Surrender to the God of change

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 Seasons change 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 violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,[a] were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. Notice the shift in verse 35. We are ok with the kind of faith that stops the mouth of lions but we cannot understand the kind of faith that endures torture, imprisonment, wandering destitute and afflicted. And we especially struggle with the part that says “not accepting deliverance! All we can do is shake our heads in unbelief. So where is the God of prosperity and comfort? Oh He’s alive and well. You see Him throughout scripture. But even those who were extremely blessed were extremely tested. Even the most courageous and valiant, the most successful and powerful could not escape the wheel of change. Even Daniel had his lions den, David had his caves, Elijah had his juniper tree, Abraham had his delay, Moses, well just to say not one of us would want to have to endure all that Moses endured. Peter had his rooster, Paul had his thorn, Timothy had his ulcers. You will not escape the wheel, the crushing. The question is how much change will God be able to make in you and how long will it take? God wants to change your heart. He will conform your heart into the the image or reflection of the heart of Christ. A heart of love and compassion. A heart of mercy and forgiveness. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. God puts great importance on the transformation of your heart. It’s the first thing He does when you’re saved and probably the last thing He will do in your life. Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NKJV) 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. When we come to Christ He gives us a new heart. This is the Bible verse that God used to reach me. This is the verse that filled my heart with faith so that I knew that God could change me. I was a drug addict, criminal, full of hate, bitterness, shame and anger. My heart was dark and hard as stone. He took out the heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh! (dropped the mic). Done bam, in an instant. Old heart out new heart in! Wow! But it doesn’t take long before we start allowing “things” or “sins” to creep back in and wherever they take root, hardness begins to develop. Soon we have hard spots in our heart. So God doesn’t just go in and deal with the hard spots, He crushes our heart and makes it all new again. No bandaids, no patches, a renewed heart. Back on the potters wheel. Back into a season of change. You see our heart is the center of our love and what we love most is what we worship. Thats why the “Love of money is the root of all evil” because if you love money you worship it. God will not take second place in our hearts. God will not be our third love, not even our second love. He demands to be our first love. He demands that we love Him with all our hearts. If we love Him with all our hearts there is nothing left for anyone else. Thats why He says that to be His disciples we must hate mother, father, brother, sister and even our own lives. The love He requires is an unmatchable love. Anything less is not good enough. God will change your heart. He will test our hearts then He will change our hearts. Psalm 17:3 You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. When your heart is right then He will also test your mind. Psalm 7:9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. When He finds things that are not right, not pleasing to him, He changes you. Revelation 2:3-5 (NKJV) 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place—unless you repent. Here is a church that has done it all and done it all right. You can have perseverance and patience, but if God is not your first love you need to repent, or else! Knowing this, we need to search ourselves daily. We need to know for sure that no other love has somehow slipped into Gods place. To not love God first, fully and passionately is to have fallen. I’ve thought about the “first works”. The very first works. It was not ministry it was not bible knowledge, it wasn’t missions. Our very first love was God Himself! Him. His presence. The fellowship of His Spirit. Hearing His voice. Living close to Him. Walking with Him. Sometimes we lose focus. We get so busy doing the work of the Lord that we neglect the Lord of the work. We so love being around the people of God that we neglect the God of the people. Moses was the kind of man that sought the Lord. He had a heart for God. You can know the acts of God and not really know God. Sometimes children of God continue to learn and learn more about God but do not grow in their relationship with Him. Psalm 103:7 (NKJV) He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. So every time He puts us on the potters wheel He is going to work on our hearts. His hands are hands that break and restore, Renew and transform. This is the part about God that we cannot understand. We thing, how can God allow this? How can God do this? Why would He? Hosea 6:1-3 (KJV) 6 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. Why would He tear and smite? Its part of the process of change. It’s the only way. God wants to change your mind Philippians 2 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. There it is again. Conformed into the image of His Son. So we must “let” this mind be in us. We must yield to the transforming power and process of God to give us the same mind as Christ. Though He was God He didn’t fight for His right to be God. Sometimes we fight for our rights to be first and best. It happened in Johns day, it happened to a supposedly mature christian leader. I found it there in third John 3 John 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Diotrephes would not receive the apostle John! It really went to his head, whatever “it” was. Maybe he was looked at as the pastor or maybe he handled the finances. Or maybe he was a great worship leader or maybe a board member with a lot of influence and a forceful personality. He had very possible in my opinion, usurped a position of leadership? Whatever it was it went to his head to the degree that he dared to reject the great apostle. Maybe he started out good but ended up here. Look at what he did. