1. Changing Seasons
“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22
After God destroyed the earth with the flood, He made this promise, “…seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Our days change into nights and our seasons change with the weather. We are going through the change of summer to autumn, the time of harvest. We change the clothes we wear, as the days get shorter and the weather becomes cooler. The trees change appearance as the leaves go through brilliant color changes then fall to the ground. The air seems crisp and we enjoy the smell of fresh pumpkin pies. We experience many changes with the change in seasons. Let’s look at some of the changes we find in the Word of God.
2. The Sacrifice Of The New Testament
“And the priest shall offer the sin-offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt-offering. And the priest shall offer the burnt-offering and the meat-offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.” Leviticus 14:19 & 20
When I think about changes in the Bible, I am eternally grateful for the New Testament sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He came to this world and lived a life without sin, so that He could pay the sin-debt and become my sacrifice. I am not under the Old Testament law, but I am under grace. God gave the children of Israel laws and commandments that had to be obeyed. They had sacrifices that had to be offered. But Paul told the church at Rome, “… ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:2-4) I cannot live a perfect life without sin, but Jesus paid the price for my sin. I don’t have to take a lamb to church on Sunday and kill it at the altar. Jesus changed all that. We can rejoice with the words of John The Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
3. A New Creature
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Corinthians 5:17
These words of Paul are so descriptive of his life. He went from persecuting the church to preaching the gospel. He once stood as an onlooker at the stoning of Steven and was later stoned and left for dead at Lystra. After he met Christ on the road to Damascus he was a changed person. Becoming a Christian brings a change to everyone. Those who are brought up in church need salvation just as much as those who have never attended church. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We have all sinned. You may not have committed murder or stolen from someone, but pride and rebellion are just as sinful in God’s eyes. But Christ paid the penalty for sin and has offered salvation to us freely. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) When we become Christians, we want to please God. Our lives are changed as we strive to follow God’s leading. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) Have you experienced the change that only salvation can bring? Are you serving the living God?
4. Changing Directions
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:3-6
As I was driving home this evening I noticed a little road on the left and the thought suddenly entered my mind, “I wonder where that little road leads to…” Then just as quickly, I saw a small sign on the right side of the road pointing in that direction… “Dead End”. If I had been going faster, or not paying attention, I would not have even noticed the “Dead End” sign. I wonder how many people are traveling through life on a dead end street and haven’t even slowed down enough to notice. I have turned down dead end roads in the past and had to turn around and change directions. Are you heading in the right direction? Do you know The Way, The Truth, and The Life? We read in Matthew 7:13 & 14 where Jesus also said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow in the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” When Paul met Jesus on the Damascus Road he changed directions. His whole life changed when he got on the straight and narrow way. Where are you heading today? Are you on your way to the place Jesus has prepared?
5. Consider The Lilies
“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” Matthew 6:28-31
One of the first things we think about in the mornings is, “What am I going to wear today?” I go to my closet and pass over this dress because I’m running late and don’t have time to iron it, pass over the next one because the matching top is dirty, the next one is a little too tight… and so it goes until I come to the right dress. God has blessed me abundantly and I have a lot of clothes, it’s just that they don’t all fit. I go through my closet every fall and box up the summer clothes and get out the winter clothes. I have a lot of clothes that I never wear. I keep hoping that one day they will fit again. But as I was reading in Matthew this morning, the Good Lord convicted me when I read these verses. I should not keep holding all these clothes, year after year, when someone could be wearing them. As I go through the winter clothes this fall, I am going to pull out everything I don’t ever wear and give them away. I will keep some special things, but why should I keep all these clothes? I used to work with someone who said she used to complain about all the clothes in her closet until one day her dryer caught fire and burned their house down while they were gone. She was suddenly left with only the clothes she was wearing. She said God blessed her and people were so generous and gave her things to wear. When my boys were small I would give away the clothes that were outgrown when I went through their clothes each fall and spring. It never failed, every time I gave away a couple bags of their clothes, someone would give me a couple bags that their boys had out grown. God always gave me more to replace those that I gave away. Jesus tells us not to think about what we are going to eat or drink, or even wear. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
6. A Changed Life
“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,” Mark 5:2-6
We have all had life-changing experiences. Going away to college can be challenging. Some turn to God and their faith during that change, while others rebel against the way they were taught as they experience new freedom. Getting married and having children are also life-changing experiences. You find that you often have to put the needs of your new family over your own needs. But the greatest life-changing experience of all can be that of meeting Jesus and making Him Lord of your life. The maniac of Gadara changed when he met Jesus. Others had tried to change him. They tried to bind him to give him protection and possibly to protect others, but he broke loose. The scriptures tell us he broke the chains in pieces. When we meet people bound by sin, we have no power to help them. Binding them with chains of religion won’t help them. They must meet Jesus. Look at the change in this man’s life. In Luke 8:35 we read the same story, “Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” What a change! Only Jesus can change a life like that.
