I do a lot of praying, meditating, a lot of thinking about what God is wanting to do in the lives of his people. What He wants to do in MY life. Sometimes we need to be reminded what it really is to be a Christian. What does He want to have happen in this next year, this next 365 days?
I want to keep changing. One thing that we know, is that to be a spiritual Christian, I need to be committed to growing in the things of God. I don't want to be in the rut of not learning, not growing, not drawing any closer to the Lord. I need to change. I need to grow. Yesterday’s experience is not going to get me through the challenges of today.
Number One, we need to change, if we’re going to bring change. We know that so much in the world is broken, and that we need change, things need to be made better. Things can’t keep on like they’ve been. Something, many somethings need to change. The first thing that needs to be changed is ourselves. I believe that if you’re are truly passionate about changing the world, or at least your part of the world, the people around you will be able to tell, because you’ll be consumed with growing, maturing, and letting the Holy Spirit change your life.
So many people like to talk about how the world needs changing, and how something has to be done. I don’t think anyone, or at least no one I know, has one easy answer to make all the changes that need to happen.
I believe that if a person is serious about changing the world, or even changing the town or city you live in - and we all know that there are so many areas that cry out to be changed, to be made right, to be made fair, just and good… that if you feel a strong passion for bringing change, the Number One thing you’ll have to do is to have the changes brought into your own heart and life.
As we get to know the Lord better, we begin to realize that WE need to be the change that we want to see in the world. That’s our calling. And we won’t do it on our own. The human tendency is to want to change everybody else, and for us to stay the same as we are. But if we truly want to bring change, we need to be changed. As we grow and learn a little bit, we also realize that no one person and no one group of people is going to be able to change everything that needs changing or even to reach all the people who need reaching, or take a stand for every cause that needs to be helped out.
Number Two, we each have a calling, a gifting, a place that we are called to serve, a people for us to reach. We know that Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel – He never authorized us to preach anything else, and at the same time, not every person is going to be able to go to each and every country in the entire world, or to every people group.
The Apostle Paul says he's “the apostle to the Gentiles” in Romans 11:13. But he DID also preach to the Jews. In fact, the first place he preached when he came to a city was to preach in the synagogue before reaching out to the other people. Acts 17 verse 2 tells us that.
It’s not as though the other apostles never preached to Gentiles. We learn about that in Acts chapter 10. BUT, Paul’s MAIN calling was to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul said in Romans 15 verse 16 that God chose him to go to the gentiles and bring them the gospel.
That wasn’t something that Paul just came up with. That was God’s calling for him. Acts chapter nine and verse 15 says that in Paul’s conversion, the Lord Jesus declared that, “this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” Paul had been set apart from birth and called by God to preach [Christ] among the Gentiles. That’s in Galatians chapter 1, verses 15 and 16.
As we get to know the Lord better, we begin to learn that we each have a place in the work of God, we each have a place in the vineyard of God, the garden of God. And we need to be faithful to it. We have to learn from Him what our calling is and then how to walk in it. We begin to discover what we’re gifted in and what our skills and abilities are, and what we are anointed to do. And then we need to DO it!
Number Three, we have to let the Holy Spirit bring His changes in OUR lives. We need for Him to grow us and equip us in what we ought to become and what we need to do. See, in the natural, our human inclination is to look at other people and tell them to change, and tell them where they’re missing it, and where they’re wrong.
You see that and hear that all the time. Wherever you go, whether in the news, or TikTok, or any other social media, people talking about how those other people are wrong and need to change. Politicians do it, the news media does it, it’s everywhere. Why? Well, first of all because it is easy. It takes no brains to complain and find fault. Plus, people have an appetite for hearing about the wrongs of other people. That’s way easier than letting the Lord work in your own heart and have HIM make the changes that need to be made.
And that takes time. But that’s how the Kingdom of God operates. The change begins on the inside and then spreads to the outside and then all around us. When there is change IN me, there will be change around me.
Before I go around trying to bring changes to other people, I need to be serious about having the Lord work in my own life, and be dedicated to the Holy Spirit changing me. And a changed life is what gets people’s attention and gains their ear. The greatest thing a person can do, the greatest thing a church can do is to have change come into your life and the lives of the people around you.
When people notice that you act differently, you think differently, you speak differently, that you’re not like you used to be, or like the other defeated people in their lives, that’s worthy of attention.
The best tool for outreach: a changed life. Just going to church, or a church having a great worship band, a cool light set up, and a young hip pastor who dresses like a celebrity won’t produce the fruit that God is looking for. There already is a lot of that going on. But nobody can argue with a changed life, a saved life, a better life. Something that medication can’t produce, conferences can’t make happen, reading a book can’t do, seminars can’t do – but only Jesus can do.
