Embracing Change

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In this message, we learn how embracing change allows us to see more of God.

Good morning, everybody. I want to give a big welcome to our Denton campus. We are so glad that you guys are here with us today. And we are two weeks into our awakened challenge. And so, I hope — man, I hope you’re experiencing and encountering God in a profound way. Two weeks ago, we decided together as a church that we’re going to take a 90-day challenge to position our hearts before the Lord that he may awaken our hearts for us because we can’t awaken our own heart but we can position it in a way where God awake it for us. And so we’ve been going on this journey together and, man, I’ve been hearing amazing stories of God. How God is moving, how He is challenging, and inspiring. And then we gave you a simple little card and bracelets. Just a simple bracelet to wear. It’s just kind of a reminder to say, “Lord, I’m positioning my heart to be awakened by you.” And so, man, I’ve been hearing great stories of people in the city running into each other, not knowing each other but seeing the bracelets and starting dialogues and conversations.

And so if you weren’t here that weekend and you didn’t get a bracelet or you want one to give to a family member or a friend or a neighbor, an invitational thing. Or you want somebody to be a part of it, go ahead. Go to the information center when we’re done. They would love to give you one. It’s amazing, that first weekend, we passed them out and literally we had about a thousand more than people in services, and they were all gone by the end of service. Which means you were excited to take more than one bracelet which is great. That’s what we want. So if yours is broken, you don’t like yours, you just want to turn it in and get a new one. After service, go to the information center and we’d love to have you be a part of it because God is doing something amazing in this journey as he awakens our hearts. Okay? Alright.

We’re going to start a new series today called “Underrated.” For the next few weeks, I want to talk about valuing things that the world does not. You see, there’s a whole lot of things in the world around us that are not valued at all but that are incredibly significant in the Kingdom of God. A whole lot of things that are underrated by this world but are really important to God’s heart. In fact, Jesus says, what man values, God detests. And what God values, man detests. That there’s a whole lot of things in this world that are underrated but are really important in the Kingdom. And the truth is you can be great in the Kingdom or you can be great in the world. But you can’t be great in both because they’re different value systems. They’re kingdoms in conflict. And we want to be people that value what the Kingdom values. Not people that value what the world values. Okay? So if you got your bibles, turn with me to Acts chapter 11. Acts chapter 11, we’re going to start today by talking about the first thing that I think is underrated in the world around us. And it’s this four-letter word called change. Right? Four-letter word called change. All the moms just put their hands over their babies’ ears and like, “No. Don’t listen to this.” I mean you talk about change. We don’t like change.

We’re resistant to change. We don’t want change. If we’re honest, we’re offended by change. When you’re favorite restaurant changes the menu, you’re offended. When you’re cable company changes the channels on you, you’re offended. That’s the worst, right? Or when you go to the grocery store and you know right where your favorite cookies are but they’ve reordered the layout and you get to where the cookies are supposed to be and there’s Brussels sprouts. Okay. You are offended. You are not a happy camper in that moment. And it’s been said that the only person that likes change is a wet baby. I think, in a lot of ways, that’s true, right? And the reality is, is that the more established you become in life, the more resistant you are to change. The more established you are in your job, in your routine, in your church, in your traditions, in your way of life, in your relationships. The more established you are, the more resistant you become to change. There’s something about predictability that offers us this perceived sense of security.

We feel safe with that with which we can control or safe with that which we know. We know what to expect. We know what’s going to happen. And what change does is it forces us into the realm of the unknown. And the reason the world is resistant to change, the reason it’s underrated in the world is because change is the enemy of comfort, okay? Change is the enemy of comfort. If you’re going to change, it’s really uncomfortable. It forces you out of your comfort zone and we all know that the world is all about comfort. It’s like the primary value in the world is comfort. But that’s the enemy — or change is the enemy of comfort that’s why the world resists in. In fact, if you think in your own life, even the things that you would like to see changed, like even the areas you want to see progress, you want to see change, like maybe it’s losing a few pounds or getting healthier relationships or going deeper with God, what keeps you from that change? It’s comfort.

