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Changing Lives Is Jesus' Business, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
January 31, 2023 7:05 am

Changing Lives Is Jesus' Business, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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January 31, 2023 7:05 am

Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Returning to Our Roots


It's likely that one of the many reasons you listen to Insight for Living is to grow deeper and stronger in your walk with Jesus. We commend you for pursuing the Bible with us, knowing that Scripture holds the key to accelerating your love for God and His work in your life. And you won't be disappointed today as Chuck Swindoll continues his helpful series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. Today, we'll discover that genuine change, transformational change, occurs when Jesus is invited to engineer that revolution in our hearts. It was Karl Marx who said on one occasion, philosophers have only interpreted the world differently.

The point is, however, to change it. After serving the Lord as a missionary for some 15 years in Pakistan, Warren Webster was invited by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to speak at the now famous Urbana Missionary Conference. He spoke very candidly about his days in Pakistan, and that part of the message that I will never forget included these words, If I had my life to live over again, I would live it to change the lives of people, because you have not changed anything until you have changed the lives of people.

While thinking through this message, I came on the year 1973 and remembered the famous piece that the Bill Gaither family put together, Alleluia, a praise gathering for believers. And I thumbed through the musical and found that part of the narration that wouldn't leave my mind alone, that had to do with this same subject I'm talking on. The narrator breaks in during the strains of music, something beautiful, something good, all my confusion he understood. And the narrator says, well down through history, changing lives has been his business. He's changed the rich, and he's changed the poor. He's changed the high and the mighty, and he's changed the meek. He's changed my life, maybe he's changed yours.

But if he hasn't, it can happen for you right now, today. And then the music continues with that wonderful piece. While putting together my thoughts for this message on change, it seemed incredible to me that these three unlikely bedfellows would fit around the same theme of change. A socialist, a missionary, and a songwriter. Though they are in different degrees and different realms and in many ways in different worlds, all three agree, and we do too, that the key in life is change.

That is not optional, that is essential. When I think about that which keeps me going with Christ, it is the hope of change. When I meet with people who have struggled through the battles and the valleys and the swamps of their experiences, and I search for reasons they hang on and keep growing, it is the hope of change.

It is the inner conviction that God is at work changing them. Just think about yourself for the last ten years. You're not the same person, are you? In fact, if you go back even further, you'd have to say, my life today compared to my life 12, 15, 18 years ago, they don't even resemble each other.

That's because of change. I want to think, to begin with, before we look at three lives our Lord Jesus changed, I want to think about some statements from both Old Testament and New Testament that affirm this idea. Turn back into the Old Testament to the book of Jeremiah chapter 18. I want to read the first six verses of Jeremiah 18. The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I shall announce my words to you. Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was making something on the wheel. And by the way, if you have never seen a potter at work, your education isn't complete. You owe it to yourself to take the time to find a place where this kind of art is going on and to watch the potter at work.

As you do, you will be seeing a living glimpse of what the prophet writes of, and what our Lord speaks of on other occasions in the scriptures. It is an ancient art. So this prophet goes to that place, and he watches the potter working with the clay on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter. So, he remade it into another vessel as it pleased the potter to make.

I was, last year I think it was, visiting the local Bible college campus, the University, Biola University campus, and they were having one of their art festivals, and I had the privilege of slipping behind the curtain and watching a potter at work. And she was forming the top part of this vase, and this wheel was spinning, and I wanted to ask, in those situations, I want to interrupt all the time and say, now wait, why are you doing that? Oh, watch out for this.

But I've learned in the years that it passed to keep my mouth shut. So I watched her, and a part of it kind of fell off, and it fouled up the little lip at the top of the thing. And in the simplest of ways, she just reached over, and with the little instrument, she just peeled off that part of it. And then she remade it. And it wasn't like she wanted, it looked excellent to me, but it wasn't like she wanted, I was tempted to say, that looks fine, leave it alone.

But I didn't. She remade it, and then she pressed her hands and pulled it out and made this beautiful flare at the top of this vase, and then she left it alone. That's what the potter witnessed, that's what the prophet witnessed as he saw the potter at work. And then he draws an analogy. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does, declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. You see change written there without even finding the word. You're like a lump of clay to me, and I can shape you and hollow you out and thin your walls and flare the top and make you decorative, or I can push you back and start all over again.

Because change is my occupation, it is my specialty. From Jeremiah, go back one prophet to Isaiah 64. Isaiah 64 verse 8.

Same idea in different words. But now, O Lord, thou art our Father, we are the clay, and thou our potter. What old gospel hymn comes from Isaiah 64 verse 8?

