12272020 Looking Back - Looking Ahead



We live in a World of Change
Another year is almost over and new one will shortly begin.
You’ve heard the saying, “Hindsight is 20/20” well - That statement will be true as we move out of the year 2020 into the New Year 2021. Hopefully the adage will prove itself true as we consider all that has changed in this world since January, but especially since March when it became safer for us to stay at home and far from the “Madding Crowd.”
Have you ever stopped to think about the number of things that have changed over the past few years? Just since 1970 – the year I started my architectural training at Tulane University I’ve seen mathematical calculations go from slide rules to hand-held computers that have graphic displays and can do trigonometric functions in a fraction of a second.
I took a computer class in Fortran and MAP (macro assembly programming) in which I had to sit in front of a key-punch type machine to punch computer cards that would then be fed into a computer that took up an entire floor in a building.
Now we have computers on our desktops, in our laps, and in our hands that can do the same calculations in a blink of an eye. Televisions have gone from huge boxes with vacuum tubes to flat screens with 3D technology - telephones were once fixed to the wall with cords and dial – now they can fit in your pocket and have touch sensitive screens – typewriters have gone from manual to electric and have now virtually been replaced with word processors on computers that fit in your hand.
And that’s just some of the technological changes.
Banks have boomed and busted. Walls have collapsed between countries . . . landmarks have been destroyed and rebuilt . . . flags have been raised and taken down...tsunamis, earthquakes and floods have changed cities as we know them.
Even in the world of theology – the study of God – there are people who would have us believe that God is open to change. Open theism makes the case for a personal God who is open to influence through the prayers, decision and action of people. God is able to anticipate the future, yet remains fluid to respond and react to prayers and decision made either contrary or concurrently to His plan.
The world is full of change and instability – constantly in a state of flux, so where is our security? Where is our stability?
Contrary to what some may say the Scriptures are clear and teach us that there is one who does not change.
In fact, it is impossible for this one to change.
God is immutable – He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his promises, his perfections, and his person.
Hebrews 6:13–15 NASB95
13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” 15 And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.
Hebrews 6:16–18 NASB95
16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
Hebrews 6:19–20 NASB95
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The Unchangeableness of God

Immutability is one of the incommunicable attributes of God, one of those characteristics that describe his essential nature. To say that God is immutable is to say that He never differs from Himself. He cannot change for the better since He is perfectly holy. Neither can God change for the worse since that would mean He would be imperfect.
Here is something God cannot do . . . He cannot change!
As humans, we are always changing and technology has only increased the pace. Ever since the fall of Adam, when sin was introduced, change has been part of life. The moment we are born, we begin to age.
Values and morals have certainly changed in our culture. Right is being called wrong and wrong is now called right. Proverbs 2:14 says that those who walk in darkness “rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil.” We’re seeing Romans 1:32 lived out in our society as people even “give approval to those who practice” wicked deeds.
Every value in America is being challenged by some group in some way today. We now live in a society where everything is plausible and nothing seems certain.

The One Constant in a World of Change

Change is everywhere, isn’t it?
Our methods may change but the message never will.
Spurgeon says it:
“Would you lose your worries and fears this day? Then you must immerse yourself in the immensity of God…He never changes. His being, and nature, and perfections can’t be altered Nothing can be added to the infinite God and nothing can be taken from Him. What God is today He always was. What God is today He shall always be…He is all-wise; He need not change. He is perfect; He cannot change.”
Our stability in a world filled with instability is this:

God never changes.

We could say it like this:
In our ever-changing changing world, we can count on our unchanging God.
When we speak of God’s unchanging nature, we are referring to his immutability.
R.C. Sproul put it like this:
“The Lord is immutable - it is impossible for His character or being to undergo any mutation. His power cannot be augmented or diminished. He never learns or forgets, and He cannot be anything other than perfectly holy.”
Nothing God has ever said about Himself will be modified; nothing the inspired prophets and apostles have said about Him will be rescinded. His immutability guarantees this.
All that God is, He has always been; and all that He has been, and is, He will ever be
Numbers 23:19 NASB95
19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Psalm 90:2 NASB95
2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
Psalm 102:25–27 NASB95
25 “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 “Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. 27 “But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.
Malachi 3:6 NASB95
6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
James 1:17 NASB95
17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Psalm 18:1–2 NASB95
1 “I love You, O Lord, my strength.” 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
God is unchangeable in
His promises -
purposes & his
In an ever-changing world, we can count on our unchanging God.

God’s Promises Never Change (v. 13-15)

Here in this passage we hear about Father Abraham. He was given a promise and Genesis 15:6 tells us, “And he believed the LORD, and the LORD counted it to him as righteousness.”
Now, why did Abraham believe God’s promise?
It certainly wasn’t because it was fulfilled right away!
Romans 4 tells us that Abraham believed against all hope. He knew the odds were against him because he was almost 100 years old! In Romans 4:21 we read that Abraham was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
Abraham dialed in to the promise that God would never change what He had promised.
Psalm 119:89 says, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.”
In an ever-changing world, we can count on our unchanging God.

