As we mature we learn to accept change. We become more flexible and find creative solutions to old problems. At least that has been my experience. I want to be able to say that I accepted new challenges and whether I won or lost, I enjoyed or at least learnt from the process.
God’s goal for us is to become mature Christians. He wants us to grow up into the stature of Christ. Part of our growth and development comes when we learn to handle change and we can transition from one thing to another with grace. Inflexibility in areas where change is required will stunt our growth. Embrace change on your journey in life.
I did some research on winemaking and it is interesting to look at the analogy between the maturity in real fruit and our lives. As fruit matures, its sugar content increases while its acidity decreases. This should be true of our lives as well. As we mature, evidence of a sweeter, kinder, more loving and more merciful person should be emerging. The fruit of the Spirit is growing in us. A mature person will handle transition and change in their life with the understanding that it will work some kind of good. They know it produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness. They can embrace the Bible passage which says, “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
God does not let us ‘settle’ for too long. Change is good for us because it makes us grow. If we become ‘comfortable’ and start to enjoy a life of ease, you can be sure God will let something happen to ‘tip’ you over and unsettle you. God is more interested in your spiritual growth than your comfort. The Bible bears this out over and over again. We are interested in our comfort; God is interested in His kingdom. In Jeremiah, it is revealed that Moab had always lived securely and had never been taken into exile. God was not pleased. They had placed their confidence in their works and their riches and their carnal ease showed their security was not in their God.
“Moab has been at ease from his youth, he has settled on his dregs and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent has not changed. Therefore, behold the days are coming that I shall send wine workers who will tip him over and empty his vessels and break his bottles.’ Jeremiah 48:11,12
‘Moab’s history was one of relative peace. She had been at rest from her youth. Jeremiah compared her to wine left on its dregs that had not been poured from one jar to another. In making wine, first the grapes were stomped, then the juice was placed into bottles or skins and allowed to ferment. During this time the sediment, or dregs, would settle to the bottom. After forty days the fermented wine was carefully poured into another container to separate it from the dregs. If the dregs were allowed to remain, the wine became too sweet and think and was spoiled. This object lesson from nature was ultimately applied to people who had become too complacent. (cf. Zeph 1:12). Moab had never felt the harsh reality of exile, so like the unpoured wine, her aroma was unchanged.
God vowed that days were coming (cf. comments of Jer 31:27), however, when He would arouse Moab from her complacency. He would send men to pour her out as wine that was no longer fit to drink. At that time Moab would be ashamed of Chermosh (cf. 48:7) just as Israel was ashamed when she had trusted in Bethel. Bethel was where one of the two golden calves was set up in the Northern Kingdom (cf. 1 Kings 12:26-30). israel found out too late that her trust in the false god at Bethel could not prevent her destruction and deportation.’ (Biblical Background Commentary)
Let’s see what analogies can be drawn from the winemaking process in relation to our development and maturation. What is wine? Wine has been made for centuries from two simple ingredients: yeast and grape juice. Actually just about any fruit juice can be used, but by far the majority of all wine is made from the juice of the grape. How is wine made? Yeast is the magical ingredient that turns grape juice into wine. Interestingly enough there is actually wild yeast spores in the air and all that is really needed to make wine is an open container of grape juice and time. The taste would not be perfect, but in it’s raw state that is all that is needed. Wine, once it is bottled, needs to be ‘turned’ a quarter at regular intervals, so that the taste develops and matures
What are dregs? In winemaking, when the yeast falls to the bottom of the container it is called dregs. Once this happens, the wine is then be poured into another vessel or in very early winemaking procedures, wine workers would come along a turn the wine bottles a “quarter” on a regular basis to help with maturation. If this “quarter turning” did not happen, the wine would fail to mature correctly and its “taste” would not be in it. Either way, there came a change for the wine; either it was tipped into a new bottle, or it at the very least, was ‘disturbed’ and unsettled. This ‘tipping’ or ‘turning’ for us is change. God uses changes of circumstances to help develop us. If we see the ‘bigger picture’, we will be able to accept gracefully the discomforting of a loving Father who is interested in seeing His sons and daughters mature.
