PRINCIPLES OF CHANGE: MEETING & SPENDING TIME WITH THE LORD

INTRODUCTION

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS MEANT TO BE A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. God loved us and saved us as we were. But He doesn’t leave us as we were.

When God saved us He had a definite plan and goal in mind for us. And one of these goals is that we be like Jesus. Romans 8:29 tells us, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. I started out by saying that the Christian life is meant to be a life-changing experience. God, beloved, is out to change us because He wants us to be like Jesus.

Now because all of us here today are not entirely like Jesus right now, then it should not surprise us to know that there are some things about ourselves that the Lord wants us to change. We can talk about certain  attitudes, thoughts, opinions, morals, beliefs, behavior, conduct, habits, lifestyle, relationships, friendships, and the like. The point is, there are some things in our lives that the Lord is out to change.

Now CHANGE CAN BE SHORT-LIVED. A perfect example is when a fornicator hears a really convicting message about his sin and repents of his fornication. The repentance lasts for several hours or days, until the next temptation comes around and he finds himself back in fornication.

The desire to change can be well-meaning. The intention, sincere. So many druggies and alcoholics have vowed to change, only to return a short while later to the drugs and alcohol that they still craved.

Why are some changes short-lived? THEY’RE SHORT-LIVED WHEN OUTWARD CHANGE IS NOT ACCOMPANIED BY AN INWARD CHANGE OF HEART OR MIND 

You see, as long as your heart is given to stealing, you’ll steal. As long as you love fooling people, you’ll keep on lying and pulling the wool over people’s eyes. You’ll do whatever you love to do.

But when you change your mind about fooling people, you’ll quit fooling people. When you change your mind about stealing, you’ll quit stealing.  YOU’LL DO WHATEVER YOU LOVE TO DO—EITHER GOOD OR BAD.

SO FOR ANY CHANGE TO BE LASTING IT HAS TO BEGIN WITH A CHANGE IN YOUR HEART AND MIND BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE YOUR TRUE LOVE LIVES

Here are some soul-searching, thought-provoking questions that I’d like for you to consider. How do we change something that we don’t think needs to be changed? How do we change when we think we’re alright just the way we are? How do we change our mind about some things when we’ve already got our mind made up?

I would like to share with you a series of messages that the Lord gave me entitled ‘PRINCIPLES OF CHANGE’. These principles are the Biblical truths that enable and empower us to change.  Chances are, you already know what most of these principles are. So, instead of rehashing things you already know, I’d like to show you these principles in action in the lives of Bible characters just like you and me. If these principles of change succeeded in changing people just like you and me, then we can be encouraged with the fact that—no matter how bullheaded or incorrigible we may be—these same Biblical principles can also change us. So without further adieu, let’s get started.

 THE PRINCIPLE OF CHANGE

In order for us to change our minds about certain things that we just don’t think we need to change we need to have a life-changing, saving encounter with Jesus Christ. If we’re already saved, then we need to go to Him and  listen  to   whatever  He  says to us. The principle of change, simply put, is this. IN ORDER FOR US TO CHANGE WE’VE GOT TO MEET THE LORD AND SPEND SOME TIME WITH HIM.

SAUL OF TARSUS

A prime example of a changed life that results from a saving encounter with Jesus Christ is Saul of Tarsus. Now Saul was a very devout Jew. He was a Pharisee who was so committed to the Law of Moses and the elders that he came to have a murderous hatred of Christians. Why was that? Because Saul was firmly convinced that Christianity was a perversion of Judaism. In our day, it would be the same as saying that Christianity is a cult, it’s a false religion. Christ and His followers contradicted and violated many of  the laws that the Jews held to be sacrosanct. In Saul’s view, the only way to preserve Judaism from being corrupted and perverted was to get rid of, and kill, the Christians who were perverting it.  

Acts 9:1-2,  And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,  (2)  And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Now from his own standpoint, Saul believed he was right to persecute and murder Christians. He didn’t think it was wrong. He was doing the right thing. He reminds me so much of ourselves. WE’RE SO CONVINCED WE’RE DOING THE RIGHT THING. BUT, UNBEKNOWNST TO US, WE’RE AS WRONG AS WRONG CAN BE!

So what will it take for us to see we’re wrong? What will it take for us to change our hearts and minds about some things? It’ll take a saving encounter with Jesus Christ.

Acts 9:3, And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.  God knows how to reveal Himself in such a way that the person knows beyond all shadow of a doubt that he’s met God. As a Jew, Saul knew that God and light were synonymous. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 104:2 that God covers Himself with light. When you couple the light with a voice from Heaven, then, for a Jew, this was pretty irrefutable proof that God Himself Is speaking directly to you.

(4)  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  Saul finds it strange that God would accuse him of persecuting him. Saul wasn’t persecuting God. So if this isn’t God talking to him, who is it? Saul decides to ask.

(5)  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. By revealing Himself to Saul in this supernatural manner, and speaking to him from Heaven, Saul can come to only one logical, unmistakable conclusion: Jesus is God! You see, for the Jews, when a guy dies he doesn’t go up to Heaven. He goes down to Hades. But Jesus isn’t down there. He’s up there. And if He’s up there, then this can only mean He’s God because God’s in Heaven. 

I said earlier that God knows how to reveal Himself in such a way that the person knows beyond all shadow of a doubt that he’s met God. Here in verse 5 we see that God knows exactly when to reveal Himself and get a person saved.

