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Immutability of God

James 1:17
mp3 file
 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV)
 
Change is unsettling to most of us, even if it is a change we like. I don't know if it is a byproduct of growing older, but the breakneck speed of the change in my life is becoming increasingly bothersome to me. I've always considered myself a change agent and championed positive change, yet lately I've longed for stability. I don't have a clue if that is because I'm growing older (a change itself) or because the only constant in my life is change, but sometimes I wish the world would just stand still for an instant so I can get my bearings again.
 
It was only yesterday that Susan and I brought Jamie home from the hospital and yet he graduated from High School this Friday.  How can that be?  
 
Change is all around us.
 
A couple weeks ago I traveled back in time to speak at the 50th anniversary of the Trinity Southern Baptist Association.  Susan and I moved to that ministry field just after we were married in 1982 to Pastor the First Baptist Church of Palm Desert.  For ten years, we labored to help restart that church from the ground up.  God used us in spite of ourselves and the church relocated, built a couple of buildings and reached a lot of people while we were there.   In those days, there were around 20 churches in the Association. I don’t recall for sure, but I don’t remember any Spanish-speaking churches. Perhaps there were, but if so, there weren’t many. Today, there are more Spanish-Speaking people attending the Churches of Trinity Association than English-speakers. According to one pastor who spoke at the meeting, 85% of the Imperial Valley is now Hispanic, and only 9% is Anglo. That pastor, Richard Moore has served the First Southern Baptist Church of Holtville for 25 years and has learned Spanish so his church can minister to the people around him.
 
At the request of José Mendez, the Director of Missions I preached a bi-lingual sermon. God moved. Not because of the sermon, but because of the sense of cooperation that was in the room. These people are on mission together. They’re adapting and changing under the direction of the Lord.
 
Change is a constant for the churches in the Trinity Association.
 
Last Sunday I preached at the Second Baptist Church of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.  It is a historic Southern Church that is nearing its 100th anniversary.  The auditorium was breathtaking with eight stained glass windows that must have been around 20 or 30 feet high.  The stage had three tiers and boasted a full choir complete with a pipe organ.  I commented on how much I liked the stained glass windows to one of the deacons, and he said, “Yeah, its funny, when we put them in 30 years ago they seemed too modern, but over time they’ve grown on us.”    Of course, like most churches these days, Second Baptist is using praise choruses alongside of their hymns and use drums and other contemporary instrumentation as they worship.  Change never stops, not even in the Deep South.
 
I have a friend who returned from the Mission field a few years ago to begin a new ministry stateside.  In the time he was gone, the world changed here.  He is a very flexible person, but is being stretched now as he copes with all the changes that have happened in the past dozen years all at the same time. 
 
It seems like everything around me is changing. Sometimes I feel like Margaret Freese must have felt when the receptionist at the doctor’s office was updating her chart and asked her, “Has your birth date changed?”  (Reader’s Digest, March 2003, p. 130) While everything around us is changing, isn’t it wonderful to know that some things never change?  Hebrews 13:8  says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.” (NASB) 
 
Culture changes.  Churches change.  Life changes.  God doesn’t.  Psalms 102:25-27 says, “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. [26] They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. [27] But You are the same, And Your years will have no end.”  (NKJV) Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.”  (NKJV) Job 23:13 says, "But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does.” (NKJV)  and Hebrews 6:17-18 “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, [18] that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”  (NKJV)
 
He doesn’t change, but the way He’s revealed Himself to us has changed throughout time. Hebrews 1:1-3 says,  “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, [2] has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; [3] who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (NKJV)
 
To Adam & Eve, He was a voice walking in the Garden, seeking His fallen creation. (Gen 3:8).  To Moses He was a voice, thundering out of a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire (Exodus 3:2-6).  To Manoah & his wife, God was a flame ascending into heaven from the altar (Judges 13:20-22).  To Moses, Aaron & Miriam, He was a pillar of cloud, standing in the tabernacle door (Num 12:4-8).  Isaiah saw Him in a vision, sitting on His throne in glory (Isaiah 6:1).  Ezekiel saw Him in a whirlwind (Ezekiel 1).  Jacob saw Him in a dream (Gen. 28:12-13).  The children of Israel saw him in pillars of clouds (Exodus 14:19).
 
In the beginning of the first Century, He revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.  John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (NKJV)  and 1 John 1:1 says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.”  (NKJV)
 
Today, He reveals Himself through His written word and the work of the Holy Spirit.  He’s revealed Himself in different ways throughout the ages, but He hasn’t changed.
 
He is the same God who hurled the great wind and appointed a great fish in Jonah’s Day.  He hasn’t changed. He is the same God who spoke from the burning bush that wasn’t being consumed in Moses’ Day. He hasn’t changed. He is the same God who walked in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew children and who shut the door of Noah’s Ark. He hasn’t changed.  He is the same God who took the fishes and the loaves and fed the five thousand. He hasn’t changed.  He is the same God who walked on the water and commanded the seas to be still. He hasn’t changed.  He is the same God who raised Lazarus from the dead.  He hasn’t changed.
 
“He changes not, His compassions they fail not.  Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto thee.”  Our text says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17 NIV)  There isn’t even a variation or shifting shadow’s difference in who He is.  He doesn’t change.
 
What does this mean to me?  For one, it means that I don’t have to fear the future.  While there is movement all around Him, He is never moved.  He is the unmoved mover.   He is the light that casts the shadows, but there is no shadow or variation with Him.  Because God is immutable, I don’t have to wonder if He is going to keep His promises or stay true to His word.  I don’t wake up in the morning wondering which God will greet me.  He isn’t one way one day and another on another.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Because He doesn’t change I know that I can count on Him and that I’m safe placing my trust in Him.
 
Have you placed your trust in God?  If not, why not do so today?

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