You Can Change!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 21 September 2021, Lesson 3 (Part 1)
Devotional Time: “Change” Chapter 2, pp. 43-53
Trusting God’s Approval – The scriptures are explicit in reminding Christians of our identity. We ae secure in our relationship with Christ, and who we are is but a part of who will ultimately become. We are certain that in the evolution of our spiritual growth, we will become more “like Christ.’ (Cf. 1 John 3:2-3, NLT). In the very helpful devotional book, Yes! You Really CAN Change, author and pastor Chip Ingram says, “The Christian life is the journey between the new identity we’ve already been given and entering into its fulness.” Growth and change, are not unilateral. They involve our efforts to be more like Christ. This doesn’t mean that change can come only by our efforts; but it means we must be assured of our relationship with God, who ultimately brings and endorses change. The very process of change involves being secure in our Christian identity, while learning and growing more with Christ. We must simply believe that we are who the scriptures say we are. This is the message the Apostle Peter gave an early generation of Christians (cf. I Peter 2:8b-10, NLT). Peter warned, people who ignore or reject God’s word are left to their own fate, which in this world offers no real hope. The process of change involves realizing how precious we are to God. The Apostle Paul said that we are “valuable works in process” (Greek, poema). We have great value in Christ. We are promised even greater worth and value (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT)! To embrace change, we must first realize how important we are to God! Pastor Ingram comments: You’ll need to be able to see yourself as God sees you. To actually believe what the Bible says about you, and carry the hope and promise He has for you throughout your journey of [change].” A Christian’s sense of spiritual identity and acceptance are important in embracing and understanding change in the seasons and moments of life. If our confidence in Christian identity wanes, we will miss opportunities for change and renewal. The more we listen to the voice of Christ in the scriptures; and live according to His teachings, our awareness of change will become clearer. Also, many Christians, and people in general, fear change. The idea of change may threaten a person’s sense of comfort and stability. Yet, as Christians we are called to become transformed. Renewing our minds, involves our thoughts and behavior. God’s love and acceptance for us is assured. Embrace it!
The Process of Change Is More Than Us - As Christians we fundamentally believe that God is involved in the process of change. This is regardless of whether we initiate the process; or, if conditions we encounter bring us to another place in life. Inevitably, God is in control of our circumstances. This is the message God gave Zerubbabel, when conditions he faced directing the rebuilding of the Temple were foreboding. Zerubbabel’s success would come; the result of the Spirit of God. A slow start was not to discourage or deter Zerubbabel from his task (cf. Zechariah 4:6;10a, NIV). For the Christian so much of what we do and accomplish, is related to a healthy sense of our identity in Christ. Pastor Chip Ingram comments: “Before we’re ever told what to do as followers of Jesus, we need to know who we are in Him. Our behavior always flows from our sense of identity. When we know who we really are, we see God ourselves, and our world differently. And when we see differently, we live differently. We move in the direction of the vision God has given us.” Few knew this as well as the Apostle Paul. When he embraced his identity in Christ, he realized nothing was more important to him than the direction the Lord had given him (cf. Philippians 3:7-10, NLT). We are all valuable to God, although we are at different levels of Christian growth. Sometimes the process of change, will delay us in attaining our endeavors. More maturity and wisdom must be attained before we can proceed further. John Mark became one of the Apostle Paul’s most capable and reliable assistants, but the young disciple was not ready for the task initially (cf. Acts 15:37-40, NLT). Some 17 years later, or fewer, Paul recognized the change in John Mark’s maturity, and insisted that he come and assist the aging apostle (cf. 2 Timothy 4:11, NLT). Change is insuperable from our maturity and growth. As we gain more confidence that God loves us and we are a part of His family, we will see things differently. We should not permit sin and immaturity to defeat us. Nor should they become intransigent obstacles to our ability to change. Chip Ingram observes: “Along with all who believe, you are a saint, holy and beloved, a child of the living God, adopted into the royal family, with His whole kingdom in front of you.” You were created for renewal and change! Pastor Ingram says, “See yourself as God sees you…”
What We Believe!
We are who the scriptures say we are.
1. Being confident in who God says we are, brings change!
2. The process of change, brings necessary experiences.
I John 3:2-3, NLT
“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.”
I Peter 2:8b-10, NLT
“They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation. God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”
Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it isa gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
Zechariah 4:6;10a, NIV
“So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty… Who despises the day of small things?”
Philippians 3:7-10, NLT
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ, and become one with Him. I no longer count my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I became righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.”
Acts 15:37-40, NLT
“Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark, but Paul disagreed strongly since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not con-tinued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and as he left the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s care. Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches there.”
2 Timothy 4:11, NLT
“Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry.”