Saturday, September 2, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #31-Changing Times

*Today's devotion is longer than usual. I am speaking at a Prayer Breakfast this coming Tuesday morning and thought I would share my devotional talk with all of my readers. This is a "rough draft" as I am still tweaking things. Your prayers on Tuesday morning will be appreciated.

The Changing Seasons-Fall Is Coming
Change….it’s the one thing we can count on isn’t it? We’ve all heard that old saying many times over the years. And, I’m sure that everyone here today can think back on many changes experienced over the years. I can imagine that some of those changes were ones that brought joy and fulfillment, while there are probably some others that brought sadness and pain. That’s life isn’t it? We get used to a certain way of living and doing things only to find that it is now being done differently. Life becomes totally different from what we previously knew. If we want to ponder about change, just take a moment to think of the many changes that have taken place in our world in the last hundred years. Things like advances with medications, the invention of vacuum cleaners, electric washing machines, airplane travel, space travel, cell phones, computers, the list goes on and on. Who would have thought that many of us would be carrying around a small device in our hands on which we could talk on the phone, send text messages and access the Internet whenever we want to?  Change…’s the one thing we can count on in this world, isn’t it?

This past year has been a time of change for me.  I retired from teaching in January after a 35 year career in education. I loved being a teacher. In fact, it was something that I knew I wanted to do from the time I was a little child. I can remember when I was little that I would go to school all day and then play school when I got home in the evening. I had a chalkboard set up on a suitcase and I would line up my dolls and stuffed animals and instruct them each evening, mimicking the very things I had listened to my teacher say at school that day. Later, during my teaching career I saw many changes happening, both in the world and in the field of education. When I first started teaching, I wrote on a chalkboard, just like I had done playing school in my bedroom. I thought I was very clever and advanced just using different colors of chalk to write math problems and to draw pictures to interest my students. That was the “high technology” of those times. All it required to clean up was an eraser and a wet cloth to clean off the dust. By the time I retired 35 years later, chalkboards were an obsolete tool of the past. They had been replaced by “white boards” that required the use of special markers to write with and a special spray solution to clean them. And even white boards were being replaced by an even newer invention called a Smart Board” which allowed me to simply touch the board to write, underline words and project computer images right onto the board itself.  Quite the change from the simple blackboards of yesteryear. I’ve thought a lot about change these past months as I have had more time in retirement to sit and reflect on the years that have gone by…..seemingly in the blink of an eye….. And on the hopes and dreams I have for the future. But, of one thing I am certain. Change will be a part of it. You see it always is.  Change is the one thing we can count on in life….or is it?  You see, I believe that there is something much more powerful than change that we can count on in this life. And that is Jesus Christ. And we need only to look to the scriptures for proof that we can count on Him no matter what changes may come in our lives. Let’s take a moment to listen to what the Bible says about change. Perhaps that will put this whole idea of “change” into perspective.

I did a little research online, looking for scriptures that speak to the idea of change. And, I found that there are many, many scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that refer to the idea. I couldn’t possibly name them all, but here are a few of my favorites that shed a light on the idea of change and its propensity for creating both feelings of delight and dread.

From   Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

From Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

From Ecclesiastes 3:1  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

And my personal favorite, which I believe sums up any concern I may have about change:

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

And that, for me, is the answer. You see no matter how much I may anticipate changes or dread changes I can always know that even though change is always going to happen, I can always count on Jesus to be the same. His love and his grace are always with me no matter what changes may occur. And He is the same always….never changing….and that is such a comfort in this ever changing world isn’t it?

And so, being the teacher that I am...I decided, in my musings about change these last few months, to come up with a positive and constructive way to think about change. And the way I have
devised to do this is by composing an acrostic poem in which I take each letter in the word “change” and think of a positive word and affirmation to use with each letter. I want to share my acrostic poem with you as a means of encouragement.

It takes courage to go through change. Making changes is not for the fainthearted. But we are never alone in change, for Jesus has promised to always be with us. In Matthew 28:20 the Lord says, “And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”
When change occurs it’s always OK to give help and it’s always OK to ask for help. Sometimes change affects only us in our personal lives and sometimes it affects the whole world. People need one another when change happens. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Although change is inevitable, it isn’t always received well. Having a positive attitude about change helps so much. We may not be able to control the change in our lives or around us, but we can control our own thoughts and attitudes. Philippians 4:8-9 says, “ Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Change can be hard and sometimes we have to find the right path to negotiate through those changes. Our faith in God can help us to find the correct path. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Sometimes changes that occur are happy events, but other changes can bring grief and pain. Even in the midst of changes that are unwelcome, there are things to be grateful for if we look hard enough. This isn’t always easy, especially in moments of intense grief. At these times, I am grateful that Jesus is with me in my grief and I am not alone. Psalm 136:26 says, “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his lovingkindness endures forever.”
With any type of change, whether it be something personal or something in the world around us, we can think about what our expectations are about this change. We can ask ourselves questions about how we will grow within this change. I believe that hope is always tied to our expectations. We can hope that the future will be better, even in the midst of changing times. Hope is our expectation. No matter what the change in our lives may be, good or bad, our expectation can be that of Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

*Acrostic Poem Written by Debbie Ross 2017

So, yes, change is one thing we can count on.  But, thankfully, it is not the only thing. For Jesus promises to walk beside us through all of the days of our lives, through whatever good or bad changes life or work or the world may throw at us. And God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can always count on Him, no matter what the changes may be. Thanks be to God.  Amen.



Lay said...

Thank you for the reminder of God's constant love and grace and presence. As I exper once the devastation of Hurrcane Harvey via television coverage and imagine how the lives of thousands will be forever changed, this is a powerful message. I pray that your mediation on Tuesday will be comforting to all who hear and strengthen their faith to look for God's constancy in all things. For that is where our hope and future lies.

Peace of Christ be with you, Laura

Debbie Styles Life said...

Thank you, Laura, for your comment. I like the word you used...constancy. That's another great "C" word for change. Thanks so much for your prayers.

Sharon said...

What a powerful message, Debbie. It spoke to me as I'm certain it will speak to the people who attend the prayer breakfast this week.

Karen said...

Well said Debbie. I'll pray for you on Tuesday. The fact that Jesus never changes is a great comfort indeed!

Debbie Styles Life said...

Thanks, Karen, and I appreciate your prayers!