7. The Fall Of Tyre
“Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee. And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which wast strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it!” Ezekiel 26:16 & 17
I was reading in Ezekiel and I was amazed at the description of the beauty of this city. Its grandeur is described in Ezekiel 27. “Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty. They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee. Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory,… Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt…” (Ezekiel 27:4-7) They used the best materials available from all around to build their ships. Verses 8-11 tell of the wisdom of the builders and mariners, and the magnificence of their army. Verses 12-24 tell of the riches of the various merchants from neighboring lands with the trading of silver, iron, tin, lead, and vessels of brass. They traded horses and horsemen, and mules and horns of ivory and ebony. We read of Syria with the precious stones and fine linen, Judah and Israel with the wheat, honey, oil and balm. And the list goes on with the wine and white wool from Damascus and the lambs, rams, and goats from Arabia. And with their spices, precious stones, and gold was Sheba and Raamah. But look at the great contrast from verse 25 to verse 27, “The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas. Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas. Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin.” Why did God bring this sudden change on the great city? “Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:… Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground,…” (Ezekiel 28:2 & 17) “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12)
8. Gideon, Mighty Man Of Valor
“And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” Judges 6:11 & 12
When I was growing up I would often help my Dad stack hay bales in the barn. As we moved more and more bales into the barn the air would fill with bits of hay and dust. The air would be so thick you could hardly breathe. I imagine this is the way it was for Gideon as he threshed wheat in a winepress. He was hiding from the Midianites because they would rob him of his wheat. Then the angel of the Lord came and called him a “mighty man of valour.” Gideon? A mighty man of valor? Hiding here from the Midianites? “And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” (Judges 6:13 & 14) I have heard people say you should not ask God, “Why?” But Gideon asked the Lord “Why?” and God was very patient with Gideon. The Lord told Gideon He was sending him to deliver Israel from the Midianites. Gideon replied that he was too poor and his family was too small. He then asked Him to stay while he fixed him something to eat. Gideon cooked a kid and cakes and the angel made fire come up out of the rock and consume the food. Gideon built an altar unto the Lord and threw down the altar of Baal. Then Gideon laid his fleece out during the night and the dew was on the fleece only as he had asked God to show him, then again the dew was on the ground but not the fleece. We too, are sent by God. Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) Gideon was afraid. He asked God several times to give him a sign of proof that He was with him. I like Judges 7:10 & 11 where God said, “But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host...” God told Gideon he could take someone with him and God allowed them to hear the Midianites say, “…This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.” (Judges 7:14) How can we overcome the fear we have when God sends us to do a mighty work? We shouldn’t make excuses to the Lord. But it is ok to ask God to clearly show you His direction. It’s good to go with a friend. Let God ease your fears so that you too, can become a mighty man or woman in the Lord’s army.
9. Solomon Turned To Other Gods
“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD… And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel…” I Kings 11:4-6 & 9
Solomon was the son of King David. God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” (I Kings 3:5) And Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.” (I Kings 4:29 & 30) Solomon built the temple and prayed before the people, “LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:” (I Kings 8:23) But Solomon changed. When he was old he turned to other gods. It’s not enough to start out on the right path… we have to stay on the right path. Solomon let his wives turn his heart away from God. Don’t let your friends influence you to turn away from God and go in the wrong direction. I think the story of Solomon is so sad. He had wisdom, wealth, and God’s blessing on his life, and yet he turned away from God. Don’t turn away from God.