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. He was in control of the church. He did not have the mind of Christ. He had rights, he had worked, maybe even used his house for ministry. Nobody was going to be greater than him, not even John. But look at what the mind of Christ looks like. Philippians 2King James Version (KJV) 2 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Likeminded, of one accord, of one mind, lowliness of mind, esteem others better, look on the things of others before your own things…. No wonder why we have to go back to the wheel again and again. I want the mind of Christ. I want to be conformed. I accept the process. The mind of Christ is a mind of Humility. It’s your self concept and self worth. While it’s true that many have a poor self concept and a very low sense of self worth. There are yet many more who have an elevated sense of self worth. A sense that they are better, greater, more important than anyone else. The world has affirmed this by teaching us that we should always put ourselves first. You have to think of number one. The Jesus mentality is completely opposed to this view. Jesus put us first, He left it all and gave it all for us. He bestowed upon us great value. The mind of Christ is also a servant mentality. Jesus said that He had not come to be served but to serve. When He washed the disciples feet He told them that they should follow His example and wash one another feet. The bible tells us repeatedly that we should serve one another. Learning to serve is learned on the potters wheel. Its a process of change. It’s the John the baptist process, I must decrease so that He might increase. Less of me and more of Christ. Until Paul was able to say “Its no long I that live but Christ that lives in me”. God wants to change your behavior It starts with a changed heart it continues with a changed mind but the process is not complete until we see the change in our behavior. It will be a new habit, a new lifestyle, a more Christlike character. It will show up mostly in our relationships and especially in our relationships with those who are closest to us! When we go to the wheel, the winepress, the crushing, the extracting of the substance. The fruit of the Spirit. This is the end product. The fruit of the Spirit is the essence of Christ manifest in our relationships. The fruit of the Spirit is not really about how we feel but how we make others feel, how we relate to others, how well we serve others. If you cannot have good relationships you don’t have the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. The fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of the process of the Spirit in our lives. It’s the final outcome. It’s produced on the wheel. It’s produced through the process. It only happens as we yield to Him in the process. Love, does not come easy, it does not come naturally. I mean real love not philo love, not eros love but agape love. The love that does all the rest. The love that yields to God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. To have the fruit of the Spirit you have to have the love of the Spirt. Real love, committed love, a love that trusts, that believes all things. To have the love of God you have to love God. This is the beginning of the process, from love flows all the rest. Joy! Beyond happiness or excitement. Joy that makes you strong. Joy that increases your faith, joy that demonstrates faith. Joy that encourages, joy that serves, joy that sacrifices. Peace. Peace with everyone. Not constant conflict but mercy and forgiveness. Long-suffering otherwise known as patience. This is not just patience in yourself but patience with others. Not criticism, not anger, not putting others down but putting up with others. Love covers a multitude of sins. You can overlook others faults as well and as easily as you overlook your own faults. Gentleness, goodness, faith in others. People need someone to believe in them, to believe in their dream and in their destiny. Meekness. Honestly this doesn’t come easy, this doesn’t come overnight. This only comes through the process. This only comes on the wheel, this only comes when we yield to the transforming hands of the potter. And last but not least… Temperance, its when all these things become your behavior, they become who you are, not just sometimes but all the time. Not just with the people at church but with the people at home and everywhere. But take another look at the last verse 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. This is where it happens, on the wheel, on the cross. It’s where we crucify the flesh by yielding to the work of God in our lives. Chapter Three - Yielding You’ve probably heard the saying “Let go and let God”? There’s a story that I heard years ago. Its one of those stories that stays with you for a lifetime. It’s about a man who fell off a cliff but managed to get a hold of a branch on the way down, there he was hanging from the branch and calling out to God. “Is there anyone up there that can help me” he cried out loud. He was shocked to hear a voice from heaven that said “This is God, let go of the branch” to which the man replied; “is there anybody else up there that I can talk to”. Yielding to God means trusting God. It means letting go. We have to yield our rights, yield our expectations, our dreams and hopes, whatever God asks us to let go of. It doesn’t matter that Gods process doesn’t make sense to you. “Lord if you would have been here Lazarus wouldn’t have died’ it didn’t make sense to Martha and Mary. “Lord don’t you care that we perish?” Its didn’t make sense to the twelve on the boat in the storm. “God remove this thorn” Paul prayed three times. It didn’t make sense the first time or the second time he prayed. Why