If we settle, we fail to mature properly just as wine won’t mature correctly without that regular ‘tipping’. He will allow certain things to happen which are for our eternal benefit, although for our present discomfort. God always has the bigger picture in mind. We focus too much on the ‘now’ and trouble causes us to be short-sighted. However if we keep our eyes upon God, we can remain stable and fixed in the midst of disturbing circumstances and difficulty or strife.
God is not impressed with His people when they settle for too long. When we are too settled we become complacent, and stop being fruitful. God wants us to be fruitful, and if we are not producing fruit, He cuts off the dead branches, so new growth will come.
The Name of God
One of the Hebrew names for God is Jehovah Sabaoth. This means the Lord God of the armies of heaven and earth. What the name implies is that God is in charge! Nothing happens to me that He is not firstly, aware of, and secondly, that He is not ultimately in control of. I can take great comfort in that if I can only take a moment to see it. Be distracted for one moment from your present earthly pain, and realize that God IS aware of your circumstance, and not only that, He is in control of it.
Psalm 23:5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over”
Here is Jehovah Sabaoth in the Shepherd’s Psalm. He prepares a table before me in the midst of adversity. God does not always take us out of trouble, He protects us in it! There is a place of rest for me. The release from mental anguish is in Him. It is in the knowledge that He is aware and He is in control. No matter how out of control things may look, choose to find refuge in His Name. The Bible says His name is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe. I never understood this Scripture as a new Christian. How could you run into a Name? But the Lord’s Prayer says, “Hallowed by Thy Name”. I set His Name apart every day in prayer and worship His Name. I worship Him because He is the one who is in control of my life. He is aware today, of my circumstance and He’s in control. My faith and hope is in God. I love His Name. His Name is a refuge indeed! There is quite a number of Hebrew Names for God. If you don’t know them, look them up and learn to worship His Name. In His Name, His character is revealed. This is one way we learn to know God and when we understand His character, it gives us boldness to pray with confidence.
Change is a very positive force in our lives. Human nature does not like change generally. God encourages us to embrace change. Human nature will tend to “settle”. We can be creatures of habit. We do things the same way, time after time. If you look around church, week after week, you will find people sit in the same section. Why is that? Because we get comfortable. We see the same faces in our same section week after week. If we moved and sat somewhere else, we’d have to talk to someone new.
When the mother eagle wants to teach her young to fly she discomforts them first. It’s time for a change she cries, but her little ones don’t want to leave their “comfort zone.” If they don’t get out of the nest voluntarily, she tips them out! God may tip us out of our nests to get us to embrace change. We like security but God wants us to have our stability and security in Him. When Abraham left for the Promised Land he embraced a whole new life and left the old one behind. His security was not in what he had, it was in His God. “By faith Abraham, obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8
Abraham left his homeland, NOT KNOWTNG where he was going. How many of us could embrace such a huge change. He didn’t know where God was taking him but HE KNEW GOD! He embraced change because He trusted His Heavenly Father to take him on the greatest journey of his life. Embark on a new journey with God. Dare to be brave and embrace change. Try something new. You might surprise yourself! “Unsettling” is not so bad. God has designed everything for your good. If you have ever opened a bottle of ginger beer you will notice that it needs shaking to bring the dregs up from the bottom. When you circulate it by shaking it up, the taste is stronger and more even. God does the same with His children When something matures it is generally known that its sugar content increases whilst its acidity decreases The fruit of the Spirit increases in our lives as we mature. Maturity enables us to take on change and see it as a positive experience.
The ability to bend with a new challenge is an important life skill if we are to walk in the blessing. If we break under pressure the blessing is stopped. Be creative and use alternative ways to achieve what you want out of life. No one has ever followed a dream that has taken a direct, unobstructed path and arrived at his or her destination effortlessly and on time. It is a bumpy road, full of twists and turns and occasional roadblocks.
One of the successful keys I believe that God showed us when I ran the Prayer Ministry at Citipointe, Carindale, Brisbane was not to pray the problem, but to pray the solution. We could state the problem but we always prayed the Word of God. In prayer we believed until we saw the answer. Effective prayer confesses the inadequacy, but relies upon God to fulfill His Word in answer to the need.
