Transformed by the Word
As Jesus said in Matt. 4:4, “No one can live only on food. People need every word that God has spoken.” Spiritual growth is the process of replacing the lies of the enemy with truth. Jesus prayed for us to the Father, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” (Jn 17:17) To be transformed into the image of Jesus, we must fill our lives with His Word. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” Jesus said.
Transformation begins with the decision that you will make feeding on God’s Word a first priority in your life. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (Jn 8:31).
Accept the authority of the Word
Allow God’s Word to become the authoritative standard for your life, meaning that it is the compass you rely on for direction, the counsel you listen to for making wise decisions, and the benchmark you use for evaluating everything. It must be the first and last word in your life. Decide that regardless of culture, tradition, reason, or emotion, you choose the Word as your final authority.
Take In God’s Word
Worry is focused thinking on something negative. Meditation is doing the same thing, only focusing on God’s Word instead of your problem.
Finally, apply the principles of God’s Word by being a “doer” of His Word. Jesus said,
“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt 7:24 NIV).
Today ask yourself, What has God already told me to do that I haven’t started doing yet? Then write down some action steps that will help you act on what you know. As D.L. Moody said, “God has not given us His word for information but rather for transformation.” Be changed today by His truth.
Lord, I want to fill my life with Your Word.
I will make it the standard for my life.
Regardless of how I feel, Your Word will be my final authority.
I will receive, read, research, remember, and reflect on Your Word every day.
I commit to practice and be a doer of the Word.
Because of it, I will be blessed in every thing I do.
Change me through Your Word which is truth.
In Jesus’ Name.
Growing is a Must
….We will no longer be immature like children…. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Eph 4:14-15 NLT)
We were never meant to remain as children is what another translation reads. Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up. Growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing. Jesus said to Matthew, “Come, be my disciple…. So Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matt 9:9). Many are afraid to commit to anything and just drift through life. Others make half-hearted commitments which leads to frustration and mediocrity. Others make full commitments, yet to worldly goals, which leads only to disappointment and bitterness.
Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live….” (2 Peter 3:11).
Purposeful growth is a decision each of us should make.
God's Part vs Your Part
Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Phil 2:12-13 NLT).
The two parts of spiritual growth are to “work out” and to “work in.” The “work out” is your responsibility, and the “work in” is God’s role. Spiritual growth is a team effort between you and the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit works with us, not just in us.
During a physical workout, you exercise to develop your body. You don’t work out to get a body.
Farmers “work” the land, not to get the land. They develop what they already have. In the same way, we don’t work to gain our salvation status in God, yet we must “work out” and give effort to becoming more like Christ.
Pilots must change the autopilot setting to ultimately change the direction of their flight, not simply struggle with the steering. In the same way, to change your life, you must change the way you think. Behind everything you do is a thought. Every behavior is motivated by a belief, and every action is prompted by an attitude.
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Prov. 4:23 TEV)
Changing Your Autopilot
…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Rom. 12:2)
Begin by changing the way you think because the way you think determines the way you feel and the way you feel influences the way you act. Becoming like Christ means developing the mind of Christ and taking on His outlook and perspective. This can only come from the power of God’s transforming Word.
Secondly, start thinking maturely by focusing on others and not yourself.
We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them. Even Christ did not try to please himself.” (Rom 15:2-3 CEV)
More Like Him
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son….We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.” (Rom 8:29 MSG)
From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus. This is your destiny and one of the greatest purposes of your life.
Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.”(Gen. 1:26)
When sin entered the earth, the image in us was damaged and distorted. God sent Jesus on a mission to restore the full image that we had lost.
God’s desire is for His children to bear His image and likeness.
You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, with a life that truly has God’s approval and is holy.” (Eph. 4:24)
That means, God wants you to become godly - taking on His values, attitudes, and character. Becoming more like Him is all about transforming your character, not your personality.
The Spirit is at work.
It is the Holy Spirit’s job to produce Christlike character in you. As the scriptures say, “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Cor. 3:18 NLT). Willpower and good intentions are not enough. It is the Holy Spirit who makes changes that God wants in our lives. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Phil 2:13 NLT) Becoming more like Him is produced by inhabitation not imitation. We allow Christ to live through us.
Cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work.
While effort has nothing to do with your salvation, it has everything to do with your spiritual growth. Don’t just wait around for it to happen. As Paul challenged us, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Eph 4:22-24)
If you will apply God’s Word, connect regularly with other believers, and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances, you will become more like Jesus. John said, “…He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.” (1 John 3:2). God is far more interested in what you are than in what you do, so allow Him to make you like Himself. This is our greatest privilege, our immediate responsibility, and our ultimate destiny.
Lord, I see that Your desire is that I become more like Jesus.
I choose to become more godly in my values, attitudes, and character.
Holy Spirit, do your work in me.
Make the changes that God desires in me.
I will allow you to abide strongly in my heart where change takes place.
I will let go of old ways.
I will allow you to renew my mind and thinking.
I will purposely put on the new habits.
Like a butterfly that changes from ugly to beautiful, make me more like Jesus.
Guarding the Flock
“Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.” (Col 3:14 LB)
Unity in the church is so important that the New Testament addresses the topic even more than heaven and hell. Therefore, it is our job as believers to protect the unity of our church. In His final moments before being arrested, Jesus prayed passionately for our unity. It was our unity that was uppermost in His mind and having paid the highest price for it, He wants it protected from the devastating damage that is caused by division, conflict, and disharmony. Paul admonished,
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:3 NIV)
Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.
“Let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of one another’s character.” (Rom 14:19). Remember that it is God who chose to give us different personalities and preferences. We should choose to value and enjoy those differences, not merely tolerate them, knowing that God wants unity, not uniformity. Paul stressed, “I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” (1 Cor 1:10 NLT)
Be realistic in your expectations.
The gap between the ideal and the realistic is wide so strive to love the church in spite of its imperfections. Others will disappoint you and let you down, but that’s no excuse to stop fellowshipping with them. “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Eph 4:2 NLT) When you are hurt by others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, instead of leaving the church, stay and work it out if at all possible. Reconciliation, not running away, is the road to stronger character and deeper fellowship.
Choose to encourage rather than criticize.
“What right do you have to criticize someone else’s servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.” (Rom 14:4 CEV) When you judge another believer, four things occur: Loss of fellowship with God; exposure of your own pride and insecurity; judgment from God; harming the fellowship of the church. It is the devil’s desire to blame, complain, and criticize. Anytime we do the same, we are taking sides with his agenda. “So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.” (Rom 14:19 MSG)
Refuse to listen to gossip.
Gossip is passing on information when you are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution. The fastest way to end a conflict is to lovingly confront those who are gossiping and insist they stop it. As Solomon pointed out, “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and tensions disappear when gossip stops.” (Prov 26:20 LB)
Accept your responsibility to protect and promote the unity of your church. Put your full effort into it and God will be pleased.
Lord, in this new year, I will promote unity and love in my church family.
May it be as important to me as it was when Jesus prayed for it.
I will focus on what I have in common with others, not their differences from me.
I will overlook the imperfections in others.
I will encourage rather than criticize.
And I will refuse to gossip.
Lord, be pleased with my life as I pursue unity in my church family.
In Jesus’ Name.
Devoted to Develop
You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way.” (Eph 4:3 NCV)
It takes effort and the blessing of the Lord to produce a loving Christian community. You and I have our part in making it happen.
You have to care enough to lovingly speak the truth, even when you would rather gloss over a problem or ignore an issue. Most people have no one in their lives who loves them enough to tell them the truth(even when it’s painful), so they continue in self-destructive ways. Don’t let fear keep you from saying something necessary when courage to speak up is needed. Remember whatever you say, “speak the truth in love,” (Eph 4:15) because without candor there can be no community. Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again….By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ.”(Gal 6:1-2 NCV) Real fellowship, whether in a marriage, a friendship, or your church, depends on loving frankness. When conflict is handled correctly, we grow closer to each other by facing and resolving our differences.