isn’t God answering my prayer? It didn’t make sense to Peter when the rooster crowed or to David when he was fleeing for his life from king Saul. It especially didn’t make sense to the three Hebrew men when they were being cast into the fiery furnace. But somehow they all survived the wheel. They did it by yielding themselves to the will of God and to the hand of God. Our first reaction when God puts us on the wheel and begins to change us is to resist. Its the natural response. We by nature fight back when it hurts. I recently went through some medical procedures that were very painful but I didn’t punch out the doctor. I felt like it sometimes but instead I yielded myself into the hands of the doctor. I knew that he was working on me to make me better. Is God any less caring than a doctor? The only difference is that God is working foremost on the inner man, the eternal, the spiritual. He if conforming us, molding us into the image of His son. The key is to yield! Surrender, capitulate (cease to resist), submit, relent, admit defeat, backdown, give in, give up the struggle, lay down ones arms, raise the white flag.. I think we get the picture. The bible says to submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee. Sometimes we want to resist God and submit to the devil. The devil and the flesh offers us comfort, fun, entertainment, an easy life. But its all a facade, its a lie. The end result will be futility and eternal loss. Gods way, the narrow, the difficult way brings true satisfaction. Hebrews 11 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. The process is for our profit, it increases our holiness and yields the fruit of righteousness. God is training us. To train means teach a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time. God is going to work it through until it becomes a behavior. But notice verse 11 “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful”! Change is painful but without it we will never be more like Jesus. Yielding to God, doing the will of God, Submitting to God, following Him, Walking with Him even through the valle of the shadow of death. Its hard to accept pain and suffering as the will of God. We somehow have the idea that Gods job is to keep us happy, to give us a trouble free life, to exempt us from loss. He does all of that in accordance with His own divine plan. But His plan is first of all to shape us in the image of His Son. To make us like Jesus. The people of Israel would not yield to God. They would not allow the changes. They never let God get Egypt out of their hearts. They could not for forth years have a mind to conquer, to believe. So many of Gods children do the same thing. They come to Christ but do not yield to the changes, to the transformation. Christianity becomes a patch on their lives instead of a whole new creation. They believe in Christ, they learn about Christ, they sing about Christ but they never become like Christ. God is not going to stop. If you are a true child of God, He will put you on the wheel as many times as necessary and keep you there for as long as necessary. You might as well yield to Him, work with Him, let Him do what He wants to do. Confess your faults, cry out for change. When you are in your season of change you have to yield to the process and surrender to God. Our mind and our flesh will want to resist. We will long for the comfort of the known, the familiar. Often we will find ourselves fighting God. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Do you see the trust part? “do not lean on your own understanding”. Then what? What about when I can’t understand why. Its easy to draw my own conclusions which could be completely false. So when you don’t understand you surrender. Surrender your right to understand everything. Psalms 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” There is a time when you just have to be still. God is requiring it. God is shaping you. God is working things beyond your comprehension. You might feel like running but God says “be still” Chapter Four Embracing the process and the God of the process It’s not enough to comply. We have to come into agreement with God. This is what it means to submit. Not because we feel like it, not because we fully understand it but because God is God and Jesus is our Lord. This is what it means to count it all joy! James 1:2-8 (NKJV) 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. You will not profit from the process until you can submit to the process. You won’t submit to a process that can be at best uncomfortable and at worst extremely painful, unless you can count it all joy. Not for the present joy but for the future joy. In the book of hebrews chapter twelve it says that Jesus for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Did you catch that? Not for the joy of the cross but for the joy that was set before Him! You have to believe, you have to be able to see it and embrace it. God is working a work in you and will be able to work a greater work through you. Back to James 1, “Let patience have its perfect work” don’t get off the wheel, don’t run away. Yield yourself. Hold on to the wheel, embrace it. God is faithful, God knows what is best for you. This is where it is vital that you know God. That you embrace Him with all of your strength. This is really where good theology comes in. Theo (God) logy (the study of) the study of God. Knowing and embracing the nature of God, the attributes of God. You have to have a good biblical concept of who He is. You may not trust a father that is like your earthly father but you will trust the Father of the Bible and your spirit will cry out Abba. Jesus. Do you know Him? Not do you know His works or know what He did for you, but do you know Him? If you do you will be in love with Him. You know His heart. You know how much He loves you. You know that He cares for you. He will never leave you or forsake you, never! You have to know this, not because you’re reading it on this page but because you believe it with all your heart. You can only yield yourself to this kind of Jesus. Abba Father. Does the Spirit bear witness to your spirit, does your spirit cry out Abba? He is the faithful father, the wise father, the loving father. The father of life, the father of lights. Father to the fatherless. He is a generous Father a good Father. Do you know this Father? Is He your Father. If you are going to embrace the process you must be able to fully embrace the father of the process, the Lord of the process. And the Spirit of the process. