Warning: Transformation Ahead in 2016. 

Introduction:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so the old Christmas song goes. Yet it doesn’t always feel that way—the hectic holiday schedule, financial concerns, family pressures, and emotional wounds are just a few reasons. But the Christmas season offers a unique opportunity to look backward at the coming of our Lord and Savior, but also forward to the goals we want to accomplish in 2016.  Those goals: Be more like Christ in 2016, than I was in 2015; study and apply His word to my life; and serve according to His will. 

Bottom Line: What happens to you is not as important as the decisions you make. 

Something To Talk About:

What kind of year will this year be for you? Will it be the same as or worse than last year? Or will you make breakthrough changes that will transform your life for the better? The answers to those questions depend on you and the choices you make. “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5–6 MSG) We can learn about some of those choices in the life of Moses.

  1. Moses refused to be defined by others: Do you let other people define you? Do you let them tell you who you are — or are supposed to be? Does your self-perception change according to who is around? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Moses did not want to be like others. Moses knew God had a specific purpose for him. We need to know who we are. John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus knew who He was. He knew He came from God, and He knew he had a unique mission to fulfill. As believers, we can know we belong to God and that God defines who we are and what we are meant to do on this earth. 
  2. Choose short pain for long term gain:  We have no patience. We can’t handle slow internet speeds – waiting a couple of extra seconds for a page to load feels like an eternity. The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives in the form of same day delivery, tv programs streamed in seconds, etc.  Moses understood the need for some short-term struggles to achieve long-term results. What do we need to take responsibility for in the coming year in order to transform our lives? We have a responsibility to do everything we can to make wise choices and obey God’s commands. However, our obedience will not guarantee no pain in our lives. 
  3. Choose God’s values over the world’s values: Have you ever noticed that our society readily accepts certain attitudes, perspectives, and values as the standard for how life is best lived? These values arise in a subtle fashion, forming attitudes in our minds about sex, money, relationships, and other key areas of life. We see these values emerging in many segments of our society and media.  In sharp contrast are God’s values. We see that the only values that really matter are the ones that transcend this life into eternity. Choose God’s values, not the world’s.
  4. Choose to live by faith rather than fear: If you’re going to make changes to transform your life in 2016, the best place is increasing your faith. But increasing your faith means you have to face your fears. Fear can control us and limit our transformation and our faith. When we choose fear over faith, it makes us skeptical — we’re afraid of trying anything new when we’re afraid. It makes us selfish — we’re afraid to commit to God and to others. It makes us short sighted — we focus on the past and not on the future.

Questions:

  1. How do you define transformation on a practical level? How does it manifest itself in our lives?
  2. What would you like to change first in 2016?
  3. Do you let others define you?
  4. Can short-term pain translate into long-term good? How? 
  5. What would you say are God’s top values? 
  6. Is fear a barrier to faith? How can we increase our faith while reducing our fear?

Take One Thing Home with You

The New Year brings new hope into our lives, the hope that something different will change our lives for the better. Many people commit to New Year’s resolutions in an effort to change the way that they are, as presently they may not be fully satisfied with where they are right now in their lives.

Here are the changes I hope that we will experience as a church and as individuals. First, that God would give us a greater hunger for His word. That we would spend time in His word daily. Secondly, that we are more aware of the warfare of the enemy and this world. It is clear that the enemy doesn’t want to see our church family growing spiritually. Third, that we are more aware of our sin. Taking a deep look at God’s Word has forced me to take a deeper look at my heart. And taking a deeper look into the heart means we can see where God is not controlling our lives. And Fourth, be more grateful of the love and grace of God.