Do you remember the message preached last Sunday at Church? I'll admit there are weeks when by Wednesday, I totally forget what I was so excited about the previous Sunday morning. An inspiring sermon can cause us to cheer, clap, and cry. It can convict us and challenge us, but if it doesn't change us, we're totally missing the point.
We don't forget the things that change us.
Unfortunately, we remember traumatic events. The kind that change us, and everything around us. Fortunately, we also readily recall joyous events like the day we were married, the night a child was born, or the day we graduated from high school or college.
We remember, because things changed, we (were) changed.
When our lives change in such a substantial way, it's often literally impossible to forget. Not only do we recall by memory, but we likely also see the tangible result everyday. When my kids wake me up in the morning asking for cookies, I see and know that my life has changed, and that sleep will never be the same because of it.
A good sermon, is just that. A Good sermon. Nothing more. But a good sermon is not what you and I need. What you and I need each Sunday morning is to connect with God and be forever changed.
Now before we go blaming it on the worship team, or on the pastor, let's consider our part which is actually tremendously important, far more important than most church goers likely even understand. How is it that two people sitting together at church can hear the same sermon, and one of the two can be changed while the other remains the same? There are many variables and factors to consider but what I'd like to focus on and suggest is that the one who is changed is the one who:
1. Recognizes the need for change
2. Genuinely desires change
3. Prayerfully prepares for change
4. Sincerely welcomes, yields and adheres to change by faith
The tricky part is that sometimes we associate "change" with "feelings" or "emotions". But our feelings are far too fickle to follow. Change is something that happens deep on the inside, and it's a progressive process that we can either nurture or neglect.
1.) Do you desire to be changed by God? Jesus said "let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink." Jesus also said "come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest."
When you show up to church are you thirsty? If so, there's living water available for you. Are you weary? If so there's rest available for your soul. Do you think you're good where you are? If so, you likely won't experience the change you need because frankly, you don't want to.
2.) Are you praying and preparing for change? Jesus said "suppose you want to build a tower, won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough to complete it?"
Have you considered the things that God desires to change in and around you? Are you praying that God prepare you for those changes? Change is often uncomfortable and at times challenging, but the kind of change that Jesus brings is well worth it!
3.) Are you welcoming change with open arms, an open mind and heart? There are actually instances recorded in the bible when Jesus was unwelcomed by the people in certain areas specifically because of the change that took place as a result of His ministry. People heard Jesus, saw Jesus and the miracles that Jesus did, and yet they asked Jesus to leave. What?! Yeah. Sometimes we hear the word, and see how it changes people around us and we respond by saying something like "That's good for you. I'm happy for you. But that's not for me. I don't want or need that. I'm good over here."
Jacob had issues like most of us do. One night he wrestled with God and refused to let go until God blessed him. In other words, he fought with God until things changed, until he was changed (by God). Guess what happened next? God blessed, or changed Jacob. Jacob was never the same again! Even the way he walked would be different from then on(read the story to find out why). Furthermore God changed Jacob's name, which was essentially his identity. Each time I meet with God I desire and expect to be changed, perpetually transformed into the image of Christ. Through prayer, praise and worship, bible study, church, fellowship. Any authentic experience with anything God related ought to substantially change us every time for the better.
In conclusion. Let's not waste our time playing cool casual church. Instead, let's desire, pray, prepare, and welcome, CHANGE- and be CHANGED.
Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."