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A Change Will Do You Good

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Jeremiah 48:11-13,46,47
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Change Means Struggle

   During the sleet storm one night last week, a big yellow butterfly materialized in my office while I was working on the Sunday morning message.  I couldn’t imagine from where it came, but it stayed with me for three evenings.  A butterfly is, of course, the symbol of resurrection, change, metamorphosis. Yellow is the color of decision I’m told.  Three nights is the number of resurrection.  If the three-night yellow butterfly was a message, then it signifies making a decision to change something in the upcoming weeks and months.  Though Yahshua never changes, his children are expected to continually change, improve, grow, sanctify.

   The butterfly reminded me of a trip to the Callaway Gardens butterfly house in Pine Mountain, GA.  Once we brought back a souvenir: a bumper sticker with a picture of a very ugly, gross green caterpillar on it, and the caption, "A Change Will Do You Good!"  You know the struggle an ugly worm goes through to become a butterfly.  We know about the incredible struggle from womb through the birth canal to the outside world birth we take, though that memory is locked in our subconscious.  Some like me were just plucked out of the womb after tremendous effort.  We learn daily about struggle as we negotiate the years of our lives onward to our ultimate destination.  Our outward tribulations often don’t come near betraying what kind of turmoil, confusion and sense of loss that exists within.  Life is lived conflict to conflict because life is lived change to change.

   Why do we consider change and struggle and loss in the same breath?  Because all change represents loss of some kind: loss of the things we’re used to; loss of people we've been comfortable with; loss of beliefs that no longer jive with present reality; loss of certain ways, certain people, certain events; loss that is incurred in the process of wrestling with that which is new and different.  To change always means to struggle, and struggle always entails loss.  This is why we resist change so powerfully.  Yet change happens constantly and in every realm of life; we have little power to stop its progress.

   Fortunately, the power for change is available to those who have been powerfully changed.  Father gives us the ability to conform to even the most profound changes through living faith in Yahshua Messiah, who is "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb 13:8), the rock of our salvation.  We must be willing to change when the Spirit demands it.  Unwillingness to change for the greatest and highest good of the Father's plan is an indication of the lack of faith in his providence.  Inability to "roll with the punches" makes life all the more difficult to manage.  Mismanagement of change because of unwillingness leads to resentment, anger, depression, and eventually, a stressed-out demise. In the meantime, the change-resister is miserable and makes everyone around miserable. 

   Change is hard!  But our Father is strong to help us in the struggle! 

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Moab Resisted Change

   Consider the allegory of Moab, an ancient foe of Judah:

Jeremiah 48 {11} Moab has been at ease from his youth, settled like wine on its dregs; he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile; therefore his flavor has remained and his aroma is unspoiled.  {12} Therefore, the time is surely coming, says Yahweh, when I shall send to him decanters to decant him, and empty his vessels, and break his jars in pieces. {13} Then Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.

Israel was ashamed of Bethel because they made an image of Yahweh, a golden calf, and worshipped it in that city.  Chemosh was the false Elohim of the Moabites; Yahweh vows that the Moabites will, like Israel before, become ashamed of their false worship and idolatry.  Indeed, for Moab, their unwillingness to change in response to Yahweh’s command cost them everything, even their national identity:

{46} Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh have perished, for your sons have been taken captive, and your daughters into captivity.

   The Moabites sacrificed babies to Chemosh.  They perished because they wouldn’t change their murderous practices and observe the merciful law of Yahweh.  He didn’t want Moab to be destroyed; he wanted to save!  But the only means toward  salvation is repentance and change. Retired Mobile D.S. Ed Sells once put it this way in a charge conference: "I feel sorry for anyone who gets in the way of what Yahweh's doing here" (1996).  Yahweh’s plan for change through his latter-day apostles and prophets will, in the end, turn out to be for the highest and best good of all involved.  In fact, Yahweh makes Moab a promise:

{47} I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days.

   Although Moab will be saved in the end (and they have been restored), if they had just sought Yahweh's will for them then and harkened to his commands and “suggestions,” they would’ve never lost their "fortunes" in the first place.

 

The Moral of the Story

   This world has got to change!  Yahweh is going to make His changes whether the world likes them or not no matter how long it takes, no matter how much pressure is to be applied.  That’s why we’ve experienced constant war for 150 years!  Pressure is being applied.  That’s why we lost the World Trade Center.  Pressure is being applied to the world to change.  The best course is to learn His will then get on board with what He is doing instead of what we think He should be doing. For what Yahweh desires is the highest and best good of ALL concerned.  That’s why he is setting up a one-world government under Yahshua the King.  Righteousness will pour forth from Jerusalem like rain in those days.  But like Moabites, we worship Chemosh when we believe Yahweh’s Will is simply what we think it should be instead of making the effort to discern the truth.  We sacrifice ourselves on the altar of falsehood by playing little Yahweh.  It will go better for us if we trust Yahweh’s divine plan, use the tools He’s given us to discover His will, then give in to His desire for change.