It’s uncomfortable to go to the gym and start working out. It’s uncomfortable to reconcile relationships and to apologize and forgive and all that. It’s uncomfortable to be disciplined, to go deeper with God. So it’s comfort that keeps us from change. But what you have to remember is that in the Kingdom of God, change is always a higher value than comfort. And as the people of the Kingdom, it means we are people of change. And the reality is that change is going to come in your life whether you want it to or not so we may as well just get really good at dealing with it. Anybody want to just agree with that, right? I mean it’s common, baby, so you may as well figure out how to deal with it. This last summer, we got to take our kids to the beach. And they were so excited. We got to go to Florida. And they were six and four at the time. And they couldn’t wait to get there. And so we get to the beach. And it’s a great day. It’s sun shining and there’s this beautiful rolling waves coming in and they’re just incredible, one after another.

And there’s a whole bunch of guys out there surfing and boogie boarding. So my kids see it and they’re like, “Dad, can we try that?” And I said yes. So we went and got a boogie board. And we go out in the ocean and we went out. It’s probably about this deep. I mean these waves just kept coming. And if I could get it right, I would get one of my kids on the boogie board and the wave would come and I would get it and time it just right and launch them in this wave. They would ride it a couple hundred yards all the way to the beach. And they would just kind of go up on the beach. And they turn around and grab the board with this huge smile on their faces say, “Dad. Dad. It was awesome. Can we do it again?” And they start running back in the water. And that’s what would happen if I got it right. If I got it wrong, which happened more times than I’d like to admit, a four-year-old little girl would be on the board and as the wave would come, if we timed it just wrong, that wave would topple her and crumple her and disorient her. She’d go under and get a mouthful of bitter seawater and pop up with this huge eyes looking at me like, “What did you just do, dad?” You know, and start screaming and I have to pick her up and take her. She want to get out of the water. She have to go sit on the beach for 30 minutes until she could calm down.

And I was thinking about that this week. I was thinking, I think that is actually a great picture of change. Change is like the waves of the ocean. They just keep coming one after another after another. Change comes and you can’t stop it. And if you can get really good at riding the wave, you can have a great experience and say, “Let’s do it again.” But if you get it wrong, it will toss you and turn you and disorient you. You will come up with a mouthful of bitterness and you will want to go sit on the sidelines for a long time. And I’m convinced a whole lot of followers of Jesus don’t know how to ride waves of change. So we become disoriented. We have a mouthful of bitterness and we’ve gone and sat on the sidelines and we’re just letting life pass us by. So we want to learn how to ride the wave. Okay? That’s what I’m talking about. The waves have changed. Are you with me on that?

Okay. Acts chapter 11, here’s what’s happening. Peter has just preached the gospel to the gentiles for the first time. It’s the first time that gentiles have been brought into the Kingdom of God. And there’s a whole bunch of critics that are upset about this change that are criticizing him. And so Peter starts to explain himself. Let me just read it to you and then we’ll break it down together. Verse 4, it says Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it happened. I was in the City of Joppa praying and in a trance and I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners. And it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw a four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. And then I heard a voice telling me, Get up, Peter, kill and eat. Okay. Just for understanding, those animals would be considered unclean by the law. The Jewish law, you couldn’t eat those animals. If you ate those animals, it would make you unclean or it would be considered sin in your life. That’s kind of the parallel that’s being drawn here.

Verse 8, I replied, Surely not, Lord. Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth. And the voice spoke from heaven a second time, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. This happened three times. And then it was all pulled up to heaven again. Right then, three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea, the gentiles, stopped at the house where I was staying. The spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with the gentiles. These six brothers also went with me and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, Send to Joppa for Simon who has called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved. As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as it had come on us at the beginning. And then I remembered what the Lord had said that John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is I to think that I could oppose God.

Okay. This is a great story about the power of the gospel and the importance of change. And what I want to do is I want to share with you three things that we learned from Peter. This is not normally the way I like to preach but it’s the best way I can put it together for you to try to grab it. Three things about riding the waves of change. The first thing is this, we are called to be changed. We are called to be changed, verse 7, then I heard a voice telling me, Get up, Peter. Kill and eat. I replied, Surely not, Lord. Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth. The voice spoke from heaven, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. Peter has a paradigm of life. A paradigm or a perspective about how he believes life should go. And part of his paradigm was that he still needed to keep the law to earn God’s approval. That the finished work of Jesus wasn’t enough. That he still needed to obey the law and keep the law fully to get God’s approval.