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this work is being done. It’s not by force but by the gentle working of the Spirit. Oh don’t get me wrong this doesn’t mean that He wont be forceful but only as we allow, as we yield ourselves to Him. So if we are able to embrace the God of the process then we will gladly embrace the process. This process is comprised of mostly discomfort, pain, sufferings, tribulations, obstacles, losses, defeats and persecutions. Thankfully this is only part of the process, thankfully it doesn’t have to be a long process. It doesn’t have to be a frequent process. A lot depends on us embracing the process and yielding ourselves to the Lord of the process. This process includes the following: Something that Im doing wrong that I need to stop doing. What is displeasing to God. Not necessarily sin but maybe a bad habit that does not reflect the nature of Christ. Perhaps its a certain way that you treat others or relate to others that does not edify. Or it could be a thought that you entertain that is not healthy and could become a snare if not stopped. God examines us daily and commands us to examine ourselves and even judge ourselves so that we will not be judged with the world. We need self-awareness at a whole different level. To be able to see our own weaknesses, shortcomings and mistakes. Not to bring condemnation but to bring these behaviors and patterns under condemnation. Something that Im doing that I need to do better Most of us, especially if we are optimists, see the good in others and the good in ourselves. If you are talented and gifted its easy to sit on your laurels and focus on all the amazing things you have done and are doing. But for God who knows our full potential, this is not good enough. The branch that brings fruit is pruned so it can bring forth more fruit. Paul uses the example of an athlete who pushes himself and disciplines his body for the prize that doesn’t last. How much more for incorruptible prize. I love it that God motivates me to do better. He’s not that father that can never be pleased but rather the Father that is already overwhelmingly pleased but knows that you can do much more. Something God wants me to do that Im not doing We can set goals, make plans, strategize and execute and still be missing it. Every new day, every new year, every new season we should be asking God what He would have us to do. We can run like crazy for God and never know what it is to run with God. God has a plan, a blueprint all laid out for you. How fully you understand and follow this plan will determine how great your life will be. How fully you yield to the changes that God is making in your life will determine how fruitful your life will become. Change is the step to the next level. Change is the will of God. Change is part of God accomplishing His highest purpose in you and for you. Chapter five - Change agents As we have already established, pain and suffering, hardship and persecution, tests and trials all bring change. And God will use these things in our lives to bring about His desired results if we let Him. Thats why the scripture says “God works all things together for Good for those that love Him” If you love Him you trust Him if you trust Him you can surrender yourself into His hands. Another great agent of change is likened unto the first, “Challenges”. When we are faced with opportunities that we know will stretch us beyond our natural limits. Its been said that God doesn’t call the equipped but equips the called. Moving out in faith, taking the risk of failure, going out to face Goliath, stepping out of the boat onto the stormy sea. These kind of challenges will mark you for life, you will never be the same again. Another change agent is prolonged proven faithfulness. When you keep doing the will of God for a lifetime without becoming discouraged. When you stay at it when others are telling you to throw in the towel, but you know in your heart that God has called you to do it. I think about Noah building the Ark for 120 years. Thats prolonged faithfulness. I think about the saint that faithfully brings their tithes week after week and still continue to struggle in their finances. Sometimes their circumstance hasn’t changed but they have. Their faith in God is stronger, their trust is deeper. I remember the story of the man God placed on an island with a huge rock. God told the man to push the rock, He told him He would be back and left. After much time God returned and when the man saw Him he ran to Him and fell at His feet weeping. “I’ve been pushing this rock all this time but haven’t moved it an inch” to which God replied “I never told you to move it, I told you to push it, look at the strength you have developed in your arms and legs, now you are ready to fulfill your calling”. It was never about moving the rock it was about changing the man! God could do things easily, instantly. He could remove our every struggle and give us great success over night. But if He did that there would be no change in us. What God is doing in you is more important that what God is doing through you. Another change agent that many never capitalize on is praise. Praise doesn’t change God it changes you. To verbalize the greatness of God, the goodness of God, the attributes of God. To praise Him for who He is, for what He has done and for who He is to you. This kind of praise will transform you. It will change you from fearful to courageous, from weak to strong, from a coward to a champion. Especially when you can praise Him in your