Have you ever watched a monarch butterfly emerge from its chrysalis? Experienced those spell-binding moments as it unfolds from the encasing skin to prepare for its first flight?
The transformation from a leaf-eating caterpillar into a magnificent and beautifully decorated butterfly is a truly incredible wonder of God's creation. Yet, magnificent as they are, the changes we see take place in the caterpillar are not as spectacular as those God has planned for you.
Scripture tells us that there is a physical body and a spiritual body. The physical can later be raised as spiritual - in the image of God (I Corinthians 15:44-49). This is the promise of eternal life. We have an amazing future!
God Shares His Power
Mankind not only has the potential to inherit the Kingdom of God (Daniel 7:13-14, Matthew 25:34) but all things - the universe (Revelation 21:7). Think about that. God, the Creator of the entire universe, wants to share everything with us. This puts the future of mankind beyond anything we ever dreamed of. It is God's power that created and now sustains the universe (John 1:3, Hebrews 1:2,3,10). God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ, are willing to share with us their power and majesty over the entire, endless universe as a father shares his possessions with his children (Romans 8:16-18).
But why would God offer to share with us the entire Universe when we have made such an abominable mess of life on this planet? Look at our track record. Throughout history countless millions have been slaughtered and maimed by wars of our own making. Human nature with its pride, vanity, envy and greed has caused untold suffering and misery (James 4:1-3). We have plundered the resources of this Earth with complete disregard to the consequences.. polluted the waterways and atmosphere, killed off innumerable plant and animal species and have now come to the point where we can completely eradicate all life from the planet - and will do so unless God Himself intervenes. Imagine the scale of destruction we would cause if let loose over the whole universe. Surely God is not going to let this happen?
The Bible tells us that we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God in our present state (I Corinthians 15:50). Before we can inherit all things we need to make radical changes in how we think and act (I Corinthians 6:9-11). The Apostle Paul said "Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).
The word 'transform' means to change form. From the original Greek word metamorphoomai, we get the word metamorphosis, a biological term used to describe the process of change from one form to another. The metamorphosis of the caterpillar to a butterfly is a good example. It is a complete and total change from one form of creature to another. Paul is talking about a complete and total transformation in our thinking and conduct. Selfish human nature must be replaced with attitudes and motives that will bring peaceful and harmonious relationships (Galatians 5:19-26). Before we inherit all things God has to be certain that our attitudes and motivations are right so we don't wreak havoc and cause untold eternal misery throughout creation.
That's why God calls us to repentance. It is through repentance, baptism and the receiving of God's Spirit that we begin to make changes (Acts 2:38). As God's Spirit leads to spiritual understanding (John 14:16-17, 26, and I Corinthians 2:12-16) we gain a deeper insight to God's way of life, His character, His plan and His spiritual law. True repentance means a total change of mind from a self-centered way of greed, envy and general lack of concern for our fellow beings, to a God-centered way of life, a way of love and concern for others (Romans 13:10).
The Pain of Change
Repentance often involves a painful process of coming to see ourselves for what we really are. It's a truly humbling experience because what we see of ourselves is not pleasant. To admit we are wrong is not easy. But we must see ourselves as we are to help us turn around to start a new way of life.
Repentance is not just being sorry for what we are and have done (II Corinthians 7:9-10). It isn't just a casual or spur of the moment change of mind or flash of remorse. It takes a genuine and sincere desire from the very core of our being to permanently change the direction of our lives, to rid ourselves of pride and vanity and to take on the character of God. It is a total change or transformation of the mind from one way of thinking to another - a renewing of the mind.
The attitude of repentance must continue throughout our lives. Because we are human, we slip up and make mistakes which can be repented of and forgiven through Jesus Christ.
New Life In Christ
Repentance, however, is not something we do of our own volition. We are led to it by God's Spirit which opens our minds to what we are (Romans 2:4), so we can see the need to change.
Once we see the need for it we must decide - to change, or continue on as we are. The choice is ours. At our baptism, God implants His Spirit which gives us access to spiritual knowledge (II Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13-14). An "earnest" of our inheritance - as Paul terms it - is like a down payment for what we expect to have in the fullness of time.
