SURVIVING THE STORMS OF CHANGE

 

This morning we talked about how change can be good and it can be bad. I pointed out many of the problems that our nation has embraced with the storm of change and how this in turn has been affecting the Lordís church and causing some be swept up by these storms so that they find themselves moving farther and farther away from God. Well, in tonightís lesson I will offer some practical points that will help us to survive the storms of change and that can potential help our nation get back on track as nation under God.

 

One of the first things we must continual tell ourselves is that no matter how much the world changes around us Godís Word and his way does not change. While I am for changes that will enhance our lives and make us a better people we must be ready to stand firm with God when it comes to issues that have to with religion. I donít care how smart we become we can never get to the point where we can do it better than God or to think that God will stand up and say well why I didnít I think about doing it that way. When we start becoming so big in our own eyes that we think we have all the answers we need to read passages such as,

 

Jeremiah 10:23 O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

 

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

 

So our first step to surviving the storm of change is to realize that God is all knowing and powerful and that His word does not change and no matter how smart we become we can never do it better that God. We must always humble our self before the Lord realizing that we are nothing without Him and that we are no one else has the right to change His word.

 

Once we understand our place and realize that Godís Word doesnít change and he is not interested in how we think we can make it better. Then the second step that will help us survive the storm of change is to respect the authority of the scriptures. We are taught countless times that we must stick to the pattern that God has set before us in his word.

 

Letís look at a few of the passages.

 

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.6 Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

 

Revelation 22:18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. See Also Deut. 4:2, 12:32

 

Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

 

1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.

 

There are so many passages that teach this concept that should be easy for us to see how important it us for us respect the authority of the scriptures. We must make a commitment to respect the authority of scriptures in every situation even when our own heart tells us otherwise. This is the only way that will be able to worship God in spirit and in truth. As I said this morning Jesus tells us that both of these elements are necessary for us to be pleasing to God. We must fully engage our entire being as we worship from our heart but our heart must be guided by the truth of Godís Word.

 

The 3rd step in surviving the storm of change is that we must study Godís Word and make it a part of our life so we can know the scriptures and what they say is right and wrong. Part of respecting the authority of scriptures would certain include studying them. Again, the Bible makes this claim itself.

 

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

 

If we are going to be successful in surviving the storms of change then we must put Godís word into our heart so that we will not find ourselves swept away in false doctrine. When Paul writing to the Ephesians he let them know that when they became unified in their knowledge of Jesus and what the scriptures have to say he tells them the result will be this,

 

 

 

Ephesians 4:14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head

 

Whenever we arm ourselves with the word of God we will be prepared to survive the storm of change. I love how Paul describes the prepared Christian that stand up against the whiles of devil which would include those who are trying to move away from the authority of the scriptures in,

 

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints Ė

 

The 4th step to surviving the storm of change is to never compromise the authority of Godís word. This is one area that we get ourselves in trouble because sometimes we may be strong and fully armed on about 95 % of everything that comes our way. But sometimes things will come up that effect our personal lives that will cause to start listing to our hearts and emotions instead of obeying what the scriptures say.

 

A great example of this can be found in the OT where we find that the children of Israel had married pagan women which God had forbid. We find in Ezra 9 that he begins to pray to God and telling him how ashamed he was that his people had broken his command and had married these foreign women. Now the children of Israel had to make a decision on this matter and this is a personal as it gets. I have no doubt that these men loved the foreign women and some of them even had kids with them but they had to choose to serve their heart or serve God. Notice the choice they made as we pick up in,

 

Ezra 10:1 Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this.3 "Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.4 "Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it."

 

This was not a matter that would be taken care over night because there were many of them that had married these foreign wives as we see in,

 

Ezra 10:13 "But there are many people; it is the season for heavy rain, and we are not able to stand outside. Nor is this the work of one or two days, for there are many of us who have transgressed in this matter.14 "Please, let the leaders of our entire assembly stand; and let all those in our cities who have taken pagan wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of their cities, until the fierce wrath of our God is turned away from us in this matter."

 

But eventually we see that the children of Israel made the hard decision to get back on track with Godís Law and we must be willing to do the same no matter how hard it may be. Jesus makes it very clear for us that we must put him first even before our family and the things they get themselves involved in.

 

Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

 

So we must be willing to stand fast in Godís Word even if it means that family has to come second.

 

The 5th step that will help us to survive the storm of change is to have preachers who will preach the whole council of God even if parts of it are not very popular in our society. I keep running across articles and other Christians that keep telling me that more and more preachers are preaching a water downed message and they are not using very much scripture. Some reason that have been given of why they do this is because number 1 they want to keep their job 2 They afraid of the people and they do not want to rock the boat.

 

I firmly believe that our preaching should be rooted and grounded in the word of God and eldership that allows a preacher to keep preaching from the reader digest in my opinion is not doing a good job at making sure that flock is fed with the word of God so that they can grow spiritually. We need more preachers like the apostle Paul who said this to Ephesians Elders,

 

Acts 20:26 "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.27 "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.30 "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.31 "Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.32 "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

 

Galatians 4:16Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

 

Paul understood that he should fear God and not man and that when he spoke the whole council of God even if the people didnít like what they were hearing he could lift his head high realizing that God was pleased with him because he did not sell the truth for a lie. There are more and more people that donít want to hear the truth today they are like those people that Isaiah talks about in,

 

Isaiah 30:10 Who say to the seers, "Do not see," And to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.11 Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel To cease from before us."

 

This is what will happen to a congregation who gets swept up in the storm of change because they have not been properly fed with the whole council of God. So, we must have preachers who are willing to preach the whole council of God.

 

The 6th step that will help us to survive the storm of change is using the power of prayer. We need to pray to God every single day for the strength to resist the temptation that will come before us. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for such,

 

Matthew 6:13And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

Then later on he warned his disciples how important prayer is and how it helps us.

 

Matthew 26:41"Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

 

To many times we forget about prayer and we only use it when we are desperate but we should be taking advantage of prayer ever day realizing that God hears our prayer and he answer our prayer.

 

Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Now once we have all these steps in place we are going to be equipped with everything that we need to survive the storm of change and we also will have everything we need to begin to influence and lead our nation back to God and the way we do this is we take everything we have learned in this lesson and we become shining examples to those who are around us.

 

We must teach our children these principles. I keep hearing about how the church is losing its children to the world or to the denominations. The best thing we can do to prevent that is to instill in them these 6 steps I have shared with you so that they will respect the authority of the Bible and be fully armed with the word of God so that they to can be Christ like examples to those around them as well.

 

When we show our commitment to serving and allowing Godís word to be our moral compass it will catch on and we can influence or nation to come back to God. We can certainly make our voices heard when we vote people in to public office or when we vote no on those things that God would not want us to vote yes on. These are things that we can do to help change our nation and we must exercise great patience as we allow God to work in the background knowing that his word does not return void. So just keep planting and watering and allow God to give the increase.

 

I truly believe that if we will follow these 6 steps in this lesson it will lead to more Americans who will say no to abortion. These steps will also empower ever Christians to resist the temptation of fornication, adultery, pornography and homosexuality. If every congregation would follow these 6 steps I feel confident that every one of them would stand strong in the faith and they would all be able to survive the storm of change by not allowing false doctrine to creep in.

 

I hope these lessons today have shown you some of the major problems that we are dealing with today and that if we commit ourselves to serving God and respecting his authority we can make a difference in our nation and within our congregations.