Change

Posted on 09/10/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband

TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning! A warm welcome to all of you. I'd like to extend a special welcome all our visitors. We hope you'll make yourself at home and stay with us through the whole service so we can meet you afterwards during our time of fellowship.

Let's all stand to our feet and begin this service with prayer.

Lord God, thank you for bringing us all here together today, and for giving us this beginning to a brand new week.

Open our hearts so we can receive your Word today. Help us grow a little closer to you today and this week.

Whatever the need is here today, I ask that no one would leave here today without receiving a touch from you, and without receiving the ministry you want to give them through the believers in this place.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Please click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's worship the King together.


THE RESURRECTION SONG

Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
     that you can be born again
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
     Christ is risen from the dead

The angel up on the tombstone
     said he has risen, just as he said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
     that Jesus Christ is no longer dead!

Joy to the word,
     He has risen, hallelujah!
     He's risen, hallelujah!
     He's risen, hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
     that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
     Christ, he will reveal it now

The angels, they all surround us and
     they are ministring Jesus' power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
     for this could be your glorious hour!

TAKE ME INTO THE HOLY OF HOLIES
Take me past the outer courts, into the holy place
     past the brazen altar, Lord I want to see your face
Take me past the crowd of people, and the priests who sing your praise
     I hunger and thirst for your righteousness, and it's only found one place

Take me into the Holy of Holies
     take me in by the blood of the Lamb
Take me into the Holy of Holies
     take the coal, cleanse my lips, here I am

I STAND IN AWE
You are beautiful beyond description
     too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
     like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp your infinite wisdom?
     who can fathom the depth of your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
     majest enthroned above

I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you!


Amen and amen!

You may be seated, as we stay in an attitude of worship.

The title of my message today is, "Change."

I've heard it said in jest that it's a saying in a certain part of the world, "Change is change for the worse." And I dare say most of us agree to a greater or lesser extent.

We like new and exciting things, yet as humans, we are creatures of habbit. We like the comfort of familiarity. Even in change, we like things to, in one way or another, reflect that with which we're familiar.

This is not only because we seek security, but also because we were originally created in the image and likeness of God. God is solid and sure. And we retain part of that nature, to desire things be solid and sure.

And the nature of God is this: "I am the Lord, I change not..." We know God is the same yesterday, today, and will be the same forever. Since he is perfect and complete, he does not change.

Yet we are neither perfect nor complete. And so we read in 2nd Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

So if we are walking in the Spirit, we are being changed.

Am I changing? Are you changing? Are we different today than we were a year ago? Have we become more like Jesus?

If each of us were asked this question, I believe most of us could say, "Yes, I see how I've grown, how God has used both good times and bad times to shape me more into his image."

So when things happen in our lives and we are tempted to wonder where God is, we can remember that God is right there, shaping us, causing us to grow, changing us from glory to glory into his image, if we are born of his Spirit and walking with him.

In Daniel chapter two, verses 20 through 22 we read:

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
 For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
 He removes kings and raises up kings;
 He gives wisdom to the wise
 And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
 He knows what is in the darkness,
 And light dwells with Him.

So we see that while God does not change, he does change us, and he does change the times and the seasons in which we live.

Have you ever been at a point in your life in which you could feel change right around the corner? As if the wind of change were blowing, and you could feel it deep down in your bones?

God changes the times and the seasons. There are times in our lives which we think will last forever, but if the truth be know, they are there for only a season.

Since it's human nature to do so, many of us have stood still. We've held on to things whose times have passed. We've resisted changes in ourselves and our life situations.

But if we are not changing, that means we are standing still. And if we are standing still, it is because we do not have a clear vision of where we are going and of the next step on our journey.

So we see that God changes us from glory to glory, and he changes the times and seasons of things in our lives.

And thirdly, God changes the corporate body from glory to glory, and from one time and season to another.

Throughout history we see different movements, times, and seasons. We see God move in this way, then we see the wind change as he moves in another.

One thing we should stop and remind ourselves is this: While God changes individuals, while God changes times and seasons, and while God changes the maturity and the times and seasons of the corporate body, God himself remains the same.

What pleased him yesterday pleases him today and will please him tomorrow. What displeased him yesterday displeases him today and will displease him tomorrow.

What he said yesterday stands true and firm today, and will remain the same tomorrow.