10. Columbus Day
“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after we had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” Acts 16:6-10
Verse 12 goes on to say that they went to Philippi, a chief city and colony of Macedonia. Today is Columbus Day. I am thankful that the Spirit changed Paul’s direction and sent him west. He sailed to a colony of Macedonia and preached the gospel. He carried the gospel as far west as he could go… and through the years faithful men and women carried the gospel even farther west, and many years later Columbus came west to America. The pilgrims sailed to America searching for a place where they could worship God. They established colonies and suffered many hardships. But, praise the Lord, the Word of God came to “the uttermost part of the earth” as commissioned in Acts 1:8. We should take time today to thank the Lord for bringing His Word to our homeland and hearts.
11. From The Garden Of Eden To A Cursed Land
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth…” Genesis 1:26-28
“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8
Our Bible begins with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The chapter describes each day of creation and ends with verse 31, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” God created Adam and Eve and put them in a beautiful garden home. Everything was great and they walked with God. Then things changed. The serpent tempted Eve and she ate the forbidden fruit and gave to Adam and he also ate it. Their eyes were opened, and they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. But they could not hide their sin from God, no more than we can. “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:16-19) Sin brought a curse. They were driven from the beautiful Garden of Eden. Everything God had created was good, but sin brought a radical change. Every person that has been born since that time, has been born in sin, and must trust Jesus for salvation to overcome sin. We can’t go back to the Garden of Eden, but we can look forward to a heavenly home.
12. Changing Your Future
“And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want, And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.” Luke 15:12-16
This young son took his inheritance and spent it all. It was his, he could do what he wanted with it, but it was like he was throwing away his future. You may have a good home, with nice clothes to wear and plenty to eat. You may be in college preparing for your future. Don’t waste your time and money. Don’t throw it all away. There may come a time of famine, or hardships, in your life. You may end up with a job you don’t want. Pigs were unclean to the Jews. Yet, the only job this young man could get was feeding the swine. He became so hungry that he almost ate the slop he was feeding the pigs. He changed from having it all to having nothing. “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of the hired servants.” (Luke 15:17 & 18) I like that little phrase, “…he came to himself…” We often hear the phrase of someone running away “to find himself.” Well, this man found himself in a pigpen. “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and it found. And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:22 & 23) Maybe you need to go back to your heavenly Father and say like the prodigal son, “Father, I have sinned…” Don’t throw away your future. Ask yourself if you need a change in your life.
13. Be Steadfast Unto The End
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” Hebrews 3:14
God has truly blessed me and given me so much more than I deserve. But sometimes when I start thinking about what to fix for dinner, I want something different. And even though I am in the habit of wearing the same clothes over and over, week after week, there are times when I reach to the back of the closet to find something different. Many of us even change our hair styles from time to time just for a change. Well, it is ok to change things like this, but there are changes we should not make. I was reading this afternoon about the dangers of turning away from righteousness. “Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.” (Ezekiel 33:12 & 13) Don’t get tired of living for God. We read of Moses in the book of Hebrews, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” (Hebrews 11:25 & 26) Stick with it, hang in there, don’t lose your reward for the pleasure of sin for a season. It only takes a little sin to erase a whole lifetime of righteous living. Guard your testimony and be steadfast unto the end.
14. Don’t Try To Change God’s Word
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2
A while back I received an email that listed many of the signs that have appeared on the highways in America. The one that sticks out in my mind says, “Don’t make me come down there” and it was signed as if God were saying it. I heard someone say they liked the signs because they reminded people to think about God. I don’t like the signs. What person on earth thinks he or she can put words in God’s mouth? God has given us His Word and commanded us not to add to the Word or take away from the Word. You may say that this verse applies only to the commandments of the Old Testament. Well, let’s look at Revelation 22:18 & 19, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” We call God’s Word our Holy Bible. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (II Peter 1:21) Peter also said, “…the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” (I Peter 1:25) You can also be sure the Word is true. Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18) So what does this mean to us? “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)
15. The Unchanging Faith Of Shadrach, Meshach, And Abednego
“And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changes, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their God.” Daniel 3:27 & 28
I can remember hearing the story of the three Hebrew children being thrown into the fiery furnace when I was just a small girl. Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon carried them back captive when he overtook Jerusalem. Daniel 1:6 tells us their names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The prince of the eunuchs changed their names to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their lives changed and their names were changed, but their faith never changed. In chapter three of Daniel they are told to fall down and worship the image of gold when the music played, but they refused. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.” (Daniel 3:1-19) The fire was so hot it killed the men that threw them into the furnace. But God delivered them out of the furnace. Did the king change? “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.” (Daniel 3:26) The king made a decree that no one could speak against their God, the God, “because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” (Daniel 3:30) You may go through fiery trials and hardships, but stay faithful to God for He is faithful to you.
