You Can Change!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 19 October 2021, Lesson 5, Part 1
Chip Ingram, Yes! You Really CAN Change
Devotional Time: “Change” Chapter 4 (pp. 87-101)
The Death/Life, Losing/Gaining Principle –Fundamental to change in the Christian faith, is the emphasis in the scriptures on “dying” to what is old. We must separate ourselves from what has been, so we can embrace something new and different. In explaining to the disciples His coming resurrected life, Jesus used the example of the kernel-seed being buried in the ground. Unless the seed is buried, no life can germinate (cf. John 12:24-25, NLT). In perhaps one of the earliest teachings on the Resurrection in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses the seed analogy in explaining a new life after death (cf. I Corinthians 15:37-38a, NLT). This language helps us understand that change involves cessation of one thing, and the creation of something different.). In the devotional, Yes! You Really CAN Change, author Chip Ingram explains the seed example further: “In other words, we can’t become who we were meant to be without giving up who we were. The seed has to die in order to [give life].” One of the great fears people have about experiencing change in their lives, is that they will lose the things that the world has given more value to. Jesus warned against this way of thinking, because the temporal benefits are of no value if we harm our lives (cf. Luke 9:24-25, NLT). People often achieve what they desire in life, with little or no regard for God’s plan. If our plans and aspirations are devoid of discernment from God, we risk travelling on a path toward failure or harm. The wisdom writer cautions, “There is a path before each person that seems right. But ends in death (cf. Proverbs 14:12, NLT). In the Gospels, Jesus admonishes us to “give up” or “desist from” something, so we can receive “something better.” This is the fundamental path to change: dying to live; and, losing to gain. We are expected to “give up” something for the sake of gaining “much more.” Often, we silently wonder, what Peter asked Jesus aloud: “If I give up this, what will I get in return?” Jesus assured Peter that the return on our sacrifices would be greater than anything we could ever imagine (cf. Matthew 19:27; 29, NLT). Pastor Chip Ingram comments: “In the kingdom of God, we get strength through weakness, greatness through servanthood, [and] abundance through giving.” Our life in Christ is a new and newly evolving life (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Giving of one’s self to Christ, will bring great life changes!
Investing In Change – Much of the change in our lives involves sacrifice. Along with removing habits or aspects of behavior that impede our ability to experience meaningful transition, is our engagement of prayer, listening to God, and exerting effort toward change. The writer of Proverbs explains three aspects of behavior that could impede change. The NIV translators describe the impediments as: The person who never begins things (cf. Proverbs 6:9-10, NIV); the person who never completes things (cf. Proverbs 12:27, NLT); and, the person who always makes excuses (cf. Proverbs 22:13, NLT). The human frailties could affect any, or may have affected some of, us at a given time. It’s important that we recognize any aspect of behavior that could prevent us from attaining what God intends. When Jesus invited people to follow Him, they were reminded to be clear on what was their allegiance to Him. The disciples who followed Jesus made immediate sacrifices as a sign of their commitment. For example, some were fishers by vocation, and they left their nets as a sign of their allegiance to the call of Jesus. In one narrative, a man told Jesus he would follow Him after he returned to his family. However, he left no sacrifice of his allegiance to Jesus (cf. Luke 9:61-62, NLT) In contrast, when Elisha accepted the call of the prophet Elijah to join him in the prophetic ministry, he destroyed his plow and sacrificed oxen as a thank offering to God (cf. I Kings 19:19; 20b; 21, NLT). Elisha became the prophet Elijah’s assistant, and later was given the senior prophets mantle, and became a great prophet himself. There is no change without some effort on our part! Change doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a prophet’s experience. Change could be some new path God wants us to follow, or some different tasks He wants us to engage in. Whatever God is calling us to do, we must be willing to put effort toward the fulfillment of that task. If there is little or no effort on our part, there will be little or no change. It isn’t because God can’t change things; rather, our lack of effort could impede His plan. Pastor Ingram said, “I’ve known Christians who agonize over their lack of change while never actually doing the things that bring about change.” It’s helpful to revisit Paul’s admonition to Christians in the Epistle to the Hebrews. We are told a “crowd of witnesses” are championing our cause. Christians are told to “remove” every heavy object that impedes our ability to accomplish God’s plan (cf. Hebrews 12:1b, NLT). In ancient times, athletic runners stripped themselves of all weighty garments to ensure their success.
What We Believe!
Change, requires losing some things to gain much more.
1. The death of old habits brings new life and virtues.
2. No change will come without effort.
John 12:24-25, NLT
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will pro-duce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives.”
I Cor. 15:37-38a, NLT
“And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body He wants it to have …”
Luke 9:24-25, NLT
“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?”
Matthew 19:27; 29, NLT
“Then Peter said to Him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” “…Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or fathers or mothers or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.”
2 Cor. 5:17, NLT
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”