enemies - internal weakness and external attacks - that hold me back from being a godly man.”
Have you ever felt like David? Yes! We all have. If you want to grow in godliness. If you want to stand against temptations, but you’re frustrated or discouraged about the battle for change, listen to this: There is a way forward; we can make progress; we can win victories. Because the Lord is good and he has made a way.
Today, we’re looking at the power for personal reformation. It’s right there in verse 10. Let me unpack it for you.
To tap into the power to make changes, we must …
1. I MUST CHANGE MY WORSHIP
How we live is controlled by what we worship (the person/thing that is our god). For example: Say my god is called “comfortable,” I’ll do anything to obey it. Whatever controls my life; whatever I obey, that is what I worship. If I worship the god called comfort:
I’ll get anxious when my savings account gets low. Comfort demands security.
I’ll be mean to my kids when they make a noise. Comfort demands peace and quiet.
I’ll lose my joy when waiter brings the wrong order. Comfort demands getting what I want.
The door to positive change begins with a big decision: what will we worship? In verse 10, David declares: “You are my God.” Decision made. This is the most important decision anyone ever makes. Choosing to worship the supreme God, the one true God is foundational for progress. This is memorably expressed by General Joshua as he led the nation of Israel into the land of promise:
“If you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” - Joshua 24:15
If you want to change, here’s what you need to do: Completely reject false gods that are controlling your desires and decisions. Half measures won’t do. You must completely reject them and get them out of your life. Then, you will be ready to surrender to God. Give him the throne of your life. Agree with David: “You are my God.” The Bible urges us to make the choice:
“You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” - Romans 6:16
Changing who or what we worship is the catalyst for every other change we want to make.
2. I MUST CHANGE MY WILL
David prayed, “Teach me to do your will.” Our “will” is the operating system that controls all our decision-making. David knew that his OS was holding him back from godliness. So he asked God to “reformat” it. “Rewrite my driving desires.”
The Lord Jesus prayed the same way hours before his crucifixion: “Not my will, but yours.” - Luke 22:42. Why did he have to do that? Because we can only live godly by yielding to God’s will.
It was only when David hit rock bottom - feeling oppressed and depressed - that he was willing to surrender his will to the Lord. And we’re probably the same. Are you there yet? Have you hit the wall enough times by your own will? Are you broken by failure to win over your temper, anxiety, website, and all the other challenges to godliness in your life? Are you finally ready to ask God: teach me to do your will.
David was asking for the Lord to enroll him in a learning process. And a yielding process. We need him to do the same for us if our wills are to be reformatted:
First we learn what God’s will is. This is clearly revealed in the Bible and so we must study and meditate on the Bible.
Then we yield to God’s will. We agree to it and we do it. We have nothing to fear in giving ourselves to the will of God. He is loving and good.
“The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. 9 He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. 10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.” - Psalm 25:8-10
Consider doing this: some time this afternoon, get alone with the Lord. Ask him to reformat your will - to reshape your driving desires. Surrender your will to his. Ask him to point our specific issues in your life.
When you do that, you’re going to experience something supernatural …
3. I MUST CHANGE MY WIRING
We’re wired to be independent. But relying on self is self-defeating. To live godly, we need to get “rewired” so we’re connected to God’s power for change. David knew it, so he asked: “Let your good Spirit lead me.” He was asking to get rewired - so the power of God would surge through him - making him willing and able to live a godly life.
Personal reformation depends on God’s power. The first time it happens, the Bible calls it “born again by the Spirit.” That’s when the Spirit of God gives us the power to repent and put our faith in Jesus as God and Savior. Every time after that, the Bible calls it “filled with the Spirit.” That’s when the Spirit of God gives us power to do live godly.
The Christian life is a Spirit-led life with wonderful results. For example:
The Spirit applies the power of the cross to us - Romans 6:4 “We died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”
The Spirit arms us to overcome internal roadblocks to change - Romans 8:13 - “through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature”
The Spirit beats down demonic attacks - Ephesians 6:17 - “the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”
The Spirit prays with us and for us - Ephesians 6:18 and Romans 8:26 - “the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”
The Spirit molds our Christ-like character - Galatians 5:22 “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness.”
The Spirit empowers us to love and serve - 1 Corinthians 12:11 - It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts.
There is no secret to change. There is only the Spirit of change.
God gives us his own Spirit to empower our changes. He never leaves us to do it alone. In fact, he doesn’t want us to do it alone.
Personal reformation is with and by and in the Spirit. When you get connected to his power, the Spirit will fill you with …
Gratitude, because you know that Jesus is at work in you, personally and powerfully.
Anticipation, because you will experience supernatural breakthroughs.
Endurance, because even when you lose a battle, you can know for sure that the Spirit is still in you, working, praying, helping, moving you forward, making you an overcomer. He never gives up on us. Nor should we.
Have you discovered the wonderful Spirit-filled life? When you choose to worship God alone; and you yield to his will for your life; the Holy Spirit will immerse you in his love and leadership and supernatural ways.