Summary: CHANGE is one of the hardest things a church or a person can do, BUTIt is something God wants from us. No Growth occurs without change.
CHALLENGE TO CHANGE
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I once heard that God loves us just the way we are, BUT He refuses to let us stay that way. That could almost be confusing, God LOVES us, in spite of the many flaws in our spiritual character and the errors we make. YET, He loves us so much that He refuses to let us stay the way we are. He truly desires to see us grow closer to Him, to be more dependant on Him, and less about self.
CHANGE is a necessary part of growth. No person can grow without some change. No church can grow without change! Sometimes traditions have to change because of the circumstances that surround us. One such author speaks of their first Thanksgiving with Martha Stewart being in jail: Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I’m telling you in advance, so don’t act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won’t be coming, I’ve made a few small changes: Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect. Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make. Instead, I’ve gotten the kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea. The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas. Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it is a turkey. We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I’m sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds. As accompaniment to the children’s recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don’t own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying. We’ve also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat. I would like to take this opportunity to remind my young diners that "passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread.
CHANGE, isn’t it GREAT. This morning I want you to see that God expects change in ALL of us as Christians and in His church as well.
I. GOD DESIRES TO CHANGE PEOPLE ON THE INSIDE
Matt 15:16-20 "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'"
God wants us to change from this inside out, from the heart. It is not about doing the right things in order to impress those that are watching us, as if with making an impression on others it will somehow get us into heaven. It is about purging the evil that is in our hearts, it is about self examination and noting the changes we must make in our own lives. So many time we see the problems in our world as the fault of others.