And the other part of that paradigm we see here is that he thought the gospel was only for the Jews, not for the gentiles. And God shows up and asks Peter to do something that’s against Peter’s own paradigm. And I love Peter’s response. Surely not, Lord. Like, surely not. I love you but I am not okay with this. And God speaks back very quickly to Peter. He says Peter don’t call anything impure that which I have made clean. In other words, Peter don’t say no when I’ve said yes. Don’t reject what I accept. Don’t forbid what I declare. And like a thousand times before, God starts changing Peter. And when I read that this week, I thought, “Man, that’s a picture of us. We have a paradigm of life. And God shows up and he challenges that paradigm and he asks us to do something and we respond with, “Surely not, Lord. Surely not. Like, you can’t be serious right now.” There is no way I’m going to do this or go there or act like this or give this up or accept that or be okay with this.

And then we use crazy words like always and never, right? Which just my encouragement to you. Those are not good words to use with God. Because the only thing about never and always is God will never allow you to always be the same. That’s about the best you got going for you there. Okay? And like Peter, he begins to change us. You see what you have to remember is that the gospel is always for the least deserving, least expecting people. That was the gentiles. In fact, think for a moment in your mind, who would you say is the least deserving person of God’s love? Can you just picture somebody in your mind for a second? Like, maybe it’s a person on the street. Maybe it’s somebody that’s hurt you really bad in your life. Maybe it’s a terrorist somewhere in the Middle East. Who do you think is the least deserving of God’s love? Okay. That’s who Jesus came to die for.

The least deserving, least expecting person of which you are one. You are the least deserving, the least expecting person. I am the least deserving, least expecting person. And I’ve been reminded today how grateful I am that even though I didn’t deserve it or expected it, Jesus still chose to come to die for me. You see, the bible tells us that there’s no one who is righteous, no one who seeks him, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And you’ll never understand the depths of God’s love until you first understand the depths of your brokenness without him. And what I love about Jesus is we come to him as we are. But he refuses to allow us to stay as we are. He starts changing us. I mean that’s the gospel. The gospel is not just a message of good news. It’s a message of change. The gospel is not just a message of one time change, it’s a message of ongoing lifestyle of change.

The gospel is constantly transforming, renewing, forgiving, redeeming. And I love what God says, he says, Don’t call anything impure that which I have made clean. Do you understand that’s you? If you’re in Jesus, it don’t matter what you did last night, what you did last week, what you did ten years ago. Don’t call anything impure that which he has made clean. Which may go against your paradigm. But he’s changing you. You see 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come. That word, “new creation.” In the original language, it literally means metamorphosis. Like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, right? It has this metamorphosis that happens. A complete transformation or change. And when something goes through a metamorphosis, you can no longer see what was in the midst of what is. Like if I look at a butterfly, I don’t see any remnants of a caterpillar. I don’t see what was in the midst of what is.

And the same is true for you. You’ve been completely transformed in Jesus. He’s given you a new heart and a new spirit and a new identity and a new value system and a new set of desires. He’s changed everything about you. And this whole journey following Jesus is a journey of change. Like just think of the concepts we’ll use. Repentance, which literally means to change your mind. To follow Jesus, it’s a journey of constantly repenting. Changing my mind and going a different direction. Or Romance 12, be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Be changed. Or how about Matthew 4:19, come follow me and I will make you fishers of men. In other words, Jesus says, Follow me and I will start to change you. To follow Jesus is to change. In fact, it’s impossible to follow Jesus without changing. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, the more we behold him, we’re transformed into his image and likeness. We go from glory to glory. He makes us more like him.

So the question I would ask you today is, are you being changed? Are you being changed? Are you becoming more like Jesus? Are you finding your desires and your values and the fruit of the spirit within you is beginning to change is beginning to grow. I mean, are you changing Valley Creek? And I realize, sometimes it’s hard to see it in ourselves. Like, when grandma and grandpa show up in town at our house, the first thing they always say to my kids is, “Look at how much you’re growing and you’re changing.” And my kids every time, they do this. They start looking at her, “Wait a second. No. No, grandpa. I still look the same as I did before.” And they can’t see it in themselves. Okay. Can I tell you something? You’re changing. Let me be grandpa for a moment here. You’re changing. And you may not see it in you but I see it in you. You’re becoming more like Jesus. He’s changing you, okay? We’re called to be changed.

