Creflo Dollar - How to Desire Change
We're talking about grace-given power to change. It's the power that has been given to us that sometimes remain a mystery to a lotta people. There is a struggling and striving to try to make changes, instead of recognizing that grace has provided you with the power to change. You've always had the power to change. Say that out loud, "I have the power to change". So, let's pick up Galatians 5:13. He says, "For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another".
And so, we talked about last week how that grace has been made available not to cover sins. It's not made available to cover but to change, and we've gotta be careful to never ever think that God's given us grace to cover bad behavior or to cover the opportunity to change and just, you know, use grace as an occasion to the flesh. Don't let that liberty be used for an occasion to the flesh. In other words, we don't ever wanna say use grace as an excuse for, you know, continuing in bad behavior or continuing in the flesh or continuing even to operate under the law, because grace has made us free from the law. Grace has, in doing that, made us free from the flesh, and the spirit of grace in us will change our behavior, amen?
So, there is nowhere where grace should be used as the covering for sin. Grace doesn't cover sin. It changes you from that, amen? And so, the New Living Translation of the same verse of Scripture says this, Galatians 5:13, "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature". And, you know, those of you who are brothers and sisters in the Lord, then that sinful nature is referring to that thinking, is referring to the flesh is, I believe, not just living by the law. It is, but it's also, you know, that way of thinking, that old way or that mindset of thinking that comes as a result of a life that was unrenewed and convinced that it needed to live by the law. So, he says, "My brothers and sisters, don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love".
Now, let's move to Philippians chapter 2:13. I spent a lotta time on the foundation last week so I can move pretty swiftly into this thing, where change is concerned. Philippians 2:13 in NLT. He says, "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him", so a couple of things I want you to take with you tonight through this journey is God gives you the desire and the ability. Power means the ability to get the job done, so God gives you the desire and the power to do what pleases him, so that just shows you that the Holy Spirit is gonna be assisting you in this process of change by giving you the power and the ability to do it. But you know you still have to be involved, right? I mean, he give you the desire, and then he gives you the ability to do it. And you know you're a free moral agent, and you can say no, and you can reject it, and you can refuse to flow with it. I think that's the part I'm trying to deal with here in this series.
Now, God grace favored you. His grace has favored you with the power to change, so let's tonight look at that process of change. What does it look like? Let's go to Ephesians chapter 4, verse 22 through 24. The process of change has as much to do with taking off as it does with putting on. It has as much to do with taking off as it does with putting on, and so it involves, I believe, both subtraction and addition. So, when you talk about this process of change it involves taking some things away, putting some things on. This process of change involves subtraction, as well as addition. Look what he says in verse 22 real quick. He says, "That you put off". All right, that's subtraction, right? "Put off concerning the former conversation", the lifestyles, "of the old man", the implication is you put it off, "which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts". And verse 23 says, "And then be renewed in the spirit of your mind".
In other words, renew your mind so deep until you start doing things automatically. That's when you know you've done, when it talks about renewing the spirit of your mind, that it moves into automatic. Somebody does something to you, you automatically walk in love where they're concerned, and we're constantly renewing the mind. The renewing of the mind is not a onetime event. It's a lifetime process, and the renewing the mind is exchanging your ideas and views for God's ideas and views, and it's not something that just, you know, lasts for a moment. It's not a onetime event. Renewing the mind is a lifetime process, and it is the most important thing that you as a Christian can get involved in. The most important thing for a human to do is to get born again. The most important thing for a born-again person to do is to renew his mind and get involved with the process, the life process of renewing your mind. If you understand that say, "Amen".
Then verse 24 he says, "And that you put on", so you put off the old, and you put on the new man, "which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness". So, you're putting off the old, you're putting on the new man, and in between that is renewing the mind. It's not just what happened when you got born again. When you got born again grace made, that process made it available, salvation available, and faith took it, amen? And so, faith takes it 'cause grace made it available. Salvation has been made available to all men. We believed to say, "Lord, I believe it".
