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Its good to, at the start of a year, examine ourselves – who we are, what we are doing, where we are going, how we are doing – are we pleasing God – are there things we need to repent of and change – have we drifted away – are we drawing closer – are we called to do new things – are we being obedient?
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. 2 Corinthians 13:5
Why is it important to examine ourselves?
Because we are not living for ourselves. We are not our own. We were brought with a price. And the life we live now we live by faith in Jesus Christ.
In John 15 Jesus tells us to abide in Him, to remain in Him, to stay connected with Him. He is the vine and we are the branches and apart from Him we can bear no good fruit or do no good thing and those that leave Him and separate themselves from Him and unremain wither and die.
Lets look at john 15 a bit more…
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
Lets put it another way.
1 samuel 6 has a really interesting passage about the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. The Ark had been captured by the Philistines in a battle and they displayed it in their temple… their false god statue fell down and broke demonstrating the supremeacy of God and then the people got sick and all these things happened that they discerned as the unfavour and displeasure of God! So they determined to send the cart back to Israel. They consulted their false priests and pysics about how to transport it…
When the ark of the LORD had been in Philistine territory seven months, the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD ? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”
They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it away empty, but by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.”
The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?”
They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and pay honor to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When he treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?
“Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. Take the ark of the LORD and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the LORD has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us and that it happened to us by chance.”
So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves. They placed the ark of the LORD on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.
So okay. What does that have to do with examining yourself – and the word I’ve been throwing around on facebook – CONSECRATION?
A new cart might look good.
It might be clean and brand spanking new.
It might look good on the surface.
But it sure isn’t the way God commanded the Ark to be carried and transported.
It it isn’t following God’s ways then a new cart just doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t make the grade or impress God.
If you flick over to 2 Samuel 6 you see the new cart syndrome again…
We don’t want to have lives that are like a new cart. Might look good on the outside but when you examine the heart – it falls way short.
Our lives need to be lining up with what God says in His Word and obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will not contradict His Word. That is an impossibility.
If we flick back to look at john 15 – and just a tad before that in john 14 we see something black and white.
Jesus replied, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. John 14:23
He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. John 14:24
If you love Jesus you will obey what He commands, in the Word and to you specifically through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. What is your conscience saying about how you are living your life?
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
If you are not being obedient to God Jesus is pointing out that your love aint fresh and real. If you’re not being obedient to God then you are sinning and being disobedient.
You wont make it on a new cart.
Don’t settle for second best. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t give up.
I was watching survivor the other night (groans!) and saw this analogy that so fitted.
Its like making friends with a snake. The snake says “come and play with me.” The boy says “I don’t want to be bitten”. “I wont bite you” says the snake. The boy and the snake play. The snake bites the boy. “What did you do that for???” says the boy! “I’m a snake, its what I do.” Replies the snake.
Disobedience will bite you like a snake. You can flirt with it and flirt with a compromising lifestyle but it will bite you.
We are only satisfied and fulfilled when we are living authentically connected with God. He guides us and cares for us. He is knowable. Not far off and indifferent. He has a plan for your life. He desires to work in you and through you. He will do awesome things through lives that are consecrated to Him.
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:20-22
we shouldn’t want to be part of a generation that is settling for new carts and a small buzz. Knowing God is awesome. Encountering God is incredible. God is the same today as He was yesterday. And He will be tomorrow. All throughout the bible there is record of how people consecrated themselves to meet with God.
Exodus 19 – when God appeared to the Israelites at Mt Sinai they had to consecrate themselves.
The priests had to consecrate themselves for ministry and service.
Ezra prayed and fasted. Nehemiah was a man of prayer. Esther called the nation into prayer and fasting. Elijah consecrated himself. Isaiah was consecrated by the angel with the coal.
Are you living to please God or please yourself?
Are there things you need to change?
Things God has revealed to you to put into action that you haven’t yet.
Character issues that He is prodding and pruning away at.
If you’re not remaining in Him you’re not walking with Him.
As Christians we are redeemed and saved and made new and clean and forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ, who cleanses us from all unrighteousness and sin. Our spirits are made new and alive when we are born again. But if we love Him, we will obey Him. The Holy Spirit leads us into outworked salvation. Show me your faith by your actions and obedience. 1 John says it plain as black and white, if you are a child of God you have stopped sinning. You resist sin. Romans 8, you resist the flesh, you deny the flesh, you desire to be obedient and you put boundaries in your life to enable you to do that. You make the CHOICE to obey. You repent of your sin and your change your life to stop doing it. You consecrate yourself.
