In our series ‘I hate change’ we are talking about the fact that often times we struggle with TRANSITION in our lives.
Bruce and Kerrin have preached for the last two weeks on the voices of change and would encourage you to go back and listen to them on our podcast if you have missed them. They lay a foundation for, and give context to, the series.
We see Transition is an inevitable part of life no matter where you look:
- The scriptures – including Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
- Nature – both human and elsewhere.
- History – global, personal, ancient or modern.
- Personal experience.
- Life in its natural stages.
- Transition stages of life – kid – adult – single – married – kids – no kids – grand kids.
- Transition of work – from one field to another – or from full time to part time – working to retired.
- Transition from to new normals because of tragedy or events that impact and change our lives.
- Transition from a worldly focused life to an eternal spiritual focused life.
Jesus teaches that transition and seasons WILL HAPPEN and that we should not resist it, but UNDERSTAND IT and INTERPRET IT.
Matthew 16:1-3 (NIV)
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
Whether we think we like change and transition or not – IT WILL HAPPEN! Not only that, but God uses transition for His purposes.
- If TRANSITIONS are certain, then the solution is not:
- avoiding them,
- denying them,
- wishing they were different.
- But instead dealing with them in line with the Word of God and His best for our lives.
I want to talk today about the requirements of transition –
- As we discussed last week sometimes transition happens to us without our want or expectation.
- Sometimes it is a natural change.
- Sometimes it is a required change.
- Sometimes we have the option to transition or stay where we are.
But whatever way it happens – I want us to understand that we CAN and SHOULD “Choose to transition in order to grow”.
- Even challenging transitions in the life of faith SHOULD LEAD TO GROWTH!
I want to speak from the story of a Bible character called Joseph who has a life with a lot of transitions, some hard, tragic and unfair ones but also some great ones, including a transition from a slave, into a powerful influence in the world for God.
- He was a spoilt, favourite son in a wealthy family who became a slave by being sold by his own brothers into slavery.
- Worked into a place of trusted employment only to have his character unjustly defamed and thrown into prison – because of his good character, not because of the lack of it.
- Then transitioned into a place of responsibility in the prison.
- Then transitioned into being 2nd in charge of the most powerful nation on earth at the time – Egypt.
- He transitioned from being betrayed and out of relationship with family to restored relationship with family. He brought them together with forgiveness and wholeness.
A LOT OF TRANSITION THERE – We can learn some important lessons from it.
The first is FAITH – we talked about this last week so I won’t say much.
- Joseph finding himself betrayed by his brothers and thrown unjustly in a pit was the beginning of Him finding Gods plan for his life.
- Imagine if he had dug himself out, escaped and headed back to be pampered by dad.
- It would have been NICE – but he may have just died of famine years later instead of being in a position to save not only his life, but MANY others.
Sometimes the pit we are in is not a pit, but a transition to a new level of God’s call and purpose for our lives!
- Transition sometimes looks like a pit, but with faith we can turn it into a launch pad for our future.
Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT)
5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
Even if you are not in a pit – we ought to be LOOKING TO TRANSITION FOR STRENGTH and GROWTH!
Phil 3:14 (NKJV)
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Proverbs 15:24 (NLT)
24 The path of life leads upward for the wise; they leave the grave behind.
Transition should ultimately:
- Increase our influence for God.
- Step UP into NEW levels of responsibility -not less!
- The culture of this world says look after you and get rid of responsibility – Gods Kingdom says ‘Be willing to embrace MORE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OTHERS SAKE!”
- A transition that is a step UP.
- Believe God for BETTER, BIGGER, MORE IMPORTANT and EXCITING things.
Joseph in Genesis 40 – has just told two of Pharaoh’s employees their dreams and they came to pass, but after talking with them HE SAYS:
Genesis 40:14-15 (NLT)
14 And please remember me and do me a favour when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. 15 For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.”
- GET ME OUT OF HERE! GOD HAS MORE FOR ME!
- GO TO THE TOP – GO TO PHAROAH!
Joseph was LOOKING FOR MORE!
“I believe hard wired within God’s creation of us is a desire to grow, stretch, increase, rise, BUT only SIN, INSECURITY, DESIRE for COMFORT or BROKENNESS, hinder this.”
We see this principle in the natural order of family:
- We are born a kid.
- Grow and mature.
- Take on the responsibility to contribute – age 12 for Jewish culture, their rights and responsibilities.
- We then marry and take on responsibility for a spouse.
- We have kids and ADD to our number of people we are responsible for.
- Then as grandparents this GROWS exponentially.
Jesus as our ultimate example shows us this even from a young man we ought to be TRANSITIONING from growth into MORE.
Luke 2:52 (NIV)
52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
As Jesus transitioned in life He GREW!
David went from: Rejected son – shepherd boy – soldier – on the run – leading 400 rough nuts in a cave – ruling the kingdom.
There is an UPWARD PROGRESSION and we ought to be LOOKING FOR IT in life.
What is next for your life?
- Is there a new level of job we could reach for?
