Monday, January 26, 2009

Drastic Change

Wherever God is it seems that a drastic change takes place. I can tell you that my life has changed since I realized that Jesus is who I should be following. When I look back over the last 20 or so years and compare what I used to think was important to what I know is important now it is drastically different.
I know at first I didn’t really believe that it would work out. I mean, how could anyone believe that someone you have never seen, in fact whom no one has ever seen, could really love you and care for you, could protect and provide for you, could give you everything you would ever need.
The things God asks us to do most times are way beyond our imagining. He does ask us to do some off the wall things. Just to start with he asks us to give him everything, our lives, our possessions that includes our pensions, retirement accounts, our savings, everything. And we are to trust that he will provide for our every need. Now that’s a hard one for a lot of people. And if that’s not enough he wants us to repent. You know what that means. He wants us to change, to do a compete 180 from the way we have been living and being. It’s unbelievable what God asks us to do.
Some folks do just what Jonah did. They head in the exact opposite direction from where God directed them to go. But God is persistent and he never gives up. If he has made up his mind that you are the one he needs for this particular task then he is just like a rat terrier with his rawhide. He will not give up until you have changed direction and are headed where he needs you to go.
After reading the story of Jonah I’m a little afraid to tell God no. What about you? Last week the psalmist told us how God has us hemmed in and how he knew us even before we were conceived. He is with us all the time. That’s just a little intimidating don’t you think?
So, you know the story of Jonah. He did repent and decided, reluctantly, to do what God had asked him to do in the first place. He wasn’t exactly happy about it but he did it.
Then the people of Nineveh changed, they repented of their evil ways. Every last one of the people in the city was ordered to put on sack cloth, burlap actually. There was a citywide fast and they sent up cries for help to God. They listened to what Jonah said and they believed. They were hoping against hope that God would see that they were sincere in their repentance and maybe he wouldn’t destroy them and their city.
God saw the drastic change they had made in their ways and he did change his mind about what he had planned for Nineveh. That’s good news for all people. It’s proof that God does love all people and if they are truly repentant and sincere in their change then he will grant them a reprieve. But it takes a drastic change.
After John the Baptizer was arrested Jesus went about Galilee preaching the Message of God. God’s kingdom is here! Change your life and believe the Message!
As he was traveling along the Lake of Galilee of course you would know that he saw many fishing crews. One crew he saw was Andrew and Simon. They fished with nets and that’s how they supported their families.
Jesus came up to their boat and made them a proposal. I can’t believe they took him up on it. He said, “Come with me. I make a new kind of fishermen out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” Now here’s the amazing, actually unbelievable, part. They didn’t ask any questions, but dropped what they were doing and followed him. Now that’s drastic change. Would you do that?
Jesus wasn’t done yet. A little further down the shore line he came upon two men who were sitting in their boats with their father mending the nets. Jesus made the same offer to them that he made to Andrew and Simon. Immediately they left their father, Zebedee, the boat, and the hired men and followed Jesus. That’s drastic change again! They gave up work that was sure to put food on the table and clothes on their family’s backs.
It’s like they didn’t even question what he said they just believed and they followed. How many of us have that kind of faith? How many of us would make that kind of drastic change, trusting in the words of the Master to care and provide for our every need?
Jesus calls to us today to drop everything and follow him. He asks us to repent, to make drastic changes in our lives and believe the Message, and follow him.
Paul’s words to the Corinthians are words we should pay heed to. “Time is of the essence. There is no time to waste…so we shouldn’t complicate our lives unnecessarily. He is advocating drastic change. “Keep it simple,” that was Paul’s motto. He wasn’t talking about just one thing in our lives but in everything, even in the routine things we do everyday, keep it simple.
That kind of change is drastic. There very few of us who really live simple lives. We have trouble “dealing sparingly with the things the world thrusts’” on us. But if we believe what Paul wrote to the Corinthians and pay attention to what’s going on all around us in the world it’s hard not to believe that the world as we see it today is on its way out.
Drastic change, that’s what God wants us to make in our lives. If we haven’t made that decision to repent then we should be paying attention to these Messages and make that drastic change to follow Jesus.
After all he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Remember the words of the psalmist, “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
Today we will meet after lunch to conduct our annual congregational meeting. What kind of drastic change do you think God has planned for this church? He has a plan. And knowing how God has worked in the lives of churches and people in the past I wouldn’t be surprised if he wouldn’t want us to make drastic changes.
God gives people second chances. He gave Jonah a second chance. He gave Nineveh a second chance. He gave Jesus’ disciples a chance to make a drastic difference in the world.

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