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EXCHANGING GROANS FOR WOWS

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we
should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know
us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God;
and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that
when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He
is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He
is pure. 4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is
lawlessness. 5And you know that He was manifested to take away our
sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6Whoever abides in Him does not sin.
Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7Little children, let
no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just
as He is righteous.1 John 3:1-7 (NKJV)
Fred Craddock, preaching professor for many years at Emory
Universitys Candler School of Theology, said these words about
change: Paul says that the groan in creation, in us, in God, is a groan
not of death, not the death throes; but a groan of childbirth. God is
giving birth to something new. God is doing something fresh. God is
creating new heaven, new earth, and by the time I have mastered the
groan, I will have to exchange itfor a WOW! (1)
Change is not always easy; and we seem to be peculiarly prone
to resist it. The most common excuse you hear for an unwillingness to
change is, But weve ALWAYS done it that way. Is that a valid
excuse? Think about this: the U.S. standard railroad gauge has been
set forever at 4 feet, 8 inches. That is the standard distance
between the rails for every railroad in the country. How did it get set at
that particular width? Its very simple: thats the way it was done in
England, and the standard got transported here. Why, then, did they
do it that way in England? Well, because the pre-railroad tramways
were built to that standard. Why? Because before the tramways,
wagons were built to the same scale. Why? Because they found that if
they made them any other size, the wagon wheels would not fit in the
ruts already present in their dirt roads. Why were the ruts that size?
That was the size used by Imperial Rome, who first built the system of
roads in Europe. Why that size? Because 4 feet, 8 inches was how
wide a chariot had to be in order to hitch up two war horses to it. (2)
I suspect that our resistance to external changes around us, is
grounded in our resistance to internal changes God wants to make
within us. John speaks of change, in terms of its relation to us past,
present, and future. He says of past change, Behold what manner of
love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children
of God! When we consider what manner of people we were in times

past, and consider that the Father still loved us anyway, and CHOSE us
as His people, then all we can do is be amazed.
One of my favorite authors, G. Campbell Morgan, says of the
past, The one thing you hate most of all in your past is your own sin.
He is right, we always look back and say, If I had it all to do over
again, and knew what I know now. . . . We would give just about
anything to change ityet we fight with all our might to avoid having
to make any kind of change in the present.
And what does John say here about our present? Beloved, NOW
we are children of God. Are you a child of God? Right now, at this
very moment, do you feel like a child of God? If you DONT feel like a
child of God today, what is the reason? Could it be that what we know
about ourselves inside, about our sinful nature, clouds the reality of
who we are as Gods chosen people? I like this poem that I ran across,
called Gods Child:
I may be black, I might be white; I may be free,
But I am still Gods child.
I may be up, I may be down; I may wear a smile, I might wear a frown,
But I am still Gods child.
I may be rich, I might be poor; I may be exciting, I might be a bore,
But I am still Gods child.
I may be thin, I might be stout; I may be in, I might be out,
But I am still Gods child.
Mistreated, unseated, but never defeated,
Because I am, Gods child. (4)
Our present reality, whether we are constantly aware of it or not, is
that we are children of God.
What does he have to say here of our future? It has not yet
been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is
revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Our
future realitywe shall be CHANGED. Then, if that is the case, think
about it: all of us here can probably look at our PAST and see the
change God has brought about in us to the PRESENT; we can see from
His Word today that Gods design for our FUTURE involves change; do
you think, then, it is safe to say that we are a people who seem to have
been DESIGNED for change?
I find it interesting that the one who says He is the same
yesterday, today, and forever, says also, My desire for you today is
to be different from what you were yesterday; and my desire for you
tomorrow is to be different from what you are today. And notice what
He says our focus should be: Everyone who has this hope in Him
purifies himself, just as He is pure.
The question then becomes, How do we purify ourselves? Im
still working on the answer to this one, but my basic answer so far is,

We dont. We depend on Christ, of whom the prophet Malachi wrote,


He shall sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons
of Levi. As a people whose destiny in heaven is to be changed into
the likeness of Christ, our business in the present is to begin changing
into that likeness NOW.
One place we start is here today at this table. As we take part
today once again in this symbolic receiving of Christ, We are reminded
of that DAILY receiving of Christ, walking in His presence, allowing the
Spirit and the Word to begin to bring about in our PRESENT that which
is destined to be our FUTURE.
The WOWs of tomorrow will be worth all the groans of growth today.

NOTES:
(1) Fred B. Craddock, in Journal for Preaching, quoted in
Leadership journal.
(2) Clark Cothran in Leadership.
(3) G. Campbell Morgan, The Purpose of the Advent: 2. To Take Away
Sins, Westminster Pulpit, Vol. 1, p. 315.
(4) T. Garrott Benjamin, quoted in Oh, Grow Up! Larry Bethune,
online sermon preached at University Baptist Church, Austin, Texas,
May 7, 2000.