And somehow I think we think it just stops right there, okay? It's done, and it's over. Well, that's no different than a woman giving birth to a baby. Everybody is celebrating the baby's birth, and then just leaving it there on the sidewalk. There is a mindset that's got to be accomplished and for us who are in this human world there are some things that we picked up that we need to take off and there are some things that have been made available to us that we need to fully get dressed in. We have the new creation on the inside of us, but there still needs the renewing of the mind. Why? Even though you have the new man living on the inside of you, you still have the old software up here.
And so, if the new man is gonna be able to really release and give you what has been made available to you, it's gonna require you getting your mind to line up with that new man. So, wow. Praise God we have a brand new creation on the inside of us. We have a mindset that needs to line up with that brand new creation, which will then bring our body in line with that renewed mind, with that brand new creation. So, there is an alignment that has to be done and think with me for a moment. You got a new creation on the inside of you, and he is still saying you renew your mind. I just cannot... I won't do it. I won't, you know, well, now that we're under grace, just sit there. I don't believe that.
I believe that, you know, renewing your mind... the Holy Spirit is not gonna renew your mind. He's gonna help, he's gonna assist, but here is the most powerful thing you gotta know about yourself: you are a free moral agent. You know what that means? You decide. You choose. You choose between life or death. You choose between blessings or cursings. You choose, and I think sometimes when we study grace it's kinda like people receive it as a magic act. "Oh, I'm under the grace of God, so voila"! No, you are still responsible for renewing your mind. You will always still be responsible for renewing your mind so you can prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. And the Bible says in that very Scripture, Romans 12, he said be changed. How? By renewing your mind.
So, what it tells me is, you know, yes, I'm under grace. Yes, Jesus has made things available. Yes, there are things I don't need to do because it's already done, but you know what? He says you're gonna have to prove those good and perfect will of God for your life. How? By changing. How? By renewing your mind. By renewing your mind. I think that's the missing message in a lot of Christians' lives. We're looking for God to do everything and us to do nothing. It's the renewing of your mind and begin to seeking after him, and so it's gonna be a great series, so let's get started. So, how do we do this? Let's, first of all, let's challenge you where change is concerned. I define change as it means "to alter or to make different". When you change something you're gonna alter it or you're gonna make it different. It means to shift. It means to put one thing in place of another. That's change. It's any variation or alteration in form, in state, in quality or essence, or a passing from one state or form to another. Change of habits. Change of principles. Change.
Now, the power or the ability to change our lives has already been made available by Jesus Christ. It's there. You have the ability to change. Say that with me, "I have the ability to change". You know, in the Marine Corps there is this saying. It goes like this: "Unhappiness doesn't come from the way things are, but rather from a difference in the way things are and the way we believe they should be". So, here is what makes people unhappy. What makes 'em unhappy is they look at how they are, and they realize it doesn't have to be like that. What makes you unhappy is at present time you're in one place when you know you can be in another place, and so what we say is, or what they say it was in the Marine Corp, happiness doesn't come from the way things are. It comes from a difference in the way things are and the way we believe they should be.
And when you're sitting there believing that a thing should be a certain way and you have now been made aware of the difference that it could make, where you are and where you could be and where you believe you should be, that's where unhappiness comes from. You know, perhaps your life isn't the way you believe it should be. That's what causes unhappiness. "I don't believe that my life is the way that it should be". If you sit up here and you say, "Well, I recognize where I should be in the change", we all love the results of change, but we hate the process. It's kinda like that recipe. You remember the box cakes where they had the picture of the nice chocolate cake and on the back they had then the directions?
See, what most people get into, as a kid I got into the box, the picture, but, you know, somebody had to follow the directions in order to make the change. Without following the instructions on the back of the box you can't get the picture. And so, you can look at the picture all day long. Who's gonna follow the instructions on the back of the box? Man, that's good to me. I think that's what we do. We look at the potential, we look at what our life could be, we look at where we should be, but we ignore the instructions. And, you know, great preaching paints a beautiful picture of the Christian life, but sometimes it neglects to show the process or give the instructions on how to reach that. I love good preaching. It's amazing to me. It's amazing to me to see what people can do with good preaching, but I despise desiring the picture on the box but not knowing about the instructions to accomplish what I see on the box.
