Interactions: Transformation - Letting God Change You From the Inside Out (Interactions Small Group Series)
Team up with God for the project of your life! Right now, God is ready to transform your life. But He wants your partnership. The strength and guidance for transformation come from Him--but the "green light" can only come from...
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Team up with God for the project of your life! Right now, God is ready to transform your life. But He wants your partnership. The strength and guidance for transformation come from Him--but the "green light" can only come from you.Transformation will help you recognize and cooperate with God's transforming influence in your life. Each session focuses on a critical area He has targeted for change and growth. You'll learn proven ways of responding to God's guidance that will keep you growing closer to Him. You'll also discover an inspiring picture of what awaits you as a fully devoted follower--membership in a joyous, supportive community of believers, infused with God's love.Interactions--a powerful, challenging tool for building deep relationships between you and your group member, and you and God. Interaction is far more than another group Bible study. It's a cutting-edge series designed to help small group participants develop into fully devoted followers of Christ. If you are the d
TransformationCopyright 1997 by Willow Creek AssociationRequests for information should be addressed to:Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530ISBN-10: 0-310-26598-3ISBN-13: 978-0-310-26598-6All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New InternationalVersion. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission ofZondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, ortransmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or anyother-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.Interior design by Rick Devon and Michelle EspinozaPrinted in the United States of America05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1S E S S I O N 1 T R A N S F O R M A T I O NA NEWHEARTT H E B I G P I C T U R EThere is a very serious heart disease we should all know about.I call it "the disease of hard-heartedness." There is also a verypainful but effective cure for this disease.Many times in the Old Testament we read that God accused thepeople of Israel of being hard-hearted. In the New Testament,Jesus would sometimes tell the religious leaders, and even Hisown followers, "Your hearts are so hard!" In the Bible "hardhearted"refers to the unresponsive, stiff, angry, insensitive,rebellious, and independent attitude ruling our hearts. This attitudeis first directed toward God, but also toward other people.Jesus told a parable of a farmer who went out and sowed seeds.You don''t have to have a green thumb to know that the objectof sowing seed is to get it into fertile soil so it can take rootand produce fruit. Jesus pointed out that often when a farmerwould throw seed, some would land on hard-packed soil.That seed was wasted; it would never grow. Jesus went onto explain what He meant by this agricultural story. Somepeople''s hearts are impenetrable, hardened, unresponsive,and callous. The Word of God just bounces off. It doesn''teven take root.If I were to nominate a biblical character for the "Iron HeartAward," I would submit the man who was crucified next toJesus. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, there was a criminalbeing executed on His right and another on His left. One wasa repentant thief. In the last moments of his life, he softenedhis heart and said, "Oh Lord, would You remember me?" Jesussaid to him, "Today you''ll be with Me in paradise." But theother thief, who was being crucified for a life of crime andviolence, had a hard heart. He was minutes from death, inchesfrom the Savior, but his heart was like stone. He was busyhurling abuse and insults at Jesus.The repentant thief called over to the hard-hearted thief andsaid, "I can''t believe it. You are minutes away from death andinches away from the Savior and you''re still hard! Don''t youfear God?" From all indications of Scripture, the "Iron HeartAward" would have been presented to that unrepentant thiefon his arrival in hell. And that is what will happen ultimatelyto those people who spend their whole lives with an attitudeof hard-heartedness.A W I D E A N G L E V I E W1. If you were a spiritual doctor doing a test for hardheartedness,what are some of the symptoms youwould look for in your examination?A B I B L I C A L P O R T R A I TRead Ezekiel 11:17-21; 36:24-28 2. According to Ezekiel, idolatry was a sign of hard-heartedness.What did idolatry look like in Ezekiel''s day?What does idolatry look like in our day?A HARD HEARTHearts get hard when we habitually say no to God. The very first time you say no to God a little layerforms around your heart. The second time another layer goes around your heart. The third timeanother layer forms, and on and on it goes. A person who ends up saying no to God for a lifetimeends up with a heart encased by steel.As a person''s heart grows hard, two things begin to happen. First, the hardness drives them farthera
Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, one of the largest and most influential churches in North America, and the chairman of the board for Willow Creek Association. He convened The Global Leadership Summit in 1995, following a God-given prompting to help raise and develop the spiritual gift of leadership for the local church.