Peter and I came to Christian Outreach Centre in 1991. Peter took over as Dean of the School of Ministries and we became Senior Associate Pastors of the church in 1995. The Church had gone through several pastors in a short number of years and was facing some challenges. Yet God directed us to pray the Word of God and declare God’s purpose and intent for the church. God had a plan and He raised up more than one hundred and fifty intercessors of which I was privileged to lead, to be a part of His plan.
One of God’s promises to me was to make me a sharp threshing sledge and His battle-axe and weapon of war. (it’s a great title for a women’s meeting, ‘You are God’s battle-axe’!) He took me by His grace, added the support of His intercessors and enabled us to accomplish the task at hand. A battle-axe cannot wield itself. It is merely a tool in someone else’s hand used to accomplish the Master’s task. We prayed and watched God work.
We declared God’s blessing. Under great leadership, with a great congregation, and the support of congregation with prayer, the Church stabilized and grew. The first year God told us to ask for ten souls a week. We prayed the Word of God and at the end of our first year the church had grown by ten souls a week. Effective prayer can be measured. It also becomes a great source of encouragement to those praying to see the results of their prayers.
Write down your problems, list the details and some possible solutions, pray over them then, forget them. Ask God to speak solutions to you. He will give you His Word to pray. I don’t know of a more effective way to pray than to speak God’s Word back to Him. The Bible tells us that He hears His Word, and sends His angels out to accomplish it. My words are not effective, but God’s Word is always effective. Devils don’t tremble at my words, but they tremble at the Word of God.
Believe in your creative ability
Maria lbanez, from Colombia, did a course on programming computers as a teenager and this fired a passion to learn more. After going to the USA and studying computer science, she had an idea. “Why not set up distribution of personal computers south of the border, where a fertile market was waiting to be tapped?” The experts told her it had never been done, and that it couldn’t be done. The Latin market was too poor, and too small, they told her. Maria perceived opportunity where others saw limitations. “I decided I could make money out of it. The market was only $10, big enough for me, but too small for the big companies.”
Maria completed a three-week trip to Latin America and came back with $100,000 worth of orders, prepaid. Eventually her sales grew to an astounding $l5million. In 1987 Inc. Magazine ranked her company #55 on its list of the 500 fastest growing companies. She sold the company for $70 and later went on to start another company providing computers to Africa. Once again, marketing experts told her the nation was too poor. She believed in her own vision of the future. In her second year, sales totaled $2.4 million. She again made the Inc. Magazine’s top 500 fasting growing companies, the only person in the magazine’s history to make the prestigious list with two separate companies built from no capital. Her success was built upon her belief in herself and her determination.
“Everybody is an expert in giving advice on how you cannot do something. So forget about everybody. And then, when you encounter a hurdle — and I do every week — view it as an opportunity, not the end of the world. Do whatever you need to do to get past it quickly. If you believe in your dream, you will get there. “Maria Ibanez
The first church Peter and I pioneered was in Bundaberg. For the first seven years we met in different locations. We built our church building in 1981. We had dreamed about what it would look like and finally found a church that we designed ours from. Peter and I had an architect draw up the picture of what the building would look like for us. We had it framed and put on the office wall with the Scripture underneath, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Every time we walked past that photo, we thanked God for our new building. Two years later we replaced the drawing with a picture of our new building.
Use your imagination to see what is not yet visible to the eye. The hardest thing I have had to learn is to keep looking at the provision. The need talks the loudest and it will speak to you all the time because that is what you can see. The provision is not yet manifest. So you have to find creative ways to keep it in front of you. I have always tried to find creative ways to see it. The church building was just one. I am always creating new ideas in my imagination.
God’s blessing is in you! No matter what you face in life, God is bigger than any of it and He’s in control of all of it. So embrace it; all of it, knowing that God will cause you to become a bigger and better person as a result. Some things are bitter for a season. But if we are to follow in the Master’s footsteps, we cannot realistically expect it all to be a bed of roses. Bad things, if we handle them with grace, will help us mature, and the sweetness will come from our lives as a result. People will see that. The world doesn’t understand it because it is a work of the Spirit (and that is another story!)
Let your ‘light’ shine before men and use your life so the kingdom of God will grow and be blessed. Everything is for God’s glory and for His kingdom. We just get to be blessed along the way.
Read Chapter Seven “Re-Alignment” coming soon.
If you would like more of Peter and Lindsay Earle’s teaching go to www.pastoralministrytraining.com