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Immutability of God
“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
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
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.  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.  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,
 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, 
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;  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
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?