That's it. Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way, thou art the potter, I am the clay. It's taken from verse 8. And all of us are the work of thy hand. Once again, it's the idea of our Lord shaping us and changing us and moving us whichever way he pleases.

You want an example of that? 1 Samuel chapter 10, a man named Saul who became king. And it even uses the word of Saul in chapter 10 of 1 Samuel.

He's the king elect. He will be the first king for the nation Israel. 10-6, then the spirit of the Lord, says this prophet Samuel, then the spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, Saul. And you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. And it shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires, for God is with you. And you shall go down before me to Gilgal and behold I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings.

You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do. Look at the next verse. Then it happened, when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart.

And all those signs came about on that day. Now I wish all changes were that rapid. I wish all changes were that easy.

But they are neither. Usually changes take time. Occasionally they take years.

And dare I say on some occasions they take decades. And God in the process of shaping us and remaking us and molding us like a potter with clay, brings about those things that need attention in our lives. Some of you are on the wheel and it's painful.

I have news for you, it is meant to be. I agree with Tozer, it is doubtful God can use anyone greatly until he has hurt him deeply. Or as Alan Redpath said way back in the late 1950s, when God wants to do an impossible task, he takes an impossible man and crushes him. Some of you are in the crushing experience of being changed. And it's no fun. You've been placed as it were in a blast furnace and it seems as though the fire will never cease.

And you feel like a shapeless mass. You can't understand the direction. Trust the Father. He's changing you. He knows what he's doing. He knows what he's about. Before we go to the New Testament, one more. Proverbs 21 verse 1.

My, is this a wonderful promise when you think about the political scene of our day or of any generation. Proverbs 21 verse 1. The king's heart, you could say the president's heart, you could say the governor's heart, you could say your husband's heart, you could say your wife's heart, anyone's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord. He, the Lord turns it wherever he wishes. When he is ready to change a heart, it gets changed. Whether it's proud Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar or whether it is your own family member or one of the disciples. He turns it wherever, wherever he wishes.

What is it the Gaither narration says? It's his business. Changing lives has been his business.

He's changed my life and maybe he's changed yours. In the New Testament we have more familiar passages of scripture and it won't take as long to survey these. Romans 8, you expect me to turn to that one.

One of our favorites is Christians 8 to 26. I love this passage. And in the same way the spirit also helps our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should. Haven't you had that experience? There have been times I have gone to the Lord in prayer and I have not been able to utter what was aching on my heart.

Had that experience? I haven't been able to form the words. Sometimes the anguish is too great. Sometimes the confusion is too much.

And not knowing how to shape the request I have on occasion just sort of groaned. I find hope in verse 26. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the spirit is because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

Don't stop reading. There are some verses I feel sorry for. Romans 8, 29 is one of them. Another one is John 3, 17. That's a great verse.

Very few people know what it says. Verse 29 of Romans 8. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to become, and I have this underlined, conformed to the image of his son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. God is committed to the task of conforming you to the image of his son.

Not physically. He's not making us look like Jesus looked physically. But inwardly, in character, in patience, in gentleness, in goodness, in grace, in truth, in discipline. He's committed to the conforming of our lives to the image of his son. That's the Father's task. He's committed to it.

He's changing us. Be encouraged. Ephesians chapter 2.

Here's another one I feel sorry for. Ephesians 2, 10. Everybody knows Ephesians 2, 8 and 9. But have you ever looked at verse 10? It's a wonderful verse. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Look at the first one, two, three, four, five words. For we are his workmanship. We're his project. He's got his eye on us.

It never is away from us. He knows what our tomorrow holds. He has in mind what our weekend holds coming up. He knows what the year as it unfolds will hold for us. And he is working on his workmanship. We are his craft. And he's shaping and molding and making us like he wants us to become. He's changing us.

Here's another. Ephesians 1, verse 6. Lest you think he's going to give up, lest you think he's going to back off, because you beg him to. Philippians 1, 6 says he won't do that. I am confident of this very thing that he who began a good work in you will perfect it.

The word is complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God finishes his job. He's never been known to walk away from an individual and say, he's just too stubborn for me. He is too much of a job. Kind of like you do with your teenager.

It's just too much. I'll just leave it with the Lord. Well, he'll never say that. He's never met a teenager that's his match. He's never met a 30-year-old that's his match. Preachers listening, he's never met a preacher that's his match.

He's never met a senior citizen that's his match. He will complete the job. Changing us. Changing us. Now I find in the book of John, three wonderful illustrations of people who were changed. They were like pieces of clay on the potter's wheel. And in a slice of their life that is revealed in the Gospel of John, just a section of their life, we witness a change in each one.

