How many times have you said this? Or have you said, “It’s impossible, I will never be able to do this!” This feeling is such a feeling of hopelessness and fear. It is a painful feeling. “Am I just meant to be this way the rest of my life?” This may come up in the struggle to battle sex addictions, drug addictions, food addictions, struggles in marriage, struggles with children, struggles in finances, or many other areas. I know I have dealt with it too many times. Now before I go further I must offer a disclaimer. I recently heard the following message at my church and I was so struck by the powerful truths that I felt I must share it with you. Most of the following is directly taken from the notes from my Pastor. I have deleted a few minor references and added a few notes of my own. But I pray the truth of the Word strikes your heart no matter what. This is such a life changing pattern to get a hold of. Please read it and pray pray pray. I believe with all me heart that God can, God wants to, and God will, no matter how long it may take-answer your hearts cry.
The pattern of struggle, defeat and hopelessness is hurtful, hopeless and brings nothing but defeat. The Word of God declares:
“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
Biblical Examples of Transformation
Before: Fear-filled, apprehensive
After: Became one of Israel’s greatest leaders
Before: Adulterer, murderer
After: “Man after God’s own heart”
Before: Persecutor of Christians
After: Wrote most of the New Testament
Before: Insensitive, smart-mouthed teenager
After: God’s key person in the nation of Egypt
Before: Denied Christ (Flake)
After: First great leader of the early church (Rock)
Before: Running away from God
After: Returning to God
Before: “Lady of the Evening”
After: Listed in God’s Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11)
Look at Nehemiah’s dealing with the hopelessness of the Temple being rebuilt after having been destroyed for 90 plus years. (Read the whole book to see the whole picture.)
Nehemiah 1:3-6 “‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept … Then I said: ‘LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God … let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.”
Chapter 1: Transforming Nehemiah
Chapter 2-6: Transforming the City
Chapter 7-13: Transforming the People
REAL CHANGE HAPPENS THROUGH…
“I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.” Nehemiah 1:6-7
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not as a result of works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
1) By Grace (undeserved love)
2) You have been saved (something that was done for and to us)
3) Through faith (simple trust in Christ crucified and raised)
4) Not of ourselves (it is not earned)
5) It is the gift of God (it must be received)
6) Not of works, so that no one can boast (response is gratitude and humility)
“Beware of spending too much time looking back at what you once were, when God wants you to become something you have never been!” -Oswald Chambers
How can I attain this transformation? Why doesn’t God just change me NOW! The simple answer: God is transforming us from a sin-centered selfish un-trusting man to a person that begins to look more and more like Christ. Matthew 5:48 says this, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How’s that for a high mark to hit? Now does God expect us to attain that? Of course not, it is intended to be the bulls-eye we are aiming for. If you are not aiming for the correct spot on the target, do you really think you are going to hit the target, or even get very close? How do we start hitting close to the bulls-eye? Start examining the bulls-eye, get close to the bulls-eye, find out what the bulls-eye is like, and what it is not like as well.
CONNECTING WITH GOD
(It Fuels Me!)
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”
6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
DARE TO HOPE THE FUTURE COULD BE DIFFERENT
“I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so I can rebuild the wall.” Nehemiah 2:5
Nothing will get better until you dare to believe it will change.
DEVELOP A CLEAR PLAN
Look at the example of Nehemiah who set out to do in a short time what Israel had not been able to do in 90 plus years.
“In the month of Nisan…: (v. 1)
“Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?’ It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.” (v. 6)
STEP 1: Pray It Through
STEP 2: Set A Plan
“I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.” Nehemiah 2:11-12
You can believe but you need a plan
HAVE COURAGE AND PERSISTENCE
“But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves. Then the people of Judah began to complain, ‘The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.'” Nehemiah 4:9-10
“So we continued the work…” Nehemiah 4:21
NEHEMIAH… Kept Working In Spite Of:
* Criticism (4:1-3)
* Discouragement (4:6)
* Fatigue (4:10)
* Frustration (4:10)
* Fear (4:11)
* Division (5:1-5)
* Distractions (6:1-4)
* Defamation (6:5-8)
* Danger (6:10-14)
Look at the following example of persistence in the midst of struggle and opposition:
Acts 5:40-42 “His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”
Why keep fighting and not give up? Because you are worth it. Because your family is worth it. Because God says to and He WILL help you through. Because we are being transformed into the image of Christ as we struggle. Because there IS hope. Because… (you fill in the blank for you)