Scripture: John 3:1-8. 13-16
I was reading the Daily Word the other morning and I came upon January 10's devotional. It was entitled: “Too Late To Change? Nicodemus said to Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old.” John 3:4. I am sure he was thinking that I am too old, too far gone, too set in my ways and in my beliefs to change Jesus was telling him, “In order to receive this new relationship with me, “You must be born again.” Nicodemus was puzzled and that is why he responded the way he did. He knew there is no way he could reenter his mother’s womb and start the birthing process all over again.
There are many sayings in many languages about the difficulty of changing old established habits. In English, we have a phrase that says, “You can’t teach old dog new tricks.” The French have a saying that goes this way, “You can’t teach an old monkey how to pull a funny face.” And the Spanish have one that says, “An old parrot can’t learn to speak.”
When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be “born again” to see the kingdom of God”, he replied, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Nicodemus was saying in effect, I realize that a new birth is necessary, but I am too old to change. My pattern of life is set. Physical birth is out of the question and psychological rebirth seems even less probable.. I guess I am just a hopeless case!
Jesus’ reply included these familiar in John 3:16:(“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life)". This statement, invitation, and offer of a new life and a new beginning is given to young and old. Whatever your age or situation in life, with God’s power, it is not too late to change.
Every new year in January, people of all ages, religions, races, and cultures, enter into agreements, covenants, pacts, with others or with themselves to make improvements in their life. Most people admit that the previous year did not bring about the changes in their lives they were satisfied with. Therefore with each New Year, people vow to do better than they did the previous year. They write resolutions and create vision boards to lay out their plans of transformation, change, prosperity, and emotional fulfillment; whether it is to lose weight, travel more, get a better job, get out of debt, or find that special someone.
Most of us, if we would admit it, find change extremely hard. A few days, weeks, months into the New Year finds many of us giving in and abandoning our new plan. Why, because old habits are hard to break, new ones are harder to learn and sometimes we don’t want to do either. Experts have said that if you follow a ritual or habit for 21 days, it will become a habit a pattern of behavior that can be adapted for a life time if heeded.
Think about it for a minute. Without change our lives would be stagnant and boring. Without change people would still be walking, riding camels or the backs of horses and mules, rather than flying in commercial jets, taking Amtrak or driving Fords, Hondas, Lexus, BMWs, Infinities or Toyotas. Without change people would still cook meals in fire places, or on woodstoves, rather than cooking on state of the art electric and gas stoves. Without change people would still be trying to keep food cool in iceboxes rather than placing them in electric or gas refrigerators. We would be washing clothes in big tubs and basins rather than in washing machines and dryers. Without change there would be no computers, laptops, I phones, tablets etc. Without change people would still be living in grass huts, tents, mud caves rather than in high rise apartment buildings, dwelling places for the elderly, split-levels, ranch houses, mansions, town houses and condos. We’d have to wait for Pony Express to deliver our mail, but now we have UPS, FEDX, Email, Text services and the list goes on. Can somebody say amen to Change?
One thing is for sure, we cannot keep our plans, promises, and vows to ourselves and others without the power of God present in our lives. God is the only one who can teach us new ways of doing things, new ways of behaving, new ways of giving, and new ways of living. He has left his word in Romans 12:1-2 to instruct us in how to approach any type of change. Listen to these words:
" I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
In order for us to live this Christian life, Paul instructs us in what we must do in these verses above. We must totally surrender our lives to the Lord. We must continue to cultivate a relationship with the living God, which Paul calls our reasonable service or worship. Paul further admonishes us that we must not go along with, walk side by side with the ways of the world. We must not conform, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
We must have a change of heart and then we have to change our mind. Any new behaviors must start in your mind. When we sin, we must confess it and then turn from it. It must be a conscious decision. We turn from sin and turn to Abba Father who is faithful to forgive us of all our sins and transgressions. We can’t change on our own! We must call upon the Lord and he will give us the power to submit to Him, resist the devil and he must flee.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.
The Word is saying: 16Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Think back 50 years of so, we use to sit in the back of the bus or cower in corners and be afraid to speak our minds in the boardrooms, on our jobs, in the classroom and even in the church. We were denied the right to vote and could not elect qualified people to serve in government from our own communities. But God tells us; “We can come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain mercy and help in our time of need.” It doesn’t mean you are arrogant, proud of conceited when you act with boldness. It just means that as a child of God, your strength, confidence and boldness to speak and act comes from Him. Tell your neighbor, I’m Changing As the Word Is Coming Forth. God says, “ Behold I shall do a new thing” And if you let Him, there will be a performance. He will do it.