Both visionary and passionate about seeing every local church reach its full God-given potential, he speaks around the world on strategic issues related to leadership, evangelism, and church growth. An exceptional communicator, he is a best-selling author of more than 20 books on personal evangelism, marriage and especially on the subject of Christian leadership, including Just Walk Across the Room, Courageous Leadership and the newly released, The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God and Having the Guts to Respond.
Bill received a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies and an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Trinity College in Deerfield, IL. He and his wife, Lynne, have two adult children and one grandson.
Kevin G. Harney is the Teaching Pastor and Evangelism Champion at Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana and Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, MI. He is also on the Teaching Team of the campus ministry at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He is author of Leadership from the Inside Out: Examining the Inner Life of a Healthy Church Leader; Seismic Shifts, the little changes that make a BIG difference in your life; John: An Intimate Look at the Saviour; Ephesians: Bringing Heaven to Earth, and co-author of the Willow Creek Interactions series, the Willow Creek New Community series, the Old Testament Challenge series, and Finding a Church You Can Love and Loving the Church You've Found.
- Introduction: Letting God Change You
- From The Inside Out...9
- Session 1
- A New Heart...11
- Session 2
- A New Mind...19
- Session 3
- New Ears...27
- Session 4
- A New Voice...35
- Session 5
- New Hands...43
- Session 6
- A New Spine...51
- Leader's Notes...61
S E S S I O N 1 T R A N S F O R M A T I O N A NEW HEART T H E B I G P I C T U R E There is a very serious heart disease we should all know about. I call it 'the disease of hard-heartedness.' There is also a very painful but effective cure for this disease. Many times in the Old Testament we read that God accused the people of Israel of being hard-hearted. In the New Testament, Jesus would sometimes tell the religious leaders, and even His own followers, 'Your hearts are so hard!' In the Bible 'hardhearted' refers to the unresponsive, stiff, angry, insensitive, rebellious, and independent attitude ruling our hearts. This attitude is first directed toward God, but also toward other people. Jesus told a parable of a farmer who went out and sowed seeds. You don't have to have a green thumb to know that the object of sowing seed is to get it into fertile soil so it can take root and produce fruit. Jesus pointed out that often when a farmer would throw seed, some would land on hard-packed soil. That seed was wasted; it would never grow. Jesus went on to explain what He meant by this agricultural story. Some people's hearts are impenetrable, hardened, unresponsive, and callous. The Word of God just bounces off. It doesn't even take root. If I were to nominate a biblical character for the 'Iron Heart Award,' I would submit the man who was crucified next to Jesus. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, there was a criminal being executed on His right and another on His left. One was a repentant thief. In the last moments of his life, he softened his heart and said, 'Oh Lord, would You remember me?' Jesus said to him, 'Today you'll be with Me in paradise.' But the other thief, who was being crucified for a life of crime and violence, had a hard heart. He was minutes from death, inches from the Savior, but his heart was like stone. He was busy hurling abuse and insults at Jesus. The repentant thief called over to the hard-hearted thief and said, 'I can't believe it. You are minutes away from death and inches away from the Savior and you're still hard! Don't you fear God?' From all indications of Scripture, the 'Iron Heart Award' would have been presented to that unrepentant thief on his arrival in hell. And that is what will happen ultimately to those people who spend their whole lives with an attitude of hard-heartedness. A W I D E A N G L E V I E W 1. If you were a spiritual doctor doing a test for hardheartedness, what are some of the symptoms you would look for in your examination? A B I B L I C A L P O R T R A I T Read Ezekiel 11:17--21; 36:24--28 2. According to Ezekiel, idolatry was a sign of hard-heartedness. What did idolatry look like in Ezekiel's day? What does idolatry look like in our day? A HARD HEART Hearts get hard when we habitually say no to God. The