12. If you take the gift, then what?

What happens when you are ready to make a commitment to God is truly amazing! As you get to know God, He gives you an increasing awareness and hatred of your self-centeredness and sins. You realize they have not only brought hardship to others, but also great pain to the Father and Son, who are now very real to you. When you bring to God the guilt and deep remorse He gives you, ask forgiveness, and choose to turn away from sin, He forgives your sins.

Remember how Christ lived a perfect human life, and took the punishment for your sins? His life and death are counted as being yours, and because of them, you become entitled to a life that will last forever. As you give yourself to Him and ask Him to lead in your life, He does even more than forgiving you. He begins a wonderful process of transformation in you so you are not trapped in a self-centered life any more.

Up to that point, your experience at its worst may have been like part of this list:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Or at its best, it may have been like this:

“…what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will [choose] to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law [of God] that it is good. But now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” (Romans 7: 15-18)

Is any of this familiar? Somehow, even when we have good intentions, it is next to impossible to follow through consistently. But when we give our lives completely into God’s hands, He makes a major change in us:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” ( Ezekiel 36:26,27)

Remember the promise we looked at earlier where God said He would empower us to love? This is what the circumcision of the heart is all about. Our “heart of stone” is taken away, and in no less than an act of creation, we are given a “heart of flesh.” This is a tender heart of compassionate, selfless, loving service. The only place we can get one is from God!

What He actually does is give us a new dimension of mind by sending His Spirit into us. The “Spirit of Truth” or “The Holy Spirit” as the Bible calls Him is an actual Being who is also God. He comes to give us some of the thoughts and feelings of the Father and Son, so we can see other people the way They do. He also empowers us to act with love toward them as the Father and Son would act in our situation. The Bible says,

But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16 )

A person who has Christ’s mind through the Holy Spirit will notice what others need, and gladly help them without expecting a return. He or she will have the same kind of loving interest and concern for people that God has. What an amazing thought! Not only that, but there is an incredible peace that comes with God’s forgiveness and love. It feels like a weight has been lifted off us and we can make a new start. This peace also comes from the Holy Spirit.

The Son says,

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

The imagery of being born tells us that this heart change is just the gateway into a new life. We have the possibility of experiencing a lot of exciting growth.

But we all…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

We become like the people we spend a lot of time with. It’s especially true that if we spend time with God, talking to Him, reading texts from Him, and doing what He says, it will change us. This is how we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work in us. Doing all of these things is the way we say, “I want to be more like You, please change me.” The more time we spend with Him, the closer we’ll want to get, and the more we’ll experience and reflect His love and life through the Holy Spirit’s power re-creating us.

It’s important to make time daily to feel our need of God and renew our complete commitment to Him. Each day we may give our whole life into His hands and receive the Holy Spirit to change us. Each day we have the option of growing closer to Him or drifting away. But we won’t drift away if we keep focusing on the Father and the Son. The more important we make them in our lives, the more we’ll be like that description of selfless love we read, and the more joy we’ll have.

Just as a child cannot grow unless it eats and drinks, our growth will depend on daily “eating and drinking” all God says to us.

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. (1 Peter 2:2)

Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)

The words of God feed our transformed life and make it possible for the old self-centered ways to be replaced by selfless loving ones. If we don’t feed our new life, it withers and dies. That makes spending time with texts from God pretty important. We find that all God’s texts are more than inspiring words—they are empowering. The power of the Holy Spirit to change us is especially in these words. They feed our spiritual growth and defuse temptations to be self-centered again. When we mess up, they bring us encouragement as we go to God for forgiveness and a loving heart once more. They remind us over and over of God’s love for us and others, and the possibilities of a life lived with Him.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10, 11)

God always sends His texts to do something life-giving. If you search in the Bible and ask God for help, you will find He brings some words to your attention that seem to be just for your situation. If you think about those words for a while, you will know they are more than words—they bring God close with power for change.