© 2021Fall Series
You Can Change!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 2 November 2021,
Devotional Time: “Change” Chapter 5 (pp. 109-125)
God Helps Us – It is impossible for any of us to experience a change without God’s help. We can only grow and mature in our faith, becoming more like Jesus, when we acknowledge the presence of Christ within us. Early Christians were reminded that our Lord, and God the Father, were present in creation. They continue to “create” us into the fullness of spiritual maturity (cf. Ephesians 4:5-6, NLT). When we desire change in our circumstances, we must affirm that all things that are necessary for us come from God (cf. Romans 11:36, NLT). It’s true that we do much for ourselves, but it is God who inevitably brings the results. In his great epistle to the Christians at Corinth, Paul emphasizes that God works through His Son, Jesus; causes everything to exist; and gives us a new life through faith in Christ (cf. I Corinthians 8:6, NLT). These scriptures in the New Testament affirms the bold testimony of the psalmist in the Old Testament. The psalmist was aware that people around him made a trek to the elevated regions of Judea in search of a pagan deity, whom they believed would give them help in their time of need. In contrast, the psalmist says his “help comes from Yahweh.” God is described as Creator. The Lord is always alert, and He is a protector of His people (cf. Psalm 121:1-4, NLT). Deities and idols cannot perform those tasks! In the study devotional, Yes! You Really CAN Change, author Chip Ingram refers to God as an “Unlimited source” for help. Pastor Ingram says God has a plan for each of us. He explains: “This plan does not do away with your… individual personality, but it does give you a new identity and purpose.” The Old Testament describes the reverence and gratitude people had for God, when He provided them with protection from the enemy. A place called Mizpah became a place for prayer and repentance, as the people sought God’s help against the Philistines. Samuel the prophet and Israel’s circuit judge, told the people if they confessed their sins and believed in God’s power, they would prevail over the encroaching attack from the enemy. The people obeyed, and all Israel had a period of peace and safety from war (cf. I Samuel 7:12, NLT). Psalm 46:10 reminds us, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble (NLT).” God is not absent, but present, to help us in every time of need!
We Are Gifted To Help Each Other – God empowers believers to “help each other” as we seek to navigate our lives. The ultimate goal of Christ’s gifting the family of believers, is to help us become more like Him. The gift of grace given to each Christian equips him or her for change. Early in the emerging Christian community we see evidence of how God used believers to help others prepare for their Christian ministry and vocation. After Paul’s (then called Saul) conversion to the faith, he needed help in the restoration of his health and vision. Ananias, a believer in Christ, was commissioned by the Lord to fulfill this task. Although he was initially skeptical, the Lord told Ananias that Paul/Saul was being prepared for a great ministry to Gentiles and Jews. Assured of this, Ananias found Paul/Saul and tended to his needs (cf. Acts 9:17-20, NLT). The scriptures teach, that God provides direct assistance to us, but He gifts us to help others as part of His plan for Christian maturity and change. During His ministry, Jesus taught the disciples that He would give them apostolic gifts; sending them forth, to proclaim the Good News. And to help establish and strengthen churches. However, Jesus warned them that their model for ministry would not be based on authoritarian models of leadership, but a new servant leadership (cf. Matthew 20:25-28, NLT). Pastor Chip Ingram comments: “So leadership in the body of Christ is supernaturally empowered to develop and apply their gifts for the good of the body. The goal is to equip all Christians to use our gifts so that every member grows to maturity.” Radical and transformational change can come as a result of Christians helping each other attain maturity in discernment, thoughts, behavior, and action. The Holy Spirit assigns the same value to each gift; for each helps the Christian (cf. I Corinthians 12:6, NLT). Change is often a sign of progress and a deeper spiritual awareness. Paul told Christians in Ephesus that we are all “works in progress (Gk. poema). Chip Ingram shares a useful analogy to help us understand change. He describes the makeover of a house. He says there is much tearing up the old, changing fixtures, and rearranging the design of the interior. The project usually has a general contractor, but others are needed to help with specific tasks. The original frame and structure of the house remains intact, but everything else is new. Pastor Ingram says, “And by the end, they have created together a masterpiece of function and design.” With God’s help, and others He places on our path, we will attain “the full and complete image of Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:13, NLT).”
What We Believe!
God is always present to help us experience change.
1. God helps in every aspect of our lives and faith.
2. Christians have been gifted to help each other.
3. The perpetual gifts bring us into maturity and change.
Ephesians 4:5-6, NLT
“There is one Lord, one faith,one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”
Romans 11:36, NLT
“For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.”
I Corinthians 8:6, NLT“But we know that there is only one God, the Father who created everything, and we live for Him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.”
Psalm 121:1-4, NLT
I look up to the mountains –does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.”
I Samuel 7:12, NLT
“Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means the stone of help) …
I Samuel 7:12, NLT, Contd.
“for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”
Acts 9:17-20, NLT
“So Ananias went and foundSaul. He laid his hands on Him and said, “Brother Saul,the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly some- thing like scales fell from’Saul’s eyes, and he regained His sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogue,saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”
Matthew 20:25-28, NLT
“But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your [servant]. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life a ransom for many.”
I Corinthians 12:6, NIV
“God works in different ways,but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”
Ephesians 4:13, NLT
This [gifting of the church] will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son, that we will be mature in the Lord,measuring… to the full and complete standard of Christ.”