“For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.” ~ Philippians 2:13 (AMP)
There is no greater story of conversion that I know of than that of Paul (Saul.) Saul was a zealous Pharisee who persecuted the followers of Christ. He was present at the execution of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and was determined to exterminate Christianity at any cost. (Acts 7:57-8:3 NLT)
He was on his way to Damascus to arrest and imprison Christian men and women, when he encountered the very Lord that he was persecuting, and the ministry of one of the greatest missionaries in history began.
Noone could have been more discouraged by that encounter than Satan. He would have loved nothing more than for Saul to remain exactly the person he was, sticking to the agenda he had. Satan does not want you and me to change either. That is why it is impossible to make genuine change that “sticks” without an encounter, an intervention, with God.
Personally, I know of no one who does not desire some form of change in his or her life. Some want and need physical change, to eat healthier and get more exercise. Many struggle with relationships and need to find forgiveness and healing. Others need strength to overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs or gambling. Who among us doesn’t need to change in some way? (Romans 3:23 NLT)
Enduring change cannot happen in our own strength. This week marked the 14-year anniversary of when I quit smoking (Praise!) I can’t even count the number of “practice” quits I had before real change happened…once I surrendered my addiction to Jesus.
Genuine, lasting change can only come through repentance and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Repentance is more than being sorry for our sins. True repentance involves a willingness to change the direction of our behavior.
The Bible is full of people whose lives were plagued with sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, drunkenness and greed. It is also full of stories of lives changed by the power and grace of God.
This week, I pray that we take some time to reflect on the areas of our life that need to change and then surrender those needs to our Savior. Praise God that we cannot encounter Him and NOT be changed!