Thank God for the “New Thing, the New Life in Him!” In his book, Jentezen Franklin states that fasting is what prepares you for a new anointing. In the Bible it tells us in several Scriptures that the disciples and various others received the filling of the Holy Spirit. It also bears witness that the disciples were filled on more than one occasion. The Book of Joel in the Old Testament gives us a clue that God is not finished filling us with more of His Spirit. Joel states:
“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour our My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). You see, God was going to pour our rival-afterward. He was revealing His will for His people-afterward. After what you may ask; after a fast. Israel was in sin, and God was calling His people to fast in repentance as a people: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly” (vs 15,).
His promise to them was to pour out revival, and blessings on the land. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for those “afterward” seasons when God pours out revival, when our sons and daughters prophesy! That is what Chronicles 7:14 reminds us of. You remember what He said: “If my people who are called by my name….. And God is waiting on us to comply.
But if he is going to pour out new wine, our wineskins will have to change. Oops, here is that word change again! No one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine burst the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wind skins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22). I had never seen the connection between fasting and the new wine before. But if you look at this passage, Jesus had just finished telling the Pharisees that His disciples would fast one He was gone. Fasting is what prepares you for a new anointing (verse 20).
God can’t put that kind of wine in old skins. If we want a new wine, new power, new miracles, new closeness, and a new intimacy with Him, then it is time to call a fast and shed that old wine skin for the new. If you want that kind of transformation you and I must change. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome.
When you think and recall to memory all of the old patriarchs of the Bible, they each had to go through a metamorphosis. When Abraham went up to MT. Moraiah with his son Isaac and was about to sacrifice his life on that altar , he made a life changing decision. He would obey God, even if it meant sacrificing his only son. After that event, Abram, became Abraham. He was given a name change. He became the Father of Faith to all believers. His new name meant, “Father of many nations”.
Jacob’s name means trickster, supplanted, but Jacob met God one night Genesis 32:24-28 says: “ So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Why did Jacob say that? I’m glad you asked. He said those words because he was sick and tired of being sick and tired. He was tired of his old evil ways; he was sick and tired of the tricking and supplanting he had done to get ahead, the lying and cheating he performed to be somebody of importance. he did all of that rather than waiting on God’s timing to usher into the revelation and inheritance of his grandfather Abraham.
In verse 27, The man asked him, “What is your name? ”Jacob,” he answered.28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome. After that rendezvous Jacob was never the same. He always walked with a limp and rested upon his walking stick.
Paul in the New Testament is called a Pharisee among Pharisees. He was a brilliant man taught by one of the greatest Hebrew scholars. But Saul was on a path that was leading him in rebellion to the God that he professed to love and know. One day Saul met the living Christ on the road to Damascus, and from then on he was never the same. He went down one way, but returned another. He went down to Damascus with the intent to terrorize and bring back any worshipers and believers of “The Way” to Jerusalem stand trial. But after his Damascus Road encounter, He was a changed man. The zeal that he used to persecute the believers of Christ, he now had a changed heart and a renewed mind. Listen to these words in the book of Acts 9.
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul’s name was changed from Saul to Paul that day. And he was never the same. Paul became the Apostle to the Gentiles. He wrote 2/3 of the New Testament.
Don’t tell me you can’t teach old dog new tricks. The Bibles says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. “Are you ready for Change? Or are you going to be stuck in wouldah, shouldah, couldah, but you didn’t. Really the only person stopping you is you.
I know that it is your desire to help us to live an exciting, miraculous life down here on earth. You told us in Jeremiah 29:11 that, “You know the plans that You think toward us.” You have treasures, and immeasurable blessings waiting for us to open. Help us to trust you and break out of our old patterns and embrace change. We know you have the plan; all we have to do is execute it. We thank you that you are putting in our hearts a desire to change. Lord, give us the courage, the strength and the grace to get out of our own way. Lord show us all the missing parts and help us to put those pieces together. And we trust you to do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond what we can ask or think. In Jesus Name we receive this word today, Amen