The second thing is this, is we’re called to embrace change. This is where it starts to not get so fun. Okay. We’re called to embrace change. Verse 15, it says, I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them and as it had come to us at the beginning. And then I remembered what the Lord had said, John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus, who was I to think that I could oppose God. You see this whole situation of the gospel going to the gentiles is totally beyond Peter’s box. It’s way beyond his box. God shows up and asks Peter to do something he’s never done before and to experience something he’s never experienced before. To do something he’s never done, preach to the gentiles. And experience something he’s never seen before. The Holy Spirit come on the gentiles and bring them from death to life. It’s totally out of his box. And what I love about Peter, if you read Peter’s life throughout the scriptures, Peter always, like, thought he had God figured out. Did you ever notice that about Peter?

Like, he always thinks he has God completely figured out. Like he knows more about God than God knows about himself, kind of, you know. Like Peter thought, “Oh, there’s no way Jesus would call a fisherman to be one of his disciples. And then Peter thought, “Oh, there’s no way Jesus is going to go to the cross and leave us. He’s totally staying here with us.” And then Peter, “There’s no way Jesus is going to raise from the dead because like who can do that.” And then he thought, “There’s no way he can forgive me for betraying him three times and denying him. And then Peter, “There’s no way God is going to bring the gospel to the gentiles. That’s just crazy.” And every time, God expanded Peter’s box. He kept challenging Peter’s frame of reference. He kept challenging Peter’s box. And every time Peter embraced that change, he saw more of God and more of his own brokenness was healed. Listen, can I tell you something? You, like Peter, have a box.

Whether you believe it or not, whether you’re conscious of it or not, you have a box. A box which you’ve placed God inside. And you have parameters around that limits on which you’ve placed upon God. And that box in your life has probably been created by your experiences or your lack of experiences. So experiences in our life or lack of experiences that kind of create our theology and create these limitations which we’ve put around God which is the wrong way to do it. You don’t want experiences to determine theology. You want your theology to determine your experiences, okay? But the reality is, is you’ve created this box in your life. And so because there’s this box, you say things. You have limitations around God and you say things like God can’t or God won’t. And because you put a limitation on God, there’s now a limitation on you. So then you say, you can’t or you won’t. And then because you put a limitation on you, you then put a limitation on us as the church and say we can’t or we won’t. And like Peter, we think we’ve got God figured out. Like God couldn’t possibly forgive me. He couldn’t possibly choose me. God doesn’t move like that anymore. That only happened back then. All these different things.

Can I just tell you something? God is bigger than your box. He’s bigger than your box. He’s more loving, more compassionate, more gracious. He is kinder, more merciful, wiser more supernatural. I mean God is bigger than your box. And he’s constantly leading you into uncomfortable places called change so he can expand that box. That’s what Paul says in Ephesians 3, he says that I pray that you would know how wide, how deep, how long, how high is the love of God. In other words, you know, what Paul says. He says, “I pray that God would explode your box and just blow your mind.” And show you that he is so much bigger than you think he is. And every time you’re willing to embrace change, you will see more of God and more of your own brokenness will be healed. And you say, “Why brokenness healed?” Because there’s things inside of you that you don’t even know are broken that get exposed in moments of change.

And when they get exposed and we see more of him, the more of him we see, heals the brokenness in us that we didn’t even know was there. And so to resist change is basically to say, “My box is fully — is to the full limits. I’ve got all of God figured out that I need to know.” That’s what really you are saying when you resist change. So the question I would ask you is, where do you need to embrace change? Like right now, today in your life, do you need to embrace change in a season that’s changing? In a job or a relationship? Start something new. End something. I don’t know. Where is the wave of change rolling through your life? What change do you need to embrace? Okay. Are you still with me so far?

Okay. We’ll go get a wet baby and change a wet baby’s diaper. No. I know this is tough stuff. But I’m telling you, this is — there’s so much life in this for us. See, there’s this concept called progressive revelation, okay? A big word for a simple concept. It simply means this. Progressive revelation, God continually reveals more and more of a certain topic or of himself to us. And it just keeps going and going deeper and deeper.