And so, I made my mind up years ago that, you know, just 'cause you can do a thing doesn't mean it's the thing you should be doing. I made my mind up years ago that if it's 2 people, 20 people, hundreds of people, thousands of people, I've got to give them instruction. I've got to show them. And I know there are lots of people who are not, you know, willing to sit and listen to a guy teach the Word, but I'm looking for the after results. I'm looking for you going home and saying, "I made the cake". Hallelujah. "My relationship made the cake. Hey, I opened my heart up to what was being said and things happened, you see"? And that's to me very important. Everyone has something in their life that they would like to see change, whether it is in a relationship, whether it's in their body, whether it's in their finances, in their heart. Everyone wants a change. There's nobody here, me included, that we can't identify some things we'd like to see change, but often we don't know how.
All right, look at 2 Timothy chapter 1:7. He says, let's read it out loud together. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but", what? "And of". Okay, so I wanna stop at this right after God hasn't given you fear, but he gave you power. He's given you the ability to change. You have power to get results. You have the ability to change. Now, let's go to John chapter 5 and let's work on this first step. John chapter 5, verse 2 through 4. Now, this is interesting. I read this before. This is about this guy who stepped in the water and there are some very interesting things that happened here with this guy. Verse 2, "Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches". Verse 3, "In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind folk, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water". Four, "For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and he troubled the water". I almost like to say here, "And he changed the water". "Whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had".
So, you get the picture here. Angel comes in, stirs the water. That water is anointed. People with all kinds of different situations would step in that pool, and they would come out healed. Step into the troubled water. Ain't that what he called it? He troubled the water, so the thing was step into the troubled water. Step into the troubled water. Let me relate that with something. Jesus found peace in the midst of a storm. Step into troubled water. Find peace in the midst of the storm. You see, change is one of those storms we need to step into and by the time I finish tonight you'll know what I'm talking about by change being a storm. Change brings turbulence, and sometimes change brings trouble, and change brings unrest or some feelings that we don't always want to identify with. But if we're going to better our future we've got to disturb the present. The present has to be disturbed if we're gonna better our future.
Now, I'm not gonna bother you with what you can't change, so let's talk just for a moment about what we can't change. There are some things that you can't change, and we shouldn't waste our time trying to change what you can't change. Do you agree with that? You shouldn't waste your time trying to change what you can't change. Well, what are the things that we cannot change?
Number one, watch this, other people. You know how long it took me to understand that? Listen to me. You cannot change other people, and I mean to tell you I'm not gonna say I'm ashamed that it took me so long, but for a long time I thought I could. And I've come to the point of understanding people gonna do what they want to do and what they decide to do. "Well, you're still off the track". See, that's where you... I don't agree with that. I'll do what I need to do, present them everything they need, love them every time I see them, all that other stuff, but it's not my job to change anybody.
And, see, that's where you get in problem, and then you get all upset, and then strife begins. My job is to love you, to present things to you to help you out, to teach you, to guide you, to do all I can do to present to you all the things. My job is to love you, God's job to change you, but do you know we're trying to help people God can't even help? And you know why God can't help 'em? It's not 'cause he's not powerful. Because they won't let him, and he is now subject to their desire and their decision. So, I got that. I finally got that. You know, only thing I was, was in most cases an enabler. You know, I tell this guy to do something. He didn't do it. "Oh, my God. Well, I'm gonna go help him". And then, in the midnight hour he call. "I'm gonna be there again, and then I'm gonna bail him out two or three times", dah-dah-dah. And God like, "You ain't doing nothing but making it worse". So, that's one thing: can't change other people.
