Values Getting There From Here – The background is a larva transformed into a butterfly. How does it get from the ugly larva to the beautiful butterfly? It must go through the cocoon stage which is a total metamorphoses. Before you or I can change the way we think, we too must cocoon in God. We must present ourselves to him and allow him to change us. We must have a spiritual metamorphoses.
IMPORTANT VALUES FROM THE KINGDOM
By Delbert Young
Values Getting There From Here
Values Getting There From Here
Scriptures: Psalms 119:104-105, Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 6:33, Exodus 20:3-17, Matthew 5:45, John 10:10
We have been in a series about values. We have talked about “Back In The Box” and “Values From The Kingdom.” Today I want to talk about how we change our values.
I want to begin by asking a question this morning for each of us to individually deliberate. When was the last time that you changed something about your life that was very difficult to change? I’m not talking about hair color, although that can get difficult sometimes. I’m not talking about selecting a new pair of shoes or even a new house. I am talking about changing your character. When was the last time you changed something about your character?
Let me define character. Character is the inherent complexity of attributes that determine a person’s moral and ethical actions and reactions. Did we get that? Our character is inherent. That means inborn, inherited, indigenous, instinctive. It is from our character that we instinctively react to life. Decisions we make come from our character. Our character has many attributes which make it complex and complicated. My character determines my moral and ethical reaction. From how I pay my bills to how I love my wife is controlled by my character. My character is who and what I am. If I want to change anything about me then I must change a part of my character and that is most difficult. So, back to our question. When was the last time you changed your character?
Let’s throw out another question. Is it possible for me to change my character? Did you know that many people go completely through life and never change their character? It is true. A person’s character is formed by the time he or she leaves their teenage years. That is why it is so important to train our children correctly. Desires from homosexuality to a desire to be the president of the United States are formed in our characters before we exit our teenage years. The character traits that we inherited from society, home, and peers will forge the remainder of their lives. That is, unless we change our characters.
Is it possible for me to change my character? Yes. It is Biblically possible to change. Why would I want to change my character? The answer is simple. I can change my future by changing my character. In fact, there is no doubt that I changed my destiny by changing my character.
How many remember the old movie “Christmas Carol” from the classic by Charles Dickinson? Ebenezer Scrooge was an old man who had lots of money. However, his values were all Scrooged up. The movie is about his transformation. I have taken a few clips from that old classic and put them together for our skit time today. I want us to watch. Here are some things I want us to look for from the clips. Notice when his values were formed. Notice what formed his values. Notice how those values controlled his life, how those values caused him to treat people and think about people. Notice what it was that changed his life? Notice of what he had to become aware before he could change. Let’s watch the clip.
Scrooge’s values were formed by the time he was out of his teens. His society, his home, and his peers formed his values. He was controlled by greed and anger. He treated people like idiots. He thought that he was superior. His values forged a chain of bondage upon him for the rest of his life. He was changed by a spiritual visitation. I know it was a ghost and the spirits of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future, but let’s see what Dickinson was attempting to say. It took a spiritual encounter for him to change. Ebenezer Scrooge needed to see his past, his present, and his future before his character and value system would change. You know what? We will never change until we realize that where we are going is not where we want to end.
Today’s lesson is titled “Getting There From Here.” The background is a larva that is transformed into a butterfly. How does it get from the ugly larva to the beautiful butterfly? Does anyone know what must happen to get there? It must go through the cocoon stage which is a total metamorphoses. Before you or I can change the way we think, we too must cocoon in God. We must present ourselves to him and allow him to change us. We must have a spiritual visitation.
Romans 12:1 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.
Romans 12:2 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.
The Greek word translated transformed is metamorphoo (Strong’s #3339) and means “to change into another form, to transform to transfigure.”
Changing values which change our character requires a time in the cocoon. It requires a metamorphoses, but that transformation will change our future. The values in a person’s life are those things which determine that person’s identity and destiny. They did for Ebenezer Scrooge and they will for you and me.
I want to make this lesson as practical as I possibly can although changing our values is the most difficult thing we will ever do. So when was the last time you changed something about your value system which changed your character?
There should have been a change when you received Jesus. The believer is supposed to change when we receive the Holy Spirit. If we didn’t change then something is wrong.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
We change when we come to Jesus. That was one of the main reasons that I came to him. Change is easy at the beginning. We want to be like Jesus, so we allow his Spirit to change us. We stop doing things that we know we should not do. We begin doing new things that we know we should do. But what happens a few years down the road (sometimes less than that) when we stop changing. Sometimes we even go back to our old ways. What happened? Did the Spirit lose his ability to change us or did we stop allowing him to change us? We know the answer, right?
So, again, when was the last time you changed something that changed your character?
