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today is an auspicious day.
today i turn 20.
it was 20 years ago today that i stood and went up the front at an easter camp, in a shearing shed, and said YES to Jesus.
it was 20 years ago today that i became a christian.
i grew up in what could be called a semi religious home. my mum took us to the catholic church. i made my first communion and confirmation. my dad stayed at home and cooked amazing roast lunches. i DID really want to know God though and there are several experiences that i know have shaped my faith, expression and relationship with God from childhood but church was boring and irrelevant.
In early teens though i decided that God must not be real, as He didn’t seem to be “there” – so I figured I would live my life without the “hassle” of thinking about Him and “His laws” (very catholic way of thinking) and so did that. i chose to live my own life my own way.
Our family moved quite a bit and when I was 15 we moved from Gore (the 5th place i’d lived already)… where I went from a 300 student co-ed school to Blenheim, where I had to go to a 1000+ all girls school! Talk about freak out! It was major culture shock! one of my new friends then casually asked me during classics class if i would like to go to youth group with her. I went along with her one night for one reason and one reason only. There were boys there! Great reason for going to youth group eh lol!
Anyway on that first night someone PRAYED and I KNEW God was REAL and I knew I wanted to know Him. i had seen people pray my whole life when i went to church with mum – and this was like it was real, and that he was really talking to a real God, that i could know, not far away, but near and personal, and not grumpy and angry, but loving and filled with grace.
i didnt really know what being a christian was and if it was diferent from what i had seen on a sunday growing up, but i felt there must be something more.
I waited until I went to their Easter Camp (about 3 weeks later) and there, not knowing what a Christian was or did, what the expectation was, what my life would be like… anything… yet I became one… I went up the front and responded to God, and encountered Him radically. By that i knew something was different – that i had given my life to God and became His child. sounds like a Christian cliché eh, but very real. i felt clean and new and forgiven. life had purpose and meaning. it was the start of an adventure.
so i went along to easter camp and i think for the first time heard clearly about who Jesus is and why he died on the cross and that you could have peace with God, peace on the inside.
i went forward when they asked if anyone would like to give their lives to God and had what can only be called a supernatural experience. i felt God. i felt a warmth and a heat that couldnt be explained by the room i was in. i felt happy and peace. i felt loved. i knew that i had crossed a line, that 10 minutes before i was not a christian but then all of a sudden i was.
it was more than going to church but about having a connection with God. a connection i have all the time. and that it was more than rules and being a nice person. i pray and spend time with God, in my real life day. i believe He speaks and guides us, supports us, encourages us.
there was a song that played during the camp that really spoke to my heart.
Don’t you know that i formed you, before you were born i knew you, don’t you know that my plans for you are good.
look and see I’ve engraved on the palm of my hand, look and see I’ve engraved you on my hands
Did you know that your name is tattooed on the palm of God’s hands?
Did you know that?
My name is engraved on the palm of the hand of God.
It is for sure engraved on the palms of Jesus’ hands – great big gaping nail hole wounds.
It was all because of love that Jesus died. It was all because of love that God sent Jesus to live and to die on the cross as the sacrifice that pays for our sins.
The Bible is a book all about God’s love for you and for all people. This love was revealed when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world as a human being, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. Because Jesus died, your sins can be forgiven, and because He conquered death you can have eternal life. You can know for sure what will become of you after you die.
You have probably heard the story of God’s love referred to as the “Gospel.” The word Gospel simply means “Good News.” The Gospel is the Good News that, because of what Christ has done, we can be forgiven and can live forever.
The Bible puts it this way… Colossians 1:20-22 And God was pleased for Jesus to make peace by sacrificing his blood on the cross, so that everyone would be brought back to God. You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things. But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent.
20 years ago i discovered that God really is real.
and i discovered His love is amazing, everlasting, unchanging.
i discovered freedom, peace, hope.
i was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now i see.