So in following after God, in submitting to his changing of us and of the times and seasons, we should remain on our guard against false changes and false moves which are contrary to the unchanging nature and laws of God.

I've seen Christians led astray by believing God has changed his mind or his law. Whether it is a false change which says homosexual activity is somehow okay, or whether it is a false move which says God is now accepting all religions regardless of whether they lead their followers to Jesus or try to get to God some other way, the false moves of God and false times and seasons are plentiful, and if we don't know the truth and we aren't walking daily with God on the path he has for our lives, we can be deceived.

God has a plan for you. He has a path for you to follow. He has ordained times and seasons for your life, and his wind of change blows for every one of us.

I believe his wind of change is blowing for this gathering of believers here in the virtual world. I believe he wants to grow each of us as he grows us corporately so we can move forward.

I don't pretend to be a prophet, but I can feel his winds of change blowing. And for us to corporately follow the path God has ordained for this gathering and this ministry, we must seek him both together and alone, fixing our eyes upon him, searching for his heart and his mind.

And my question for you today is this:

Can you feel the winds of change? Is God preparing you to move forward, to take another step, to move in a new and perhaps unfamiliar direction? Is God calling you to step out of your comfort zone and trust him to lead you wherever he has ordained for you to go?

I know there are many of us here today who feel that corporate call to move forward with the calling God has placed upon this church body here in the virtual world. But regardless of whether that's you or whether you're just passing through, God is calling you to move forward on the path on which he has placed you.

Perhaps you've thought God doesn't really have anything in mind for you other than to live and die. But we read in Jeremiah 29:11, "I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

God has a plan for your life. He has a future prepared for you, and his path for you is a path of hope.

I would also like for us to ask ourselves this: Am I open to the moving of the Holy Spirit? Am I open to whatever change he may bring?

We must remember that all major moves of God have been met with resistence. None of us is so spiritual that we have never given into the flesh, or thought we were in the spirit when we were really acting out the thoughts and desires of the flesh.

Consider the resistence the early translators of the Bible encountered. For centuries the Bible was read in Latin, and unless you knew Latin, you simply didn't hear the Word of God, but had to rely on the priests and other church heirarchy to tell you how to live.

Consider things as recent as the Brownsville revival, and the strange ways in which God moved. Was there opposition? Of course, and critisicm and even condemnation persist to this day.

Consider ministries such as Benny Hinn's healing crusades. I've heard and read numerous condemnations of this man and his work as fraudulent or even demonic. And yet if you ask those who have gone, you'll discover the healings begin long before Benny arrives. All he does is worship and call people forward to tell what God has done for them. And countless souls have come to Jesus as a result.

Whenever there is something outside of our comfort zone and our area of familiarity, we tend to reject it, because it makes us feel uneasy.

Don't expect that you will never feel uneasy about whatever God does and however he does it. The question is not, "Will you ever feel uncomfortable with the move of God," but "What will you do when the move of God challenges you to move out of your comfort zone, abandon ideas, traditions, and beliefs which do not line up with the whole Word of God?"

In connecting with Believers from all different backgrounds, and in seeing the same Believers take on leadership roles, what will you do when there is a belief someone holds dear that clashes with a belief YOU hold dear?

When God moves among us, he shakes us. He allows us to rub up against one another in a way that hurts, so our rough edges can be worn away and we can be molded more into his image.

These times of striking rough edges are not times in which it is our duty to break the rough edges off our brothers and sisters; rather, in those times, it is our place to allow our own rough edges to be broken away.

The wind of change is a time of great adventure, but it is not only adventure. The turning of times and seasons are times of rejoicing and times of wonderment at what God will do next, and they are also times in which we should prepare ourselves for what is coming, for it is seldom what we have thought it will be.

Has God been moving in your heart, tugging at you to do something? Seek him for direction, for the next step, and then take it. If that something has to do with this gathering or our vision for the virtual world, please talk with me after the service.

If you're not sure what our vision is, here it is in a nutshell:

Our purpose for being in the virtual world is to lift up Jesus, to reflect his character to those in this community, to share his love, his hope, and his desire to have a personal relationship with each one. We're not here to recruit people to a religion or a denomination, but to point them to Jesus, helping them begin and develop a personal relationship with him on his terms.

We believe God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has not changed his mind about what is right and what is wrong. He has not become more tollerant of sin. His judgement has not wained. But on this side of the cross we have an answer, the only true answer and the only true way.