And there's hope here. I've picked three that are different. One is a wayward woman. Another is a blind beggar.

And the third is a doubting disciple. Three different kinds of people. They're different in sex. There's a difference in physical ability. There's a difference in age. There's a difference in marital status.

There's a difference in occupation. You'll see a difference across the board, and I've chosen different ones on purpose, so that you'll be able to identify with at least one of the three and maybe more than that. The first is a woman. The scene takes place by a well in Samaria between two people who have never met before. One is a woman and one is a man.

The woman is never named here or elsewhere in Scripture. It happens at noon. It's hot. Samaritan's sun is burning down, and Jesus, hot from the journey, sits down alone by a well.

His disciples have gone for food. He sits down alone, and a woman walks up to draw water. She's in for a change and doesn't know it. That's the way it happens, by the way. That's what makes life exciting. You think tomorrow is just going to be your basic, dull, blue tomorrow.

No, it's not. It's very possible that a change is going to happen, like today with my wife. God bless her. She was driving along, and the left rear wheel caught on fire. We've never had a car catch on fire, and God has ways of making life exciting for you, so you think it's getting sort of monotonous, and boom, a wheel catches on fire, and that has a wonderful way of getting your attention, and you start thinking about, what else is the Lord trying to say to me? Here is a woman who has no idea. Oh, by the way, we put the fire out.

The tire is in great shape. My wife, little... No, she's fine. I'm just teasing. Here's a woman who has no idea what's in front of her, and she walks up to the well in verse 7, and she hears a Jew, a Jew, say to her, give me a drink. Now, you can't appreciate that, not being Jewish and certainly not being Samaritan, but you haven't seen prejudice like they knew it then. I mean, if a Jew was going to go from his homeland in Judea up north, instead of going through Samaria, he went all the way around Samaria and then went further in his journey.

It's sort of like going from Texas to Kansas around Oklahoma. You try to do that sometime. I gave that illustration some time ago, and three huge fellas come to me after my talk. They were obviously from Oklahoma, and they said, we want you to know we don't have any Samaritans living in Oklahoma. That's all right.

I understand. I'm not talking about that. His disciples had gone away to the city to buy food, and the Samaritan woman, not knowing anything about it, knowing nothing of the man, said to him, how is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I'm a Samaritan woman? Not only are you speaking to a woman on the street, you're speaking to a Samaritan woman, and not only that, you're a Jew. Jesus, a Jew, in Samaria stands out.

That's how ridiculous it seemed to her. What are you, a Jew, doing in my territory? And of all things, you're asking me for a drink. What's with you?

Jews have no dealings with Samaritans, adds John. Jesus answered and said, if you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, give me a drink, you would have asked me, and he would have given you living water. Now she misses it completely. She says, sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? You're not greater than our father Jacob, are you, who gave us the well and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle? Jesus said to her, everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again, speaking of the well, of course. But whoever drinks of the water that I give him, she'll never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. And the woman said to him, sir, give me this water so I will not be thirsty and I won't have to come all the way to draw. She said, I'll take it, pipe it into my house. I'll take that living water. I don't like walking down here and hauling it back on that jug on my head.

I'd love to have you bring the water to me. She misses it completely. She says to her, go and call your husband. She says to him, I have no husband. Jesus said to her, you have well said I have no husband for you have had five husbands and the one whom you now have is not your husband. That was in a day when having five husbands wasn't popular. That was in a day when living with a man outside a wedlock was a scandal. That was in a day when even the public had a purity code and he exposes her, he unveils her life in one sentence.

Not only do you have five husbands in your background, you're living with a man who's not your husband. Several years ago, Chuck said something in one of his messages that has become widely quoted. He was preaching about the virtue of developing a godly perspective. In his message about attitudes, Chuck said, I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. Maybe you recall hearing him say that. Chuck embellished his point.

He said that all of us deal with hardship and disappointment from time to time. That's the 10% part. We can't control it.

But we can certainly control our response. That's the 90% part. Well, Chuck's book will help you determine your choice. And you can purchase a copy right now by going to slash store. The title is Life is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React. To purchase a copy, you can also call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Bear in mind that Insight for Living is a nonprofit ministry solely supported by voluntary donations from grateful listeners like you.

And your gift, no matter the size, truly makes a difference in providing these daily visits with Chuck. To give a one-time donation today, give us a call. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or join our team of regular monthly givers. You can easily become a monthly companion of grace right now. One of our ministry reps will walk you through the process when you call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or you can become a monthly companion by following the simple instructions at slash monthly companion. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his hallmark series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life, right here on Insight for Living. Copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-30 14:27:58 / 2023-01-30 14:37:25 / 9

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