MAKE TIME FOR GOD. Now walking with God and knowing God isn’t about trying harder or about meeting a must have must do checklist – it’s about RELATIONSHIP. Its not religious activity but relationship. The amazing thing is God starts the fire – just as He started the fire in the tabernacle and solomon’s temple – supernaturally boom – He starts the fire in our hearts. And then we choose to respond and fan that flame. The priests were instructed to keep the fire burning 24/7, they had to add the fuel to maintain the flame.
- Make Time To Rejoice
- Make Time To Remember
- Make Time To Pray
- Make Time To Read The Bible
- Make Time To Worship:
Worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe. Rick Warren
Worship REMINDS us who God is, His greatness, His goodness, His power, His grace
It REFOCUSES our attention on Him, His greatness, His goodness, His power, His grace
It REFRESHES our heart and CONNECTS us in RELATIONSHIP
It is an expression of love, adoration, surrender
I like my worship loud – I don’t have a quite time, I have a loud time. On Tuesday I was listening to our God reigns by Jesus Culture the other day – it has 3 words in the whole song, repeated. Our God reigns. Over and over again. I can tell you by the end of the song my whole being was like, Yes, He reigns. My God reigns. He reigns. On the inside I was jumping round like I had just won an oscar or a gold medal! It’s the same with the worship song How He Loves Us… I just have to put that on repeat for a few times and boom, I know He loves me…
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
In the Bible the word most often translated “wait” in the sense of waiting on the Lord is the Hebrew qavah. Qavah means (1) “to bind together like a twisted rope” (2) “look patiently,” and (3) “hope, expect, look eagerly.”
The picture here is like a braid in the hair, there are three pieces, but they become so intertwined that it is hard to tell them apart. Don’t you love that picture?
Isaiah 40:31but those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
What a great picture of living an uncontained life. Soaring like an eagle.
Waiting on the Lord develops intimacy with God – it intertwines our heart with His, it teaches us to become sensitive to His voice and Spirit.
And interesting when you apply that thought to Jesus command to the disciples after his death – wait for me in Jerusalem – and they waited and then were filled with the Holy Spirit and went out from there, looking like Jesus, doing the works of Jesus, representing Jesus to the world.
Anyone here on tank water? Bet you’re desperate for rain. When I lived in edendale we had a tank, and when it got dry you couldn’t water the garden, wash the car, have long showers, or flush for number ones. When the tank is filled the limits are removed. When we are full we live more uncontained. let it RAIN on our lives today!
Revival in our community will happen when revival happens in our own heart. God gives revival. He starts the fire. Ask Him to revival your heart. Ask Him to give you an uncontained alignment with His heart and purpose. Philippians 2:13 says He is at work in us to make us willing to do His will. What is His will? To seek and save the lost.
So how do we keep the romance alive? How do we keep the fire burning? How do we have this attitude that Jeremiah has, unable to contain the fire within us?
I believe the answer is in what the priests noticed about Peter and John. They had been with Jesus.
Remember the Romance
The greatest love story in the world isn’t Titanic, or Princess Bride, even Romeo or Juliet, it’s the love that God has for His creation, demonstrated with the greatest act of love, Jesus’ death on the cross, exchanging His innocence and perfection for our guilt and shame. While we were still in rebellion, running away from God, ignoring Him, living our own way, Jesus died to win us.
Grace means the undeserved favour of God. It communicates that no matter how good or bad you have been or will be you’ll never be good enough. Jesus lived and died in your place and your salvation is not about your own acts of goodness but about God’s incredible mercy and forgiveness.
So often we can have this picture of God, stern and sensible. Distant and disinterested.
Isaiah 62:5 Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
Have you ever seen a distant and disinterested groom?
Pause for a few moments and just imagine God smiling over you, rejoicing over you, celebrating you like a groom rejoices in his bride on their wedding day! I love weddings. I love that moment, the entrance song plays, the audience hushes. Everyone turns to the back of the room to see the brides entrance. But you know what I love to do, turn around and see the groom. See his response to her arrival. See his first glimpse of her in her dress. That is often what will make me cry. Now picture that love and that moment as the way God feels about you all the time.
