You Can Change!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 28 September 2021, Lesson 3, Part 2
Chip Ingram, Yes! You Really CAN Change
Devotional Time: “Change” Chapter 2, pp. 51-64
Experiencing Change – In the New Testament, change is described as the “nature” of something becoming different than what it was. The Greek word, morphe, and it means “something different.” The words given by the Apostle Paul to describe Christ taking on the nature of the human family became an ancient hymn in the early Christian community (cf. Philippians 3:5-9, NLT). Jesus of Nazareth became like us, so that we could become like Him. It is Christ’s death on the cross that reconciled us to God. Although we are reconciled to God, we are still evolving (growing) in faith and Christian character. This is why the Apostle Paul describes his own Christian journey as similar to, but distinct from, the natural growth process. Paul stated when he came into Christian maturity, he discarded those aspects of behavior and thinking that he realized were immature (cf. I Corinthians 13:11, NLT). One clear sign of change, is eliminating the actions and thoughts that are detrimental to our character. It could, or may not, happen at once. Being intentional about our relationship with God will lead us to change. Paul was acutely aware that change involves a process. He agonized over the behavior of some Christians in the regional churches he mentored. Sadly, some Christians had become enamored with false teachers and Paul wanted them to immediately see the danger of their involvement. Paul described his anguish as similar to “labor pains,” for he knew that their maturity was still a work in process (cf. Galatians 4;17, 19, NLT.). Paul knew that genuine change meant lives with observable maturity, or as the NLT renders, “fully developed lives.” Of note in the scriptures the Greek word morphe, means a “changed or different nature.” The verb morpho’o speaks to the process, which is first internal and must be done through God’s work. In Yes! You Really CAN Change, Chip Ingram says, “That essence [change of our natures] can’t be changed without some divine work involved.” He explains further: “Nowhere does it imply trying harder to be holy or do better. It calls us to participate in God’s power to transform us, to partner with Him in the process.” Change involves our participation in what God intends for us to become. In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul states, God’ intends for us “to become” like Jesus (cf. Romans 8:29, NLT). Becoming mature and Christ-like is “what” we are destined to become.
Cooperating With God – Our Christian lives are to be lived in harmony with God’s purpose. We will learn the intent of God by continuing in fellowship with Him. Jesus taught us to petition God each day for “[His] will to be fulfilled on earth as heaven as ordained it (cf. Matthew 6:10, NKJV).”. As Christians, our Lord has stated that his divine will is for our lives to be fulfilled at every aspect of need (cf. John 10:9-10, NLT). In contrast to the adversary, Jesus invites us to enter His place for grace, and to be abundantly changed. Each day we experience new mercies we have experienced change, because we’re a little better than we were the day before. Pastor Ingram says, “God doesn’t want to leave us where we are. He wants to bring us all the way into fulness.” In our most difficult moments, we want to be assured that God has something better for us. Paul again reminded the Christians in Rome that in Christ we have “standing” (relationship) with God. As such we already possess God’s presence (cf. Romans 8:30, NLT). An indication of a Christian’s awareness of the importance of change, comes through an increasing desire to have fellowship with God and His people. This happens often during a difficult season in life; but it also is a sign of our desire to experience God more fully (cf. Psalm 42:1-2, NLT). There is never a time that we seek deeper fellowship with God, that our faith is not strengthened (cf. Psalm 63:1, NLT). Change comes by joining God as He works through the details of our lives. This does not entail any extraordinary pious acts or rituals. We simply need to remain in fellowship with God, as our spiritual roots grow deeper (cf. Philippians 2:6-7, NLT). In the devotional, Yes! You Really CAN Change, author Chip Ingram offers this sage advice on Romans 12:1-2: “Nowhere does it imply trying harder to be holy or do better. It calls us to participate in God’s power to transform us, to partner with Him in the process of change.” How wonderful it is to know that God is already working change in our lives (cf. Philippians 2:13, NLT). We are encouraged to simply commit what we do, and what we desire to God, because He is working out the changes that are necessary for us (cf. Proverbs 16:3, NLT). Chip Ingram says: “We long for something more because we were designed for something more…The longing shows up in a lot of different ways…”
What We Believe!
Experiencing change means seeking what pleases God.
1. In God’s family, we can expect change!
2. God desires the best for us, and change is that process.
Philippians 2:5-9, NIV
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of [humans]. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
I Corinthians 13:11, NLT
“When I was a child. I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”
Galatians 4:17; 19, NLT
“Those false teachers are so eager to win your favor, but their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention to them... Oh, my dear children I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and that will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.”
Romans 8:29, NLT
“God knew His people in advance and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the first born among many brothers and sisters.”
John 10:9-10, NLT
“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
Romans 8:30, NLT
“And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them His glory.”
Psalm 42:1-2, NLT
“As a deer long for streams of water. So I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before Him?
Psalm 63:1, NLT“
O God you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.”
Philippians 2:6-7, NLT
“And now just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thank-fulness.”
Philippians 2:13, NLT
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”
Proverbs 16:3, NLT
“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”