Change is a fact of life. No matter how much I resist or fight it, change will happen. Sometimes it’s momentous and can feel disconcerting or disorienting. Other times it’s more subtle, and we barely notice it. Yes, change is inevitable.
As we conclude our series on The End, we have been hearing and reading about some “changes” that are occurring, heralding the end of the world. But through it all, there is one constant: Jesus Christ.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
I find it interesting that Revelation—a book filled with eye-popping, jaw-dropping examples of “changes” that are coming—begins with a reassurance about the One who does not change. John greets the churches with some of these same words in verse 4, but it’s God Himself who speaks to His people in verse 8.
He seems to say, “There are changes coming. The End is coming. But I remain the same.” As I consider the return of Jesus and the end of the world, this verse brings me hope. It’s a reminder that the One returning is the same One who calls us to take His yoke upon us (Matthew 11:29). It is the same Jesus who forgave the woman who should have been stoned for her adultery (John 8:11).
Is The End frightening? Sometimes. But those who know Jesus can be at peace. Not because we are special or more important or wiser than others, but because we trust in the Unchanging One. The one who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The One who was born to die that we might live.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Revelation 22:20-21
True change always happens on the inside. Changing your outward appearance (whether that’s your looks, your deeds or your words) is really just dressing up what’s on the inside. In order to truly change, you must change from the inside out.
Paul knew the secret to being joyful in all circumstances was found not in outward circumstances and actions, but in inward peace and action. His final chapter reads as a bullet list for how to affect change on the inside:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
Anxious on the inside? Bring it before the Lord in prayer.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
Struggling with sin? Shift the focus of your thinking.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11-12
Always needing more stuff? Practice contentment.
It sounds simple, but it’s incredibly difficult. Unless of course, like Paul, you aren’t doing it on your own:
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Jesus asks a seemingly silly question to a man who was lame for 38 years. Even something good for us can be scary, taking us out of our comfort zone. Read on for this week’s article from the Announcements page.
Familiarity is good. I like having a regular routine to follow. While I’m not opposed to change, the familiar patterns in my life are comforting to me. I feel more relaxed when things are familiar and unchanging. My life might not be the best, but it could be worse. So rather than risk moving in the wrong direction, I stay in my comfortable, familiar routines and habits.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” John 5:6
Do you want to be healed? What a strange question to ask a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. I mean, how would you answer that question if you’d had a debilitating disease for 38 years? So why would Jesus ask him?
I suppose the man was comfortable with his life, possibly to the point of being resigned to it. The question is not meant to gather information, but rather provide hope. It drew him out of his “comfort zone,” the life that he was used to living, and focused his attention on Jesus. And Jesus does not leave that hope unfulfilled:
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” John 5:8
Jesus wants to offer hope to you. Real hope. He desires to draw you out of your comfort zone into something better. And He never offers something He is unable or unwilling to provide. Whatever ails you, whether physical illness, ungodly desires or spiritual doubt, Jesus is calling: “Do you want to be healed?”
Here’s the sermon audio from this past weekend. If you are using an RSS reader, you might need to click through to see the audio file. Alternatively you can download the file to your computer (right-click the link and choose save as)
Some questions to sound off on (or just share your thoughts on the sermon):
- What goals are you currently working towards?
- What have you found helpful in keeping goals?
- When has God used change to help you grow?
With Pastor Whited out of town in Haiti, I’m covering services this weekend again. He started a new series last week titled “Questions for the New Year.” He covered some general questions, but I get the first specific question in the series, “How Can I Make a Lasting Change?” I just finished the first draft of the outline, which is much earlier than I was expecting to have it done. I used the extra time to make a graphic for the series. I’m a bit of a hack, having very little design knowledge/creativity, but knowing my way around graphics software. I think real designers might not like people like me.
So, because I can’t actually draw anything, I’ve just gone with a basic font treatment for the graphic:
It’s nothing fancy, but I like it better than just a plain old boring text at the top of the outline. Look for more about the sermon in the coming days, plus we’ll have a special follow-up to the sermon that we plan to make a regular feature, at least on a trial basis. Fun stuff!