That transformation comes from the gospel, from the Holy Spirit, who transforms a person from the inside out. When a person yields to the gospel, and lets the Lord work in their life, they become different, and in a good way. The way they treat people, and care about other people, their attitude, everything. And the people around them, the people around you begin to notice.
They begin to see Jesus for who he really is, and how he is still saving lives, He is still saving souls. He is still saving futures. It doesn’t come from us criticizing them, it comes from us asking the Lord to work on us and in us.
I want to grow. From where I am to where I am in the place where what I want will actually match what God wants. That’s it! I don’t want to be one of those people who hang around the churches for years and are no more holy than they were when they came in. I don’t want to be one of those Christians who has the name, but really all I’ve done is I learned how to play the game.
What I want is for the Holy Spirit to make me who I NEED to be, not who you think I WANT to be. I want to want what God wants for me. God wants justice – so I want to be just. God wants peace – so I want to be a peacemaker. God wants mercy, so I want to be merciful.
Jesus knows what I need to become. He knows what you need to become. We have to trust him even though we are not everything we ought to be, we’re not everything we’re gonna be, but we gotta trust that he's working, we’re getting better. We need to trust that he's faithful; that he's never failed anybody, and he's not going to suddenly start with you.
I have to put away the ways of the old me, I got to put the old ways behind me and begin to learn God’s ways. I need to keep growing in my faith and in my walk with God. I want to be led and guided by God in all my steps. I don’t want to be one of those Christians who spends all my efforts on things that aren’t what God has called me to focus on.
I need to be available for when He wants to use me for someone’s life that He is working in, and to be available when there is a need, or a struggle that I can help someone in. But it’s easier to get caught up in all the current issues, and what everyone else is doing, and then not being available to that one person that God has set in front of us, and wants us to reach out to.
We get all concerned about the stores saying happy holidays, instead of Merry Christmas and we take up petitions about the attack on Christmas, and we try to get people to boycott businesses that don’t say merry Christmas and all that. But we forget that the retailers aren’t in control of who we honor during Christmas. The retailers are just companies selling products, but I choose to honor Jesus, not just around Christmas but every day. That’s what I have to do.
I believe and pray for the day when God’s people, when the church will stop being distracted on all the various issues and whatever issues the world is harping on at the time, and instead will seek God to lead us and guide us.
I want Him to lead me in the direction I need to go, and to keep my feet on the straight path that He wants me walking on. Otherwise, we’ll miss what He has set right in front of our faces.
Number Four is, don’t get distracted. There’s so much going on, that it’s easy to get focused on the wrong things. One thing I’m grateful for is that our church has stayed dedicated to walking with the Lord in Spirit and in truth. We have our struggles, and we struggle to get out of the Lord's way when He wants to work in our lives, or in our services. That’s a right struggle. Sometimes, our struggle is to keep the doors open, to keep the lights on, to keep heat in the winter and A C in the summer.
We struggle to be available to the Lord and to the people who need us to have the right conversations with people who otherwise wouldn’t hear the gospel. To feed people who otherwise might not have access to quality food. That’s a calling from heaven that we’ve accepted.
In this world, it's a struggle. And sometimes we have to remind ourselves that in this world, it’s a struggle, even to just serve God the way He wants us to, and to be who he wants us to be. It’s a struggle, and in church, when God is at work, you might look around you see people that you wouldn’t expect to see, people who don't dress like you. Or people who don't vote like you, or people who don’t believe everything you believe.
That's the kind of church God is putting together in these days. A church where people may look different, speak differently, dress differently, vote differently, live differently, but when they come in, they hear about the God who not only loved them enough to give them life in the first place, that all He wants is for you to believe Him and to love Him in return. And from there, He will bring the changes in your life. Church won’t change you, but the Spirit of the Lord will.
God is so much wanting to reach people that he will even use us. We in ourselves have nothing to offer, and when we know that, it puts us in the place where God can do everything He wants to do in our lives.
We want to not be drawn aside by all the things that other people want to draw us into, because we want to do what God has called us to do. To walk the path that He has put us on, to reach out to who He has set before us. There are people hurting, people suffering and people dying without any experience with the Lord. I don’t ever want to look back on my life someday and say I spent my time distracted and paddling around in the shallow end of the pool. I want to know that I let the Lord lead me and guide me, that I yielded to Him, and did all I could do to be available to him and to the people in front of me. That I preached the right gospel. That someday you and I will to meet some people who we were able to impact, able to help, that we helped create a thirst in them. People where we had no idea that we had any kind of impact on, but it helped them in their life, in their search for God, and that they found Him. That’s my goal. We don’t want to ever forget how God can work through broken but available person – and bring restoration!