When I am reminded of the great love of God towards me, I want others to know about it. And you now what, you know when someone is in love. You know when someone has an obsession about something. They tell people. They can’t contain their joy and excitement about the object of their affection.
Draw near to God, fall in love with Him, and allow God to stir your heart with love for others. Let HIS love for them fill your heart. That love will compel you to walk across the room and begin a conversation with someone.
Have you ever being rung by those Microsoft scammer dudes? I’ve had a few calls in the past fortnight. I am not scammed! But the thing that gets me is they are such bad advertisers and “not attractive” at all. They don’t attract me to getting help for my computer. They don’t draw me in and win me to rescue me from the terrible Microsoft virus that will blah blah blah blah blah. They don’t sell me, they don’t scam me.
How many of us are um, making God unattractive, by the way we live our lives?
And I’m not talking even about holiness issues here, but in the way we love and demonstrate the reality and grace of God.
Is it real enough in our lives to talk about it…?
Lets not contain God to ourselves or even to the 4 walls of our church but lets live uncontained and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and overflow into the world.
When you get it… others will get it.
When you get how much God loves you… others will get it.
When you get how God lavishes grace upon you… others will get it.
When you realize the price that was paid to rescue and redeem you, to save you… others will get it.
Matthew 12:34 says: For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Be full of God. Be fully in love with God. Be filled with God so you cant contain Him and so He overflows through you.
My horizontal living comes out of my vertical relationship.
Sometimes I tell myself
not to think about you, Lord,
or even mention your name.
But your message burns
in my heart and bones,
and I cannot keep silent. Jeremiah 20:9
if I say, I will not make mention of [the Lord] or speak any more in His name, in my mind and heart it is as if there were a burning fire shut up in my bones. And I am weary of enduring and holding it in; I cannot [contain it any longer]. Jeremiah 20:9 AMP
We’re called to be advertisers of the good news. Not the meh news.
We’re called to be unashamed and uncontained representatives.
If God has called you to be a giant slayer, He will make you a giant slayer.
He qualifies the called. He equips those He sends on a mission.
Think there was a prerequisite class for parting the Red Sea? You couldn’t google how to how to destroy city walls in 7 easy days and there were no books on lion taming, fire walking or rain making. Even when Jesus sent His disciples out they were unschooled ordinary men, fishermen, tax collectors, zealots.
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
This is the joy – its GOD’S power through you! Ordinary people! We are not sufficient of ourselves but because the Holy Spirit lives in us! The Holy Spirit lives in you to empower you. In our weakness He empowers. in our humanity He demonstrates His reality and power. We push out the boundaries of what is normal to talk to people we know and people we don’t. We in faith, lay hands on the sick, stirred by the promise that Jesus heals.
You may feel weak. But He is greater.
You may feel that you don’t have it all together. But He is greater.
You may feel like you don’t know enough. But He is greater.
You may feel out of your depth. But He is greater.
You may feel unqualified. But He is greater.
You may feel too old, too young, uncool, too new, too untheological, too theological, insecure. But He is greater.
He is greater than my fear and my insecurity. He WILL come through when we need Him because it is His mission and His purpose and His plan to use us. He equips us to serve.
The Holy Spirit is the promised Presence of God within us to love, experience God, share God.
The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.’
Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’
‘Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she said, ‘except a small jar of olive oil.’
Elisha said, ‘Go round and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.’
She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’
But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing.
2 Kings 4:1-4
Do you notice what happened in this passage. The woman had one little jar. One container. yet by the power of God when she poured the oil out the oil flowed and was uncontained and filled many jars. Likewise in our lives, it is the Holy Spirit who is the oil that flows through our lives to others and the oil will not run out!
If we want to walk on water we are going to have to get out of the boat! Don’t look at the natural circumstances – uncontained living means you get out of the boat and walk!
