Pastor Emilio De La Cruz
Chapter One: Changes
You're young and then you're old
Together then alone
You play and then you work
You have it all then it's the last chapter of the book
Seasons change but God stays the same
His love never changes
His mercy never fails
The same loving kindness
His goodness shall prevail
You climbed every mountain but that was long ago
you killed every giant you're brave or so you're told
But God stays the same
He saved you yesterday He walks with you today
He will be there tomorrow forever He's the same
As long as you live, change will be a part of your life. We try to build stability and predictability. We create routine and find comfort in the familiar. Nothing wrong with that. Change creates the unknown. What is going to happen, how is it going to affect me? What are the variables? Change creates tension, insecurity, fear of the unknown. Its said that the best time to get people to attend church is when they are going through some kind of life change. A new baby, a new location. Change creates a sense of need. We search for something that won’t change. In a changing world, in a life of changes, Jesus is the rock that never changes. He is the same Yesterday today and forever.
You’re young and then your not young anymore. You feel the change from careless youth to the adult life of responsibilities. You move out of moms house and wish you could go back, some kids never leave, they can’t handle the change. You live a life of health, strength and productivity. You climb the corporate ladder. Then before you know it, another change. The kids are married and your thinking about retirement. Life itself brings us changes that we cannot escape from. Some changes are exciting. Going off to college, getting married, having your first baby, and your second. Moving into the new house. Other changes are tragic. Losing a loved one, losing a house, losing a job, losing a marriage. And yet other changes, a lot of changes in life are what we make of them.
We have to find courage in times of change. We have to learn to face our changes with faith and a positive attitude. Start with the little changes. Your wife rearranges the furniture, your husband rearranges your schedule. You’re moved to a new position at your job. Find courage, faith and a positive attitude. Learn to accept change, to navigate it, to embrace it. Life is a life of changes. God is a God of changes.
Theres another kind of change. This is the change that I will be focusing on. The changes that God makes in you. Changes that are designed to transform you.
Changes in the Christian life
Salvation is the biggest change that will ever occur in a lifetime. Some experience the change more than others but regardless the change is huge. From death to life, from darkness to life, from a stranger to a son. Being born again, born of the Spirit, born from above. From a slave to sin to joint heir with Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 say “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, all old things have passed away behold all things become new!” My understanding is that the greek word used here to explain the change is “metamorphosis”. The same process that transforms a caterpillar into a butterfly. Have you ever thought about what happens inside that cocoon? Whatever it is that happens the result is amazing. From a crawling creature to a beautiful butterfly able to soar through the air with ease.
What happens after this is just as important. For God to continue the transformation process in our lives we need to be restored. Even though our spirit has been transformed our soul must undergo a continual process of transformation. For this process to be effective we have to experience restoration. Our minds and emotions must be healed, some of us need a lot more of this than others. I came to Christ from a broken, dysfunctional, chaotic home. I came to Christ from a past of deep rejection, abuse, drug addiction, violence, hate, anger. All of that and more. My born again experience was radical. But I needed a lot of healing. So many skip this stage of transformation to move on to the next. Discipleship. We are formed into disciples. To deny yourself and take up your cross. To go from a selfish life to a serving life. To transition from receiving to giving. To learn to make sacrifices for the Gospel and for the sake of others. God will do this but its going to take a lot of learning and relearning. Apart from all the verses that speak directly about becoming a disciple, there are these two verses that I consider key to the discipleship process.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
From transformation to restoration to discipleship to being equipped and commissioned to a life of multiplication.
Discipleship makes you a follower of Christ and a servant, equipping prepares you for a life a spiritual productivity. Learning to be a good and faithful servant. Learning to use your super powers (spiritual gifts). This you learn through the mentoring and coaching of your spiritual leaders. The bibles says that God Himself put “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers… for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry. All of this requires changes, many of these changes are hard to make. Changes that we would not make in ourselves but God requires it. Beware of “change blockers”. A mentality that I don’t need change. Rationalizing why I don’t really need to make any changes (others are worse, christians aren’t perfect just forgiven, God loves me just as I am). Sometimes we determine the changes we want to make instead of letting God make he changes He wants to make in us.
Chapter Two : The God of change
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
This is Gods work in all of us. First salvation, then sanctification then Christlikeness. Its a lifelong process. It’s one of the seasons in the ongoing cycle of spiritual seasons. We go through these seasons again and again. Seasons of testing, Seasons of warfare and victory, seasons of blessings and abundance and seasons of change. (for more about seasons read “God of my seasons”) The key to mastering your seasons is to walk with God in the season, to embrace the season, to have the discernment and wisdom to know what is expected from you in each season. There is an expected response to the work of God in each season. Seasons are not random, they are loaded with purpose. Here in this book you will learn about your season of change. The purpose of the season and how to bring God glory and see Gods intended purpose fulfilled in your life.
On the potters wheel
It’s a process. You will go through it time after time in a lifetime. It might feel like you’re going to die, It might feel like God is mad at you. He’s closer to you than He has ever been. As a matter of fact His hands are all over you.
Jeremiah 18 (NLT)
18 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
5 Then the Lord gave me this message: 6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.
Did you see the part where it said “He crushed it?” We don’t change easy. We resist change. God will reason with us even plead with us for the changes that must come about in us. Our flesh fights against God. We make excuses, we rationalize we minimize, we blame, we deny that we need change. But deep inside, the child of God knows well. Change must come. If we are going to become Christ-like, if we are going to be fruitful, change must come. And so “He crushes us”. He puts us on the wheel. It seems like we are not getting anywhere. It feels like everyone else and even life itself is passing us by. When He is working on us on the wheel, He is not concerned about our comfort, our earthly progress or our success. Think about the years that were “waisted” as David fled from King Saul. Living in caves, running, hiding. But were they wasted? No way, David was on the wheel. God was crushing Him. There were things in Him as there are in each of us, things that have to change if God is going to entrust us with greater things.
Interesting that “the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped” Did God fail, couldn’t He have made it right the first time? God placed limitations on himself when he created us with a freewill. Incredible isn’t it? He wants to save everyone but he can’t. There is no failure on Gods part, He can only work in us as we allow Him to. In Revelations 3:20 He says “behold I stand at the door and knock and if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him…” We must open the door, we must respond with faith to the message of salvation. We must yield ourselves to Him as He works in us so that He can better work through us. The greater our yielding the deeper the change. And the shorter our time on the wheel! We have to thank God for His long-suffering toward us. He knows that we cannot endure this process of change all at once so throughout our lifetime He places us on the wheel, He crushes us and then remakes us again and again. A little at a time He transforms us into the image of His dear son.
Romans 8:28 (AMP)
28 And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose 29 For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers.
We are called according to His plan and purpose. You know all those things we pray for, all the things we dream of and long for? Those come from Gods generous goodness. But all of the things that we hold dear, are not as important to God as they are to us. Our comfort, safety and security? Our houses and lands and earthly possessions? Read Hebrews 11. We kind of skip over this part or read it as if it was fictional.
Hebrews 11:32-38 (NKJV)
32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the vio