If just any road leads to God, our purpose here does not exist. If sin can be willfully practiced and God will just wink and pretend it doesn't matter, then we're really wasting our time.

If Buddah or Allah can heal hearts and bring true lasting peace and defeat death and the grave, then everything we do here is a total waste of time.

But if Jesus was telling the truth, then everything which speaks against this truth is a lie.

Our vision is tied into what Jesus said in John 10:10:

"The thief has come for nothing but to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it in great abundance."

We know the purpose of the enemy, and the purpose of any false system of belief and any false "answer" he brings, and that purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy you. But we also know the purpose of Jesus, the one who knit you together in your mother's womb, and his purpose is that you may have life, and not just life, but life in great abundance.

Let's read this Scripture in context, beginning with John chapter ten, the first verse, and then we'll close with prayer and go next door for our time of fellowship.

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."

6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
  
7 Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

...and in verse nineteen:

19 Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. 20 And many of them said, "He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?"
21 Others said, "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

Is it politically incorrect to call Mohammed a thief and a robber? Then Jesus was certainly politically incorrect. Is it narrow minded to say there is no other way to God? No other pathway? No other road? Then Jesus must have been narrow-minded.

And yet, speaking from a legal standpoint, there is as much evidence that Jesus rose again bodily from the dead as any other established historical fact.

The religious crowd was divided. Some said Jesus was a fraud, or acting under the power of demons. But others pointed to the fruit of his ministry and believed.

For us to move forward, we must be of one mind, of one vision, and of one heart. If any of these things have offended you today, may I urge you to study the Scriptures and examine your own heart.

First, make sure you are right with God, and that you are right with him on his terms.

We know his terms from Scripture.

First, we must realize that no matter how good we think we are, that won't save us. Ephesians two, eight through ten says,

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

We are created for good works, and it is our calling to work in them. But they do not justify or save us, and God does not weigh our good against our evil to determine our salvation, but gives us the assurance of Salvation as we walk daily with him.

Romans 3:23 tells us that we "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." and that "the payment for sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (6:23)

None of us is free to find God some other way because we're good people or because we follow a lie sincerely. We have all sinned and cut ourselves off from God, and even though we must pay the price, since God is completely just, he has already paid that price, since God is completely love.

You see, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God doesn't wait for us to get everything right. Jesus died for us while we all were still sinning against him. And if Jesus loves US like that, how can we reject a lost soul because of their sin?

So God's terms are that we rely on his works and not our own, and that we love the lost and realize we're no better than anyone else.

Then we read in Romans 10:9, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

If we ask Jesus to save us but have no intention of following him as our Lord, we have not come to him on his terms. And I'd like to stop for a moment here and point out that God's terms are terms of life, and when we do things not according to those terms, our actions are actions which bring death and destruction. God's laws are proof of his love as is his judgement.

If we try to add extra burdens or weights, or if we take away from what Scripture tells us and try to make the way to life more broad, then we are not of one mind.

We know the antichrist, the great world ruler who will bring false peace, will rule a short-lived kingdom which will fall, for there is no true unity in anything other than the truth, and there is no truth which does not agree 100% with the Word of God.

If those of us who feel God's wind of change will unite in the truth of God's Word and will put our man-made doctrines, traditions, and beliefs aside, we can move forward.

The wind of change is blowing. It's calling us to throw aside the sins that so easily entangle us. It's calling us to throw aside all extra baggage, even things we have thought are good.

Whatever is holding you back from following where God is leading you, lay it down and walk away.

The ministry team can come stand across the front now.

Are you ready to be changed from glory to glory into the image of Jesus?

Are you ready to follow where he leads, laying aside whatever is holding you back, and stepping out of the familiar and the comfortable?

If God is tugging at your heart, whether you have not yet surrendered your life to him, whether you have been holding on to things which would hold you back from the path God is leading you to follow, or whether you simply wish to declare your desire and willingness to allow the Holy Spirit's wind of change to take you out of the comfort of familiarity and into the unknown where you must walk by faith, come to the altar and let's pray.

If you have a special prayer need or need ministry, instant message one of the ministry team.

As you finish praying, I invite you to make your way to the room to your left where we'll all meet together for fellowship shortly.

Come to this altar and let's get all the obsticals out of our way so we can walk forward unhindered, following after God.

"The Spirit of the Lord comes before morning, bringing a wind of change."