The good news is that we can make a change right now. That we can pray and seek God and reconsecrate ourselves. That we can repent and change.
this is the first message i preached at housegroup last year. its good to look back and see what God has done, but i feel this message is still relevant at the start of this year… so reposting…
this year is ending, today. its the last day of twenty ten. what a year.
so what progress have i made this year… and what am i adventuring into for the next?
twenty ten was the year:
of baking… it was an official resolution to learn how to bake this year. my daughter has food allergies so baking is an essential way to get treats into her. and everyone loves home baking right. up till this year i could bake maybe 2 things. and they worked, most times. so i resolved to get over my baking funk and bake my heart out and learn new things. i’m proud to say that even this week i tackled a new recipe and won.
of podcasts and preaching… i got given a mp3 last year for christmas so this was the year i filled my heart with preaching. new discoveries were steven furtick, mark driscoll, judah smith (and his youth pastors) and bill johnson.
at least no one died this year… yes seriously that was my statement for housegroup this year. dont get me wrong – it was an exceptional year with many highs but also a very low part that then affected much of the peeps and the year following. but the year before one of my guys had been killed in a car accident, so i can say, at least no one died this year. this year in housegroup we strengthened the core group and added a few newbies… we talked about consecration, honesty, confession, hearing from God and then finished the year with our eyes fixed firmly on jesus with a series called Jesus is. we also ate copious amounts of desert, chinese, and had our first ever nacho night. all good
the weekender and habakkuk… the weekender is our churches’ young adults retreat – and i was service leading it and God spoke to me through habakkuk – about Refocusing, Reviving and Refiring… was an amazing life defining weekend. God so moved. and i am so grateful! He is awesome. plus there was amazing lasagne. all good.
that i mc’d a wedding for the first time… and was bridesmaid at another wedding… both super fun, though somewhat nervous occasions
that i was involved in 4 baptisms… i love baptisms! and i love people getting baptised!
that our mums group did alpha, and one of our mainly music mums got saved. its so glorious watching her grow! so love her and what God is doing in her life. and i loved alpha. stole many of the presenters illustrations – he’s a great communicator and this is God’s gift in him to the world. its beautiful watch someone in their calling. even on a video.
my daughter started school… she’s five. she’s delightful. she loves school though still misses me and so holds my hand firmly as we walk to her class. its a whole new adventure for her.
my daughter started school… yes, you can read that twice… which means that from 9 till 3 i have time. time to have a cleaner house. sometimes. time to write and read and pray. time to walk and bake. time for coffee dates with friends.
that God stirred my heart for impossibilities… when i look back at the messages i have preached the underlying current of most of them – and the in your face content for at least half of them is that nothing is impossible for God. its a fresh new zing in my heart that i’m excited to see where it does and what God does!
i ran the light party… a halloween alternative at our church that needed someone to stand up and say, yip i’ll do it and make it happen… so when there is usually that gap tony and i usually put our hands up… and it was so much fun. esp with the new lights at church. and all the willing people who helped so enthusiastically.
i was intentionally grateful… at the start of the year i began my 1000 things listings, things i was grateful for. small things, big things, spiritual things, family things, relational things, material things. whatever and whenever. its good to be intentionally grateful, because then you recognize how blest your life really is, and that creates a happiness that you can wear on your face and pass on to others!
that LOST finished… just had to include that… i love lost… and you’ll laugh, tonight, new years eve, we’re going round to friends to watch the final episodes. we went on holiday with these wonderful friends in july and took along lost season 1 on dvd with the intention of converting them. and they were. so they’ve spent the last 5 months watching all the episodes and finish tonight. what a glorious way to end the year! oh and in case you didnt know. the title of this post, its a lost quote.
that my son joined the Samoan cultural group… in case you didnt know. we’re white. as pakeha as you get. but he joined the Samoa cultural group at school and we thought it was most awesome. esp as for the first 5-6 years of his life he was incredibly shy and change reluctant. amazing how God can grow a child. he had 2 concert performances and it was awesome. yes i leaked. i love my little Samoan boy. he’s also joined the bmx club so that is an adventure in itself!
i’m so grateful to God for my family and my church and my pastors and His wonderful grace in my life.
all glory to Him for His great works to me and in me and through me!
there’s just something about Jesus.
when He walks into a room people take notice.
He captivates attention.
People of every age and every stage want to be with Him. near Him.
King of the Universe. Lord of Lords.
And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty) John 1:14 AMP
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood. John 1:14 MSG
Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. Philippians 2:5-7 AMP
Jesus came and lived and connected.
He spoke the language of eternity and performed miracles, lives changed. @stickyjesus
and He calls us to do the same.