- Is there a greater connection with our spouse, kids and family we need to reach for?
- Is there a new level of generosity and influence we should be hungry for?
- Is there a desire to grow more in God and increase our spiritual life?
- Is there a ministry or faith step God has been speaking to us about that we have not yet stepped into?
- Have we just been living same/same for years and are on the treadmill of life – God has more for us than that!
But Transitioning for Growth will require something. It’s natural, but it requires deliberate intent and actions.
Genesis 41:9-14 (NIV)
9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”
Pharaoh got notified and called for Joseph – then we have verse 14!
“14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.”
I believe this is both a profound verse and prophetic for people today and for our Church!
In order to get before Pharaoh, Joseph had to SHAVE and CHANGE HIS CLOTHES! The old prison garb would not do!
Some of us could TRANSITION, but we like the old CLOTHES we wear more.
What is it about old clothes in the natural we love?
THEY ARE COMFORTABLE – WE KNOW THEM – THERE ARE MEMORIES ATTACHED.
These are all classic reasons why people refuse to Transition for growth!
- We could be better leaders but we like our old attitudes.
- We could step up in business and finance but we like our old backyard ways of doing things.
- We could be a better father or mother but we like our old habits.
- We could serve God at a new level but we like our: easy going poor time management or past issues or insecurities.
- We could make that application or go for that job but we never stop wearing our insecurity or comfort.
- We could influence our friends and lift them higher in God but we like the old clothes of not challenging, comfort and being ‘one of the boys’, or the IN CROWD.
- We could rise to a new level of giving but we like our security more or our pleasure more.
As I was thinking and praying about this it seems that there are two categories here:
BOTH are CHALLENGING, but for different reasons and ONE FAR MORE DIFFICULT than THE OTHER.
He got changed – got rid of old clothes and put new ones on – EXTERNAL.
He shaved – Literally -TRIMMED a part of himself – PERSONAL.
Most people feel challenged about the new clothes ideas – because we all recognise those things and they are often not comfortable but don’t hurt!
BUT SHAVING?? This is personal!
Most of us are ok with:
- We should get more of God’s Word in us.
- Let’s overcome our insecurities.
- We understand we should prioritise our family a bit more.
But when it is a shave and someone says:
- That kind of language is not going to let you get promoted.
- We tend to think “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t say?
- I remember being given some words that my pastor said “stop saying these words – that kind of talk will limit your ministry”’
- I realised he was only trying to help me transition.
- The way we speak TO and ABOUT our wife/husband/ kids is not OK! You don’t honour them.
- Speaking like that is gossip and sinful.
- I am just sharing my opinion and telling the TRUTH – NO YOU’RE NOT!
- It’s just uncontrolled bad attitude or tongue and cynicism!
- You need to be nicer to people, hold your tongue a bit, and think about what you say and how it will make people feel.
- I am just a bit blunt. I say what I think – yes but that doesn’t mean people like it, or you.
This is where the excuse “that’s just how I am” no longer works.
It is ok to be abrupt, insensitive and cynical in the prison – it works there.
BUT if we want to TRANSITION to GOD’S PLAN and WHAT’S BEST FOR US – A CHANGE of CLOTHES and SHAVE is needed.
CHURCH this is important for us AS A CHURCH!
Everyone wants to be influential and change the city and bring revival, but as a Church we might need to change our clothes and have a shave!
- I have found TRANSITION in Churches is usually greeted with a desire for the results of souls, momentum, growth, influence and making a difference – but often people resist because they don’t like the cost of it – THE CHANGE and SHAVE.
There are things we have done and ways we have done them that were okay for our limited size in the past, but GOD HAS MORE FOR US!
- We might need to change things and make it less ‘organic’ so to speak – systems, processes, etc. It might have been okay for 200 people in 1990, but not NOW and 1000 people! Revival takes a change of clothes and a shave.
- We might need to change some styles to actually reach people, not repel people!
- Not everyone will know everyone!
- We cannot do every ministry or follow every idea everyone has, but we have to focus on a few things to be effective!
- We ask teams to get involved and do things like Working with Children checks, compliance, wear a shirt or get here a bit earlier.
- Not everyone weighs in on every decision anymore – we have leaders who lead and make decisions.
- SMALL CHURCH THINKING is just the old clothes and the need for a shave (some personal change) that will keep a church from growing or stepping into significance.
- But it’s comfortable and easy!
- IT’S JUST NOT KINGDOM!
God wanted Joseph to change the nation, but he needed a change of clothes and a shave first.
During communion, Mat Rimmer made a comment that Jesus knelt down in the Garden of Gethsamane before He went to the cross. The cross was a transition and a bent knee before God was required.
Luke 22:42 (NKJV)
He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
Surrender to God!
Surrender your will – then the Angel will come and minister to you and make something beautiful of your life!
Suggestions for Discussion Questions
- Do you find it easy to accept transition in your life?
- Can you understand it and interpret it?
- Choose transition in order to grow! Discuss whether you agree with this or not.
- Do you desire to grow more in God and increase your spiritual life? How will you do this?