prison. When you can sing praises in your darkest hour. God seeks worshippers but praise transforms the worshipper. It takes your faith to another level, your relationship with God to a new dimension. The final agent of change that I will mention here is presence, The presence of God, The Holy Spirit. I experience this changing force in 1975 when I entered a Pentecostal church for the first time. When I went in I was high on drugs when I walked out I was free from drugs. Just standing in His powerful presence as Gods people sang praises to God. I didn’t understand anything but I felt something. I felt what I now know was the presence of God, the Holy Spirit. Every desire to use drugs of alcohol left me from that moment. There was no conversion, no prayer of repentance, no religions ritual, Just the presence. You can practice the presence of God and experience great changes in your heart and in your life. Conclusion: Do not fear change. Even when it seems like things are changing for the worst God is working good in us. He is transforming us for eternity. He is preparing us to reign with Him for ever and ever. 2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. Sometimes change is just something with have to endure. God will never stop working in us. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; We are looking at the temporary He is looking at the eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, DAY 1 Romans 8 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Dream again It’s never too late Dream again No matter what they say God is still on your side There’s always time It’s never too late To dream again Imagine all that you can do Rejoice and believe that you can win If you can just dream again Reject the spirit of fear Embrace the Spirit of power and love, that comes from above From the father of lights He’s still on your side So dream Dream again Write down your dreams and goals DAY 2 1 Kings 19 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” 5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel[a] touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel[b] of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. Son I'm not finished with you yet. I’m not finished with you yet there are things that you must do there are rivers you must cross there are mountains you must climb there our lives that you must reach while there is time What has God put in your heart to do? DAY 3 Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. Someday the journey Will be over Grief behind you Joy before you in Gods celestial city This world is closer To the coming of The King You will shine like The stars of heaven You were wise to Seek His kingdom first You toiled and labored while others danced through life You chose peace While others lived In strife Eternity in your heart Your mind and strength Aligned Your treasure was Up above You didn’t love This world Who is the next person that you will talk to about Jesus? DAY 4 Psalm 4:6-8 (NKJV) 6 There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. 7 You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. 8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. From the testing to the blessing from glory to glory I’m fighting the fight I’m trusting I’m yielding I’m walking in the light I’m going to stay in the overflow with a generous heart A heart that can hear you A heart that will follow A heart that is yours What good thing has God put in your heart? DAY 5 1 Thessalonians 4 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. Grief is never easy for anyone. The loss is Real the pain is deep. But to have grief without hope is devastating. All the right words can be spoken, they are in a better place, they are with the Lord, they are resting. All good words but empty words if genuine hope is not present. You see hope is not a wish, hope is an earnest expectation, a blessed assurance, an understanding through faith. It’s When you know without a doubt that your loss is temporary. If you have hope in your grief, hold to it, nourish it, stand on it, anchor yourself to it. Hope is real! Eternity is real, heaven is real. What will you say to friends and loved ones when you are reunited in heaven? DAY 6 John 6 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[i] Walking with the master walking with the King walking with my savior is everything Through the low places To the mountain top with my friend We’re walking side-by-side We walk, We talk I listen we walk and He knows my heart Walking with the master is everything. through testings and blessings, He’s a friend to the end. I listen and He hears me. Together we walk the King and I. Together side by side. I stay close He stays closer Say something to Him right now DAY 7 Matthew 19 20 And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” Life was so hard Sometimes I felt Like giving up like Everyone had given Up on me And the pain of The shame That I carried All alone Had become Too much to bear Then I heard Of a man Who could makeThe blind to see And I said to myself He surely couldHeal me If I only could touch Him So I’m pressing through Nothing else matters This is my one chance With the last of my strength I press through Today I will touch Jesus And He will make me whole What is your greatest need today? DAY 8 James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. How could you love me When there’s nothing to love Yet you send your glory and Gifts from above It’s by grace Because of your mercy That I can say thank you That I can love you back I see your face Love’s all that I see And all I want to do Is love you back Because you loved me first Thank you for grace Thank you for mercy Thank you for Love Write about how much God loves you DAY 9 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I love you Lord That's never going to change I need you Lord In laughter and in pain My love for you is strong your love for me is stronger You’re holding on to me when I can't hold on any longer make me All you want change me I surrender all Take me It’s all I want Transform My heart and mind Im fully yielded To you What is something you want God to change in you? DAY 10 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. Sometimes we are the mountain That our faith needs to move We are the stone that keeps us out of our place of victory The giant standing in our own way The veil that doesn’t Let us see Sometimes it’s me My greatest enemy You are greater Than my heart You are greater Than my fears Greater than My faults You are greater Much greater Than me Is there something in you that hinders you? DAY 11 Psalms 103  Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!  