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.
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Expect obstacles when you begin to change things around you. We’ve mentioned change is hard. We’ve talked about the importance of change, though. We are constantly changing, sometimes for good and sometimes for not so good. When we can help direct some of the change we experience, we can influence which way it will go, though.
We talked last week about that phrase that sometimes paralyzes us, but we’ve always done it this way. That’s one of those roadblocks we have to get past to effect change. Whenever you want to change something, especially if you are making monumental shifts in direction or thought or action in organizations or even in yourself, you will come up against some fairly large obstacles along the way.
Just getting the momentum to start is a big one. Inertia is one of those terms we think about in physics. It takes a lot more energy to get something moving than it does to keep it moving. That’s true of change in organizations, too. It’s hard to get things moving. You have to “sell” enough people on the idea and get enough enthusiasm behind the journey forward to get it going. It’s easy to let things move along as they’ve always gone, because it’s comfortable. It’s something we already know and people are reluctant to learn new things. Not everyone wants to be a full-time student and change requires us to be a student again.
Change sometimes seems overwhelming and when you look at the mountain of things that need to be done it can stop us cold. But how do you move a mountain? One shovel full of dirt at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The mountain can be moved the elephant can be eaten. It might not happen in a day or a week or a month. But change can happen and we can get to the goals we set if we stay on track and remember why we are making the changes we are making.
Funds can get in the way sometimes. Where are we going to get the funds to do what we think we need to do? Money is always an issue in every church I’ve attended. I’ve never had the experience Moses had when he told the people to stop giving because they had too much. Most every church could. If everyone in every church actually gave as God directs, churches probably wouldn’t have money issues, but most people don’t give as God asks of them. If most people’s tithes and offerings actual reflect their income, then most churches are filled with people who are living like the very poorest in the Comoros Islands and Ethiopia, the poorest countries in the world.
Today’s culture asks, “What’s in it for me?”, before they give up funds. We are a selfish society. We are so often selfish individuals. I asked the question last week, “Am I willing to sacrifice for the lost?” That includes the resources God has given me. Am I willing to give up a larger portion than I have in the past to see that the work God has placed on me and my church is carried out. God’s math is really strange. I’ve always found that when I give him a tithe, one tenth of my income, he can help me do more with the remaining nine tenths than I could do with all of it. I’ve never fed five thousand men with two small loaves of bread and a handful of fish, but I’ve never been hungry either. God comes through when we are faithful to him. Funds somehow appear out of nowhere.
Change takes time. When you plant an apple seed in the ground, you won’t get apples next week. In fact, you won’t get apples next year. It can take 10 to 12 years for that seed to sprout, grow to a mature tree, and produce its first apples. Change takes time. There’s not much worth while that happens quickly. We live in an instant gratification culture, but if you think about it, you’ll find that most of that instant gratification just doesn’t last. It’s just a splash of pleasure and then it’s gone.
Change also requires grief. It’s sometimes hard to grasp the concept that doing something that will improve things includes grief, but getting that new thing means you give up something you already have. Whether it’s the familiar music or the order of service you’ve used for the last decade or your favorite parking spot or whatever it might be. When we give something up, the grief cycle is involved. Certainly, losing a parking space isn’t the same as losing a friend or loved one, but the cycle is the same. And we go through it. When there are major changes in an organization, there may be many routine things that change in a relatively short period of time. It might mean we lose several things at once. The loss of several things at once can overload our emotions as we go through that grieving process. It is especially true for those who have just experienced other stressful or grief producing events in their lives. Those leading the change must be sensitive to those facing the change and help keep everyone focused on the prize at the end.
Remember the mission? Seek and save the lost. We must keep our focus. We must continue to keep first things first. We must remember what we have that the unbeliever does not have. We have forgiveness. We have grace. We have Jesus’ legacy of peace. We have his spirit in us. We have his continuous presence. We have hope. We have eternal life. We could keep going with the list of things we have that the unbeliever does not have, but now lest stop and begin the list of what the unbeliever has. I think when I get past separation from God I hear crickets.
Are we willing to sacrifice and get through the obstacles that come our way to keep focused on the mission Jesus gave us? Are we willing to grab a shovel and attack the mountain? It may not be easy, but we are not alone. It may take time, but every day that goes by more of those unbelievers are leaving this world for an eternity without God. Every day that sneaks past us is another opportunity to lift up Christ to a world that needs to hear the message of hope and mercy and grace that he told us to share with those outside the church walls.
If your son or daughter were in a house engulfed in flames, what would you be willing to do to get them out and save their lives? There are those right next door that are on their way to a destiny Jesus described as worse than the garbage heap outside Jerusalem that was always burning. The fire never went out. The flames never ceased. The stench of the burning garbage was terrible. The hell Jesus described as worse than that burning garbage he said was the place for all those unbelievers around us. They are God’s creation just as you and I are God’s creation. We were them until God’s mercy reached us. That was us until we experienced his grace. Except for our saying yes to Jesus’ call, we are just like those blind, lost, unbelievers all around us.
Do we care enough to break through whatever obstacles Satan might put in our path to keep us from doing the mission God gave us to do? We talked about that simple mission. The church is the body of Christ. His mission and so our mission is to seek and save the lost. He didn’t let anything get in his way. Can we do any less? Can we allow tradition or routine or comfort or anything stop us from carrying the message to the lost? The message never changes, the method does. Jesus is the way. Our job is to point other to him. We can’t do that from the comfortable seats inside our churches. We must go...and make disciples. We must go...and baptize them. We must go...and teach them his ways. We must go...if we think we are to seek the lost.
That is a change the church and its people must make since the lost will not come to us. How about it? Are you ready for the change? It’s about time for a real revival. It must happen first as a change in me and you and our churches. Let’s do it.
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.