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Illuminate 8 Illuminate 9

So this past month we’ve been preparing for ILLUMINATE – well since the start of the year really – but here we are!

Last week I went shopping, new jeans. Had my brows done. But then… gutting of guttingness. I went to get my hair cut. And my hairdresser has moved. To Australia. On a scale of 1 to 10 you know this is up there at a 9 on the disaster scale. Every woman needs 4 things in their life. A good lady doctor, a best friend, a good pastor and a good hairdresser. Hands up if you agree!?

So all week I debated. To cut or not to cut. To be brave and step out of my comfort zone and into the hands of another hairdresser.

So this year I had spent the first term and some of term 2 having light theraphy. Basically I would go 3 times a week to Manukau superclinic, and have this treatment for my skin and allergies. – googles, naked, little room, boom light on… my dermatologist had an easy way to explain what it does – it resets your immunity so then my skin and body should function normally. And ladies… we are here for some light therapy. We are here to let the light of God shine into our hearts – to reveal the good things He has placed there, to reveal the places that “aren’t functioning normally” so that He can heal those places, to speak truth to us, to encourage us, to transform us. We are not just here for a girls escape weekend, but we are here to meet with the living God.

 

 

Anyway, lets turn to judges 6 in the bible. Judges is a smallish book near the start of the bible, about 7 books in, page XXXXXXX in my bible. We’re reading about Gideon, whose life stretches over about 3 chapters here in Judges so bear with me if we’re jumping b/w passages.

Some of you will be familiar with Gideon – he has an incredible angelic encounter and is called by God to bring liberation to his people from darkness into the light.

The Israelites had been oppressed by a people group called the midiantites and it had gotten so bad that the land was driven into a famine impoverished mentality. All their crops were destroyed, their livestock taken. It was recession big time!

It was in this place of desperation that the people cried out to God and God stepped in and intervened in history and we see this played out time and time again in the book of Judges, and in the narrative of Gideon.

 

 

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My message tonight has 4 ways in which God came and brought light in these dark situations – to a people trapped in darkness God brought hope and rescue and illumination!

 

 

 

ONE MAN

Gideon was one man chosen by God, anointed by God, appointed by God. The angel appears to Gideon and says ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’ I confess I had to laugh as I looked this up on my puter – I had it set to the NIV UK version and Gideon’s response must be done in your best downtown abbey voice: ‘Pardon me, my lord,’

Back on track: God shows through Gideon that one man, that one woman can make a difference.

The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man. -D.L. Moody

What would your life look like it you realized the unlimited love and grace and backing you have by God?

You following Christ will not always look the same as someone else following Christ. Why on earth would He have bothered to form you in your mother’s womb with your own DNA and life experience ahead just to copy what someone else you’re seeing is doing? Who would you be if you loved Jesus with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength? That’s what you’re meant to look like.

Today you don’t have to be a superwoman – you can be you – on the journey, living today to the fullest, living today in the grace of God, living today significantly. Gideon certainly didn’t see himself as superman – he backed right off how God defined him and was like no way man, not me!

But how many of you know there is a difference between embracing your vulnerability and putting yourself down? There is a difference between knowing you’re human vs disqualifying yourself because of self esteem and circumstances.

Today you are not a prisoner of your past or of limiting words – you are free by the power of Christ – you are called into victory by the Victorious King. Your past and your present doesn’t have to determine your future – even your future as close as the next second. Gideon was the runt of his family, the lowest rank clan of them all. And in the end he didn’t let that knock Him down but he leaned into God’s truth.

Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears. (Laird Hamilton)

Today the unlimited resources of God are at your disposal as His all surpassing power dwells within us – so that HE is glorified. 

Today we have a choice to magnify Him by trusting in His words and His promises.

Today we have a choice – will we believe what God says about us or will we stay saying “who me?”

Imagine believing everything God has spoken to you, whispered over you. Imagine living out those promises with confidence and faith, despite the fear and fragility. Imagine beyond the boarders of today.

Now – go be her. 

Be that woman that God says you ARE.

Loved.  Chosen.  Called.  Empowered.  Kind.  Gracious.  Able.  Loving.  Forgiven.   Self Controlled.  Peaceful.  Cherished. A Mighty woman of God.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” ― St. Catherine of Siena

Did you know ONE match lit in the darkness can be seen for 25 miles.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

One woman can change the world.

 

 

ONE FAMILY

Judges 6:25-32

The night after Gideon had his amazing encounter with the angel God gave him a big task. A task that I am sure gripped his heart and made him pace in his room. Made him squirm – it makes me squirm. He commanded Gideon to have gospel influence at home, with those he most loved, with those who knew him inside out. It was almost like God was saying before you go out there and win the victory, you need to make a stand here, where it counts.