“Jesus gave us a mandate to preach and demonstrate the Kingdom of God. In doing so, we re-present Jesus for who He is. Our heart’s cry is to become a people so given to His presence that we are able to live with the power and character that transforms cities and nations.” – Bill Johnson
what a challenge. to be the representations of jesus here on earth. to live our lives to make Him attractive.
i live by the statement: to know God and make Him known… its our great responsibility and gift.
and the good news is we dont ever walk alone in this mission.
Jesus is WITH US and for us and most remarkably the Holy Spirit lives WITHIN US!
in the eyes of Christ, you are a leader because you have the Leader living within you!
i love chpt 3 of @stickyjesus because it takes this mission and call, to know God and make Him known, out of the too hard basket, or for the spiritually wired, or for those in full time ministry, or for those who are nice, or have degrees in systematic theology… you get the picture… and it makes it real. it makes it possible. in our lives. online and offline.
i love the real life stories that tami and toni share in this chpt – people living it out and doing it in many different ways.
they encourage us to recognise that “Anyone can do this. You don’t have to have a special platform, degree or position at a church. Having a relationship with Jesus is your permission to “go” into all the world and share the good news. “All the world” includes online.” I’m breathing so i am an ANYONE! i can do this!
“you really never know who is paying attention to you or what God is going to do through those seemingly unimportant posts. people can and will see Christ through you.” @scottwilliams in @stickyjesus chpt 3
God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others. What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 CEV
We are ministers of the gospel, ministers of reconciliation empowered and called to glow in the dark and reveal Jesus to the world.
God so loved the world that He stepped down from a holy throne and became human so that you might touch, see and absorb His grace and, in turn, reflect His glory. So compelled by our imperfection, perfection became human.
lets be people that put aside our reservations and our insecurities and let God shine through us. He uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. and extraordinary things usually happen through ordinary people obeying Him and trusting Him to demonstrate His power and love through us.
He is a glorious God and this is HIS plan to change the world.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7 AMP
Dont be afraid, or ashamed to ask for heavenly help – ask the Holy Spirit to give you power to be His witness – because its a Bible promise that He will empower you! Sometimes it takes a shift in our minds and hearts to see ourselves the way God does – as witnesses, ambassadors, children of God, called, recruited. And more so – that we are empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit in supernatural ways so that others will see that God is real in our lives.
there’s just something about Jesus.
and there’s just something about you and me because Jesus lives within us.
come join the conversation about @sticky jesus here: @stickyjesus read along. this week we’re reading in chpt3 – Jesus: The Author of Relationships 03
i’ve made 2 new discoveries music wise. Gungor (also formerly known as the Michael Gungor Band) and Ian McIntosh. Ian is the keyboardist for Jesus Culture and has a contemporary musicality to his stuff that i really like. fav songs on the AWAKENING album which i got from itunes are Awakened and Fully Loved. and Such Beauty. okay i like all the songs! also really in Gungor which i stumbled across randomly i think i itunes and thought why not… they have an eclectic sound – kinda folky sometimes and sometimes rock. the guitar skills in it are awesome. fav songs are Fly, Dry Bones, and Glory is Here. i’ve also succumbed to the christmas music thing. at the request/begging of my children. i had a bias AGAINST christmas music developed from working late nights in retail over the christmas season thus enduring hours of bad christmas music. so i went and brought 2 christmas cds, Third Day Christmas Offerings and the Casting Crowns Christmas CD. i esp love Did you hear the bells ring? by casting crowns. there is a line that stirs my spirit – God is not dead, nor does He sleep! powerful!
just finished Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick the other day… did you catch my reviews…?
the first 7-8 weeks of housegroup – looking at the call of God and personality types and issuing a challenge to seek God first and foremost, to make His ways and His will our highest priority
looking forward to:
housegroup dessert night on the 19th and the arrival of our new youth pastors! and some fun social events planned for evenings and afternoon playdates with family friends.
christmas. every moment of it. loved waking the kids up with kisses and cuddles and their eyes snap open with the realization that TODAY is christmas. loved watching them open their pressies. loved making lunch for us and my parents in law and the feeling of great success at pulling it off, not to mention the full satisfied feeling after a good meal! it was the first christmas at ours and the first christmas that ive done so tick, something new achieved.
thats all really! its lovely lazy holiday time! enjoy your friends, family and some free time!
“I am ready to burn out for God. I am ready to endure any hardship, if by any means I might save some. The longing of my heart is to make known my glorious Redeemer to those who have never heard.” William Burns
what will you give?
what will you do?
God has called each one of us to be ambassadors and witnesses – to shine His light into the world so that people will see God in the darkness. it is God who saves and draws people to Himself but He demonstrates His love and grace and lives out salvation in us.