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my saviour. ~ Hillsong // Oceans // Zion
Don’t reject the possibility of God to work in and through you. Resist the fear. Resist the objections. Resist the temptation to say no, no, not me. Resist containing what the Holy Spirit CAN do through you! When you’re lining up your feelings of inadequacy vs what God promises, pick what God says and act on it!
Living an uncontained life means you push those boundaries of what may normally be your comfort zone so that the Holy Spirit can work through you to reach the lost.
1. Realize the Responsibility
Peter and John understood their responsibility as ambassadors of Jesus – they had being commissioned by jesus to go into all the world and make disciples and they made space for it in their lives. There’s such an intentionality, an awareness, about this moment that Peter and John have with the lame man. Peter and John allowed the opportunity to interrupt them. They didn’t contain God’s schedule to Sunday morning. How often are we caught up in the busyness of our lifestyle to connect with people we know, or reach out to strangers.
part of living an uncontained lifestyle is to make it a LIFESTYLE, not something we turn on and off.
when God speaks to me, do I hear it as an invitation or an interruption?
I was driving to pick the kids up from school the other day and a bus drove past with its headline saying SORRY. Immediately I thought about how sometimes we’re like that in our life. Driving around with our spirit doors shut and our SORRY IN SERVICE message broadcasting instead of being ready at any opportunity, open all hours.
You have been positioned by God in your class, in your workplace, in your community interactions, in your families, as a beacon of light in the darkness. Every day there are situations in our normal routines that require us to be the light of Christ in darkness.
I love how peter said one night “we are the senior pastors in our world.” You are the senior pastor in your world. You are the evangelist in your world. You can’t hire Billy graham to come have coffee with your workmates. You are there.
2 Corinthians 5:19-21 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. Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.
Stop and think about this for a moment.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that all who believe in Him will not die but have eternal life. And God uses you and me as ambassadors, as representatives, to proclaim this good news.
God’s plan is to rescue the world and the very agents of change to proclaim the gospel is you and me.
Rescued people. People who have experienced grace for real.
God wants us to live an uncontained life – letting go of the boundaries we have and the compartmentalization and the busyness that distracts us from the real purpose of life. Let’s wake up to the privilege and responsibility we have as believers. Wake up to those moments, like in the supermarket carpark, like on the temple steps, where God has an eternity changing moment marked in His calendar.
God is not half-hearted towards us and wants us to abandon indifference and to experience His love and presence so that we’ll overflow naturally to those around us.
“We nominate ourselves to love and serve the people here on behalf of the God who loves us so well.” Mark Driscoll
**** notes from my message for sunday night that didn’t get to get preached by me because the Holy Spirit came and we had an amazing worship and prayer night and most of these points were covered anyway and people left filled and wanting to live uncontained. best night at church ever!
I love how God speaks. When I’m preaching He gives me a phrase, a catch phrase, like “when I step out, He steps in,” like “how to live when the wheels fall off”… so my catch phrase for this message, the title, so to speak, is LIVING AN UNCONTAINED LIFE
The objective at the end of the meeting is that we encounter God and experience His presence, and then that we take that out of the building here and into the other 164 hours in our week, that we live uncontained so that God overflows to us and through us to the people around us.
So what does living an uncontained life look like?
The word uncontained is like the reverse of contained: which means according to dictionary.com “showing restraint or calmness; controlled”
Uncontained means: Not restricted or limited. It implies freedom, joy, abandon, overflowing.
It’s a life that trusts God. That is in love with God. That is obsessed with God. That loves what He loves. That pushes the boundaries out of what we would normally do. That is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and responds with YES. It’s a life that makes room for God and isn’t restricted by other people’s expectations or our own limitations.