Did you know that this happened frequently in the Bible? Many times we read where a person changed so drastically that he or she was given a new name. Abram, a man whose wife could not have children, became Abraham meaning the father of a multitude. Sarai, the dominate wife of Abram, became Sarah meaning princess, the wife of Abraham. Jacob, meaning supplanter or a con man, became Israel meaning he will rule with God. Simon Barjona, a stone, became Peter the apostle meaning a rock on which to build. Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, became Paul the apostle. All of these experienced a tremendous character transformation. Each one cocooned. Their values changed in every case. But how did it happen? Did they just magically change one day? Will we just magically change one day? Will our children magically change one day? We know better don’t we.
In every transformation of values, the Spirit will take us through a process. The length of the process is up to us. It can be quick or it can be very slow. However, we will change if we follow the Spirit. If we stop following the Spirit, we will stop changing. I want to look at this five-step process.
1. Kingdom First – We must make certain that our hearts are right and that we are seeking to change for the correct reason. Our reasons to change must come from the kingdom. When this is the case, God will help us to change. Jesus said,
Luke 12:31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Most of us want things and things are not bad as long as we have things. We just can’t allow things to have us. Our lives can’t be about getting things if our values are going to be correct. Our lives must be about the kingdom. Values do not go to the kingdom. Values come out from the kingdom. Let me explain.
Many of us want to be out of debt, but why? Is it so we can afford to get more and bigger things that we want? Or, is it so we can bless his kingdom? There was a scene in the “Christmas Carol” where the spirit of Christmas present took Ebenezer to church where Ebenezer saw Crachet, tiny Tim, Ebenezer’s nephew, and his nephew’s faience. Do you know who were the primary benefactors of Ebenezer’s changed character? You got it. Crachet got an immediate raise. The nephew was made a partner in Scrooge’s business which gave him the money to get married to his faience. Tiny Tim would get the medical treatment that would save his life. Scrooge changed because he no longer focused on things. How did that align with what Jesus said?
Jesus said to sell your possessions and give to the poor. That’s kingdom! We have this “twilight zone” mentality about a kingdom that will come one day. All the while we miss the kingdom. The promise to you and me is that we will have the things we want if we first seek his kingdom. Why do we want a better job? Is it for more things? Or, is it so we can better bless the kingdom? Why do we want to be healed? Is it so we won’t die? Or, is it so we can live to do more for the kingdom? Why do we want our marriages healed? Is it so we won’t have to pay child support? Is it so we won’t have to live alone or go to work? Or, is it for the sake of the kingdom?
My point is that to achieve the proper values and highest level of character, and the abundant life, we must operate from a “kingdom first” position. Values come from the kingdom. That is where Biblical change begins. Did Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Peter, and Paul come from a “kingdom first” position? You know they did. It’s the foundation of Biblical values. I find what the kingdom value is and I begin seeking it.
2. IDEA AND PLAN FROM GOD – Did Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Peter, and Paul get an idea and plan from God? Abraham was told to get out and go to a land that God would show him (Gen 12:1). Sarah was told that she would have a baby at the appointed time next year (Gen 18:14 NIV). Jacob was told to peel the bark from branches and put in the water troughs so when the animal would breed they would come out ringstraked, speckled, and spotted (Gen 30:39 31:11-12). Peter was told to follow Jesus and that upon this rock Jesus would build his church (Mat 4:19; 16:16-18). Paul was told to arise, go into the city, and he would be told what he must do (Act 9:6).
Nothing will change as long as it remains only a good idea. The idea must be expanded into a plan. The plan needs to come from God. It’s a good idea to get out of debt. How many of us have had that idea, but nothing changed. One year, two years, ten years later, we remain in debt. Nothing changed because the value didn’t change. The idea never progressed to a plan.
What is your plan? What has happened in the past? What is happening now? What will happen in the future if you don’t change and if you do change? A realistic look at the past, present, and future was very instrumental for Ebenezer Scrooge.
A lot of people think I only give us Biblical theory and examples. Biblical examples often border the miraculous. You know, things that really aren’t applicable like putting sticks in the watering troughs of your sheep. How many of us will run home and do that today? I do give Biblical examples, but in this lesson I want to give you a personal example that happened before I was a preacher. Some people think that because I am a preacher that I have some special entrance to God. Well, this example happened before I was a preacher. In fact, this is what made it financially possible for me to become a preacher that was not in financial bondage and eventually, what I am today.
My wife and I were saved in 1978. In 1983, we wanted out of debt. Good idea, right? We were both seriously seeking the Lord about our debt and God gave us a plan. I can say now that the plan was from God because it worked sort of like Jacob’s sticks. We agreed on a plan, made the plan a prayer, and then wrote the plan in a red ledger book that I used at that time to write a lot of my prayers. I still have that leger. We anointed it with oil, and agreed together as we laid hands on it. We were heavily in dept at that time although we both worked and made good money. We had credit cards, house payment, car payments, utilities, personal loans, a boat payment, clothing bills etc. You name it and we probably owed for it. Our plan was simple. We had bought a house in 1972. We had eleven years of equity in that house. The plan was to sell our house, pay off all our bills, and move our family in with my parents while we built another house. Theoretically, there was not enough equity to do all that, but we knew we could get into the house even if we couldn’t finish it. We had the idea and the plan from God.
