One year from now – Preparing for great things

As we stand on the threshold of a new year, the morning of December 31st brings with it a moment of reflection. Many of us have experienced the familiar cycle of setting resolutions with enthusiasm only to find ourselves struggling to maintain them as the year progresses. The collective sentiment of frustration, exhaustion, embarrassment, and shame often accompanies unmet goals. In the midst of this, we turn to the wisdom of our recent sermon that sheds light on the pitfalls of conventional resolutions and unveils a transformative approach to welcome 2024.

Reflecting on 2023

Acknowledging the challenges of 2023, the sermon resonates with the collective experience of facing adversity. Ps Bojan compassionately addresses the frustration and shame that often accompany unmet goals, fostering an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance.

15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

Romans 7:15-24 NLT

Here, Apostle Paul candidly expresses his internal conflict. Paul’s admission of doing what he hates and the frustration he experiences becomes a relatable anchor point for those grappling with their own struggles.

There is a common tendency to start the year with good intentions but our intentions alone are insufficient. We must have a well-thought-out strategy, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to resolutions.

Real change isn’t behaviour modification. ​Real change is a spiritual transformation. Majority of resolutions fail because people focus on changing external behaviors without addressing the root cause — the lack of internal transformation.

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Romans 7:24-25

True change comes not from self-will but through spiritual transformation. There is a profound difference between behavior modification and genuine spiritual renewal and we must embark on the journey of inner transformation.

Two Misguided Mindsets: God, then Me, and God and Not Me

Relying solely on self-effort after seeking God’s guidance (God, then Me) and relinquishing all responsibility to God without personal effort (God and Not Me). Ps Bojan cautions against both extremes, advocating for a balanced approach that acknowledges God’s role while actively participating in the transformation process.

A key theme emerges – the partnership model. We must view our journey as a partnership with God, stressing that real transformation occurs when we let God work through us, not in isolation.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

1 Corinthians 15:9-10

We are reminded of the balance of working hard while recognising the grace of God. Real change involves both human efforts and God’s transformative grace.
Real change isn’t God- then you. Real change isn’t God- not you. Real change is God through you. The grace that saves you is also the grace that changes you. We must understand what aspects of our lives we can control and what we cannot, allowing God’s grace to penetrate every aspect of our existence.

Spiritual Why and How: Unveiling God’s Purpose and Power
Introducing the concepts of spiritual why and how, the sermon urges us to reflect on the reasons behind their goals (spiritual why) and emphasises the importance of recognising God’s power and strategy in achieving those goals (spiritual how).

- Not by Might, Not by Power, but by My Spirit

Zechariah 4:6

Transformation is not achieved through personal might or power but through the spirit of God. It underscores the necessity of relying on God’s power for lasting change.

We must be careful of superficial behaviour modification, lasting change comes from allowing God to transform desires at a deeper, more profound level.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

This verse highlights the power of God’s grace in moments of weakness, surrendering our weaknesses to God, and allowing His power to work through them.

We must lay down our burdens and trust God. And rely on the sufficiency of God’s grace for transformation.

Future Focus: 2024 and Beyond – A Balanced Perspective