Consider this. Saul was in Jerusalem during Jesus’ earthly ministry. I have no doubt in my mind that he saw Jesus in person when Jesus was in Jerusalem; and he heard Jesus teach when Jesus was teaching in the Temple. But Jesus and Saul never got together, one-on-one, like here at the Damascus Road, because it wasn’t God’s time. Saul was a Jesus-hater at this time and, if Jesus had a one-on-one with him, I’m sure Saul would have tried to kill him on the spot. He wouldn’t have succeeded because Jesus had to be crucified in order to fulfill prophecy. But still, Jesus isn’t going to give Saul a chance to kill Him in private—that’s why He never had a one-on-one with Him.

But now that Jesus is in Heaven, He gets His one-on-one with Saul because Saul isn’t in a position to kill Him and Saul isn’t in any position to argue or deny anything that Jesus is getting ready to say to him. Now’s the right time to get Saul saved. Notice Saul’s response. He doesn’t get off the dirt, look up to Heaven, shake his fists at Jesus, and call Him all kinds of dirty names. He doesn’t cuss Jesus out and blame Him for corrupting Judaism. The fight, the hatred, the murder, is gone. Why is that? Because Saul knows that the Heavenly Light and the Heavenly Voice are a God-thing. Saul is changing. He was so sure that Jesus was a false Messiah. For the first time in his life he’s coming to grips with the fact that he was wrong about Jesus. He’s beginning to see that all these disciples who he killed, arrested, and imprisoned were right about Jesus after all. Jesus is God! Saul now sees that YOU CAN BE SO SURE ABOUT SOMETHING AND BE DEAD WRONG ABOUT IT.

(6)  And he trembling and astonished. I laugh and lament within myself whenever I see someone get so haughty and in-your-face with God. When they meet the Lord—either here on Earth or before the Judgment Throne of God—they’ll hit dirt, like Saul, and they’ll learn to fear and respect the Lord. Talking about fear, some people respond best when fear is involved. Fear will get them to change or to get saved. If fear’s the only thing that will get you saved, God knows how to scare the dickens out of you and bring you to a point where you’re so afraid of your life that you want to give your life to the Lord. 

(6) And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Saul went to Damascus knowing what he was going to do. He was going to arrest Christians and drag them back to Jerusalem to stand trial. But all that has changed. The important thing now is, What do you, Lord, want me to do? WHEN YOU MEET GOD YOUR HEART CHANGES FROM WHAT YOU WANT TO DO TO WHAT GOD WANTS YOU TO DO. YOU’LL WANT TO DO GOD’S WILL, NOT YOUR OWN. 

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.  (7)  And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.  (8)  And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  (9)  And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Saul’s encounter with Jesus changed his life forever. Acts 9:20-22 records Saul’s drastic turnaround, And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (21) But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (22) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

Look at how Saul’s heart, mind, and life were changed when he met the Lord. He was so sure of himself.  As far as he was concerned, Jesus was not the Messiah. He was not the Son of God. There was no way Saul was going to believe otherwise or change. Like a lot of us. Like a lot of your loved ones and friends who swear they’ll never believe in God or Jesus. But when Saul met the Lord and spent three days talking to Him, Saul had a genuine change of heart and mind. The Jesus that he once preached against and denounced now became the Jesus that he boldly proclaimed to be the Son of God.

A CHANGE OF HEART AND MIND, I’M SAYING, TAKES PLACE WHEN YOU MEET THE LORD AND GET SAVED. The Lord knows just what to say to open your eyes, convict you of your wrongful ways, and get you to change your mind. MEETING JESUS IS A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. THAT’S WHERE TRUE, LASTING CHANGE BEGINS. Jesus can change your heart. Your mind. Your life. But in order for Him to do that, you’ve got to meet Him.

JESUS’ FIRST, OR EARLIEST, DISCIPLES

Jesus’ first disciples were disciples of John the Baptizer. They were Andrew and John. Now because Andrew and John were disciples of the Baptizer, they were very well informed of the coming Christ. The Baptizer taught them well. One day, the Baptizer, Andrew, and John were standing on the banks of the River Jordan when Jesus showed up.

John 1:35-39,  Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;  (36)  And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!  (37)  And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  (38)  Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?  (39)  He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Andrew and John spent the rest of the day with Jesus—talking to Him, listening to Him, finding out who He was, what He believed. By the time they were done listening to Him, they were convinced that Jesus really was the Christ. John 1:40-41,  One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  (41)  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

The same thing happened to Philip and Nathanael. John 1:43-49,  The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.  (44)  Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  (45)  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.  (46)  And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.  (47)  Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!  (48)  Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.  (49)  Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

THE TIME YOU SPEND WITH JESUS HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE, YOUR HEART, YOUR MIND, YOUR BELIEFS. This principle of change is how Jesus’ first disciples became His disciples. They met Him, spent time with Him, believed Him, and ended up following Him. CHANGE REQUIRES CONVERSION FIRST OF ALL. THEN COMMUNION.

AS LONG AS YOU MAINTAIN A COLD, LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS; AS LONG AS YOU AREN’T PRAYING OR READING THE BIBLE A WHOLE LOT; AS LONG AS YOU’RE SPENDING VERY LITTLE TIME WITH JESUS, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO CHANGE. Why is that? Because change requires communion.

Could it be you haven’t changed because you haven’t met the Lord? Could it be you haven’t changed a whole lot because you haven’t spent a whole lot of time with the Lord?

You know, if you don’t like being with your wife, or if you can’t stand being with your husband; something’s wrong with you and your marriage. If you don’t like being with your kids, or don’t care to be around them; something’s wrong. It works the same way with the Lord. If you don’t like, or enjoy, spending time with the Lord, something’s wrong. Now’s a good time to get things right with yourself and the Lord. You can have the best year ever if you get back in sync with God.

So spend some time with the Lord, listen to His voice, and you just might be surprised at what He says to you. You just might change some things that you never thought needed to be changed or thought couldn’t possibly ever be changed. May God bless you, meet with you, and change you from the inside out. 

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