God’s Purposes Never Change (v. 17)

God has promised that His eternal purposes will never change even when our daily circumstances cause us to be unsettled.
When Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22, Abraham obeyed and was about to sacrifice his son when the Lord stopped him. After Abraham’s obedience, God uttered an oath or guarantee.
Listen to Genesis 22:16-17:
“By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.”
God pronounced a promise and if that weren’t enough He also made a pledge to keep that promise.
How many times in the past week have you had to change your plans - How many times in the past few hours have you even changed your mind?
we do it all the time but God’s mind and his purposes never change. 
Isaiah 14:24: “The LORD of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.’”
Romans 8:28–29 NASB95
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
In our ever-changing world, we can count on our unchanging God - his promises - his purposes - because both of these work out of who God is - His personality

God’s Personality Never Changes. (v. 18)

Abraham’s faith rested on the unchanging character of God.
You and I can count on God’s personality to be the same today as it was yesterday and what it will be tomorrow because He does not change who He is.
Abraham believed that God told the truth about Himself, and God was true to His personality, which he expressed in two unchangeable ways – one was the original promise, the other was the oath He took to fulfill that promise.
Even without fulfillment of that promise of the birth of a son for 25 years, Abraham hung on to the promise of God. And when he was asked to sacrifice that son of promise, Abraham obeyed.
Since it is impossible for God to lie, His promise and His pledge are secure.
Moody people?
God does not experience mood swings. He never has bad days or good days. He doesn’t treat us according to the whims of the moment. He is always completely consistent with Himself.
What would happen if God’s personality changed?
How would we approach Him if His character was in a constant state of flux? We would never pray. We could never trust Him or step out in faith. We would never ask for His help. We would be constantly on the edge of fear about how he would react...
God’s personality is the same today as it was during the time of Abraham. That’s why the Bible calls Him the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Even though people come and go and let us down, God remains the same yesterday, today and forever.
He’s the same today that He was then, which means that He is absolutely reliable and completely consistent with His personality.
Because He does not change, we can rely on the unchanging truth of Scripture of what he has spoken:
“What He pronounces as sin will always be sin.
What He pronounces as good will always be good.
What He has forgiven, he will always forgive.
All that He has promised to do must come to pass…our great hope of salvation lies in His remaining exactly who He says He is, doing exactly what He has said He will do.”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” (Galatians 1:3–4, NASB95)
And because He is immutable, it means that this will never change!
In our ever-changing world, we can count on our never changing God.
So we can rest in our sure and steadfast hope....

Sure & Steadfast Hope

In a world of certain change, we have this as a sure and steadfast hope:
Hebrews 6:19–20 NASB95
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Psalm 46 = God is our refuge and our strength - the rock of our salvation and because he is our Rock we can flee to Him for refuge.
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” (Psalm 46:1–5, NASB95)
And we can hold fast because He holds fast to us.
To “hold fast to the hope” means to “grip or grasp onto God himself.” This is further developed in Hebrews 10:23:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
Here’s where it gets interesting . . .
The God who never changes call us to change....
It’s great that God never changes, but wouldn’t it be awful, if you and I never changed? It is precisely because He is immutable that you and I can experience the hope of lasting change – from the inside out as we are transformed by the working of the Holy Spirit in us...
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NASB95)
One thing we should never say is this: “I can’t change.
That’s just who I am.” In essence we are claiming to be immutable. But that’s a lie.
Just as my assurance of salvation rests in the fact that God cannot change, my hope of salvation rests in the fact that I can…
The Unchanging One dispels forever the myth of human immutability, changing a heart that was once stone to a heart of flesh, changing desires that once sought to glorify self to those that seek to glorify Him
In our ever-changing world, we can count on our unchanging God so we “who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”

This Hope We Have is an Anchor

The biblical image here is one of moving ahead in safety and confidence by casting our anchor forward and then, as the New English Bible translates it, “grasping the hope set before us.”
There was an ancient sailing practice called “kedging” that helps us understand this verse.
When storms or turbulent seas would threaten a ship docked in harbor, a crew of sailors would jump into a smaller boat and haul the ship’s anchor out to sea as far as the chain would allow them to go. The anchor would then be let down so the ship could pull itself forward into deeper water on the anchor chain.
Friends, that’s exactly what Jesus has done for us.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1–3, NASB95)
He is the anchor for our soul - the forerunner that verse 19 says is “sure and steadfast.”
Our anchor is in heaven, but our ship is on earth. And, Jesus provides us with stability in the midst of storms so our lives can change now.
The world tells us that the only constant in this world is change. As we look back with 2020 Vision upon all the events of this past year and consider stepping into the New Year 2021, no matter what it may bring, let’s remember this...
God is immutable – He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his promises, his perfections, and his person.
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