A Transformation of the Heart | November 12th, 2018
It is beginning to feel like autumn here in Texas. The 100+ degree temperatures are finally behind us and there is a refreshing crispness in the air. Over-worn shorts and tank tops have been put away for the next several months while snuggly warm boots, jackets, and scarves are slowly coming out of hibernation to take their place.
I really love the coziness of fall, but what gets me most excited for this time of year is to see the colors of the leaves transforming.
As they lose their chlorophyll with less sunlight and shorter days, other pigments that were once hidden become visible, changing from deep green to vibrant shades of gold, red, and orange. It feels magical!
More Like Jesus
This is also the time of year that I celebrate my birthday. As I am getting closer and closer to beginning another new decade of life, I have felt compelled to step back in time by sorting through all of my childhood memories stored in two huge plastic tubs.
These tubs have traveled with me through every move since I left home. They are filled with much-loved stuffed animals, worn piano books, old school t-shirts, mixed cassette tapes, and piles of special cards and letters.
One of these cards I recently pulled out to read was homemade, given to me for my 11th birthday from my mother.
Here is a bit of what she wrote:
Kimberly, may the Lord continue to bless you and fill you with His love as you grow more and more like Jesus. We are so proud of you – your unselfish attitude in helping with dishes and chores around the house and the loving heart you have for your family. Each year you grow more and more beautiful inside, did you know that, Kimberly? It’s true!
As a woman who loved the Lord with all her heart, my mother knew there was nothing more important than becoming more like Jesus – more beautiful on the inside to better reflect Him as His child. It is a life-long process for each one of us from the moment we give ourselves to the Lord. Just like the fall leaves, we must also go through change…a transformation of the heart.
A New Identity
When you begin to follow Christ, you are given a new identity. You become less controlled by your old identity, your sinful nature, and more controlled by the Holy Spirit. At age 11, two years after I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, my mother was already beginning to see some of that transformation in me.
As the Apostle Paul said…
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. Romans 8:9a,b
The Holy Spirit is always with you to help you resist conforming to the enticing ways of the world so that you can be more like Christ from the inside out. But becoming transformed also requires an intentional effort on your part. Here are three vital steps you need to take if you are to have a truly transformed heart:
1. Renew Your Mind
The definition of renew is: to make extensive changes in; to rebuild. I learned exactly what that meant during my travels abroad last month…
My husband, Michael, and I just returned home from a very fun-filled, educational trip to Portugal to celebrate our birthdays together.
One of the incredible cities we toured was Lisbon. In 1755, it had been hit by one of the deadliest earthquakes in history. What was not affected by the earthquake was demolished by a tsunami which followed 40 minutes later as Lisbon is on the coast. It happened on November 1st which was All Saints’ Day, so candles had been lit all around the city in homes and churches. With the earthquake, they had been knocked over and as the tsunami waters receded, the city began to burn in a firestorm. As you can imagine, the entire city was devastated and had to be rebuilt.
When we give our lives to Christ, our mind is often in need of complete rebuilding. For years, we have allowed the world to influence us, making us believe that what it has to offer is so much better than anything God could possibly offer us.
We constantly feed our mind with what we watch, what we read, and who we spend most of our time. If these things and people influencing us have the same values as the world, it just makes sense that is what our heart will also value. But God says we need to set our mind on the things above which have kingdom value.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
How do we do this? To set our mind on the things above requires making a conscious and ongoing effort on our part by finding out what is important to God. We do this by regularly reading His Word.
If you want to know what your friend values, you have to spend quality time together, learning all you can about them. God gave you His Word so you can read about everything He values. When you take the time and effort to do this, it allows God’s power to renew your mind, transforming your heart so you can be available to fulfill His greatest purpose for your life.
Another way that helps you set your mind on the things above is by building friendships with others who have a deep desire to please God. You may not always be able to see your old identity coming through your actions, but if you surround yourself with godly friends who you allow to get to know you well, they can help you keep your mind set on those things with kingdom value by using wise teaching and counsel to deepen your understanding of your new identity.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Colossians 3:16a,b
When you have a renewed mind, you no longer see things through the world’s eyes. You begin to see things through God’s eyes, having perfect clarity with a kingdom focus and less of a worldly focus. This is important so you can make yourself more available for the work that God has planned for you to do for Him while you are here. If you have a worldly mindset, you are going to be living for yourself, completely missing out on His incredible purpose for your life.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
2. Fully Trust Him
People who claim to be followers of Christ, and even know what He values, often make choices that are very displeasing to God. They know what His Word says, yet they choose to walk down their own path of self-fulfillment. Why? Because they do not fully trust God. They don’t believe He wants the very best for them and think they will find more satisfaction in life by going their own way.
When I was a little girl, my father taught me a lesson about trust that I will never forget. He had me stand in front of him with my back to him. He then told me to lean back and promised he would not let me fall. I started out leaning back a short distance before he caught me so I knew I could trust him. The distance grew each time and I had to trust even more as I was falling further back. But he always caught me, just like he promised.
God is the same way with us. He wants so much for us to fully trust Him and know Him as the good, kind, gracious, and loving Father that He is who wants the very best for us without question.
Even during difficult times, God is always with us and uses those challenges to shape us. He gives us exactly what we need to prosper, continually pouring His blessing on us. We have no reason to ever doubt that He wants the very best for us!
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
3. Be Obedient
As your heart becomes more and more transformed to be like Christ, you are given a greater capacity to discern what is right and wrong through God’s Word and the help of the Holy Spirit. With that understanding, you must make a conscious choice to obey. You will then be able to experience His blessing in your life in a way you otherwise would not have received.
James explains this very well…
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. James 1:22-25
I think back when God has given me specific assignments. At times, they have seemed overwhelming and I have often thought it would be much easier to just ignore them. But when I have said “yes” to Him, He gives me all the help I need in order to prosper and I am truly rewarded. The blessings are indescribable! I would have never experienced those blessings unless I was willing to obey.
You obey God’s commands because you trust His plan for your life. It is not burdensome when you love Him and want to please Him. Your obedience is a part of your assurance that your faith is genuine. It also allows you to better reflect Him and bring Him glory. That is when His light can best shine through you!
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
If you decide to take your own path of self-fulfillment with a worldly focus, there is no way you can reflect Him. You cannot reflect His values and the world’s values at the same time. You must then question how well you know Him and how much you truly love Him.
And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6
It is Never Too Late
God is a very gracious God. If you have not been living for Him, you can ask Him for forgiveness and He will give it to you, completely cleansing you of your sin. Through His power, He will provide everything you need to live a godly life. Know that it is never too late for your heart to be transformed.
With our transition into autumn, I began working on jewelry designs for the new season. This gemstone tassel necklace with a gold leaf pendant serves as a beautiful transformation reminder…
Just as the leaves begin to change color with the hidden pigments now visible, we must allow the power of the Holy Spirit to be evident, working through us so we can experience true change with a transformed heart…a heart that is completely renewed, fully trusting, and obedient to our Father who wants the very best for us.
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the power to resist conforming to the enticing ways of the world and be more controlled by Him.
Sparkler #2: Action
Be intentional about what you watch, read, and with whom you spend most of your time so your mind will be set on the things above with a kingdom focus, not on the things of this earth with a worldly focus.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Spend time in God’s Word each day so you will get to know Him more intimately and be able to fully trust and obey the One who will give you all you need for a truly transformed heart.
*Autumn tree – photo credit: Neil Powell
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