It would be like if I handed you a picture that was folded up in 100 folds and I handed it to you, you would just see that one little piece. But as you started unfolding with every fold, you would get a better idea and perspective of what that picture actually is. It’s progressive revelation. And if you read the Bible, I think a great example of this would be how God has chosen to reveal himself to people throughout the years. Like if you just think about it, like go back and start with the tabernacle. God started and He told the Israelites as they were going through the wilderness, He said, “I want you to build a tabernacle.” Basically a tent that they would set up, wherever they camped and God’s presence would come and they would meet with God and offer sacrifices and it was great. They took it around with them, everywhere they went until they got in the Promise Land. And then one day, God shows up and He says, “Guys, the tabernacle has been great, but I have something better. I want you to build a temple, a temple where I will come and fill that temple and my presence will always be there, and everyone will now that they can come and meet with me at any point in time at the temple.”

And don’t you know there was a whole bunch of people that said, “Whoa. That’s beyond our box. But God, we’ve got you figured out. This is the tabernacle. You gave us the tabernacle. This is where we meet with you, not at the temple.” And God says, “I know, but I want to show you more of who I am. This is better than that, so let’s build a temple.” And so they built a temple and God comes and He fills it and for hundreds of years, that’s where the Israelites meet with God. They offer sacrifices and they worship there and they gather there and God’s presence is there. It’s this incredible experience. And then one day, Jesus shows up. Jesus shows up. And He says, “Hey, guys. The temple has been awesome, but something better has just showed up.” He says, “I’m here to be the image of the invincible God to show you who God is really like.” And don’t you know, there is a whole group of people that said, “No, no, no. Timeout, Jesus. Like we — that’s beyond our box, dude. We have got this thing figured out. This is from God. We meet with God here. We offer sacrifices here.” Jesus says, “I know. I know, but God wants to show you more of who He is.”

“Grace and truth has just showed up in your life. I am literally the image of the invincible God. I’ve come to show you who the Father is like. Come and walk with me.” And a whole bunch of them said, “No, no, no. That’s beyond our box. We’re staying at the temple.” Jesus said, “Okay.” And so for 33 years, he walks on this earth. He gets his disciples. He builds His team. And then one day, Jesus says to the disciples, He says, “Hey, guys, I’m going to go. And it’s better for you that I go because you’ll get the Holy Spirit,” and the disciples freaked out. They’re like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Jesus. What do you mean it’s better if you go? We don’t think so.” And Peter pipes up because he’s got God figured out and he says, “Jesus, I will never let that happen to you.” And Jesus responds so quick, He says, “Get behind me, Satan.” You do not have in mind the things of God. You have in mind the things of man. In other words, when we resist change, we have in mind the things of man, not the things of God.

Because Jesus says something better is coming. He says, “I can only be in one place at one time, but I’m about to send you the Holy Spirit that will be in all of you all of the times.” So Jesus goes and sends the Holy Spirit, and that’s where we are today. The Holy Spirit lives in us. It’s better. He’s showing us more of who He is, but there’s still one more. Jesus says, one day, He’s going to come again, the second coming of Jesus. And when He shows back up, don’t you know there will be a whole group of people that say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Jesus. That’s beyond our box. We got the Holy Spirit in us. You go back to wherever it is that you came from, because we got the Holy Spirit, the same spirit that raised you from the grave is alive in me right now.” This is good. This is from God. This is how — I’m just telling you. That’s going to happen. The trumpet is going to blow. Jesus is going to show up. A bunch of people would be, “We got the spirit. We don’t need you.” And Jesus said, “No. It’s better.” And what I’m trying to say to you is, what you have to understand and change, wherever God is leading you, it is always better than where you’ve been, always.

Would we all agree that the second coming of Jesus is better than the tabernacle?

Some of us are like, “I don’t know. I never tried the tabernacle. Let’s give it a try,” you know. Okay. The second coming of Jesus is better than the tabernacle, which means whatever it is that He is leading you through, no matter how painful it may be, it’s better than where you’ve been. I mean, think of the Israelites. God brings them out of slavery, into the wilderness, into the Promise Land. It’s always getting better and yet they always want to go back. In other words, the Israelites preferred godless security to God-led change. They preferred godless security in Egypt because they had a predictability around their box. They knew what to expect to God-led change. They didn’t want to follow them into the unknown. I wonder how many times in your life and my life do we prefer godless security to God-led change.