Secondly, you can't change your race or your color. Now, I know they got all kinds of cosmetic stuff out and stuff like that. Don't let me say that, Lord, but how do I say what I'm thinking? You can change the color of the house, but it's still gonna be the same house, isn't it? Yeah, that's probably the best way to say it.
Number three. Now, this is very weird, but you can't change your sex. Uh-huh. Nah. Yeah, you gotta understand although some have tried and some have claimed that they have, no. You can change your name from Josephine to Joe. On the inside you're still Josephine. Alright, I'm gonna leave that alone.
Number four, you can't change God's will. You can't change God's will. Wow. So, let's not spend our time trying to change things we can't change, and two of these people we'll debate over, so here is what's gotta happen if we're gonna change. Here is the process of change, just the first step: desire to change. Now, you see in verse 4 what happened. Let's look at verse 5 and 6. So, here is this Pool of Bethesda. The angel stirred it up. You jump. You get in there and, man, you get healed.
Now, look at this in verse 5. "And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty eight years". Thirty-eight years with this condition. Think of that. Have you ever felt like you've had some of the same issues going on forever? It's like, "When is this gonna get out of my life"? Yours might not be an infirmity, but what is this thing that just has been there for all these years? Wouldn't you like to get rid of it once and for all? He says, "A certain man that was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years". Verse 6, "When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him", now listen to what Jesus asked, "Wilt thou be made whole"?
What did Jesus ask the man? He asked him, "Do you want to be made whole"? I mean, we can all see that, but check this out. You know, this guy, I think, was in a situation where he felt so hopeless, that he didn't even believe that Jesus would or could heal him. For 38 years, you understand what I'm saying? Think with me for a moment. For 38 years, nobody wants to get your hope up after you had that for 38 years. Glory be to God.
Now, it's often sometimes it's the thing that we have grown accustomed to, or learned to tolerate in our lives that we need to change. Are there things in your life that you've grown accustomed to, things that you've tolerated in your life? And those things need to change but it's grown on you in a sense and you just accept it. Now, watch very carefully here now. Notice the first thing Jesus asked this guy, "Do you want to get well? How bad do you want this? Do you want to get well? How bad do you want this"? I told you the first step to change is the desire. Do you want to get well? How bad do you want it? Do you want this change? How bad do you want it?
I'm reminded of something in Mark 11:24, flip over there just real quick. Mark 11:24 mentions this in this verse of Scripture. He says, "Therefore I say unto you, what things soever", watch this, "you desire". Wow. How bad do you desire? He says, "When you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them". So, to change anything, you have to first what? Desire it more than you desire just about anything, and that's when things will begin to change for you when you really desire it more than anything. I thought about this Scripture too, Psalms 37, and verse 4: "Delight thyself in the Lord". Now, let me give you an easy way to define that. Find pleasure and satisfaction in the Lord. Find pleasure and satisfaction in the Lord. Somehow, your relationship's got to move from chore, the chore mentality to the pleasure mentality.
"Do I find pleasure in my relationship with the Lord or is it obligation? Do I find satisfaction in my relationship with the Lord, or is it something that I'm motivated out of fear to do"? This all starts with the relationship with the Lord. Why does it start with a relationship with the Lord? Because that relationship with him where it's satisfying and where it brings you pleasure is what shapes your desire so you desire the right thing. He literally now begins to shape your desire because of the time that you, and the satisfaction that you have with him. It's not going after the desire, but the pathway to that desire is genuinely finding pleasure in your relationship with God. That now calls for a, I call it this, a for real Christian. The religious guy, this doesn't happen. He just doesn't have the desire.
So, what you do is you say, "I delight myself in the Lord. I delight myself in spending time with him. I delight myself, I'm satisfied with his presence. I want to spend time with him. I want to be at church. I want to be fed the Word. I want to be in his presence". When that is true, it's stuff don't stop you 'cause you like him, you like spending time with him. You know, there's some Christians that don't really like him, they're just there 'cause they don't want to go to hell? I used to be one of them. I used to be like the only reason I'm participating in any of these activities is 'cause hell is hot. That was my motivation. And I realized there had to be something much greater than hell being hot. Are you seeing what I'm saying?
