A man went hiking one day near a steep cliff. He slipped on a rock and fell off the cliff, falling down the 3,000 foot drop. Fortunately, there was a branch that he grabbed on the way down. Desperate, he cried out, “Help! Help! Is there anyone up there who can help me?” He heard a voice saying, “I’m up here. I can help you.” The man sighed in relief! The voice continued, “Do you believe in God?” The man replied, “Yes, I am a man of deep faith! I’ve gone to church all my life and I read the Bible every day!” The voice replied, “Good, because this is God speaking to you! Now what I want you to do is to let go of the branch and I will rescue you.” The man paused for a minute, then cried out, “Is there anyone else up there?”
It’s interesting how what we believe in God theologically doesn’t necessarily translate into real-life trust in God personally. Who we really think God is – His character, intentions and ability – determines whether we really trust Him … or not.
We’re in a series looking at Biblical Transformation. Last week, we talked about how Biblical transformation is the most powerful, effective and thorough way to have our lives changed for the better because God is the Source. We cannot transform ourselves, we can only be transformed by God. However, we can position ourselves for transformation. This week we look at the first posture of being transformed, that is being reminded that we can trust God because of who He is based on what He has done for us.
Interestingly enough, the concept of Biblical transformation is found in Romans 12:1-2; the same verses on which WholeLifeWorship is based. It is no accident that God’s end-game of our true spiritual worship of Him results in transformation in us! We worship God for God’s sake, but God turns around and uses our worship to transform us for our sake! Truly amazing.
Paul starts this passage by saying, “in view of God’s mercies.” In other words, before we can be transformed, we need to look long and hard at God’s mercies and grace toward us. Why? Because as we look at God’s mercies and grace toward us, our souls are reminded that we can trust God with our lives: that He is good and loving and powerful and working on our behalf.
There are two important parts to viewing God’s mercies:
1. There are the mercies of God as experienced by the People of God as recorded in the Scriptures. In a sense, this is what Paul is directly referring to in this passage. Romans chapters 1-11 are Paul’s dissertation of how God’s plan through Christ was not to condemn the world, but to save us from both the “penalty” (consequence) of our sins, as well as the power of sin over us. This is truly a great mercy! Not only that, through this mercy, God proves that He is not a judgmental, disapproving, harsh Divine Being who opposes us. Rather, God’s character is loving, gracious, and merciful. He desires to lavish His goodness on us. God is altogether for us!
2. There are the mercies of God that we have experienced in our lives. This requires some reflection. Think about those times when God came to your rescue. Think about the time where God answered your prayers powerfully. Ponder how God takes care of you: provides for you, protects you from harm, blessed you with good things, shown His love to you in tangible ways. Even in the hard times – the trials, the tragedies, the hardships – think about how God somehow gave you grace and strength to endure them. Think about how He reveals His love and mercy through good friends, a timely message, a clear direction, or a profound sense of His presence. When we really take time to think about it, to take a long, reflective look at God’s mercies, it is overwhelming, inspiring and empowering!
I can think of many ways God gave me great mercy and grace: when I felt defeated by a sexual addiction many years ago, when Letty and I were at an impasse in our relationship, or when I suffered physically with kidney failure. I cried out and He answered – and He came to my rescue!
It is through recalling the mercies of God that the true character of God is cemented in my life. God has proven to me that He is faithful, good, true, gracious, merciful and compassionate. God has always been there for me! God has shown his love to me! And based on that, I can TRUST God with my whole life.
Viewing God’s mercies leads to trust, which is the foundation of Biblical transformation. As we will see in the coming weeks, being transformed by God will involve our total trust in Him. He will ask us to let go of things that we are naturally attached to (actually, a better phrase is “latched onto”). He will ask us to die to some deeply ingrained things that influence “how we do life.” Transformation involves being completely surrendered to God in whatever He might do to us – come what may.
In closing, I am reminded of that wonderful scene in the Disney film, “Aladdin.” Aladdin invites Princess Jasmine on a magic carpet ride. But she is hesitant. Then Aladdin puts out his hand and says to her, “Do you trust me?” Like the man in our opening story, Jasmine needed to let go of her preconceived notions and trust Aladdin, his character, his past track record, and his love for her. And in doing so, Aladdin was able to take her on the greatest life-giving adventure that transformed her forever.
God asks the same of us, “Do you trust Me?”
Taking the time to view God’s wonderful mercies provides the basis for us to trust God with our lives completely.
1. As you look at Scripture, write out some ways God has shown his mercies and grace to His people.
2. As you reflect on your own life, write out some ways God has shown His mercy and grace to you, personally
3. What does this tell you about God’s character and how He will be there for you?
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