The joys of being a pastor are innumerable. But there is one joy that sits high above all others, and it is the joy of seeing a human life transformed by the presence and power of God.
A career criminal is set free.
An addict finds real release.
An adulterer embraces faithfulness.
A liar finds the Truth.
A cynic learns to care.
I could serve another forty years in ministry, and I would never grow weary of seeing life-change like that.
Clearly, every story of redemption is a miraculous and magnificent tale. But some testimonies are so dramatic in nature and so unexpected in outcome that they seem to prove God’s power in fresh and unusual ways.
The book of Acts recounts stories of transformation among the early Church. As Jesus prepared to ascend into heaven and leave his disciples to continue the work on earth, he left them with a promise, “…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).
In Acts 2 we read the description of the baptism of the Holy Spirit — on the day of Pentecost — when the Spirit of God took up residence in every believer and the Church of Jesus Christ was officially born.
What was true for those believers gathered at Pentecost remains true for us today — when the Holy Spirit infiltrates a human life, God’s power starts to flow. And its first objective is accomplishing the renovating work of transformation. Spirit-led believers experience this transformation as they move beyond failure to freeing faith.
If we’ve trusted Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, we have assurance of our salvation. Yet we still face our nagging failures. On more than a few occasions I’ve asked God the question, “Is it really possible that I can achieve your mission when I’m this far from being perfect?”
So many believers stay planted on the spiritual bench because they have failed God in some way and wonder if the infraction will leave them permanently sidelined. They have lackluster prayer lives. They’re enslaved to habits they cannot break. They’re in bondage to sin they cannot shake. They’re living in defeat and at great distance from the God who created them and loves them…because they don’t realize that with God’s presence comes his promise to renew us day by day, to fire us up moment by moment. Regardless of our past. Regardless of our sin.
God chooses to use the foolish things in this world, failures and sinfulness and all, in order to shame the wise. He empowers us, he equips us, he tasks us, and he gives us great success, all for the purpose of showing himself strong. He provides strength in the midst of struggle, joy amidst mourning, love to fend off fear.
Think about this with me for a moment: when God uses people like you and me who are utterly undeserving and unworthy of being used, and he accomplishes magnificent things through us, who do you suppose gets the glory? God does!
Maybe you find yourself there today. You long for transformation as I listed earlier. Perhaps your current circumstances are keeping you enslaved to fear. You want freedom from a habit that is destroying your relationships. Or you desire to experience the joy that gives purpose and meaning in life.
Wherever you find yourself today, let me challenge you to come to the One who transforms. He wants to redeem your failures and make your life new. And he wants to use you for his glory. So come to him, bring your struggles, and depend upon his power to transform you from the inside out.
(Taken from Powering Up, ©2009)
With the closing message in the “LifeWorks” series, Dr. Jack Graham brings a powerful message from the final verses in the book of James. In the message “Love Keeps Calling,” Dr. Graham speaks to us about God’s love that covers all and keeps calling even when we wander dangerously away from Him.All Sermons by Jack Graham