16. Jesus Changes Lives
“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Matthew 11:3-6
Jesus changed the lives of people He came to while He was here on earth. He had compassion on the sick and healed them. He had compassion on the hungry and fed them. But more importantly, He had compassion on the lost and saves them. He gave His life on the cruel cross to pay for the sins of the world. Are you blinded by sin? Christ can open your eyes and let you see the things of God. He can help you understand the scriptures. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (I John 5:20) Just as those who needed help and healing in Bible days were hopeless and helpless, we are also without hope aside from Jesus Christ. But when we call on Jesus, repent of our sins, and accept His free gift of salvation our lives are changed. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Are you in need? Call on Jesus, the only one who can really change your life.
17. When It's Too Late To Change Your Mind
“And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it to us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.” Numbers 14:7-9
God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, the land of their bondage. They saw the mighty miracles and plagues He sent on the Egyptians. They passed through the Red Sea when it parted and followed the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. The twelve spies searched out the land of Canaan and said it was a land flowing with milk and honey and showed them the fruits of the land. But there were giants there and they would not go in to possess the land. “And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.” (Numbers 14:11 & 12) But Moses interceded for the children of Israel and God pardoned their iniquity (14:20) but He told them they would wander in the wilderness forty years (14:34) until everyone from 20 years old and upward died in the wilderness. Caleb and Joshua were the only men that would be allowed to go into the land of Canaan. When the people heard this, they decided they would change their minds and go into the land. “And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? But it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.” (Numbers 14:40-42) But some of the people went to battle anyway, and the Amalekites and Canaanites killed them. They had come this far and missed out on living in the Promised Land. How many promises do we miss out on because we don’t follow God’s direction for our lives? We can’t always change our mind when we don’t do what God has told us to do. Sometimes we don’t get a second chance.
18. Daniel Purposed In His Heart Not To Change
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
Daniel was one of the children carried away in the captivity to Babylon. Verse 4 describes them, “Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” They were put in the care of the prince of the eunuchs to eat the daily provision of the king and drink his wine for three years. Then they would stand before the king. But Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself so he asked to be fed pulse and water for ten days. “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” (Daniel 1:15) Verse 20 tells us that the king found Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to be “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” Daniel was away from home, but he purposed in his heart not to defile himself. You may be at college, away from home, but purpose in your heart not to stray off the right path. It may be hard when it seems as though everyone around you is drinking and trying new things, but make a promise to yourself and God that you will continue to do what’s right.
19. Belshazzar’s Countenance Was Changed
“In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers… but they could not read the writing… Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.” Daniel 5:5-9
Chapter 5 of Daniel begins, “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” Then he commanded that they bring out all the golden and silver vessels that he had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. “They drank wine, and praised the gods of gods, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.” (Daniel 5:4) He was using the holy cups taken from the temple of God to drink wine in praise of other false gods. But when he saw the handwriting on the way his countenance changed. He was scared, just as we would be if we saw a hand appear and begin writing on the wall. The wise men of the kingdom could not interpret the writing, and the queen told him to call in Daniel. Daniel reminded him of how his father, King Nebuchadnezzar had humbled himself when he was changed to the similitude of a beast (vs. 18-21). Then he said, “But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:” (Daniel 5:23) The writing meant, “MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou are weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:26-28) That very night Belshazzar the king was killed. These scriptures have been read down through the ages and people still use the phrase, “he saw the handwriting on the wall” to describe someone losing his job. It is much better for us to humble ourselves before God than for Him to have to humble us.
