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The Challenge Of Change!
Hebrews 11:25; Malachi 3:6
Incredible changes have taken place in the past hundred years.
We are experiencing more change than ever in history.
The rate of change is so great that we barely catch our breath before another blast of change slams into us.
Everything we're familiar with is changing.
In my community people are coming and going so fast that I feel like I'm preaching to a parade.
We are forever on the move - doing things, eating stuff, working, jogging, writing, marrying, divorcing,
shopping - you name it - we're doing it!
The pace is somewhere between maddening and insane.
People are coming and going twenty-four hours every day.
The interstates and most of our streets are choked with traffic - it never stops.
This is the age of the half-read page; and the quick hash; and the mad dash; the bright night with the nerves tight;
- Faces reflect the tension.
- The air is polluted.
- The earth shakes.
- The malls are crowded.
- Nerves are shot.
- The streets are dangerous.
the plane hop and the brief stop.
It is the age of the lamp tan in a short span; the big shot in a good spot; and the brain strain and the heart pain;
and the cat naps till the spring snaps, and the fun's done.
Change is a constant companion in our fast-paced lives.
Every day in America:
Every day in America:
- 108,000 of us move to a different home.
- 18,000 move to another state.
- 700 are moving to Florida.
Every day in America:
- The United States Government issues fifty more pages of regulations.
- Forty Americans turn one hundred.
- Five thousand eight hundred become sixty-five.
Every day in America:
- One hundred sixty-seven businesses go bankrupt.
- While six hundred eighty- nine new ones start up.
- And one hundred Americans become millionaires.
Every day in America:
- Americans purchase forty-five thousand new automobiles and trucks,
and smash eighty- seven thousand of them.
- More than six thousand three hundred get divorced.
- While thirteen thousand get married.
More information has been produced in the last thirty years than in the previous five thousand years.
- We eat seventy five acres of pizza.
- We eat fifty three million hot dogs.
- We eat one hundred sixty seven million eggs.
- We eat three million gallons of ice cream.
- We eat three thousand tons of candy.
More than one-half the scientists who have ever lived are alive today.
Ninety per cent of all the items in the supermarket today did not exist ten years ago.
It is estimated that fifty per cent of college graduates are going into jobs, which did not exist
when they were born.
It is also estimated that ninety per cent of the businesses in the United States today were started
in the last twenty five years.
These kind of changes are taking place in every field.
Travel has changed:
More than two hundred years ago George Washington traveled from Virginia to Washington D.C. by horseback.
It could take him ten days traveling at a speed of twenty five miles per day.
Today, astronauts can enter a space shuttle and travel at twenty five thousand miles per hour.
At that speed you could fly from New York City to San Francisco in eight minutes.
With all these advances in air travel, it is possible to have breakfast in New York, lunch in Dallas,
and dinner in Los Angeles -- and have your luggage wind up in Mexico.
One man put it this way:
"My great-grandfather rode a horse, but was afraid of the train.
My grandfather rode on a train, but was afraid of a car.
My father rode in a car, but was afraid of an airplane.
I ride in an airplane, but I'm afraid of a horse."
Since the thirties, movies have gone from silent to unspeakable.
Since the fifties when we had three networks: NBC, ABC, and CBS;
we now have 750 channels - so, by the time we find the program we want to watch - it is already over!
And too many, television talk shows have become just one big grab-bag of dysfunctional people
talking about their miserable lives.
Many changes have turned our world into a war game.
Our schools are in trouble:
- Political corruption abounds.
- Crime rate escalates as domestic violence, gang wars, and drug traffickers plagued our communities.
- One out of every four households in the United States will be touched by theft or a violent crime this year.
- One out of every five women of child-bearing age will have an abortion this year.
- In 1995, 1.5 million babies were killed.
Within our memories, abortion was a felony in virtually every state in America.
Today, abortion is common place.
- Every four seconds a woman is violently assaulted somewhere in America.
- One in every four members of a church or synagogue is a victim/survivor of sexual or domestic violence.
- Drug abuse, suicide, sexual disease, and AIDS are major problems that should concern every one of us.
Recently, in Florida, a high school teacher observed a number of boys in the corner of the gymnasium
- In the fifties, the major discipline problems in our public schools were cigarette smoking,
skipping class, running in the halls, spit balls, chewing gum, and whispering in class.
- Today, the major problems are deadly weapons - kids carrying guns, knifes,
and even assault weapons.
This is followed by arson, drugs, vandalism, and drunkenness.
on their hands and knees.
Rushing up to the boys, the teacher demanded, " What are you doing?"
One of the boys looked up and answered, " We're shooting dice!"
The teacher responded with, " Oh, thank goodness. I thought you were praying."
Relationships are changing.
Fifty per cent of our marriages now end in divorce.
And the odds are, when a couple walks down the aisle to be married; their marriage will not last seven years.
One of them will walk out before the warranty on the refrigerator runs out!
Forty two per cent of our young people say they are sexually active;
and one of every sixteen teenage girls has a baby each year.
Our society has abandoned God's laws of relationships and has been writing their own.
We have reached a state where common decency is no longer common.
All our doing without God has finally outdone us.
With all these changes creating chaos and crises we, as a church, have been trying to hold on.
Just look how change has been impacting our churches:
We are facing years ahead when it will become increasingly difficult to minister -- probably already have.
- Eighty to eighty-five per cent of our churches in America are on a plateau or are declining.
- The number of unchurched Americans is escalating to sixty per cent or more in the '90s.
