When we were in California last week, I saw my reflection in a storefront window. My belly was noticeably protruding. I tried to suck it in but nothing much happened. I looked away and saw a pregnant lady walk by. I looked back at the storefront window. I realized I was either four months pregnant or I needed to work on my gut.
I knew to see any change, I would have to do some things differently. Change my diet, begin some exercise, buy some duct tape, wear looser fitting shirts. But then it hit me. To exercise in this humidity might kill me. To change my diet, I might have to give up stuff I need. The cheerleaders complained that the duct tape took off skin. So the only thing remaining was wearing looser fitting shirts and waiting nine months to see what might happen.
I need motivation for change because I realize if I keep doing what I’ve been doing, I’ll remain as I am. It’s a law of life: if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll only get the results we’ve been getting.
Einstein said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.
If I want different results in my life, both physical and spiritual, I must do some things differently.
If I want to go deeper with God, I’ve gotta get out of the shallow end of the pool.
If I want to get to know God better, I’ve gotta get into studying His Word.
If I want to expand my faith, I must let go of what’s holding me back from trusting Him.
If I want a more dynamic prayer life, I need to rediscover the faithfulness of the One I’m praying to.
If I want to follow the Lord more closely, I’m going to have to move closer to Him.
But if we choose to stay as we are, then we don’t need to do anything, just keep doing what we’ve been doing. But realize this: that’s not why God saved us. God doesn’t save people to leave them like they were when He found them. He makes new people out of them. He changes them.
Acts 26:9-18 So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
How’s your life working out for you, Paul? Pleased with where it’s going? Think you’re serving Me? Don’t you realize you’re hurting Me and interfering with My plans for you?
And I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.'
Paul met Jesus. But did Jesus intend to leave Paul as a He found him? Of course not. Can you imagine God saying, “Paul, let me save you. Now go on about your life the way you’ve been living it. All I wanted was your soul anyway.” No, God wanted the whole life.
Paul experienced his own writings: 2Cor 5:15-17 Jesus died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Paul was a new man who, from the moment of that transformation, lived as a new man.
2Cor 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Salvation is transforming work.
2Cor 6:1-8 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain [don’t accept it without allowing it to do the changes God has planned] giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
Doesn’t sound like a man who trusted in Jesus for his salvation and remained the same.
2Cor 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves [God’s well done. Not well, you did the best you could. Well done – how well did you allow me to get done in you all I had planned]; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
How could Paul live like that? Read his writings. They’re the testimony of his life.
2Cor 1:8-10 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,
2Tim 4:16-18 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever.
Yeah, but that’s just Paul, Super Apostle.
Phil 4:6-9 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
I promise, I am not the exception. What God has done for me, He’ll do for you.
2Co 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate…
Paul decided at the very beginning, that though he knew he was inadequate for what God wanted from him, he was all in. That was his choice. He could have remained inadequate or allow God to make him adequate for whatever he would face.
What if Paul had chosen to stay as he was? What was the cost of him doing nothing? What God did through Paul is why you are here today.
Paul had plugged into the legacy of men and women who lived what they believed.
Ps 61:4-5 Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name.
What inheritance? Those who chose not to remain the same.
Ex 3:10-12 “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt." But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?" And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain."
What if Moses had chosen to remain a sheep farmer instead of becoming the deliverer for the nation of Israel?
Josh 1:2. 5-6 Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
What if Joshua had chosen to remain a follower instead of becoming the leader God called him to be?
Jer 1:4-9 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD. Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
What if Jeremiah would have chosen to remain an immature believer instead of submitting to the God who could make Him a vital spokesman?
Lincoln: good speaker, only he didn’t ask of us something great.
When God calls us to Himself to become His children, He has something great in mind. He is expecting to receive our whole life so He can make it useful to what He intends. He will not leave us as we are. He will always call us to more and better.
Mama Jean: You can stay as you are, or you can believe God for greater things.
In 1860, a huge crowd was watching the famous tightrope walker, Blondin, cross Niagara Falls numerous times. He not only walked across it; he also pushed a wheelbarrow across it. One little boy just stared in amazement. So after completing a crossing, Blondin looked at the little boy and said, “Do you believe I could take a person across in the wheelbarrow without falling?” “Yes sir, I really do.” “Well then, get in, son.”
Believing in what you believe.
1. Within the plans of God are the changes necessary to live out those plans.
2. If God is moving us toward change, realize what He expects requires more than us just remaining as we are.
3. When we believe in what we believe, we will allow Him to make whatever adjustments He finds are necessary so He can use us as He chooses.
The cost of doing nothing is far too high a price to pay