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Sermon Illustrations: Change

Anecdotes


Why do we always find change so difficult to accept? In 1825, someone said, "What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives travelling twice as fast as stagecoaches?" In 1889, someone else said, "The ordinary 'horseless carriage' is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the near future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle." Then in 1901 someone said, "As a means of rapid transit, aerial navigation could not begin to compete with the railroad."



Farmer Brown and his family had lived out west all their lives, but they had to go to the big city to view some documents. So they load up the utility truck and head to the city. They pull up outside a massive building and the farmer says to his family, "Stay here. I won't be long." Little Johnny says, "Aw, Dad, can't I come too?" "Alright," says the farmer. "But the rest of you stay in the ute." They get out of the car, and up the steps to the front entrance, when the doors suddenly open. "Wow, did you see that Dad? The doors just opened by themselves." "Yeah, ya never know what they've got in the city, son." So they're wandering round, marvelling at all the things in the building. The farmer asks for directions, the clerk points at the lift door. They've never seen one before, so they go and stand in front of it, not knowing what to make of it. Next thing an old woman comes along, gets in the lift, and the door shuts. A couple of minutes later, the door opens again, and out steps a beautiful young woman. An old woman went in, and a beautiful young woman came out. The farmer turns to his son, "Quick son, go get your mother." There's a theological truth in this - God isn't interested so much in changing us, as He is in exchanging us.


A lady took my seat in church the other day. She's really very nice, a good friend, in fact, I can sit any place. It's no big deal. But I like my seat. It's on the right as you enter the sanctuary. I can rest my arm on the end. It's a good seat, but I wouldn't raise a fuss just over a seat - I never hold a grudge. Actually, it was three months ago she took it and I really don't know why. I've never done anything to her - never taken her seat. I suppose I'll have to come an hour early now to get my seat. I think she took it because it's one of the best seats in the house. You know, she had no business taking it, and I'm not going to church two hours early to get what's rightfully mine! This is the way great social injustices begin: abusive people taking other people's seats! It's the way seeds of revolution are sown. A person can only stand so much, you know. Where's it all going to end? If someone doesn't stand up and be counted, nobody's seat will be safe. People will sit just where they please, and next they'll take my parking place, then my home. World order will be in a shambles!


A New Zealander went into a fish and chip shop and said, "$5 worth of fush and chups please." "You're a Kiwi, mate," said the Australian. "Yeah, how'd you know?" "It's the accent, mate. Gives you away every time." The New Zealander went home and practised saying, "Fish and chips". A month later he went back to the fish and chip shop and said, "$5 worth of fush and chups please." "You're a Kiwi, mate." "Yeah, how'd you know?" "It's the accent, mate. Gives you away every time." The New Zealander went home and practised again. He even got lessons. A month later he went back to the fish and chip shop and said, "$5 worth of fish and chips please." "You're a Kiwi, mate," said the Australian. "Yeah, how'd you know?" "The fish and chip shop closed three weeks ago. This is a stationery store."

Throughout history the church has found it difficult to adapt. It found it hard to accept new concepts, both spiritually and in the secular world. As the church began to come out of the dark ages, and once again began to understand the truth of salvation by grace, what happened as God gradually restored spiritual truths to the church? Water baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the supernatural gifts, church government. As each truth was restored, the majority rejected it and persecuted the ones who accepted it.


Even the early church found it difficult to adapt to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Let me ask you a question. They were commanded to do something. Did they? The Holy Spirit came upon them in Acts 2 but it took until Acts 8:1 before they decided to get out of Jerusalem. I can just imagine them in Jerusalem and God's trying to talk to them, "Remember, you're supposed to go into all Judea and Samaria." And nobody's moving until the great persecution. Then they say, "Oh, that Judea and Samaria." Even then the message still didn't get through. In Acts 10 God sends Peter to Caesarea to preach to a Roman. When he gets back, boy is he in trouble. They called a big meeting and were ready to give him a roasting. "You went to the uncircumcised and preached the gospel? You actually ate with the Gentiles?" Then Peter defends the grace of God by telling them what happened. I can just imagine what happened. There they are ready to lay into him for preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, and Peter tells them how God filled the Gentiles with the Holy Spirit, just like He had with them. I bet they had a sudden change of heart. They're all ready for a fight, then suddenly they realise, "Hey guys, it seems that God has overruled. We better let this one go." What a blow to their theology! But how sad that we the church are so often so slow to comply with the changes that God is bringing about.


Someone dialled a wrong number and got the following recording: "I am not available right now, but I thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."


How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.


Simpson had to fight to introduce chloroform; Lister struggled to have antiseptics accepted; Copernicus was forced to retract his belief that the earth went around the sun.1


In the days of Jesus, they didn't generally put fluids like wine into bottles. They put them into skins. They'd kill a goat, cut off the head and feet, skin it, cure it in a way that minimised unpleasant flavours, then sew it back up, except for the neck. Then they'd put wine, water or milk in it. The problem with a skin was that they'd become harder and more brittle. If you put new wine into an old skin, the new wine was still fermenting, which means it was releasing gases. The gases would cause the old skin to burst. Because a new skin still had its flexibility, the gases released by the wine didn't cause a problem. The new wine of the Holy Spirit can't be contained by old structures like the carnal nature or the Mosaic Law. We need to keep our hearts soft and supple by listening to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, and allowing Him to change us.


It must have been tough when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for forty years. They'd pitch their tents, get set up, get settled, and then the cloud or the pillar of fire would begin to move. We've got to move with the cloud. We've got to learn to respond to change positively. God never stays still - He's always working. And we've got to learn to move with Him and work with Him.



Change is built into our lives. For instance, parenting a baby is different from parenting a toddler. You have to adapt. Then when they become a teenager, you have to change again. Finally, when your children become adults, your parenting style has to change again.


God once said to Bob Mumford, "You and I are incompatible, and I do not change."


A minister wanted to move a piano that was on the church's stage. There was a disagreement, but the minister insisted and was fired. Five years later, he visited the church and noticed that the piano had been moved. He went to the new pastor and asked, "How did you do that?" "One inch at a time," replied the pastor.


You need flexibility just to live. If you're not a flexible person, then you're living in the wrong century. Because things are changing so rapidly - knowledge is said to double every few years. And in comparison to what has happened prior to this century, thousands of years of technological advances are made every 50 years.

Quotes

The seven last words of the church: "We never did it that way before."


Change is not change until it is change. Most people judge others by their actions, and themselves by their intentions. Intention to change is not change. Talking about changing, pledging it, making resolutions concerning it - none of these are change. Edwin Louis Cole Maximised Manhood p101


If we keep on doing what we?ve always done, we'll keep on getting what we?ve always had.


Men can change habits. Only God can change a nature. Edwin Louis Cole Maximised Manhood p81


In matters of principle, stand like a rock. In matters of taste, swim with the current. Thomas Jefferson


Sometimes the only way radical change happens is through radical pain. Wayne Cordeiro


1 Barclay, William The Daily Study Bible p338-9