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Saturday, February 27, 2016

02242016 Wednesday of Lent 2 Emmanuel Lutheran Church Goodland KS

February 24, 2016
Change of Habit

Jeremiah the great prophet of the Old Testament asked a question that clearly speaks about the challenge of Change of Habit.  Jeremiah wrote, (Jeremiah 13:23) “Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots?”  Basically Jeremiah is asking can one change who they are, their very nature, their very habits that they have developed over their lifetime in an instant?
All of us have probably heard the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  We know this to mean that once we are stuck doing the same thing it becomes not only part of who we are, but also a clear habit that cannot be easily broken.

Though Change and Habit are neither four letter words, the idea I would like to suggest is that we in and of ourselves cannot change.  We are unable to change our habit.  We cannot make a radical change in our lives, our family, our ministry as a church in and of ourselves.  The reason we are unable to change is because we are unwilling to go against the grain or habit we have either been born into, created with our friends and family or take the necessary steps to make the change, because change requires the loss of something.

If you were to ask any famous athlete, whether they play football, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling or any sport.  If they are well known, they know that their natural skill is only part of the equation.  To be a top athlete it takes dedication, willingness to learn and listen to a coach who can help them change in them what has become a habit.  Like a golf swing, swinging a bat or the follow through of a pitch, where the ball will go can radically change with minute changes in spin, angle or speed.

This is true for us in the Christian walk and life as well.  In our first reading, we heard about Joshua who became the leader of the Israelite people.  Joshua had to have a change of habit.  Previously, he probably didn’t know nor understand the trust that would be placed upon him when he would be made the leader of the Israelite people.  But God said clearly, “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”  God made a clear promise that He would not fail Joshua, but Joshua would have to trust God with everything he had been given.  And the trust that Joshua needed was a change from his former subservient position to a position that required he be “strong and courageous”.  But God saw potential in Joshua, but also warned him, “Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left”.  Though very clear boundaries from the law of Moses, Joshua knew he needed to change.  And the change that Joshua made also came with a promise.

The promise made from God is “so that you may have success where ever you go.”  God was telling Joshua when you make this change, I will insure that you will succeed.  God was promising not only His presence, but a clear and manifest guidance throughout his life.  But it would first require the change of Joshua.  A change not just of nature, but of habit.

We who gather here this evening are called to change our habit as well.  As difficult as that is for each and every one of us, God is calling us to change our habit.  And just like Joshua, God makes a promise to us as well.

You see the promise God makes to us begins not only in the Word of God we hear, but finds fulfillment in the font where we have been baptized.  The promise of God to help us in our change of habit finds completion first with Jesus innocent death on Calvary, but ultimate completion with simple Water connected to God’s Word as it is poured over our heads and hearts.  In Holy Baptism, God enables us to not only change with the seasons as we heard last week, but change our very habits and who we are.  No longer are we stuck in the muck of life or of our sin, we are set free to be the people of God.

For just as Paul said to the Galatians about the ability of the Spirit of God, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”  We can through God’s offer of forgiveness change our habits we have created for ourselves and be the children of God with great potential that God sees in each of us, that He has made us into with our baptism.

This is the reason Jesus told the parable of the house for the people of God.  Our foundation as Christians in our baptism is not built on sand, but on the bedrock of the Word of God that finds root in the truth of Jesus Christ.  For the truth is that Jesus Christ offers us in our baptism the tools and abilities to change our legacy and our impact.

Ron Olson, penned a book entitled, “The Legacy Builder”.  One particular quote speaks volumes about the opportunity we Christians have.  Ron writes, “The only people who don’t [change] are the ones who stop trying, stop achieving.”  If we stop achieving or changing, we then relegate ourselves to only watching as the world goes by.  We can reorient ourselves and as Ron alludes to, ‘choose to try’, choose to change and choose to be empowered by God’s Spirit for His Glory.

For this is what Lent is meant to be a time, 40 days, where we can not only see the seasons change, but change our habit.  A change that will enable us as God’s children to be empowered like Joshua to accomplish the God given vision for our congregation, our community, but especially our Creator of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Let’s come to the font and allow God to change us into His holy creation.  AMEN.

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