So I’m thinking, praying, thinking, pondering, plucking my eyebrows and asking God for more, yes i know, plucking your eyebrows is not very spiritual. but its times like that when God speaks to me. A catch phrase and an objective are great… but you know, theres all this (gesturing wildly at the middle) aka the message, the what God wants to say, and the passage that anchors it all together. And boom. Plucking my eyebrows and there it is. Acts 4. I’ve been reading in acts in my bible reading plan and so love acts 3 and 4.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Acts 4:1-7 can be summarised by two words: FREAKING OUT
The priests and Sanhedrin are freaking out about what has happened and the awakening happening in their city. The church has gone from ZERO to 5000 in the space of a page!
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
Through the entire book of Acts, Luke accounts the TESTIMONY of the Apostles… they spoke the truth of the resurrection and told of how they themselves had experienced the POWER of Christ in their own lives. We don’t have to be bible scholars, pastors, leaders or even evangelists to TESTIFY about the power of Christ in our own lives. Our testimonies are our gifts from God to pass on to others… The beauty in it is everyone has a story… EVERYONE who has accepted Jesus as their Saviour has a TESTIMONY of the Holy Spirit working in their lives… let’s be BOLD to whoever we need to about the awesome transformation Christ has done inside of us… // The Fearless Experiment
I believe that God is so passionate about the people alive on this planet – so much so that He gave His only Son to pay the penalty for our sins by His own painful death nailed to the cross – that there are opportunities all around us all the time.
Let’s stop looking at evangelism as an obligation, and start looking at it as an incredible opportunity.
The shinning example where I have seen this work, is when I talked to the old lady in the carpark… and it’s the shinning example for me because it was just so breathtaking in its personalness and timelyness and, it’s just how God is…
After the weekender, on our way home, tony and I popped into pac n save, to buy bread and milk, as you do after a weekend away. As we were packing our car up I noticed and was drawn to the elderly couple beside us and just really felt like I HAD to talk to the lady. She went and put her trolley back in the thingy and as she came back towards I stepped forward and said “hi, I’m Claire, and I’m a christan and I just really felt that God wanted me to remind you that He loves you.” That was all I had. A start. An opening. She took my hand, leathery and warm. I looked at her and depended upon the capacity of God through me. I continued, “and I feel that He wants you to know He is with you and sees what you’re going through at the moment. He loves you.” Simple. Nothing flash or remarkable. Until she squeezed my hand and her eyes welled up. “my best friend died this morning” she said. My eyes welled up. My heart stopped I am sure for a few beats.
God is so spectacular. What a moment in time, so crucial and special and significant for God to speak to this woman. Right there in her hour of need. Spectacular.
This is what God loves to do… this is His heart… to reach the lost, to heal the sick, to set the captive free.
Everywhere Jesus went people were healed, people were set free, dead people came alive, both spiritually and physically.
In John 14:12 Jesus says: Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Greater things. The Holy Spirit lives within us. The all surpassing power of God dwells inside us. Not for our own happy clappyness or for sunshine and rainbows but to make an eternal impact for the Kingdom of Light. We are called to live an uncontained life – not containing God within us as a private personal bff but as the powerful saving Saviour of the world!
So how do we live uncontained? How do we keep motivated to draw close to God? How do we stoke the fire that God has lit in our spirits? How do we stir our hearts so we step out and share the good news?
today my husband and i drove home from our young adults camp
and did what people do
stopped at the supermarket
for dinner food, milk and bread
as we reached the car
parked beside us
was an elderly couple
stocking their boot
the woman returned the cart
and i just knew
i had to talk to her
that God loved her
and so i said
as she passed by me to her car
my name is claire
i’m a christian and believe that God loves you
and wanted me to remind you
that He loves you
and cares for you
i took her hand
worn, wrinkled, soft
and her eyes welled up
again i said
God loves you and He sees you and knows what is going on
and God is with you
He loves you
she squeezed my hand
and softly said
“thank you, that means so much, a dear friend died this morning.”
and with that she let go of my hand
as my eyes welled up
and as i said again
God is with you
and then returned to my car
looking at my husband
God’s divine timing
say YES to God