Because there’s something about the unknown that we don’t like because it makes us walk by faith, we want to walk by sight. The reality is, is we prefer the predictability of our box over exploring the expanse of God. I think a lot of us, we prefer the bondage of our box as opposed to the freedom of a limitless God. In fact — I mean, did you ever read about the Israelites and just think they were crazy? Come on. Did you ever read the Israelites and just think they’re crazy? You’re like, “You’re crazy. He’s bringing you out of Egypt’s slavery. He’s taking you into the Promise Land.” Promise Land. It’s promised to you. All you have to do is follow. Like — and you really think that what’s back there is better than — you’re — you know what I’m saying? They’re crazy. Okay. I wonder if the Israelites read the story of our life if they would think we were crazy. Like I wonder if the Israelites read the story of my life. And as they read it, they’re going through and they’re like, “Wait a second. You didn’t want to follow God to Texas? Like don’t you know that Texas is the Promise Land? What are you thinking?”

“You wanted to stay in Colorado and then go — are you crazy?” Right? This is the Promise Land. You’ve arrived. Okay. How about your life? If they read the story of your life, right now. Would the Israelites say, “Are you crazy? You don’t want to follow him into that new job or that new season or trust him with your finances or allow that relationship to change or step into a new — are you really? You’re not going to follow him?” See, the challenge with change is change confronts our preferences. That’s why we don’t like it. And the reality is, is when change comes, you get a choice. You can choose your preferences or you can choose his presence, but you usually can’t choose both. In fact, it was funny to me.

A couple of years ago, I went into the church that I grew up and hadn’t been in there in years. And I walked in and I remember being shocked, like it was exactly the same it’s like 20 years earlier. Like the paint color was still the same, you know. The carpet was — the same smell and the air. The same flannel graph board, you know, that I grew up on. You know what I’m talking about? If you don’t know what a flannel graph board is that shows you how unchanging this place had been. You know, they were still like the same Joseph that was stuck there by a piece of gum that I had probably did as a five-year-old kid, you know. Like — I mean, nothing had changed. And I remember sitting there thinking, you know what’s really sad, is that in the world we are not known. As followers of Jesus, we are not known as people who embraced change. We are known as people who resist change. The world doesn’t see followers of Jesus as people who are embracing change. They see us as people who are stuck in a time warp, always trying to hold on to the past instead of following God into the unknown of the future. And so if we stepped into your life, would your life look the same today as it did six months ago, as it did a year ago, five years ago, 15 years ago?

And yeah, maybe you got a new car. But I mean, is it pretty much the same? The same struggle, the same issue, the same ungodly beliefs. You haven’t followed God into anything new. There’s been a predictability about your life for long periods of time. It’s just showing you that you haven’t been embracing the change He’s been bringing you. And what I think happens to a lot of us, it’s tradition that keeps us from revelation. It’s the tradition of our own life that makes us feel comfortable that keeps us from the revelation, from the next fold of the piece of paper to see more of God. That was the Pharisees. They had their tradition. They had their temple. That’s where they did. They had the law. They did all of this stuff. And Jesus shows up and He’s right there and they cannot see the author of life in front of them because their tradition blinded them from revelation. I think it happens to a lot of us.

And here is the root question, okay. The root question of change that we all ask when we’re trying to decide whether or not we’re going to embrace this wave that’s rolling into our life, the root question is this, can God be trusted? That’s the question you’re really asking. And some of you are like, “No. That’s not the question I’m asking. I’m just annoyed by this thing,” right? I don’t trust that person or I don’t trust that situation or I don’t trust my boss. Okay. Yeah. But isn’t God bigger than all that? He is sovereign. He is supreme. He is Lord. So He is bigger than all of that, which means if you back it up, ultimately, the question you’re really asking is, can God be trusted. And you know what He would say to you, He would say, “Come and see. Come and see that I’m bigger than your box and that where I’m taking you is better than where you’ve been.” That’s embracing change. And I realize some of you in a room like this, you’re sitting here and this all sounds good, but in your life, you’ve been just hit by a rogue wave.