 

Change In Yahshua Not Recognized

   Let's learn to recognize what’s changing in the world, in our personal lives and in the life of the church.  On the Emmaus Road, the disciples who encountered him were probably Yahshua's uncle Cleopas and his son or his wife, yet they didn't recognize him.  He was still Yahshua, still the nephew, still the Son of Yahweh, but his countenance had changed to a degree that his kin didn't know him. Yahshua had undergone much suffering, but his Father remade him into a new likeness and called him to a new ministry in a new dimension.

   The travelers only perceived his identity through his ministry of breaking bread when they all got to the inn. They recognized the Risen Messiah not because he looked the same, but because of the new thing he did among them.  He was still the same ‘man,’ but he had a new face of joy, a new ministry of power, and he resided in a new dimension of glory. He appeared in Emmaus to make promote a change in how his followers perceived him, themselves and their ministry to others.

   We also must, with eyes of faith, recognize that "He is doing an old thing and a new thing in our presence."  As he once told his disciples, "Bring new skins for new wine, so that both the old and the new might be preserved."  He also said, “Bring out of your treasure that which is both old and new.”  This is another way of commanding the continuous change that growth in spiritual matters requires.  We revere the old: tradition will always be a valuable part of who we are and how we worship.  But once we rediscover our tradition and celebrate it, we are then to walk in the opposite direction.  That means change.

   Somebody said that Yahweh’s will for you yesterday is the devil’s will for you today.  That goes for the church as well!  Amen.

 

Yahshua Is Making Changes Here

   Let's try to recognize Yahshua's new face through his ever-changing ministry in our church. We are going through changes, every one of us.  But Messiah is all and in all.  He is bringing about changes in our families, in our church ministries to and through families; changes in familiar surroundings, in worship; changes in people – a few new coming in – a few old passing on – others just traversing through.  Some are considering going out because change is uncomfortable -- some are becoming converted to the new order of the Kingdom and church.  How wonderful it is to realize that when change for the better is materializing, when spiritual progress is being made, when people refuse to quit in the process, then there stands the Kingdom!

   The fact is that change is uncomfortable for everyone, the minister of Yahweh in particular.  Consider how difficult it is to learn that the name of our Father is not ‘Yahweh’ then to actually practice a new learning.  It took me years to reject the ingrained deceptions it’s learned from tradition and incorporate the sacred name consistently and publicly.  That has been a struggle. Some have embraced such truths and actually changed, then became blessed for it.  This is just one example of many.  But for others, any new revelation of divine truth is out of the comfort zone and is to be rejected out of hand.  Such is the sin of the Moabites. 

   Consider what one man had to say about change:

"Change is always hard for the guy who is in a rut. For he has scaled down his living to that which he can handle comfortably and welcomes no change -- or challenge -- that would lift him. The world hates change; yet it is the only thing that has brought progress."

   Change alone can bring our church forward toward a perfect imitation of Messiah and his Kingdom. We must be at least willing to move with the changes Yahweh is making.  We are a diverse people, yet we are to be a united people.  Through the changes of the next year in joint ministry, "Our concern must be unity in diversity and not diversity in contradiction."  The progressive change we seek is diversity in unity in transition.

 

We Are Wesleyans

   We are Wesleyans, yet most have a pretty narrow idea of what that means.  To be a Wesleyan means to experience the Risen Messiah in a personal way and still be corporeally united with others who have not necessarily experienced Messiah in the way we have.  We are to be open to learning and experiencing new things.  Not everybody experiences justification in the same way.  Not everybody believes theology in the same way.  We must respect our history and tradition yet be open to learning and to changing.  To be Wesleyan means to change our minds about certain prejudices we hold against other people who are not at the same level of spiritual growth or sanctification that we are.  If we call ourselves by this term, let’s learn what it means.  To the traditional person or church it means having flexibility toward what the Spirit is doing in our presence and among our people NOW rather than thirty years ago.

 

Invitation

   The question should never be "What’s this preacher doing here?" or "What’re these new people doing here?" or "What are these old people doing here?" or “What are these colored people doing here?" or “What is so-and-so doing here?"  The question that we must consider is "What’s Yahweh doing here?" This is the important question because there are sometimes dire consequences in resisting His will. Like Moab, the resistor or the self-willed religious hobbyist will be broken into pieces.  In the end, Yahweh will have his way whether you or I like it or not, whether we thrive in him or whether we are knocked to pieces by him. 

   The question that follows is, "Who are we in Yahshua the Messiah and what are we doing here?" The answer to that is “We are a diversity of gifted people in unity of spirit and purpose striving together toward the fulfillment of our common destiny in Messiah and his Kingdom.”  This is our mission statement.  This defines who we are and what we do!  In the end, and after all is said and done, through the struggle, the sifting and the decanting, the change will do us all good. Say it with me: "A change will do me good!"

 

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