As we apply the principles revealed to us, we grow in understanding, we walk God's way with a newness of life (Colossians 3:12-14, Ephesians 4:31-32, Romans 6:4). We learn to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4) - overcoming and growing, until we come to "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). God is teaching us a better way of life, one that brings happiness, a way that will allow entry to his Kingdom.
God wants us to focus on the spiritual morals and values that Christ taught. To overcome sin, to resist temptation, to develop the same loving merciful character that God has - the mind-set exemplified by Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5).
Strength To Win
Not only does God open our minds to spiritual matters and teach us, He also provides all the help we need to overcome our weaknesses and to accomplish changes of mind-set and attitude (Ephesians 4:23). All this happens over time - a whole lifetime! But don't despair. God has called us to success. That success is not dependent on physical prowess or mental stamina, it is a matter of our willingness to yield to God and to rely totally on Him. He will do everything to help us, providing we let Him (Philippians 1:6, Psalm 14:17-19, 22 &. 11 Peter 1:3-4).
It is important we understand what our focus should be so we don't get side-tracked by the attractions of this world. Some of the morals and values of society may seem right (Proverbs 6:25), and we may be deceived into thinking they are right (Revelation 12:9, James 4:4), but God wants us to learn to live by His standards and morals. His way is the only way we can live together in peace and harmony (I Thessalonians 3:12-13, and 4:9) sharing His tremendous power for all eternity.
Our calling is not something to be taken lightly. Everyone is eventually accountable for what they do (II Corinthians 5: 10, Daniel 7:9-10). Judgement is especially on those called now (I Peter 4:17) to be part of God's household, part of His family (Ephesians 2:18-22).
A Divine Plan
Clearly, God has a plan and a purpose for mankind. He is preparing us for something far greater than what we can see now. Something that will involve the universe.
In Hebrews 2:6-8, Paul says "What is man that you are mindful of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the work of your hands: You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him." What an amazing future. What a new meaning this gives to our lives.
The ultimate transformation, of course, is accomplished through a resurrection when we will be transformed from physical form to spirit (Philippians 3:20-21, I Corinthians 15:52). As spirit beings we will participate in what God will be doing for the rest of eternity (John 14:3), sharing that power and authority with him (Revelation 3:21).
Jesus Christ, in Revelation 21 and 22, described God's Kingdom. There will be no sorrow, no pain, no death, no evil (ch. 21:4, 8 and 27). This is the future spiritual Kingdom he preached about (Matthew 4:17,23). It will, unlike human kingdoms, be an everlasting Kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7).
A Call To Change
The destiny of mankind is incredible. But in order for us to realize this destiny we must change. That should be our main objective in this life: to change from what we are so we can enter God's Kingdom and go on living with Him forever. With the renewing of the mind we will be able to participate in what God has planned for the universe without degrading and destroying it. Without causing untold misery suffering which is a direct consequence of the way we have lived on this Earth. God will not let us take part in these things unless we do change!
With God dwelling in us through the power of His Spirit, physical man can undergo a transformation that makes the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly pale into insignificance.
written by John Morton, a member of the Church of God in New Zealand
When Pastor Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate in 1998, everyone was expecting the usual politically correct generalities. But what they heard instead was a stirring prayer, passionately calling our country to repentance and righteousness.
The response was immediate - with a number of legislators walking out during the prayer. In six short weeks Central Christian Church of Wichita, Kansas, logged more than 5,000 phone calls, with only 47 of those calls responding negatively.
Commentator Paul Harvey aired Pastor Joe Wright's prayer on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other program Paul Harvey has ever aired.
In addition, Central Christian Church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea.
The prayer is reprinted below:
Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe on those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism;
We have worshiped other gods and called it multi-culturalism;
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle;
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery;
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation;
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare;
We have killed our unborn and called it choice;
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable;
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem;
We have abused power and called it political savvy;
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition;
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression;
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state.
Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will.
I ask it in the name of Your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 12, November/December 1998. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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