A wave that you weren’t expecting came out of nowhere and has blindsided you. Like it’s a divorce you weren’t expecting, a loss you had no idea was coming, a job change that just — literally , it’s like a rogue wave that’s caught you and has leave you — left you disoriented. You’re not even sure which way is up right now. And so what do you do with that? And here’s what I’ve learned in my life, real simple is this, if you’re disoriented by change, first, grieve the past. You got to grieve the past. Sometimes, we want to move on and act like it didn’t hurt. It did hurt. There is pain involved. There is a loss. Grieve the past. He is close to the broken hearted and He will heal your wounds and bind up your heart, okay? You got to grieve the past. And the second thing is, thank Him for what was. The reason it hurts is because there was something in that season that was of value, a relationship, an opportunity, a job, a comfort. There was something that you valued that is now gone, so thank Him for what was.

I think a lot of times we never thank God for the very thing we’re even upset has changed. We never have given Him thanks once for it, so thank Him for it. Because what thanksgiving does — Psalm 136:1, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever. Gratitude, thankfulness reminds you that God is good and it allows His perfect love to cast out your fear in that situation. So thank Him for it. And then look for God in the present. Look for him in and out. The reason we can never move forward is because we’re so fixated on the past, so focused on trying to understand it, fight it, recreate it, control it. And what God says in Isaiah 43:18 and 19, He says, “Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past.” See, I’m doing a new thing. Can you not see it? The reason we can’t see the new thing, the new revelation that God wants to bring to us is because we’re so focused on the past. It’s like the Pharisees. They were so focused on the past, they couldn’t see Jesus right in front of them.

And sometimes when my kids, when I would get it wrong and they would get toppled by that wave and they would get, you know, all underneath, what they would do — the first thing they would do is they would pop up and they would look for me. They didn’t try to swim. They didn’t try to get to shore, they looked for me. If you’re disoriented by change today, look for Him, because even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you do not have to fear evil because He is with you. And some of you are in the valley of the shadow of death, but you know what, you’re maybe one day, one week, one month, one season away from the greener pastures that He is leading you towards because where He is taking you is always better than where you’ve been, okay? Okay. And the last thing is this, we’re called to be catalysts of change. Not only are we changed. Not only do we embrace change. We’re actually catalysts of change. Verse 18, when they heard this, the critics, they had no further objections and praised God saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles’ repentance onto life.”

This whole thing starts because there’s a whole bunch of critics that are upset about the change. Can I tell you something? As you change and you embrace change, you need to expect the critics of change. Amen? You’re like, “No, no.” Yeah. Yeah. Peter had critics. Moses had critics bringing two million people to the Promise Land. David had critics bringing the arc of the covenant into Jerusalem. It was his own wife. I mean, you need to expect critics. And some of you, as you’re changing and learning to live and awake into life and following Jesus, there’s critics popping up in your life and you’re like shocked by it. And they’re saying things to you, like, “Man, you’re no fun anymore. Why don’t you party with us like you used to? Why don’t you come to the break room and gossip with us about our boss? You don’t do not anymore. Why — what’s different about you? What’s changing?” Okay. Can I just tell you? If you’re finding critics in your life, that means you’re becoming more like Jesus. Instead of it defeating you, let it encourage you because critics don’t change the world. Followers of Jesus do, okay?

So don’t worry about critics. Critics come when we change. And so what Peter does is his box has been expanded and he wants everybody else’s box to expand. That’s how you know you’ve changed. It’s not only are you now so excited about it, you want to help everybody else get their box bigger as well. And that’s the church. The church of Jesus is a catalyst of change in this world. We are God’s instrument on this earth to bring forth change. Jesus didn’t say, “Father, I pray you take them out of the world.” If that was the case, the moment you put your faith in Jesus, you just magically appear in heaven. It would just be over. He says, “No. I send them into the world. I send them into the world that they may be salt and light, that they would bring the rule and reign of God in heaven to earth and make wrong things right.” Listen, as followers of Jesus, we don’t fear change. We don’t resist change. We lead change. There’s a big difference there. We don’t fear it. We don’t resist it. We live it. When there is a mess, we clean it up.