We all have different families. Different connections and blends and relationships.

 

God told Gideon to go and destroy his father’s altars to Baal and the Asherah pole beside it. He was then to build and altar to God and sacrifice one of his fathers bulls.

There is no going back from that. Talk about showing your colours and declaring where you stand. This weekend is about stepping out of the shadows and into the light. This is exactly what Gideon did. He destroyed a stronghold in his life and replaced it with the truth and reality of God – he broke down one altar and built an altar for God.

And in doing so rewrote the destiny of his family. When the town woke up in the morning to find their “precious false altar” gone they were livid and went on a manhunt. When they discovered that Gideon had done this they threatened him, but his father stood up for him. His father because of the actions of one man changed. One family was changed because of one man.

Consider though, how Gideon must have felt tearing down what his father had spent his lifetime building, teaching, and defending. With each stone that he and his servants dismantled, another layer of the ideology that had overrun his family came unglued. This overnight idol-demolishing wasn’t affecting some random town and family he would never see again. This was a task he’d feel, see, and endure the consequences of every day from that point on.

Your strategy from God might not be to take a hammer to the background lawn decoration but it may mean honouring them and making intentional decisions to build relationships and make it real.

I remember as a newbie christian reading about honouring your mother and father in the bible and honestly I was like what the F! I was mortified. I think I shut my bible with a slam and then looked up into the white faces of my shocked youth group friends. For me it began a process of listening, forgiving, talking, being respectful, watching my tone, forgiving, making an effort, connecting. My family – my parents – my brothers and sisters – my husband – my kids – they see me at my best, and my worst. They see when I come unglued, they see when I’m happy, what I’m really giving my life for, what I’m trusting in. I can be having a good day and thinking, yip halo on, I’m a great witness, full of fruit, and then boom, the halo slips down and I’m verbally expressing anger, frustration, unkindness and lack of self control.

But Matthew 5:14-16 says: ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The stakes are often much higher when the mission field is so personal.

One man – one woman – can change the world, and change their family for Jesus.

God has positioned you in YOUR family for a purpose. This is the hardest mission field, but believe me it is the one most worth it.

You know, when I got saved, I was full of, lets call it, evangelistic enthusiasm. After talking to my sister, a lot, she told me DO NOT EVER TALK TO ME ABOUT GOD AGAIN. Which was so counter to everything that I reckoned God wanted me to do. But God agreed with her, and encouraged me to pray. And so I prayed. And I prayed. Nine years later she rung me up and asked me about God. Earlier this year we had this incredible prophetic moment when I had seen a card with a quote on it and thought about buying it for her and she texted that same quote to me and said she had felt my prayers, she had felt God with her. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. The road may be long and hard but God is faithful and He is with you. Just as God turned Gideon’s family upside down and right way up, back to Him, He can do the same with your family.

You see the thing is – YOU build an altar with YOUR life. If you are the only Christian in your family know that YOU make a difference. Your life is worship to God. Your life should show the magnificence and reality of Jesus. YOU are the one that opens the door for the blessing of God. Through YOUR faith victory will come.

 

 

 

ONE CRAZY PLAN

When I was praying about this message this part of gideon’s adventure really jumped out at me. But for ages I was trying to wrap words about what was really going on and what God was saying to us as His daughters.

4 But the Lord said to Gideon, ‘There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, “This one shall go with you,” he shall go; but if I say, “This one shall not go with you,” he shall not go.’

5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, ‘Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.’ 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

7 The Lord said to Gideon, ‘With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.’ 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

I feel it’s a real call for us to live intentionally. The men that bent down and scooped up the water, they lived different. They made intentional choices. What intentional choices is God calling you to make?

As a mums group we’ve been doing a dvd series by lysa Terkeurst called Unglued. It challenged us to examine our lives, the way we emotionally reacted and responded to situations and people and to choose a new normal. It challenged us to think differently and to live intentionally.

Lysa says: A moment of conflict handled the right way is hands-down one of the grandest opportunities we have to shame satan back to hell. A Jesus girl who rises up and unexpectedly gives grace when she surely could have done otherwise, reveals the power and the mystery of Christ at work – in her life and in the world.