I shared this, I think one Sunday. I want to give you the whole testimony. A young man was walking down a dock one day, and he noticed a man fishing who he had read about and followed for many years. The young man desired to be a great salesman, and the older man had been one of the best in the world. And when he approached him, he asked the man what he needed in order to be great. The old man grabbed his admirer and stuck his head under the water. The young man kicked, and pushed, and did everything he could to get up until he couldn't hold his breath any longer. When the young man finally fought his way out of the water, gasping for air with a furious attitude, he declared, "Are you crazy? I couldn't breathe". The man responded, "Son, when you want to succeed as much as you want to breath, that's when you will become a great salesman and a great success".
For a lot of people, they don't understand this half-cocked thing of doing things. You're wanting success and half doing stuff. You're wanting success, and the thing you want to be successful in is more of a hobby than it is a real pursuit. It always comes down to how bad do you want it. And if you want it as much as you want to breathe when you're trying to get air, then there's something so awesome about that, something so motivating to me about that that no matter what happens in a person's life, you keep getting up and going forward, getting up and going forward, getting up and going forward.
There's a level of tenacity here that the Holy Spirit will help you with. This little lazy thing, "I'mma sit back and just hit me, God". No, like there's a level there. There's something so similar about successful Christian people, and they have such a tenacity and such a discipline that they didn't on purpose try to do, they just, it's just, "I want to do these things and so, God, show me the path that I need to take to do these things". And there's something about diligence. There's something about commitment. There's something about the desire, and the pursuit of God and that relationship with him.
The first thing I want to desire and commit myself to and be diligent with is my relationship with him, then everything else is born out of that. I can go to God, as I've done a lot of times, and say, "Lord, I have a need", but then I also have a desire to achieve that more than anything. Here's my need and with the need, I'll do whatever I need to do, whatever I need to do.
Now, I'm not talking about, you know, it's real close, self-discipline versus a relationship that gives birth to a love discipline. I don't know if I've ever said that before or you heard it before, but I'm not talking about self-discipline. I'm talking about born out of my relationship as a fruit of discipline. What happens? I want to get up in the morning 'cause I enjoy and I have pleasure and satisfaction in spending time with God. I want to spend time reading the Word and studying because out of my relationship, it's given birth to that satisfaction. Diligence have been given birth to, patience have been given birth to, the fruit of the Spirit will be given birth to as a result of that new creation living on the inside of you and that relationship has been cultivated between you and the Holy Spirit.
I'm not talking about doing it the way of the world, I'm talking about just simply doing this one thing, falling in love with Jesus. And you will experience the love that he already has for you. And you will find that what the relationship with him woos you into all those things that you're trying to, with your own efforts, trying to give birth to, working real hard to try to be this... I'm not too much striving. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about time spent with him, loving him, getting to know him, enjoying his presence, and you will, if you just initiate it.
Don't ignore the relationship and the relationship will give birth to such intimacy, such things that you thought you had to work real hard to do, but being motivated by a love relationship gets you into all of these places that you're trying to accomplish yourself. You become the most disciplined person ever born out of your love relationship with Jesus. You become extremely committed because of a relationship that you have with Jesus and it's satisfying, and you love it. It's the other way around in Christian life. We preach the Christian stuff, but then we try to do it the way the world does it. God has some great things. He got a great way of getting you where you want to be. But we still got the wagon pulling the horse.
"I love God, I want to be with him. God, help me to be disciplined". It's born out of my relationship with him. I love God, I want to be with him. I enjoy my time with him, and he shows me the importance of committing my ways to the Lord. I want to read, I want to study, I want to get up out of my bed when a thought comes and it won't go away. And I just, let me go and see this. Let me think this thing out. And you know, there've been several times just this year where I've been on my way to church to preach, and God says, "I gotta show you something before you preach this".