When there’s brokenness, we heal it. When there’s a problem, we fix it. When there is an issue, we resolve it. When there is a need, we provide for it. When there’s chaos, we bring peace. When there’s despair, we bring hope. When there’s anger, we bring love. We have a catalyst of change. That’s who we are in this world. Life is not about you minimizing the amount of change you have to experience. It’s about being a catalyst of change. In fact, an interesting question to ask yourself is like, when change comes in your life, whatever it looks like, are you like Peter convincing everybody else to trust and follow God or are you the one that needs convincing? When change comes, your job, your relationships, your community, your neighborhood. When change comes, are you convincing everybody else that where God is leading you is better than where you’ve been or are you the one that needs to everybody else to spend their time and energy convincing you? See, what’s interesting to me, as the reason of the church at large is not changing the world, it’s because we’re so busy resisting change, we don’t have time to lead change.

That’s why you can go into these churches and they look like they’re in a time warp from 50 years ago and you’re like, “Really? You guys are still arguing over an organ or a piano? Like for real?” Because I’m just saying, the second coming is better than the tabernacle. If you spend all your time resisting change, you don’t have time to lead change. And here is the deal, you have the spirit of the living God inside of you, which means the church, the followers of Jesus, we are the leading edge of change in the world around us. The world is desperate and craving the change that God has placed you here to lead. You have the ability to tap into the great Creator who can give you creative solutions for the problems. You have the spirit of wisdom within you that can provide wisdom for the problems the world is facing that will reveal the glory of God to them. You have the spirit who can open up your eyes to give you vision and insight and direction on where to go and what He wants to do and how He wants to bring his redemption to mankind.

We are the leading edge of change. But you will never be a catalyst of change until you’re willing to embrace change and until you’re first willing to be changed by Him. You see, at the end of the day, here it is– I’ll sum it up for you with this, we serve the unchanging God of change. He’s the unchanging God of change. Hebrews 13:8, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He doesn’t change. But everywhere He moves, He brings change. And so in the midst of the unknown of change, you can always know this, that He will never leave you nor forsake you and He will always be with you. That’s why we can deal with change. The only two times you can use the words never and always, he will never leave you nor forsake you and He will always be with you.

That’s why we, as the people of God, can embrace change. Why it’s a value to us even though it’s not to the world. And every time God brings change, it’s an invitation for you to see more of Him. So the question I would ask you is this, what wave do you need to ride? What wave that’s rolling in in your life — I promise you, there’s a wave of change in all of our lives right now. What wave do you need to ride with Him instead of resisting it? So will you close your eyes with me? And let me just ask you, man, what’s God want to say to you? What’s the Holy Spirit whispering in your heart? I understand change is not easy. I’m not saying it is.

Change is hard and it’s challenging because it forces us out of realms of predictability and out of realms of comfort. But God is always found in change. And so where do you need to let him change you? Maybe there is an area in your life that you’re tired of, you’re frustrated by, you’re sick of it, you keep getting caught in the same vortex, okay. Ask him. So Jesus, the gospel, not only changes me one time as a follower, but it’s constantly changing me. Would you change this area in my life? Ask him that. And then for some of you, maybe it’s just choosing to embrace some change. Some change that maybe has already come in your life or some change that’s coming in the days ahead. Will you embrace it? And believe that where He is taking you is better than where you’ve been even though you can’t see it.

And then for some of us, it’s time to be catalysts of change. Instead of being convinced and complaining about stuff, be a leader of change. Be like Peter and say, “Jesus, I didn’t understand it. I do now and now I’m here to help other people grab ahold of who you are in their life.” What’s God want to say to you? So Lord Jesus, here is what we pray. We pray that we would be a people of change. That we would be willing to follow you into the unknown, to places that are better than where we have been. That we would believe that you will never leave us nor forsake us. That you will always be with us. And we thank you for the gospel that went to the Gentiles of which we are the Gentiles, the least deserving, least expecting people. Thank you that you’ve changed us and that you’ve empowered us to lead change. So Holy Spirit, I pray you would release wisdom and creativity and vision and understanding and unique design moments in every person sitting in this room.

That this week as they go out into the world, they would feel empowered by you to be a leader of change, that the glory of God may fill this earth. We love you, Jesus. And we say, as the people of Valley Creek, we will follow you. We will never be caught by comfort. We will be people of change because you are the unchanging God of change. Thank you, Jesus. In your name, we pray, amen.

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