Your plan to get out of debt might have been to get a second job for a year or six months. Your plan might have been to simply cut back on spending. It must be your plan from God. Jacob’s plan to put sticks in the watering troughs has never worked for anyone else. The plan must be something you can mentally and physically pull off. Our example is debt, but this could be a plan to get a better job, or to lose weight, or to fix a failing marriage.
What do you want to do that will change your life and your character? That’s your idea. Turn the idea into a plan.
3. DISCIPLINE – The idea must next become a discipline. That simply means I must discipline myself to fulfill my plan. If my plan was to stop spending and apply the money to my debt, then I must discipline myself to my budget. Discipline is the most difficult step, but the most important step. A recovering alcoholic must discipline himself or herself. It’s a good idea to stop drinking and he or she may have a plan, but unless discipline is exercised, the person will die an alcoholic.
In my situation in 1983, our house did sell. We did give the tithes from the house to the Lord. Do you remember Jacob’s promise to the Lord about tithing? Jacob told the Lord that if the Lord would bless him that he would give the Lord a tithe of everything (Gen 28:22). God did and Jacob did. Get the Lord involved in your plan.
We moved our family into my parent’s house and we went to work. I worked in manufacturing from 12:00 midnight until 8:00 a.m. I would come home every day and go to work on the house unless I had to attend a meeting. I would get to bed about noon and get up about 6:00 p.m. Then our entire family would go to the house and work until 9:00 or 10:00 pm… I would bathe and go back to work. This happened every day except Sunday for six months. We had promised each other and the Lord that we would not work on that house on Sunday. We never did. That was the day we spent with the Lord, each other, and people.
We can have a great idea and a foolproof plan, but if we will not discipline ourselves to do the plan, nothing will change. The idea is easy. The plan is easy, but the discipline is by far the most difficult part of changing character and values.
4. HABIT – Next the discipline must become a habit. That is the purpose of disciplines. We discipline our children ultimately so they will develop proper habits. I disciplined myself to pray. I needed to refuse to allow things to interfere with my prayer time. Now prayer is a habit. I disciplined myself to study the word of God. I had to discipline myself to not allow things to interfere with my reading time. Now studying the word of God is a habit.
We got the house built. We did build it with the money we had available just as the Lord said it would in the plan. It took it all, but it made it. We were debt free, but to maintain a life of financial freedom, we had to discipline our spending and habitually save money. The idea and plan happened because of discipline and it continues because became of habit. I control our spending and we habitually save money.
Another place most of us have been is weight loss. How many of us had an idea to lose weight, a foolproof diet plan, and we actually lost the weight, but the weight was back less than a year later? Why was that? We disciplined ourselves to lose the weight, but it never became a habit.
I have helped people get out of debt, but a year later they are back in debt even worse than they were before I was involved. The idea and plan must become a discipline. The discipline must become a habit. If it doesn’t become a habit, it will never become a value that will change our character.
5. VALUE – Financial liberty is now in a position to become a value for life that will cause a character change. My becoming financially liberated allowed me the security to leave my job and follow my passion. Today I don’t only teach. I am a teacher. I don’t only pastor a church. I am a pastor. I have touched thousands of lives with the gospel of the kingdom of God and I am not even close to the end of my course. My name was changed because my character was changed. Most of you refer to me as pastor.
We have seen that much of what we do and worry over all the years of our lives will all go back to the box like a monopoly game. We spend our lives rolling dice and hopping around the board to acquiring things to worry about. But at the end of the game, even if we win, it all goes back to the box. Even our bodies go back to the box. Ebenezer played the game well, but would leave nothing of an eternal treasure until he changed his values.
We acquire our values from many different sources such as society, the homes we are raised in, and from peers. These values are often earthly, sensual, and devilish (Jam 3:15). But they don’t have to be. You can have your children receive the highest value level possible. Values can cause disruption in our home and rebellion in our children. Or, values can bring righteous and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. We can experience the kingdom of God today. Values can cause us to live in financial bondage all the days of our adult lives. Or, we can live in the kingdom, seeking the kingdom, and allowing the Lord to add to our lives things. Values can cause us to be wealthy, but yet be in bondage like chains as was Ebenezer Scrooge. Or values can cause us to be wealthy, but experience financial liberty like Abraham and Sarah and Jacob.
I encourage you today to get out of the box. Acquire your values from the kingdom of God. Get a plan from God. Discipline yourself to do it. Make it a habit and allow that habit to be your character value. You can do it.
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