 

 

Here are four real life practical things we can do to live this out:

  1. Choose a REPLY over a REACTION. A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 now this one I need to practice all the time. When we did the unglued series we even kept a behaviour journal, to diary the times we “lost it”. Which I confess was a really good way to teach me to “pause” and have some self control, to reply instead going insanely mental at my children or husband. Because if I lost it… I would have to write it down!
  1. Choose FAITH over FORGETTING – how often do we forget the promises of God, we forget the things that God says about us – we have inside negative chatter instead of thoughts of faith – you know those thoughts that say, I’m not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough, not spiritual enough. We need to eliminate the toxic thoughts and let the truth flourish. See yourself as how God sees you. Chosen. Called. Empowered. Loved.
  1. Choose GRATITUDE over ATTITUDE – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 – I can’t control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, "I have a choice to have destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts right now. I can have an attitude and make things worse, or I can ask God for a better perspective, have some gratitude, rejoice and again I say rejoice, to help me see good even when I don’t feel good."
  1. Choose JESUS over JUNK – how often do we try and fill ourselves with something temporary instead of with Jesus? It might be food, it might be tv, it might be serial dating, it might be shopping, appearance, approval, success. In of themselves those things are not bad… they just may not be beneficial. The kind of love our souls crave will never be found in the things of this world. Lasting, satisfying love will only be found when we stop chasing others or possessions, and thirst for the things of God.

 

Walking in faith means we choose Jesus and His ways – we make intentional choices to be His daughters, living in the light.

We need to Choose LIGHT over darkness. Now darkness can sometimes be more comfortable. Familiar. You can’t see all the um, blemishes, flaws, curves etc in the dark… but Jesus says:

1 Thessalonians 5:5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

Romans 13:12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

 

In the midst of conflict the men of Gideon’s army made intentional choices that set them apart from the rest of their fellow soldiers. It was something that gave them the X factor!

 

 

"God always knows just what each person needs. Because you have been created by God as a unique person, His plan to grow you will not look the same as His plan to grow anyone else.

He had Abraham take a walk, Elijah take a nap, Joshua take a lap, and Adam take the fall.

He gave Moses a forty-year time out, He gave David a harp and a dance, and He gave Paul a pen and a scroll.

He wrestled with Jacob, whispered to Elijah, warned Cain, and comforted Hagar. He gave Aaron an altar, Miriam a song, Gideon 300 soldiers who drunk differently, Peter a name, and Elisha a mantle.

Jesus was stern with the rich young ruler, tender with the woman caught in adultery, patient with the disciples, blistering with the scribes, gentle with the children, and gracious with the thief on the cross.

God never grows two people the same way. God is a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer. No wonder we get frustrated when we think that everyone is supposed to look like the pastor or author or whoever is teaching us at the moment about spiritual growth.

We learn differently, struggle with different sins, and relate to God in different ways. – John Ortberg

 

 

2 Corinthians 4:7 says But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

 

How many times do we write ourselves off based on our past? Based on our flaws? Based on our limitations? Based on our brokenness? Based on our circumstances?

Don’t suppress the miraculous just because you aren’t impressed with your own resources – God can use one man, one woman to change the world. He can transform and save one family, using you. He has a plan and a purpose for your life and though at times it may seem crazy, He seems to know what He is doing. His weapons of warfare were trumpets, lights and broken jars. "It’s not the size of the darkness but the power of the light!” Christine Caine"

« What is impossible with people is possible with God. We just have to believe that God has called us to go into the world in His name, and not listen to the crippling or even paralyzing labels and limitations imposed by others. We cannot allow them to daunt us.” Christine Caine   »

It doesn’t seem like much – but it was His plan and His power. What can often look like lack or weakness can be used by God for His purposes and His glory. Wherever we feel too weak to fulfill our calling, our ever-redeeming God will make us strong!

 

 

 

ONE AWESOME GOD

Gideon is not the hero of this story.
When you think about it, Gideon was doubtful, doubleminded, desperate and ….

In the beginning God planned the end; across history HIS Story of redemption reigns. My story has purpose only in Him! I am called to REFLECT HIS magnificence. To demonstrate the reality of His goodness and greatness.

Ladies you are called to change the world. God has a unique purpose for each one of us. We may feel inadequate and insignificant but God doesn’t see you that way. He loves you with an everlasting love.

Like Gideon, you are called. One woman to change the world.

Like Gideon, your life is an altar to God that can and will bring change to your family.

Like Gideon, God has a crazy plan for your life. Say yes. Choose Light.

He is an awesome God.

