Time to Change

Can you think of a time in your life when you absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt knew you had to make a change? Perhaps it was deciding to quit smoking, leave an abusive relationship, commit to a healthy diet, lose weight, quit your job, start exercising….what was it for you? What was different that time over all the other failed attempts?

Sometimes, it just clicks. We know we can’t go another week with the old way and we finally find the courage to commit to the new way. Then it takes weeks to live into the new way. Psychologists will tell you that you need to allow six to eight weeks of disciplined repetition before an old habit can be dropped in favor of a new habit. Most of us give up before that happens.

In the third chapter of Acts, Peter has attracted a congregation and he begins to preach. He recounts the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection, reminding the crowd that they preferred a murderer to be freed over Jesus. He lays out the prophetic words that pointed to Jesus’ messiahship and then chastises the listeners for missing what had been so obvious.

Finally, he calls for change:

Acts 3 (The Message)

19-23 “Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus.

This is the gospel in a nutshell. Turn to face God so that he can 1. Wipe away your sins. 2. Pour out showers of blessing on you. 3. Send you the Messiah, whose name is Jesus. There is so much goodness packed into that one sentence. Imagine hearing this right after the horrific events of the crucifixion and the miraculous events of the resurrection. Surely they must have thought, “WAIT. You mean we get a second chance??”

Peter goes on to explain what will happen next.

For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word he speaks to you. Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.

Peter cleverly plays the “Moses card,” reminding them of their well-beloved and revered founder, and then finishes off with a warning: if you refuse to listen to that prophet, you’ll be wiped out.

As you meditate on this passage today, think of what changes God is calling you to make in your life. Chances are he is waiting to pour out showers of blessing on you, too.

Is it time for a change?

Showers of Blessing by Michelle Robertson

A Chance to Change

When you are raising children, you work every day to teach them the difference between right and wrong. It is a parent’s job to show their kids how to make the right choices, say the right words, and do the right thing. Even when they become adults, this is still a parent’s fervent prayer, because we know that doing what is right is inherently the safest way for us all to live.

Stay in your lane.

Don’t dump toxic waste into the river.

Drive the speed limit.

Recycle your trash.

Don’t swim when the red flags are out.

Buy the low emission car.

Don’t steal what isn’t yours.

Wear your seatbelt, don’t smoke in Non-Smoking areas, never drink and drive, stop for pedestrians crossing the street, and don’t go into an area marked, “Do Not Enter.”

God, like a good parent, teaches us the difference between right and wrong, and good and evil. It is in his very nature to do what is right, and in his case, it involves showing mercy even for those who doubt him. He spares every person, but he has no patience for pride. Especially the kind of pride that makes us think we can ignore his rules.

Wisdom of Solomon 12 (Common English Version)

16 Your strength is the very origin of doing the right thing. Because you rule over all, you spare all. 17 You show your strength to those who doubt how powerful you really are. You condemn the pride of those who should know better than to doubt you.

God’s sense of right includes exercising careful judgment. This is probably the exact point where humanity goes a different way. I don’t know a single person who is capable of that. We are quick to judge and too selfish in wanting to do things our way. We take a lot of pride in exercising our individual rights.

18 Still, though you rule absolutely, you exercise careful judgment. You govern us with amazing restraint. If you wanted to, you could do anything you wished. 19 By your actions, you taught your people that those who do what is right must always want what is best for others.

God’s litmus test is simple. Those who do what is right are those who ALWAYS want what is best for others. If your sense of what is right is good for you but harmful to others, you’ve missed God’s mark.

Your sons and daughters saw that you give to those who have sinned a chance to change their hearts and minds. In this way you encouraged them.

Think about your attitudes and your behaviors. Do they match up with God’s standard? Do they reflect an attitude that puts what is best for others ahead of what is best for you? Or is your need for individual freedom outweighing what is best for the common good?

It’s never too late to change. God always offers us a chance to change our hearts and minds.

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Time for a Change by Michelle Robertson

Heart-Change

It has long been said that it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Any woman married to a man would probably add that it is also a man’s prerogative to change his mind. Changing your mind is not gender-specific. Changing your shoes, maybe, but not changing your mind.

As we follow along with our post-resurrection storyline, we discover the disciples continuing their work in Jerusalem, explaining and revealing the meaning and mystery of the resurrection. Peter is addressing a crowd in Jerusalem who is keenly aware of what has transpired. Not all were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection, but they know the rumors and have heard the stories.

Such a crowd is listening now to Peter speak, who is inspired by the Holy Spirit:

Acts 2 (Common English Bible)

36 “Therefore, let all Israel know beyond question that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 

Change your mind. Use your prerogative. Change how you think about this, how you feel about this, and most importantly, change your life to reflect your new belief. The power of repentance to bring us closer to God can never be understated. It is the only way to receive complete and utter forgiveness of sins.

40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.

Three thousand were brought into the community that day. Can you imagine their profound relief to know that Christ had died for their sin, and they carried that burden no more?

What burden of sin are you carrying right now? What heavy load can you remove with sincere repentance? Where is God calling you to change your mind, heart and LIFE?

This message wasn’t just for Peter’s audience that day, but is a living testimony to the power of God in YOUR life. It is never too late to repent. It is never too late to be cleansed of sin. It is never too late to unburden yourself of something you have carried for years.

It is never too late to change.

Lone Fisherman by Michelle Robertson

Season Confusion

Unseasonable warmth came to the Outer Banks last week, despite it being the middle of February. Our normal wintery temperatures have ceded to beautiful, sunshiny, 70-degree days. Don’t get me wrong, we love it…but it is confusing the heck out of our daffodils. This picture was posted by a friend, who warned that the cold would return that night and she hopes these beautiful blossoms will survive. She captioned it, “season confusion.”

My mind instantly went to the beautiful passage in Ecclesiastes that speaks of seasons:

Ecclesiastes 3

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

I wonder if we don’t also occasionally experience season confusion ourselves. We stay in a time of mourning when God is releasing us to dance. We embrace inappropriately without consideration of the other person’s comfort level. We continue to tear at something when it’s time to mend that relationship. We hate, when God is asking us to love, and we go to war over an ideology or personality rather than be the peace-makers God is calling us to be.

Are you in the wrong season? Tearing down something that God is telling you to build up? Staying stuck in your ways, rather than uproot your attitude and consider other perspectives? Still searching for the perfection of that unobtainable thing when God is telling you to let it go?

If you are feeling out of sorts with your life and out of place in the world, consider that you may be experiencing season confusion. Think, meditate, and pray. God will lead you to the season he has prepared for you. EVERYTHING has a season under the sun. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Daffodils in February by Jan Wilson