A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
No one ever said change was easy. Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do, but sometimes that change is the most necessary thing in your life.
Sometimes it’s really hard for me to believe the number of cigarettes sold in the United States today. Are you ready for this? One study says about 10 million cigarettes are sold every minute. Think about that. The population of New York City is less than 9 million. It’s like everyone in New York City, infants through centenarians, buying a package of cigarettes every nine minutes, 24 hours a day.
Why does that surprise me so much? Because the last television ad for cigarettes was aired on December 31, 1970 during the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I was sixteen. I’m now sixty-four. It has been almost 50 years since a cigarette commercial went across the airwaves, yet we still sell them at the rate of 10 million a minute in this country alone. Proven to cause cancer. Proven to harm unborn children. Even secondary smoke has been proven to be a health hazard, particularly for the young and the elderly. So why do we see so many people with a cigarette in the hand and sucking their life away?
Why? The same reason illegal drugs are a problem in this country. The same reason alcohol is a problem in this country. The same reason prescription drug about is a problem in this country. Someone tells a teenager they can get a buzz or escape reality for a few minutes if they try this pill or that cigarette. Doing something just a little illegal makes them cool. Skating on the edge shows how tough they are. All those little things to make them different, except now they are the same as all the others trapped in a vice they can’t escape.
So in 2015, the stats tell us we had more than 88 thousand alcohol related accidental deaths. We also had more than 66 thousand drug abuse deaths and 33 thousand alcohol induced deaths above and beyond those 88 thousand traffic accidents and boating accidents. The alcohol and drug induced deaths were things like cirrhosis of the liver or pancreas, alcohol poisoning, overdose, and so forth. The average age of those victims was about thirty so those that do these statistics estimate that more than 2 ½ million years of life were snuffed out because of abusing drugs and alcohol in this country.
We know all that stuff is bad. We know the dangers of using tobacco products and abusing both legal and illegal drugs. We know the dangers alcohol abuse causes. We know all those things. So why do we have such a huge problem in this country? Are we all just stupid to be buying 10 million cigarettes a minute and wasting 2 ½ million years of life from those we kill every year for no reason except we fail to change?
These are sobering numbers from statistics three years old. I wish I could tell you the numbers have gotten better over the last three years, but they haven’t. They’ve gotten worse. Drive down the street wherever you live. Pay attention to the teenagers and young adults you see on the street and driving around in some fairly expensive cars. How many do you see that are smoking? How many have eyes that just don’t seem to focus well? How many are in places that you know trouble is bound to happen if they just hang around? And where did they learn all these neat tricks?
From us. We indulge ourselves in the current generations. The Silent Generation, Baby boomers, Me Generation, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Y, Gen Z, Post-millennials, iGen, Centennials, Plurals, pick from whatever list or title you like. We are guilty of thinking of me first. We don’t want to change our ways. We don’t want to do the hard things that will fix us. Kicking those habits is hard, so we don’t. Teaching our kids to do the right thing regardless what their friends say or do is hard, so we don’t teach them. Consistent discipline and living those morals we want our children to have is hard, so we compromise. Being the model, the example of godliness in our homes and at work and in the grocery store is hard these days, so we fudge a little here and there.
Then we wonder why our kids think we are hypocrites. We wonder why our kids have abandoned the church and God. We wonder why they take up habits and try to be different only to look and act like the rest of the growing different look alike crowd. They take the easy way because they see us take the easy way. Change is hard. But change is worth the effort. Change is important. Change is necessary sometimes. Change to get out of the trap of today’s culture requires strength we do not have. It requires strength we can only get when armored with God’s help. Change means being different in this world. It means being a true non-conformist, because the world wants you to conform to its moral values, its selfish ways, its downhill slope to eternal damnation.
God never said following him would be easy. Those that tell you being a Christian is all rose petals, blue skies, and fluffy clouds have never been a Christian and don’t have a clue what they are talking about. Being a Christian is hard in this world. Satan works his best to destroy followers of Christ. The world hates Jesus’ followers just as he said they would. Everywhere you turn you will find those who hate you and everything you stand for just because you declare Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life. Walking the Christian life take all the effort you can muster every day from the time you wake up in the morning until you close your eyes at night. Jesus said it would be that way. He promised pain and suffering. He promised that to those who followed him.
But he also promised his legacy of peace. An inner peace that is inexplicable until you experience it. He promised an eternity with him when he returns to take us to his home in heaven. He promised us his presence with us and in us in the form of his spirit alive and well. Enabling us to live the life he wants us to live. Hard. Yes. Worth it. Absolutely. Not much in this life worth having comes to us without hard work. Changing our mindset to follow him is no different.
I can assure you that God will not change. He did a pretty good job at creation. He didn’t need to change. He did a pretty good job of setting the rules for Adam and Eve. They changed. He didn’t. Life was never the same for them and the disobedience they introduced in the world changed everything. God didn’t change. But they did. God is still holy. He hasn’t changed. So if everything keeps going downhill in this world, if evil keeps creeping up since the fall of man, if humanity gets worse and worse in what we do to each other, and we are supposed to be the intelligent beings living on this rock. We’ve changed and we’ve made a mess of things. God still hasn’t changed. He’s the same as he was before creation. He will be the same when time ends. If we expect to see him, guess who needs to change? Not God. He’s doing just fine. After all, he’s God. He makes the rules. Change is hard. But sometimes change is necessary and even though it’s hard, it is certainly worth it in the end. How is your change coming along?
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.