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You Can Change!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 14 September 202, Lesson 2
Chip Ingram, Yes! You Really CAN Change
Devotional Time: “Change” Chapter 1, pp. 21-41)
The Process of Change – Change always involves a process. Our expectation of change for self, and for others, may not be consonant with where we or a person is at the moment. In our introductory study we examined an early rendering of the Hebrew word for change, chalaph (kwahlaf), which meant “to abolish” or “to cut off.” The more affirmative definition of that word is “to grow,” or, “to go forward.” If a person desires change, but is not willing to embrace any of these actions, they will become stunted in their growth. The Apostle Paul’s strong warning to the Christians at Corinth was although they excelled in a variety of spiritual gifts (cf. I Corinthians 1:5-7, NLT), many of them lacked Christian maturity. This stunted their growth (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, NLT). Then as now, some Christians’ behavior was/is no different from worldly persons. In the devotional book, Yes! You Really CAN Change, pastor and author Chris Ingram comments: “Yet, the church is also filled with numerous people who haven’t changed much at all. And if we’re honest…as much as our faith in Jesus as our Savior has changed us, there are still…areas of our lives that remain…unchanged.” The need for some change should not be illusive to any of us! Elsewhere Paul said that because our relationship with God (salvation) is secure, we have the ability to rise above sin’s control (cf. Romans 8:1-2, NLT). This is how and why change is possible. It is the Holy Spirit who directs us in our thoughts, helps us make right choices, and to grow in mature character (cf. Galatians 5:15, NLT). The reason why change is a process is, because it evolves as we grow. Some years ago, a local television station in Boston produced a show called “Turning-Point.” They interviewed an array of people whose lives radically changed, and their faith grew exponentially, as a result of a crisis moment in their lives. It was always amazing to witness how a person’s life changed, a decision was made to use the crisis as a moment of opportunity to experience change. This is probably what the Apostle Paul meant when he said (paraphrase) “In my weakness, I have discovered a place for strength (2 Corinthians 12:10b, NLT).” Often, in moments of testing and trial, we can discover the possibility for change. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, from the moment of our salvation, we have become a new person. The NLT says ‘The old life is gone, the new life has begun.” The new life is continuous!
More In The Process of Change – The process of change begins when we submit our total selves to God, Some may be inclined t think that worship involves only a portion of our time and lives. The use of the word worship in Romans refers to “offering our total lives to God.” The Greek word latrine (lat-ri-ah) is used, which means “complete devotion.” Change will come inevitably and assuredly when we avoid using the world’s behavior and standards to bring validation to our lives (cf. Romans 12:1-2, NLT). Because we have been created as new persons, inherent in us is the ability to change. Similar to the Christians who were stuck in Corinth, Author Chip Ingram observes the Christian’s inability to change today: “Many [Christians] have never gotten off the ground to begin with, slipping into old ways of life soon after believing. Yet the promises of God in Scripture remain. The gospel is all about change, and our longings are real. We really do become new creations, [but] it must be played out in our lives.” In the Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul says the process of change moves forward when we divest ourselves of those acts of behavior that hinder our fellowship with God, and compromise our faith principles (cf. Hebrews 12:1-4, NLT). It is important that we remain focused on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who is Savior and Lord. The example of Christ who endured hostility on our behalf, is our supreme example. Ingram believes that the enthusiasm for change has waned with many Christians. In turbulent times they have become “fatigued and frustrated.” These people are not indifferent toward change, they just can’t see it. This is both an impediment and a challenge to change. Paul also warned the Christians in his epistle to them that they should keep their hopes alive by not becoming “spiritually dull and indifferent.” (cf. Hebrews 6:11-12, NLT). Despite his calamities, Job was “confident” that change would come in his life. Job could wait with anticipation, because he had no doubts about the outcome of his situation (cf. Job 14:14, NKJV). There is a difference between expecting change, and exercising a passive faith about change. The strength of our faith is vital to change. Persons who approached Jesus believed that He could heal them. They anticipated change, and generally were not distracted by others around them. Change doesn’t have to be elusive, when the Scripture assures us it is certain. The process come to fruition when we believe.
What We Believe!
Change is a process, for which we are created and called.
1. Change involves faith, focus, and sacrifice!
2. Change is not automatic, but possible and certain.
I Corinthians 3:1-3, NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters,when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren't ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you're controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?
Romans 8:1-2, NLT
“So now there is no condemn-nation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
Galatians 5:15, NLT
“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading to every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”
2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, the new life has begun.”
Romans 12:1-2, NLT
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Hebrews 12:1-4, NLT
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, [Jesus]endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.”
Hebrews 6:11-12, NLT
“Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.”