And I find myself in a couch with a pen and a pad, have dressed got one shoe on, another sock. And I'm thinking, whoa, it's like, "Why didn't you show me this last night"? I don't think it's so much why he didn't show me last night. Maybe I wasn't as available as I was that morning, or I don't know why, I'm just glad he did and I think if he takes the time to say something to me, you would, the number of sermons that have been changed around and stuff like, even the series I'm doing right now, I say, "God, you are so good", and to experience a real relationship with him when you're driving in your car all by yourself and you hear deep in your spirit in the quiet part, you just hear this voice that says, "I love you". It's like, goddog, that was God. You understand what I'm saying?
A real, genuine relationship and born out of that is the commitment to be where I need to be. I mean to be where I need to be, say what I need to say. I love this. I love trying to win some, trying to impact, and trying to get you to think differently. But most of all, to keep bringing you back to the relationship. It's so easy for me to talk to you this way and think well, oh yeah, I'll just discipline myself and make my little cards out and follow them. I done did all of that and failed eventually. But what am I doing now, and have done, where did that come from? Did it come out of my self-effort? It came on my relationship with him, hallelujah.
So, there are three reasons why people don't desire to change. This is pretty important. Since that's the key where change is concerned and the desire to change. And you saw where the Holy Spirit is working in you to give you the desire to change and the ability to carry it out. But here's the first reason why people don't desire to change, number one, fear. Fear of what? Fear of change. And you know what? Our fear of change is that we don't believe we can change. "I'm afraid to change because I don't believe I can". We're afraid it won't work, so we don't try.
Remember 2 Timothy 1 and 7: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power". We have the spirit of power. We have the power to change. He's already giving it to us by his grace. But you can't feel powerless to the point where you are afraid to change 'cause you don't think you can. You just been there so long, I just don't feel like I can change. You know, grace has been made available to everybody, and God wants you to be a recipient of that grace. But some people just don't want change, that's why they use it as a cover. That's why they use it as a cover. "Yeah, you know, I'm still addicted to weed", and so, you use grace as a cover, "but God still loves me". What? You're afraid to change because you don't think you can. It's like, "I've been smoking weed for so long, I don't think I can". Nope. You gotta get rid of the fear. You have the power to change anything.
The second reason why people don't desire to change: we perceive the need for change as an admission of weakness. We feel like, "If I tell you that I need to change, then I'm also saying to you that I'm weak". And it's not weakness. It takes strength to admit the truth. It takes strength to admit the truth. A strong man admits that he needs to change. A strong woman admits that she needs to change. And some people just, "No, no, I'm not gonna tell you I need to change 'cause, you know, if I say that I need to change, then I'm admitting that something's wrong with me". Well, the fact is a whole lot wrong with you, we're just not gonna change anything until you admit those parts when you can come to the place and admit some of the areas that need to change in your life. That's the deceptive part about it. You're walking around talking about, "If I don't, you know, I'm afraid that if I admit that I need change, then I'm also admitting something wrong with you". Well, now you're deceived because something always been wrong with you.
Number three, we don't like to unsettle things in our lives, why? We are settling for mediocrity, when we could have a miracle. Remember, your miracle is often wading in troubled and unsettled water. Things begin to look worse as you are working on it, but it's all about to change if you don't give up. It's all about to get better, no matter how messy it looks. And it can look messy at times. And those of you who have experienced change in your life and transformation in your life, it can look very, very messy.
Sometimes people just, would rather just leave that alone, that that's gonna 'cause too much drama. But you won't change. A lot of times we're living miserable lives and it's our decision to live a miserable life because we don't think we need to do this. But you do, you do. I'm constantly recognizing every day, I feel like I've done a lot of changing but I got a lot more changing to do. And I pray that I continue to do some changing and be changing when Jesus comes back. But there's something wrong with a person who somehow's gotten to the place where they're like, "Oh, I don't need any change at all". I come ask you, "So, what do you need to change"? "Nothing". First of all, you need to change the deception.