20. Daniel’s Prayer Life Didn’t Change
“Now when Daniel knew the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” Daniel 6:10
Look at the last four words of our verse, “as he did aforetime.” In Daniel 2:48 we read that Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel “ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.” After Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall Belshazzar “clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.” (Daniel 5:29) We read of the reign of Darius in chapter 6. “And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” (Daniel 6:2 & 3) Daniel was given high positions in the kingdom by three different kings. But this caused great jealousy. “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:4 & 5) They could find no fault in Daniel so they had the king make a royal statute that any person that prayed or asked anything of any God or man for thirty days would be thrown into a den of lions. Daniel had a reputation of being a praying man. He prayed to God as a captive in Babylon and continued to pray to God as he was promoted in the kingdom. When King Solomon dedicated the temple he prayed, “If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name: Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.” (I Kings 8:44 & 45) And Daniel opened his windows and kneeled toward Jerusalem and prayed three times every day. He didn’t change when he was lifted up above the people and he didn’t change when he faced being thrown into the den of lions. And the Lord saved Daniel.
21. Changes In The Last Days
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” Daniel 12:1-3
We have been talking about changes for the past few weeks, and used many examples from the first chapters of Daniel. Now we have come to the last chapter of Daniel to speak of the last days. People have talked of troublesome times down through the years, but during the great tribulation there will be trouble and sorrows “such as never was since there was a nation…” The book of Revelation tells of the woes and plagues of the end of time. This whole earth will change as the judgment of God falls on this world. We read, “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17) Are you ready to meet your God? Will you awake to everlasting life, or will you awake to shame and everlasting contempt in hell? Will you shine as the stars in Christ’s righteousness or will you burn in hell with Satan? Changes in this earth are definitely coming. Only Christ can save you from the wrath to come. Trust Him today, and live with Him forever.
22. We Shall All Be Changed
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, buy we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:51-57
“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” I attended the funeral of a co-worker yesterday. She had battled cancer for a long time. I know that when death comes we miss those we love, but we can’t help but praise God that her corruptible has put on incorruption and she no longer has to bear the pain and suffering that she lived with for so long. After the funeral, many talked about how she was always smiling when you saw her. She worked as long as she could and didn’t complain around others. Now she has the victory. She has a new body, and a new home in glory. After the funeral, as we walked through the graveyard back to the car, my thoughts went back to the cold day that we buried my Dad. I still miss him and think of him often, but I know that he lives in heaven with my Lord. His death was sudden, and it was hard to carry on, but we must continue in our work for the Lord. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58)
23. Naomi Went Out Full And Came Home Empty
“And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” Ruth 1:20-22
The book of Ruth begins as Elimelech and Naomi take their two sons and journey from Bethlehem-judah (House of Bread and Praise) to Moab (called God’s “washpot” in Psalm 108:9). They went to journey, but Ruth 1:2 tells us they “continued there”, they settled down in a foreign land. Elemelech died and Naomi’s two sons married. As time passed the sons also died and Naomi decided to go back to the land of Judah. When her old friends saw her they asked, “Is this Naomi?” And she answered, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara” which means ‘bitter’. She lost all she had. She even told them, “I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty…” Our pastor, David Owen, compared Naomi to the prodigal son, who also went out full and after he lost all he had, he “came to himself” and went back to the father’s house. (Luke 15:17) God has blessed us and been so good to us. But sometimes we may get weary in the way, and journey away from the Father’s House. We stop going to church, missing a few services here and there. Then we continue to settle down, content to go to church only for “special” services. We must be careful… we may go out full and come back empty. Naomi lost all she had, and things didn’t start looking better until she went back to Bethlehem. Be faithful to the Lord’s house and feast on the Bread of His Word.
24. “Now He Is Comforted, And Thou Are Tormented”
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” Luke 16:19-25
We have been talking about changes. These verses give us the most tragic changes imaginable in the death of the rich man. He had everything he could want here on earth. He lacked for nothing… and in contrast, Lazarus, a beggar, was laid at his gate hoping to be fed “crumbs from the rich man’s table.” How many times did the rich man walk past this beggar and refuse to give him food or clothing to comfort him? I heard Preacher E. Emerson explain in his sermon that Lazarus probably witnessed to the rich man as he went by. The scriptures tell us that the rich man knew Lazarus and Abraham by name. In death, things changed. Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom, and the rich man was buried and lifted up his eyes in hell. Now the beggar was comforted, and the rich man asked for just a drop of water to cool his tongue. We have no promise of tomorrow. Are you ready to meet your maker? If you are a Christian, try not to let the troubles and cares of this life get you down. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3) If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, please accept His salvation and let Him change your life.