2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Your so good God Your so good You take care of me Your so good God Your so good You meet my every need In your time and In your own way Looking back On yesterday I just have to say God you’re good To me What are some of the greatest blessings God has given you? DAY 12 1 Corinthians 6:20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. To bring you glory To bring you glory It’s what’s deep inside It’s my one desire And I’ll endure the suffering It seems my tears will never end Just pray for me That my faith will not fail And when Im restored I will strengthen others And I will bring glory to your name What things are you doing to bring Him glory? DAY 13 Philippians 3 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I'm on a mission! To never stop loving people, To never allow resentment, grudges or bitterness in my heart. To always be ready and willing To forgive, give and reconcile I'm on a mission! I must keep moving I must stay focused. To Reach more souls, to give more fruit, to do greater things and reach higher places in Christ Jesus. Im on a mission What is your mission in life? DAY 14 “God gave Moses a Vision of Deliverance, Abraham, A Vision of Greatness, Joseph, A Vision of Power, Joshua, A Vision of Victory, Peter, A Vision of a Great Harvest, Paul, A Vision of reaching the Gentiles, Isaiah, A Vision of Holiness, Ezequiel, A Vision of an Army coming from dry bones and he gave Jesus, A Vision of Saving the World” - You too have a vision! What is your vision? DAY 15 “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; It shall rejoice in His salvation. All my bones shall say, “ LORD, who is like You, Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”” Psalms 35:9-10 NKJV That I can still praise you That I can still sing To walk in your presence To give everything To you who redeemed me While I was yet vile Forever in glory I’ll recall the story And praise you again Again and again I will sing of your mercy Again and again I will shout out your praise From now throughout Glory I will tell the story The moment you saved me Of how you have love me With unceasing Love Take a moment to praise God right now DAY 16 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NKJV Surround me with your mercy once again Beneath the shadow of your wings cause me to sing For I know you and I believe in you Draw me to the place of grace Where I can only see Your face For you know me And see deep inside of me I number my days Each time I awake Is a gift from you So may each day Bring you glory Through me Determine to spend time alone with God today DAY 17 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I John 4:7-8 NKJV That God could take a life like mine and give it light and make it shine How marvelous this grace divine that I am His and He is mine And I thank you so much for seeing in me the greatness that I myself couldn't see now I know it was part of your design in the love that I thought I'd never find You love me and I love you Everything else revolves around this! You love me and I love You, You loved me first then I fell in love with you Tell Him how much you love Him DAY 18 1 Kings 19:13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah wrapped his face Shutting out everything God began to show him where He wasn't He is Not Always where He has been in the past Not where you might expect Not always in a demonstration of power Not always in a strong move God was taking Elijah somewhere new To know Him in a new way He knew the God of the fire and the God of the wind Now He would know the God of the stillness He met this God in his greatest test his deepest valley his darkest cave This is knowing Him deeply You and Him not you and His miracle not you and His provision not you and His guidance not you and His blessings JUST YOU AND HIM What is God saying to you right now DAY 19 Are you close to me I'm trying to be close to you But there's a wall of fear and doubt and there's a river of obstructions I don't know what to do I don't know what to say Sometimes I just stare into space sometimes I cry out as I pray I'm learning To make you my tower and my strength I'm learning through the process in the pain It's my deepest valley it's my darkest night So much to endure It just doesn’t seem right But I know you know Every reason why And I know you hear my cry I don't understand But in your love I stand Trusting in your plan Surrendered in your hands Share your deepest feelings with God DAY 20 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalms 91:1 NKJV I've always rested in your love felt like the apple of your eye I always knew you heard me cry even when I didn't know what to say I need some reassurance to keep my faith Day by day I never want to doubt you My life is all about you Tell me again,, That you love me Tell me again that you're for me Let me hear you say you have plans for my future, to hear you say again that your thoughts towards me are good. DAY 21 “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12 NKJV I need inspiration Creativity and peace Its what keeps me going Its what makes my strength increase You are my inspiration Creator of everything My strength and motivation Giver of peace Im waiting for you Im waiting for more Open windows And an open door Find what you need in Christ

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