Tonight – if you want to respond and say YES to God afresh, this is your moment. If you want to come and pray and stand here on behalf of your unsaved family, this is your moment. If you need a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit, come forward now.

last night we kicked off our Illuminate Women’s Conference at The River Christian Church

and it was a blast!

love how God spoke to our beautiful women – youth upwards to in their 80s…

i was priv’d to preach last night – after a week of having no voice and even up to about 6pm i wasn’t able to hold a conversation without coughing fits.  not promising.  but i had felt that i would get my voice and despite what circumstance said, that i would be able to speak!  was so God healing me and empowering me!

loving all the joy that comes with a conference weekend – so much fun!

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@PriscillaShirer Trying 2 determine who will b the solution to ur problem or the answer 2 ur prayer. Check the mirror. It just might b u. #LessonsfromGideon

@PriscillaShirer Many of today’s difficulties r often a result of yesterday’s disobedience. #lessonsfromgideon. What is God asking u to do now? Just do it.

@PriscillaShirer Weakness is the key given 2 us by God 2 unlock the experience of His strength & our potential. . .don’t despise the key. #lessonsfromGideon

@PriscillaShirer "Ordinary" is often the disguise of the divine. #lessonsfromGideon So keep your eyes open today.

@PriscillaShirer  "The power behind you is greater than the task ahead of you." #lessonsfromGideon

 

@LifeWayWomen Knowing God’s purpose requires first being aware of God’s presence. @PriscillaShirer #LessonsfromGideon

 

@PrettyChrissie Make decisions based on the boundless resources of God. No weapon can stand against Him! #LessonsFromGideon

 

@ADWhitener 1/2 Wherever you are now is where you are meant to serve now. #lessonsfromgideon

@ADWhitener 2/2 Your greatest impact will be done here-in the ordinary rhythms of your daily living.

 

@am_b8 When God tells me to DO something it’s not my job to understand. It’s my job to DO. #LessonsFromGideon

 

@Jaclyn_Turner "Wherever we feel too weak to fulfill our calling, our ever-redeeming God will make us strong!" #lessonsfromgideon

 

@penehutton Being faithful in the daily things of life will prepare you to receive the calling on your life. #lessonsfromgideon

 

@blalockca Don’t suppress the miraculous just because you aren’t impressed with your own resources #lessonsfromgideon

 

@katiehartshorn "A vessel’s value is not determined by its composition but by its contents." ~Priscilla Shirer #LessonsfromGideon

 

 

@ChristineCaine Wherever u are today THAT is the very place in the world YOU are called to be light. When u know who u are in Him u know what you are to do!

 

Claire McLean@fireball3316 You build an altar with your life / judges 6

@fireball3316 The size of prayers depends on the size of our God. And if God knows no limits, then neither should our prayers. Mark Batterson

@fireball3316 Most of our identity problems are the result of looking in the wrong mirrors. Mark Batterson

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Gideon had been reared in an idol-worshipping family. His own father was the keeper of the Baal altar in their town of Ophrah.

So Gideon took 10 of his male servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it at night (Judges 6:27).

Often, like in Gideon’s case, our smaller spheres of influence are not easier to contend with just because they are smaller. On the contrary, some of the most difficult and intimidating opportunities to walk in God’s calling come when we are staring in the faces of those who know us best and whom we love the most.

Consider how Gideon must have felt tearing down what his father had spent his lifetime building, teaching, and defending. With each stone that he and his servants dismantled, another layer of the ideology that had overrun his family came unglued. This overnight idol-demolishing wasn’t affecting some random town and family he would never see again. This was a task he’d feel, see, and endure the consequences of every day from that point on.

  • When the Christian daughter chooses to evangelize her non-Christian parents . . .
  • When the godly wife chooses to set an example for her unsaved spouse . . .
  • When the teenager seeks to impact his pagan school environment . . .
  • When the coworker tries to influence her friends on the job . . .

The stakes are often much higher when the mission field is so personal.

What lies ahead in your journey is not nearly as critical as where you are right now. Wherever you are now is where you are meant to serve now. These innermost circles are often the ones that offer the least amount of recognition. This is why so many people try to circumvent them. And yet your greatest impact will be done here – in the ordinary rhythms of your daily living.

Following God wholeheartedly within these up-close loops of faith will often cause you an internal uneasiness and daily faithfulness that cannot be escaped just because it’s 5 p.m. and the workday is over. It’s easier to stand on a platform and teach people we may never see again than to walk with our own children, friends, and loved ones in accountability and discipleship. But these spheres encompass the heart of true ministry.

Begin to clarify who the people in your primary sphere of influence should be. Refuse to search for significance in another place if you’ve bypassed any near and necessary steps in the journey God has for you. Pray for a courageous faith and holy boldness to start where you are. He’ll give it to you.