God has qualified and empowered each one of us to do this momentous task. It should be done every day in every converstation in every opportunity. Its not something we turn off or turn on. We ARE witnesses. We ARE the light of the world, unhidden and shinning bright.
we may feel insignificant and unqualified – but remember – We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 – the real power comes from God – we are the vessel and God is the light that shines – we are the life that expresses the power of God and message of God – as we humble ourselves and draw near to God and pray THEN we are usable. God delights to use His children to reach the lost. As we step out in faith His power enables us and gives us the right words.
Be used. Make the choice. Be close and in love with God, know Him and make Him known!
“Missions is the overflow of our delight in God because missions is the overflow of God’s delight in being God.” John Piper
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” Charles H. Spurgeon
God doesnt write in the sky or use glorious angels to spread his message (usually!) – He demonstrates his love and grace THROUGH us!
He demonstrates His love and grace through US – the once broken, once fallen, once sinners, once guilty…
once broken, once fallen, once sinners, once guilty – NOW whole, NOW saved, NOW redeemed, NOW forgiven, NOW innocent, NOW new, NOW clean…
WE – those who experience the reality of God’s salvation and grace – are called to witness it to those around us – pass it on – pay it 4ward…
We who KNOW the reality of God’s love and grace get to LIVE IT OUT to the world around us – this is what a witness is…
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” Luke 2
when i give God the highest glory, He gives me His deepest peace. steven furtick
last night i didnt sleep that well. its summer here in New Zealand and humid and hot. and i had my shortest one beside me after an allergic reaction to something. and she likes wiggling and cuddles. so i took the opportunity to listen to some preaching and fill my heart with challenge, worship and good things.
last night i listened to two messages by steven furtick from luke 2.
i had read on twitter multiple tweets with the above quote and thought “that’s nice” but i didnt really get it. until i heard the two messages and heard the quote unpacked. and its good.
in my words – as we prioritize God – when i give God the highest glory – when i put Him first and worship Him, then i open myself to His intervention and His peace and His ways – He gives me His deepest peace. when i give God the highest glory then i fix my eyes upon Him and surrender to Him i see things with a different perspective – i see things from HIS perspective and trust Him and know my life is in His good hands – then i have peace in my life because i am walking with Him, trusting my heavenly Father.
how do we give glory to God in the highest?
1. we have see God’s Word as the highest authority.
2. we have to see God’s purpose as the highest priority.
God’s Word must be elevated to the place where it is the last word in our lives.
God’s Word is the final authority in our lives.
What God says goes.
What God says is the way it is.
we live in a world that rejects authority. even christians buck at the authority of God sometimes. we dont want people – anyone – even God sometimes (!) – how we should live our life. we want to reject black and white in favour of gray.
when it was a matter of our preferences vs His Way and His will we often bow down to the altar of self. steven furtick
God’s Word is the highest authority. not our feelings. not our preferences.
BUT GOD’S WORD SAYS is the rock we build our life on.
BUT GOD’S WORD SAYS when i am tempted there is a way out and i can withstand it.
BUT GOD’S WORD SAYS when i am lonely that God is with me.
BUT GOD’S WORD SAYS when i am struggling in trial that fire and flood will not overcome me.
BUT GOD’S WORD SAYS when i am weary and worried that i can cast my cares on Him and find rest.
To live by faith you’re going to need to become very familiar with your bible. you’re going to need to saturate your mind with the Word of God. if your faith isnt rooted in God’s promises, its not scriptural faith. Prioritize the presence of God in your daily life. – steven furtick – Sun stand still
God is Lord. not us. not our feelings. we MUST live by what HE says. in every way in every day.
but as we give God the highest glory – as we surrender to His Lordship and build our lives on His Word and ways – He blesses us and rewards us. There IS reward for those who seek God and follow Him.
when we build our lives on God’s Word then we see a greater purpose for the things we go through and His ways become our priority. when we build our lives on WHO God IS – glorious, mighty, all powerful, loving, compassionate, creative – we have peace and confidence because we know He is great and good and that He is our Father. i have to see Him as the highest authority and make Him the highest priority.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:8-15
i was listening to a message overnight about christmas and it struck me.
the shepherds were in their fields, watching their flocks.
as per usual.
ordinary men doing ordinary work.
ordinary men going abut their everyday occupation.
and it was THESE men that God revealed the coming of the messiah to.
the whole of israel had being praying for the messiah to come, it was almost like their great obsession.
men dedicated their lives to the kingdom of israel and God, in preparation for the messiah.
they read the signs and studied the Word.
this was their great passion.
yet God BIPASSED these messiah-dedicated people and spoke the message of good news to ordinary men doing ordinary work.
christ is born!
God’s gift has come!
the saviour has arrived!