very first time you say no to God a little layer forms around your heart. The second time another layer goes around your heart. The third time another layer forms, and on and on it goes. A person who ends up saying no to God for a lifetime ends up with a heart encased by steel. As a person's heart grows hard, two things begin to happen. First, the hardness drives them farther away from God. There is no openness, no sensitivity to spiritual things, no desire to hear God speak. Hard hearts finally say, 'I have no need for God or the things God has to offer.' Second, when a heart grows hard, there is a lack of sensitivity toward others. Selfishness sets in and generosity is driven away. Other people become commodities, pawns in the game of life, a means to an end. True love in relationships and care for others is no longer a possibility for people with hearts lined with steel. 3. In these passages, Ezekiel tells of some specific changes that are going to happen in the lives of God's people as their hearts are softened. What are some of these changes? In what ways are these same changes needed in our lives today if we are going to experience transformed hearts? S H A R P E N I N G T H E F O C U S Read Snapshot 'A Hard Heart' 4. Describe a time in your life when you experienced hard-heartedness toward God. How did this impact your faith and relationship with Him? 5. During a time you were experiencing a hard heart toward God, what impact did this have on your relationships with one of the following people? * A close friend * A colleague at work * Your spouse * A family member Read Snapshot 'A New Heart' A NEW HEART God says that if this disease is going to be dealt with, the first step is for the heart to be pierced . . . stabbed . . . pricked. In the book of Acts we read about the Day of Pentecost when Peter received the Holy Spirit and began to preach with great power (Acts 2:38). At the end of the message we read that all of the people who heard were 'pierced in their hearts.' They were stabbed with truth from the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Bible is like a razor-sharp, double-edged sword . . . it cuts, stabs, pierces, and sometimes hurts. But it's the only hope for a hard heart. The toughest truth for us to hear, the one that cuts the deepest, is the one we need to hear the most. The Bible tells us there is a root cause for hard-heartedness. The Bible calls it 'sin.' We're born in it. We're conceived in it. We have a sin nature, and we make sinful choices. We all have this heart disease. Romans 6:23 tells us that it is a terminal illness. All of us are infected with the disease of hard-heartedness toward God and others and we can't cure ourselves. The good news is that God has a cure. The cure is miraculous. The cure is 100 percent effective. But, the cure is painful. No getting around it. The only way to get a new heart is to acknowledge your sin (that your heart is damaged beyond repair) and to let God forgive you and give you a new heart. There are no bypass surgeries, or simple solutions. It is going to take a heart transplant if we are going to experience change in our lives. It will be painful, but the new heart you receive will make all the difference in this life and for eternity! 6.If you have acknowledged your heart disease to God and received a new heart through Jesus Christ, how has this decision changed your life? 7. If you have not yet asked God for a new heart through Jesus, what is standing in the way of this decision? Read Snapshot 'A Soft Heart' A SOFT HEART Part of having a new heart is having a soft heart toward others. In the New Testament days there was a man named Saul. Before he got his new heart, he used to intimidate followers of Christ, arrest them, beat them, and sometimes kill them. He thought he was doing the right thing, but his heart was hard as stone. But, hard-hearted Saul was pierced with the truth of Christ on the Damascus Road, and he received a heart transplant. His responsiveness to God is legendary. His new heart became soft toward God and others. He soon referred to himself as a bond servant, a slave, and clay in God's hands. He became sensitive and soft toward other men and women. Old hard-hearted Saul became soft-hearted Paul. He ended up writing many of the books of the New Testament and his favorite term for other followers of Christ was, 'Brothers and Sisters.' He also called new Christians, 'My dearly beloved little children.' In Philippians 1:7 he simply says, 'I have you in my heart.' When we let God move in us, He will give us a soft heart toward others.