- Two-thirds of our children in America are receiving no religious training.
The church is dealing and will be dealing with issues that no one could have imagined fifty years ago.
So, as our world appears to be whirling out of control, racing toward a collision with certain calamity
-- what can we do?
We Must Remember That God Is Still In Charge And That God Never Changes!
Our world is in the grip of the infinite, all-powerful God of the universe!
God has a grip on the reins of the world and His purposes will be carried out!
- He is in control.
- He never loses track of what's going on.
- He never gets confused.
- He never frets over decisions.
- He always makes the right decision.
- He always knows what He will do even before the circumstances arise.
The Scriptures speak of our changeless God in this changing world,
when they state in Malachi 3:6: " For I am the Lord, I change not."
These words were spoken in a time of great change:
In that kind of world, the Lord was reminding and warning His people that He had not changed.
- Worship had become flippant and causal as people gave their left-overs to God.
- The moral law of God was being disregarded, especially concerning marriage.
- Divorce was a national disgrace.
- The Lord's command to tithe was being ignored to the economical detriment of the nation.
- And neither priest nor people took seriously the threat of approaching judgment.
Too often, we have taken our feet off the pedal and looked too long in the rear view mirror at past glories.
- We must have a renewed vision.
- We must have a passionate and clear vision of what God has called us to do and of what we need to be.
Someone has said: " When we have more memories than dreams, life is over."
When we have greater memories than dreams we will never make a difference in changing our world for God.
We must know where we are going and what we are going to do!
When he was eighty-eight, the late Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, was traveling on a train.
The conductor came by and asked for his ticket.
Judge Holmes searched his pockets and fumbled through his wallet without success.
The conductor was sympathetic:
" Don't worry, Mr. Holmes, the Pennsylvania Railroad will be happy to trust you.
When you reach your destination, you will probably find the ticket and you can mail it to us."
The conductor's kindness did not put Justice Holmes at ease.
Holmes said, " My dear man, my problem is not where is my ticket?
My problem is: where am I going?"
Many of us are experiencing a similar problem.
We are sold on the ticket, but we don't know where we're going.
We must dream great dreams!
The challenge before us is to aim high.
Low aim is a crime - in fact, it's a sin!
God told Isaiah in Isaiah 43:18-19:
"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new."
- God is a God of new ideas, of innovation.
- God is a God who uses change.
That which holds our attention will determine our actions!
- We must pray for new visions.
- We cannot be content with what is.
- We must crave what can be!
When we focus our attention upon the Lord:
- If you want to be distressed - look within.
- If you want to be defeated - look back.
- If you want to be distracted - look around.
- If you want to be dismayed - look ahead.
- If you want to be delivered - look up!
We can learn from Moses.
- Setbacks will become springboards!
- Obstacles will turn into opportunities!
- Barriers will turn into blessings!
- Cowards will become courageous!
Hebrews 11:27 tells us: " By faith he left Egypt not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured,
as seeing Him who is unseen."
Those last words are words which should instruct us.
Moses' eyes were on God and he was able to endure.
The Living Bible says: he " kept right on going!"
Moffatt's translation says, " He never flinched."
Moses had staying power -- even with all the changes that challenged him.
"He endured! As seeing Him who is unseen."
- He kept his eyes on God, not the obstacles.
- He endured in his eighties, in his nineties, and on into his hundreds.
- He endured despite the contempt of Pharaoh.
- He endured the stubbornness of the Hebrews who grumbled,
maligned him, complained, and rebelled.
- He endured amidst the criticism of those closest to him: Miriam, his sister; Aaron, his brother;
Dothan and Abiram, his companions.
He fixed his eyes on the Lord, and never looked back.
You and I can do the same!
We can endure by fixing our eyes on our Lord.
Then we will be courageous:
Whatever it is you are facing - look at Christ!
- Even when conspirators seem to prosper.
- Even when the wicked seem to be winning.
- Even when the pressure seems to be unbearable.
- Even when the critics won't shut up.
- Even when big people act contemptibly small.
- Even when we feel as though we're all alone.
- Even when wrong is enthroned and truth is fighting for existence.
As you stand on the edge of a new change, a new challenge, a new commitment -- look at Christ!
We must fix our eyes on our unchanging Christ:
" O Thou who changes not, abide with us in all changes. "
With our eyes on Christ we can go forward fearlessly -- knowing that the things which are shaken
will only reveal the Eternal and Unmovable God!
Bring on the changes -- world do your worst!
"Why should I fear the darkest hour
Or tremble at the tempter's power?
Jesus guarantees to be my tower!
Tho' all the flocks and herds were dead,
My soul a famine need not dread,
For Jesus is my living bread!
Against me earth and hell combine
But on my side is power divine;
Jesus is all; and He is mine!"
God uses ordinary people totally committed to Him to make a difference in a changing world.
One person can make a difference!
A Boston shoe clerk heard it said: " It yet remains to be seen what God can do
with a man, woman, or young person, totally dedicated to Him."
D. L. Moody said, " I'll be that man! "
God used Moody's evangelistic meetings to lead thousands and thousands to Jesus.
He personally led more than 150,000 to the Lord.
And I can say today -- that it still yet remains to be seen what God can do with a man, a woman,
or a young person fully dedicated to the Lord!
So step out now - and say, " I'll be that one! "
Life gets exciting when we give God our all!
And when we do --
God will take us beyond where we thought we could never go -- to things we could never do!
THEN WE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org