Most of us dislike change; we tend to be “creatures of habit.” But even positive change requires an optimistic perspective and willingness to embrace transition. Staying in the familiar and routine may seem safe, but ultimately, it will hinder your growth and calling in God. The fullness of your destiny is realized through successive transitions in your life.
I once encountered a very positive transition in the form of job promotion — for me this meant a salary increase, better position, and the privilege of being part of an exciting project. However, this transition was extremely challenging. To begin with, there were others who were jealous when I was awarded the job. Their response was less than Christlike, and they made every effort to make me “look bad” in my new role.
Additionally, I had a big learning curve. I had to quickly learn new concepts and technology to successfully do the work. Lastly, it was a high-profile project with many “eyes” observing my team’s progress. I was under enormous pressure, but God gave me favor and the ability to do the work with excellence.
I completed the three-year project with much success. This positive change was a challenge, removed me from the “comfortable,” and required much effort on my part—but it was all worth it in the end. Even good transition can be daunting, but I have discovered when I “let go of the past,” and “embrace the change” wonderful things are discovered and achieved on the other side.
I Will Never Deny You, Lord!
Sometimes we fear change – even positive change – because of past failures and low self-esteem. Consider the Apostle Peter in the New Testament. Peter was “up and down” in his walk with Jesus. In fact, he had some huge failures. Not the least of which was when he denied the Lord three times the night that Jesus was betrayed.
Peter had denied the Lord three times, just as Jesus had predicted. Peter had boasted, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” Elsewhere, displaying his loyalty, “Even if they all fall away (stumble), I will not,” – see Matt. 26:33 and Mark 14:29. Jesus, however, knew the outcome and prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. Peter, like many of us, struggled with spiritual pride. I believe this is why he could later write:
In the same way, I urge you who are younger: accept the authority of the elders. And everyone, clothe yourselves with humility toward each other. God stands against the proud, but he gives favor to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves under God’s power so that he may raise you up in the last day. 7 Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you. Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” 1 Pet. 5:5-9 CEB
Peter’s pride gave Satan an opportunity to hinder Peter’s relationship with Jesus. In Satan’s mind, he would be rendering Peter useless for the Kingdom of God, but in the omniscient mind of Christ, Satan would be used as a tool to make Peter into a strong disciple. Peter’s trial and failure were refining him for a greater leadership role in God’s Kingdom.
Peter was full of outward love and zeal for the Lord. Unfortunately, his zeal was tainted with pride and carnality. Peter, like most of us, failed repeatedly in his attempts to walk faithfully with Christ.
Have You Ever Failed God?
We have all felt the sting of failure, that we have failed God in our efforts. Perhaps you’ve “repented” for a sin, only to find you just can’t seem to get completely free. Maybe you have vowed to serve God faithfully, only to find failure seems to repeat itself.
Perhaps the greatest cause for spiritual defeat is a guilty conscience, which can create a nagging sense of spiritual failure. People who struggle with this type of “baggage” from the past can sometimes have a difficult time getting the past behind them and transitioning to the future.
As Christians, we cannot easily classify ourselves (or others) as either a success or failure. There is a mixture of both in all of us. The enemy loves to keep Christians preoccupied with failure, but not God! Rather, God looks at who you are in Christ, and draws forth your potential and empowers you to become more like Him. God – who sees the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end – isn’t reminding you of your failures, but of your future.
We see this in the life of Peter, a man who struggled with the above issues, but who was later restored, transformed, and empowered after the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This unlearned fisherman became a mighty apostle. He grew in grace as he let go of his past, walked in his new identity, and embraced his calling. If there was hope for Peter, there is hope for you and me! Let’s look at Peter’s transformation a little closer.
Do You Love Me, Peter?
After denying Jesus, Peter is restored to his leadership role. We can read in John 21:15-19, three times Jesus asked Simon (Peter), “Do you love me?” Peter denied Jesus in public, but now Jesus restores him in public. Then He states, “Follow Me!” Jesus forgave him, loved him, restored him, and simply said, “Follow.” What incredible grace Jesus has for us!
Many of us, like Peter, are in a place of transition—between the past and future. Transition can be unsettling, but you must move forward. You can move forward and embrace the change! Change for Peter included dealing with his failure. Transition for him included dealing with the barrier between his past failure and his future with new hopes and dreams. A new season unfolded in his life—he had to choose to embrace it.
Embracing Your New Season
Have you ever become anxious over change? Possibly a new job, a new role, or something similar? Come to God; He will empower you to embrace this new season. Fear will paralyze you from moving forward – confront fear by drawing closer to Him.
Take the first step to do what God is leading you into. If it’s starting a Bible study, pray and select the materials. Perhaps it’s forming a small group. Call others who you feel would be interested. Possibly God is leading you into evangelism. Pray, get filled up, and start! Every evangelist began somewhere. If it’s serving in a new and unfamiliar capacity, simply find a place to start serving. If it’s new education He is calling you to complete, start the education.
Take the steps to begin the business or ministry, or whatever He is leading you to do. The point is, to fulfill your destiny and realize your dreams, you must take risks and invest your life. Embrace change, stay close to God, and push past fear. Go to Jesus for more faith! Don’t get offended when God does a “new thing.” (Isa. 43:19a) His plans are always good.
Transitioning to the Future
After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter had four issues occurring in his life as he transitioned to his future: 1) New Identity 2) Increased Favor 3) New Relationships 4) New Acts. Next week, we will take a look at these in greater detail, and how they apply to our lives today.
For a greater and more in-depth look at this subject, feel free to watch the sermon video from Passion Church.
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