Jesus Is . . .!

Jesus Is . . . !
Hebrews 13:8
November 12, 2017

I heard about a man who came home one day to find that his wife hung a plaque on the wall which read, “Prayer changes things.” When she came home the next day, the plaque was gone. She looked all over and couldn’t find it! So, she asked her husband ‘what happened to that plaque!’

He told her, “I took it down and put it in the closet.”

She was shocked that he would do that! So, she asked, “What’s the problem? Don’t you believe in prayer?”

He said, “Of course I do, I believe in prayer, but I don’t like change.”

There was a bumper sticker that read ~ “Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”

Change, it’s all around us. It certainly is inevitable. At the end of each year, it’s always interesting to see those stars who have passed away. In 2017, we’ve said good bye to the famous

Mary Tyler Moore, Judge Wapner, Chuck Barris, Chuck Berry, Erin Moran

Don Rickles, Adam West, Jerry Lewis, Glen Campbell, Monty Hall

J. Geils, Greg Allman, Chester Bennington, Tom Petty.

Then we have our personal tragedies. Those loved ones we have said good-bye to. People we witnessed become ill and passed from this life to the next life with God. It’s not always easy to witness that change.

We look at our homes . . . and we see areas which need work. We look at our furniture and without realizing it, they’re not quite as comfortable as before. They’ve gotten older and used. We look at ourselves – – – and . . . well, let’s not! We’ve aged too. Even I’ve aged (PICTURES)

In our world today, as soon as you buy a new phone or a new computer it seems to be outdated by the time you get it home. Things are changing so fast that there is a part of us that wants to stay in some sweet safe place that we remember from our past. Then again, we don’t all mind change either, but we want change to be on our terms. We like having bathrooms in the house instead of venturing out in the cold. We like having central air and air conditioning in the car. What would we do without microwaves? We like our modern conveniences, but if we could, we’d choose which ones we really wanted. Yet, change is part of life.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote ~
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

We’re going through that seasonal change now. The leaves have changed colors and are falling off like crazy. We’re hitting that cold winter weather, snow is coming, but we keep an eye on the Spring, the warmer weather, and finally the summer heat. And before we know it, we’ll be back here in 2018, wondering where the year went.

Next year, we’ll be one year older. With that comes changes. For some – – – they are the hoped for changes which come with youth and the excitement and hope of growing older. For others, it’s the agony of growing older and the changes which come along as well.

Everything changes, everything is in motion. Change can also cause anxiety. We want something to be the same, something not to change, something to be my anchor. And we have that rock, that anchor. It’s what we’ve been talking about for the past few months. Jesus is the anchor for our soul. We’re reminded of that in our reading for today, one simple, yet profound verse. The writer of Hebrews tells us ~

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

1. God’s love is unchanging

Human love can be fickle, can’t it? Love seems to change all of the time. One day – – you’re madly in love, the next day, it’s over! We say “I love you” – – but then our actions don’t show it.

The Supremes sang a song called “In and Out of Love.” Listen to the lyrics ~
Just when I feel sure love’s here to stay,
It seems to suddenly just fade away.

Keep falling In And Out Of love,
Can’t seem to find the lasting kind,

It seems I can’t find the joy I need,
Love always somehow all goes wrong with me.

Sometimes that’s the way it goes. Love seems to change, not always for the good. Yet, sometimes we do experience a wonderful love. We may experience it in marriage, maybe through family or some amazing friends – – – and we have the opportunity to experience it within the body of Christ. A powerful love we share with one another. It’s a love which is predicated on the love of Christ in our lives. It’s a love which seeks to serve one another, to extend grace and unity through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, our love can be fickle, even in the church.

But there’s the love of Jesus! That’s the love which never changes. In the song, Hallelujah, Your love is amazing we hear the words, “Your love is amazing; steady and unchanging.”

Psalm 89:1-2 tells us ~
1 I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.  2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” – Psalm 89:1-2

There’s a great power to God’s love. His love is unshakeable, unmoveable, unfaltering, always, always constant. God’s love can always be counted on! Not temporarily, but permanently. God will be faithful to you and I. And God’s faithfulness, His grace and mercy are not available only on Black Friday! There’s no special discount or sale. They are available every second of every day. God doesn’t take a break from loving us.

He sent His Son for us! If God was so willing to sacrifice His Son so that we could find redemption, hope in the midst of chaos and tragedy, then why would He withhold His love? Instead, God’s love is constant, never changing, never fickle. But always generously given to all who call on His name. We also read ~

15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. – Psalm 86:15

That’s a great thought; God’s love being steadfast, firm and forever? We never have to worry about whether God’s love is conditional or whether it’s altered by feelings. People may sometimes practice conditional love, but that’s not God. His love never changes; it’s always total and complete. God’s love never fails us, it never leaves us. He doesn’t love us more – – the more we love Him. His love for us is not dependent on anything.

That can be hard to wrap our brain around because we’re human and that’s not how typical people operate. And because of that, satan will try to mess with our heads and hearts. He’ll try to convince us that God doesn’t love us or that because of what we’ve done He’s stopped loving us or that He loves us less or that we are unloveable. He will try to get us to look at God as if he operates like a human.

But, Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us ~
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s ways, which means God’s love is bigger and better and purer, and holier. God doesn’t think nor act like we do. He doesn’t love like we do. God’s love is unchanging.

Now, I want to add a thought about tragedy. We heard and saw what happened in Texas last week. Every night when we watch the news, we read about senseless killings, home invasions, sexual assaults dominate the news. There are personal attacks we experience, there are the injustices in the world. And we could go on and on and on.

But, I want you to understand a couple of things, as much as we can understand. And that’s the fact that we can’t understand. It’s over our hearts, over our spirits, over our minds. It’s beyond comprehension how someone can walk into a church or into a business or a concert, or a home, or wherever and just kill people.

It’s beyond our understanding. Yet, there’s satan, who promotes evil. The same one who promotes evil and death, is the same one who seeks to destroy the church. We don’t get it. How can we? How can we explain away the evil which is in the world?

This leads some people to question the goodness of God. How can a God who is supposed to be good, allow evil? How and why do bad things happen to good people? We can’t explain it all away. It would be great to have all of the answers, but evil is present and persistent.

BUT . . . I want to remind you and I want to encourage you to hold onto what is good and that is the power of God over evil. It’s to hold onto the One who will not change. It’s to hold onto the One who is filled with love and grace. Hold onto the One who is all powerful, all knowing and always, always present with you. He promises, as we looked at last week . . .

Friends, in the midst of tragedy. In the midst of our losses, for whatever reason, God will not change. God is not out to get you. There is a plan, there is a reason, too often we don’t understand the plan. We can go back and look at the disciples and the prophets and so many others in history and know that most of the time they were clueless. They didn’t get it! They couldn’t follow the plan even when Jesus was standing right next to them.

Yet, hold onto these words when life makes no sense! God will not leave you, He will not abandon you, He will not fail you, He will not forsake you! He loves you, He died for you!

We can’t make sense of all of the senseless acts of evil, we can’t in part because they are evil. They make no sense humanly speaking. That’s not a cop out, it’s the truth. It’s evil, and evil is from satan. But we have God’s promise that even in the midst of evil, in the midst of our struggles and disappointments, He will be there with us, and at times, when we need it, God will be the one holding us up.

With that in mind, also hold onto the fact that ~

2) God’s word is unchanging.

We live in a world in which truth is no longer the truth. Truth is whatever you want it to be. Truth is relative. People no longer believe in absolute truth. Truth is no longer set in stone. In their minds the world is constantly changing and because the world is changing, truth is changing. That means truth is constantly changing according the changing times.

As a result, so many people believe the Bible is always changing in meaning and what God intended for us to grasp. The Bible is now outdated and changed.

Isaiah 40:8 tells us ~
8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. – Isaiah 40:8

The word of God will stand forever. It will never end, it will never change. It will stand on its own forever. God’s word doesn’t change according to our whims. It’s a constant. We know what to expect, we know what God is calling for us to do and who we are called to be.

The Bible will always be applicable and relevant. Our sins are no different than the sins of the people from biblical times. The problems look different, but the attitudes and behaviors are not much different.

Is the Bible outdated? NO! The Bible is timeless and applicable to help us know how to live our lives. The Bible doesn’t need to be reevaluated and modernized. Truth is not relative – – it is absolute and God’s word is absolutely true. God’s word is eternal, firm and timeless. God’s word is unchanging.

God is never changing! In Malachi 3:6, we are reminded ~
6 “For I the Lord do not change – Malachi 3:6

This is really important, because if God needed to change, He would no longer be God. God has no need to change. There’s nothing wrong with God. He’s perfect just as He is, even when we don’t understand what God is up to.

As much as we really don’t want to change, Christ followers need to be about change. The goal, the expectation is that we are constantly changing, so we can be growing and become transformed more and more into the image of God. It’s part of the process we call Sanctification. It means the church needs to be about change as well. We cannot always stay the same.

You know that! We just celebrated 25 years of being in this building. You understood the need to change. And that fact never changes.

For you and I, change is the constant. We’re not yet perfect, so we need to become better . . . and better is to become more and more like God. Really, you can’t improve upon perfection. Therefore, God can’t change because it would go against His nature.

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

He is still the same Jesus – – with the same message, the same mission and the same purpose. Sometimes it’s really difficult to hold onto those words. Especially when life is changing and we don’t like it. But friends, hold onto this . . . Our God, Jesus, the Christ, the One who was forsaken, so that you would never be forsaken, is your constant presence. He loves you! He loves you! He loves you!

Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday, He will be the same tomorrow, that He is today. Jesus is the same, never changing Messiah.

As we prepare to close, if you need to know that Jesus, the One who won’t abandon you, no matter what you’ve done, come forward. Embrace a relationship with Jesus. Hold tight. Don’t say yes today, and fade away when times get tough! Hold tight!

If you need prayer, come up, let’s pray. Yes, prayer does change things. Maybe today is the day!

Or if you would like to join this group of people. If you want to say “Yes” . . . then come forward . . . we can celebrate the work Christ is doing in your life and you can officially call these folks part of your family!

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