Summary: For real change to take place there must be a change in your spirit.
May 22, 2005
Text: Acts 8:26-40
Subject: Change Part 4
Title: Changed in the Spirit
This is the last message in the change series. Most of you are letting out a huge sigh of relief. (Now maybe he’ll stop talking about change)! What is it about change that makes people so resistant to it? I’ve asked my self that question and have reflected on it and have come up with a few thoughts of my own. They are not connected to any scientific study. 1) Change requires work. We have become so comfortable in the way things have always been that to change would mean starting all over again. 2) Change portrays “Yesterday” in a negative light. If we have to change then that means somebody was wrong. We have a wonderful heritage and we will never forget our Pentecostal predecessors. Change doesn’t mean they were wrong. It means that what worked 50 years ago doesn’t work any longer. 3) Change affects the power base of any organization. The ones with the most to lose are the ones most resistant to change. In many churches the pastor is the last one who wants to see change because he has the most to lose. Those who have positions of influence resist because they don’t want to lose their influence. 4) Change contradicts our understanding of success. There are many churches that consider themselves to be successful because they have reached a certain level of membership. In reality a church that reaches those levels without being in a constant state of change will become a church that is declining. 5) Change means moving into areas of the unknown. It is a scary proposition to think about going where you have never been. We all like to have a road map laid out in front of us so we can see what will happen every step of the way.
Now I have spoken to you about the areas of change that must take place in you as individuals and the church as a whole before we can really become changed and then become agents of change. First, you have to change your mind. Be willing to think outside the box. Knowing that you have the mind of Christ should be enough to allow yourselves to be “transformed by the renewing of your minds”. Changing your mind means you are committed or obligated to change. But changing your mind is not enough. There has to be a change of heart. Changing your heart means that you take what you think and now are eager to apply it to your life. As I said last week, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus” without “believing in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead”, nothing happens. You must have a radical change in your thinking and then a radical response to that thinking. I know I need to be a witness. By golly, I’m going to do it!!! Do you see the difference? Now it is time for us to be willing to be changed in the spirit.
I. A CHANGE IN THE SPIRIT MOVES US IN WAYS WE HAVE NEVER MOVED. When the apostles were in the process of ministering to a fledgling church in Jerusalem, they were doing so in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Yet, simply because power is present, it doesn’t mean that problems go away. For the early church a problem arose between two factions of Jewish Christians. The Hellenistic Jews said that their widows were not being properly taken care of in the distribution of food. The situation necessitated change. The church was to choose seven men, full of the Spirit and wisdom, and the apostles would appoint them “over this business.” Philip was one of these men. Notice how, from the very beginning, the church was ready to change. Philip went from being in the background, to visible ministry. He was now thrust to the forefront. Do you think that Philip was waiting for the time when he could make a power move to become somebody in the church? I don’t think so. But when need requires change, someone will be chosen to step up. Philip didn’t seek for the position, but he didn’t refuse it either. Notice what it says about Philip in 6:3. He was one of seven men “with a good reputation”… That means he had a change in his mind and had changed his heart to live for God. He agreed and then went to work. Later we see that the seven were set before the apostles who when they had prayed, laid hands on them. There is an obvious connection to these seven anointed men and the next verse. Verse 7, “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” I doubt that any of the seven ever thought that they would be ministers of the gospel of Christ, but when the anointing comes upon you, you are changed in the Spirit and have the opportunity to move in ways you have never moved. Peter was changed under the anointing and preached the sermon that saw 3000 saved. If Peter was changed like that, how could you be changed under the anointing?