Pride bills walls between people while humility builds bridges. Humility is the oil that shoots and soothes relationships. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,” is Peter’s admonition. (1 Peter 5:5 NIV) The proper dress for fellowship is always a humble attitude. You develop humility by admitting your weaknesses, by being patient with other’s weaknesses, by being open to correct, and by pointing the spotlight on others. Paul wrote, “When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. "Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.” (Phil 2:3-4 NCV)
Courtesy is respecting differences, being considerate of each other’s feelings, and being patient with people who irritate us. God puts these people in our midst for both their benefit and ours. In a family, acceptance isn’t based on how smart or beautiful or talented you are. It’s based on the fact hat we belong to each other. That’s why we defend and protect family. “Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other.” (Rom 12:10 GW) Community has nothing to do with compatibility but rather our relationship with God. We are family. Real community also happens when people know it is safe enough to share their doubts and fears without being judged.
Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs, and mistakes. What is shared with one another needs to stay there, health with, and never gossiped with others about. Prov 16:28 says, “Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships.”
Relationships take time and the Bible says, “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another.” (Heb 10:25 TEV). This is why fellowship is so shallow in many churches because we don’t spend enough time together, and the time we do spend is usually listening to one person speak. Community is not built on convenience but rather a conviction that it is essential, even when you don’t feel like it. In Acts 2:46, “They worshipped together regularly at the Temple each day, met in small groups in homes for Communion, and shared their meals with great joy…” Fellowship requires an investment of time and only you can choose to do it.
In conclusion, focus on these 9 key components of Biblical fellowship:
Striving for these components prepares us for heaven.
Personal Prayer Focus:
Lord, I take my responsibility in making fellowship happen.
I will share honestly with other in love.
I will maintain a humble attitude, always preferring the feelings of others.
I will always respect others no matter what they share with me.
What others share with me is not for others to hear.
And I know that it takes time so I will make time and invest myself into fellowship.
In Jesus’ Name.
Life together for the church is called fellowship. The word means more than casual conversation, socializing and food. Real fellowship is intended to be “experiencing life together.” God’s view is unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, and comforting one another. Jesus gave us an example of life together as He ministered in the context of a small group of disciples. As was the custom of the early church, every Christian was involved in a small group within their church, whether a home group or bible study.
For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20)
What a tremendous promise in experiencing life together.
Experiencing life means:
On the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.” (2 Cor. 2:7)
Through fellowship, we are able to give the life and encouragement that can only come from one another to endure the challenges of life. It is an essential part of your Christian life that you cannot overlook. You were created for community.
Lord, I commit to experiencing life with others.
When I gather with others, I thank you for Your presence.
I will be honest and real with others as you lead me.
I will give when I am able to.
I will listen to others and try to understand their pain.
I will always give mercy instead of harshness and judgment.
I will give encouragement as often as I can because you want me to.
No Longer an Outsider
Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” (Eph. 2:19 LB)
Wrap your head around this truth that God did not call you just to believe but rather to BELONG. Even in the perfect and sinless environment of Eden, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18). We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves. While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intended for it to be private. In fact, we belong to each other for eternity.
So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Rom 12:5 NIV)
We are members of His body but the true meaning of this is muddied by our society’s view of membership. We are members of clubs and mailing lists while Paul speaks of being a “member” like a vital organ of a living body - an indispensable, interconnected part of the Body of Christ. The church is a body, not a building. We are a living organism, not an organization.
For the organs of the body to fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to your body. It is the same with Christ’s body. You and I were created for a specific role, but you will miss that purpose for your life if you’re not attached to a living, local church. Rom. 12:4-5 MSG says,
….we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around…. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body…. Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without …comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”
The church, locally and universally, is God’s agenda for the world. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matt 16:18 NLT). His Body is indestructible and will exist for eternity, as will your role in it. Determine to find your place of belonging and embrace being an insider rather than an outsider.
Lord, thank you for giving me a place to belong.
Help me to see that I belong to my brothers and sisters in Christ for eternity.
My life has meaning as I find my place and function in the Body of Christ.
I will be what I was made to be without comparing myself to others.
Thank you for making me an insider.
40 Days of Life
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