25. Change Your Way Of Thinking And Understanding
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7
How many times have you said, “I just don’t understand how that could happen” or “How could he say that to me?” You may have thrown up your arms in desperation and said, “Why did she do that? I will never understand how that happened.” Well, it is time to change your understanding. The wisest man of Israel gives us the secret of understanding… “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” What can you do when life throws you a curve and you don’t understand? Trust in the Lord. Many things are going to happen in your lifetime that you won’t understand. Trouble and adversity may be right around the corner and your closest friends may leave your side, but remember “…there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) We can’t go through life in our own wisdom. As Christians, we must trust in the Lord to lead us and guide us, and not lean on our own ideas and notions of how things should be.
26. Thinking Outside The Box
“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” Luke 19:1-5
We are talking about changing your way of thinking. I don’t know who came up with the phrase, “Think outside your box”, but I can imagine a crowded office with cubicles stacked one against another. Each person is in his or her “box” and has so much to do that there is no time or energy to even consider what the next person is doing. There comes a time when you must “think outside your box” and look beyond your own four walls. As Christians we need to come to the realization that “it’s not about me.” Sure we can get up and go to the same job every day, do the same thing, and talk to the same people every day. But it’s time we started thinking outside our box. If you were working and you heard that Jesus was coming by, you too, like Zachaeus, might jump up on your desk and look over the top of your cubicle to see the Lord. You would do whatever necessary to see Jesus. You would rise up and peer over your box. You would come out of your dorm room, your four walls, and look over the balcony to see your Lord. We need to do the same thing in our Spiritual lives. Do whatever is necessary to let Jesus live through you. Change your way of thinking. Ask yourself each day what you can do to make a difference in someone’s life. When Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, we read, “And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.” (Luke 19:6) If you need your joy restored, change your way of thinking. Remember, it’s not about you, but it’s all about what you can do for your wonderful Lord.
27. Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt:… By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king…” Hebrews 11:24-27
Another change of thought I have heard a lot lately is “Stepping out of your comfort zone.” And though the terminology may be new, the concept certainly isn’t. Moses had all the comfort and advantages life could offer in Pharaoh’s palace. He had the best that money could buy in that day and was being taught by the best teachers. But he stepped out of his comfort zone and chose to suffer with his people. Another example in the Bible is Peter. Matthew 14 tells us the story of the storm at sea when Peter stepped out of the boat in faith and walked towards his Lord. Many have criticized Peter for doubting and starting to sink, but at least he had enough faith to step out of the boat. If we want our life to count for Christ, we may have to step out of our comfort zone. It can be uncomfortable to stand up for what’s right among your co-workers and peers if it goes against their way of thinking. It can be hard to tithe and even give a little extra when there are so many needs today. It can be frightful to stand up and teach or sing at church for the glory of God. Many of our service men and women have stepped out of their comfort zones into a war zone. We need to pray for them continually. And we need to follow the examples of Moses and Peter and step out in faith in service for our Lord.
28. If You Think You Are On Top
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” I Corinthians 10:12
The goal in the business world is to make it to the top. People become workaholics to work their way up. They may pass their co-workers, or even use them to promote themselves to higher positions. The sad thing is, many have family and children who are like trains passing in the night, swiftly growing and going through life. It is not a bad thing to want to be at the top. But we must count the cost, and weigh the price, and realize that someone else will eventually rise above us. Make sure your priorities are right. And don’t lift yourself up. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to thing; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) Jesus said, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” (Matthew 19:29 & 30)
29. Positive Thinking
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those thing, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4:8 & 9
“Finally brethren…” What a perfect verse to finish up our ideas on changing your way of thinking. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you and leads and guides you. But there are times when things get us down. There are times when the distress and stress of this world cloud our skies. Paul gives us some things to “think on”, “…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report…” When all the news on TV is bad, or your friends have let you down, or you feel like a failure, think on these things. In the same chapter Paul says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6 & 7) “Be careful for nothing” means “not worry about it.” We can’t only rely on the power of positive thinking, but we can find peace through the power of Christ. We just need to focus our thinking on the things of God.