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Pastor Rick Warren - How To Get Closer To God

And now around the world!

Welcome to 40 days of transformation.

And this weekend we begin Part One as we start looking at seven key areas of your life. Seven key areas we want to make changes in.

Now our verse which is our theme for this next seven weeks is Romans 12 verse 2. We mentioned it last week in the introduction but I'd like for us to repeat it all aloud together because I want us to memorize this together. Look like appear on the screen. Let's read it together Romans 12:2.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And where is that found? Romans 12:2. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Now you've heard me say this many times. The way you think determines the way you feel and the way you feel determines the way you act if you want to change something in your life that you don't like, you don't start with your actions and you don't even start with your feelings. You start with your thoughts. If you're acting depressed it's because you feel depressed and if you're feeling depressed it's because you're thinking depressed thoughts. The key to transformation starts not in your actions, not in your behavior, not in your body.

It doesn't start with your will it starts with your thoughts and if you can change the way you think that'll change the way you feel. And if you change the way you feel that will change the way you act.And we're going to take that principle: "Romans 12:2 Principle" and apply it to all seven key areas of your life: relational, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, financial, vocational... we're going to look at all seven major areas of your life about how do I change the way I think about this so that I feel about it differently. And then if I feel differently, then it's going to change the way I act and the way I respond to other people. And that's called transformation.

Transformation changes us from emptiness to fullness. Transformation changes us from defeat and failure to faith and victory. Transformation changes us from insecurity and inferiority to courage and to boldness. It helps us become all that God wants us to be.

Now, what I want to say in this first session, as we begin looking at your spiritual health, we're going to start with that, is that the further away you get from God, the more trouble you're going to have in your life. The more trials the more difficulties the more stress the more things are going to go wrong because you're not cooperating with your creator. You're not following God's plan for your life. And the Bible says that the way of the unrighteous is rough. It's full of thorns. It's difficult. It's a rocky, rocky road. The further I get away from God the more trouble I'm going to have in my life. On the other hand, the closer I get to God the more my life is going to be transformed.

Now we can see this all throughout scripture that Paul, when he finally met Jesus Christ face to face, he was radically transformed from a, literally, a terrorist -he was a religious terrorist- into the apostle of Love who wrote the most beautiful poem on love ever written or penned by man.

Isaiah was transformed from a depressed person into a courageous person when he met God when he got close to God.

Moses got so close to God the Bible says he was even transformed in his appearance. And people had to even look away from him, he almost like 'glowed'. And he got so close to God, and God is light and in him is there no darkness at all, that he was physically transformed. Now we all want to be close to God. I mean you wouldn't be here this weekend if you didn't want to be close to God in some way.

But the Bible says all we like sheep have gone astray we've each turned into our own way, in other words, like sheep, we tend to wander. You don't have to teach sheep to drift off. They just do it naturally. By their very nature they just kind of wander off and the shepherd has to bring them back in and they'll walk off a cliff and... sheep aren't really that bright an animal. They'll walk into a den of wolves and and all kinds of difficult and dangerous situations. Sheep tend to wander.

The Bible says all we you and me, like sheep, tend to go astray. We don't tend to stay close to God. We tend to wander off. And so this weekend, as we start Transformation, and if I said: "The closer you get to God the more you're going to be transformed", we need to talk about how do you get close to God. How do you stay close to God? and if you've fallen away from God, how do you get back in that close relationship to God? Some of you you can point to a time in your life and you go man. I remember when I felt God's presence. I was close to God. I could sense this friendship, I could sense the fellowship, there was a joy in my life. But, I've lost that. It's like you let the air out of a balloon. How do I get back to God if I've kind of wandered away? Because if I'm not close to God, I don't have the power to make all the other transformations. Fortunately, we have a story in the Bible on how to get back to God and how to get close to the father.

It's one of the most famous stories in the entire bible. Jesus told it it's the story of the Prodigal son. Or sometimes it's called The Story of the loving father because it's really more about the father than it is about the son. And that story is in Luke Chapter 15. Let me read you the story and then we'll pull some principles out of it on how to transform your life spiritually.

Luke 15 verses 11 to 24. Jesus told the story. A man had two sons and the younger son told his father: "Give me my share of your estate now, instead of waiting till you die. So the father divided his wealth between his two sons. A few days later the younger son packed all his belongings and left to live in a distant land.

He's already getting away from the father, he's getting distant from the father. And he got as far away from the father as he could. And there he squandered the gift he'd been given (and we've all done that) and he wasted his life and money on wild parties and reckless living. Now about the time all his money ran out of, a severe famine hit the land and he began to starve. Because he was left with nothing. Now he's getting hungry. And the only job he could find was feeding swine on a farm and he became so desperate so hungry that even feeding the swine had to eat, looked good to him.

But no one would give him anything for his hunger. When he finally came to his senses he said to himself: "This is crazy. At my father's home, even the lowest paid workers eat well. While I'm over here far away dying of hunger". So he goes, I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to return home to my father and humbly say: Father I have sinned both against God and you and I'm not worthy to be a part of the family or called your son. But please just make me one of your servants who works for us. He says, I'm not going to be a family member just hire me out as a servant make me one of your servants who works for you.

And with that attitude he headed back home to his father. But while the son was still a long distance away he hadn't gotten all the way back home, his father saw him coming. And filled with love and compassion he ran out to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said, he's got his prepared speech. "Father I have sinned against both God and you and I'm no longer worthy of being called your son."

But, the father said to his servants: "Quick, bring me the finest robe in our house and put it on him, then get my signet ring for his finger and shoes for his feet and then roast the calf that we've been fattening up. We're going to celebrate with a feast of eating and drinking.

This child of mine was distant and dead but now he's back and alive. He was lost but now he's found. And so the party began.

Don't you love that story!

Yeah, you clap for the story! That's for Jesus! That's an incredible story and it tells the story of how every one of us tends to wander away from our Creator. Wander away from the father who made us, wander away from the God who loves us.