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July 29, 2016

Text:  “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.”  Matt. 21:28-31a

I was born in 1944 and reared in Dallas, Texas. I have lived in several cities and towns, but I always returned to Dallas County. One thing  that has always been astounding here is CHANGE!  Most of all the great old landmarks of the 1940s through 1960s have disappeared. There are preservation organizations  for this on the internet where you can see old photographs that bring tears to an aging Dallasite’s  eyes!

Change in the world about us is inevitable. And change in humans is ineludible. Our bodies change with age. Our inner man also changes: heart, soul, spirit, morals. Sometimes for good; sometime for bad. Our text above demonstrates the change of heart and behavior. The first son in the parable changed: he adopted a course of obedience.  The Bible repeatedly talks about “the new man”, a man who is “born again”. “…and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him…” Colossians 3:10 (ASV) Jesus spoke of being “born again” in John 3:3  Certainly, Paul states the launching of this transformation as beginning in baptism in Romans 6:9b-10. “…seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings…   Our Christian lives are endeavors to outgrow the old man of sin and to replace that corpse with the man of righteousness. 

Here is a little secret: you are not as perfect as you think you are. There is room for improvement in you! There are many religious people that believe that the moment they become Christians God makes them perfect in behavior and flawlessly righteous. Oops! You haven’t been reading your Bible!  You haven’t learned that “all” means “ALL” (i.e. everyone).  “…as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one…” Romans 3:10  You are responsible for your own change to the better.   “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” Ephesians 4:22-24

At the same time, this renewed, reborn, and redeemed changed person is a co-operative endeavor.    All of this says that you must put forth all you can muster to IMPROVE (change) your actions, deeds, ethics, and morals. You must adopt a righteous heart and reform your every undertaking to please God. We are aided in our efforts to change to a righteous person by the third person of the Godhead (called the  “Holy Spirit” in  I Corinthians 6:19, and are told that he “sanctifies” us in Romans 15:16). Our attempts at improvement are vain without our efforts to be more holy and the Holy Spirit’s success in teaching us by the Word of God. 

Real change is total and sincere commitment. Jesus thus spoke aptly, For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28 Sometimes we tend to fail to pursue something to its true end. For instance, some folk go out and contract for a new home to be built for themselves. The price is agreed to, but as the building proceeds the buyers find other niceties that they want added to the original plan. Soon the price has burgeoned until the owners can hardly meet the new payments. Was that lack of foresight, or commitment to their needs as first envisioned? The outcome could lead to disaster! In Luke 12 Jesus told the story of the rich farmer who planned excessive projects. His outcome was devastating. But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared,whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:18  

You must remember: change is a process, not a destination.  Paul describes the proper game plan for the moral changes we need: “…put off your old self,…put on your old self,…” Ephesians 4:22-24 Again remember that this is your own responsibility.  Plus a further warning: do not grow self-satisfied.  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 

Keep seeking to make changes for the growth of you soul.






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