// by Priscilla Shirer

*** housegroup plan for tonight

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{WORSHIP SET}

One Thing Remain

Came To My Rescue

 

{SKYPE} Psalm 27

 

{8 TO BE GREAT} 1. Passion. 2. Work. 3. Focus. 4.  Push. 5. Ideas. 6. Improve. 7. Serve. 8. Persist.

 

{101} Group and Pair Discussion

P: What does “success” mean to you?

P: What is your definition of influence?

P: What are you doing with the influence you currently have?

P: Are there discrepancies between what you desire in your heart and what you are doing with your life?

 

G: "You only have as much influence as people have respect for you." How do you increase or get credibility?

G:  What does the bible say about credibility and influence?

 

Too many people are content to live a life of information rather than revelation. But knowledge alone will never inflame a sustained blaze in you to love Jesus passionately. Only revelation will do that ~ Banning Liebscher

 

G: World changers understand their dream of the Kingdom of God invading earth doesn’t come by simply sitting around inactive. They know “the ball is in their hands and take steps to co-labour with Jesus and see His desire fulfilled. What are two things you could do today to shift your life out of passive mode and into an offensive posture?

 

P: Think back to a time when you felt the love of God. Talk about how it happened and how it impacted your life. In what way did it change and empower you?

P: Pray for each other

We have to let Heavens strategy guide our Earthly activity and get on the same page with God. Like marching around Jericho, like stepping out of the boat onto the water, like facing off against a giant, like sending the worship team at the head of the army God has a unique way of doing things – He has the power but He uses us to demonstrate His reality and goodness. When we say YES He steps in and moves. The walls fell AFTER they walked around the city. Peter walked on water AFTER he stepped out of the boat. David defeated Goliath AFTER he stepped in the ring to fight, Jehosaphat won the battle after worshipping God. The valley of dry bones became a roaring army AFTER Ezekeiel prophesied. What is your AFTER moment? What is God calling you to step out into?  from DRY BONES

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Jesus, i pray that You would write Your message upon our hearts that we might speak life, hope, destiny and purpose into these young people

i pray that You would open their eyes to the reality of Your love and greatness, that they would find their greatest satisfaction in You.  i pray that they would know who they are in You, what their giftings are and what You have called them to do and be.  that they would be secure in purpose and confident in serving, empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

i pray that we would have lots of fun and that you would build community amongst us, that we would create lifelong friendships and be open with one another, able to challenge honestly, encourage lavishly and walk through life together.

i pray we would learn well, that we would love Your Word and love Your presence.  teach us new ways to communicate with You, to connect with You, to communicate with each other and to follow hard after Your ways and Kingdom. 

bones

So first week back at school… everyone survive?

We had a really nice holiday in Turangi, went rockclimbing, fishing, through a huge maze in taupo, played a lot of board games, got addicted to icarly and did touristy things. Good times. But when we pulled out of the house we realized we had forgotten to plan for one very important thing. low techness. No usb plug in the car. Which meant that lifefm ran out once we hit the bombays and then it was either white noise, bad radio, or cds. Now I’m a mother. Which means my car has two kinds of cds in one particular ratio. 90% kid cds. 10% my cds. Which means when there are 10 cds that can fit down the pockets of the side doors… only one is mine. I ignored the other 9 and put on karnaga by cindy ruakere. For those that haven’t heard cindy – she is a fierce maori worshipper and she rocks it. Her cd became our holiday anthem.

And it stirred my heart.

How many of you know that as much as we know Gods love is unconditional and He is amazing and His grace is everlasting and He has saved us, how we can look out the window and the heavens declare the majesty of God, how we can drift into our own space of life and let the embers die? Now I’m not saying I was cold… but I was not white hot.

The holiday was like a turbo fan on my heart heat I am more passionate now about jesus. I am more passionate about other people being passionate about jesus. I am more passionate now about revival.

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He said to me, Prophesy to these bones and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath and spirit to enter you, and you shall live;

I will wrap you with muscles and skin, and I will put breath and spirit in you, and you dry bones shall live; and you shall know, understand, and realize that I am the Lord

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a thundering noise and behold, a shaking and trembling and a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.

I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath or spirit in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

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Instead of running FROM God we need to RUN to God.

For Jonah it was in the whale. It was in the Darkness where Jonah turns and finds God, where Jonah runs TO God. 

Jonah prays: Jonah could of prayed on the dock, on the shore, even on the boat. But it took the whale experience to bring repentance and surrender.

Jonah encounters God. Jonah’s heart has turned. He was running form God and is now running to God. He acknowledges how bad the situation is.  He cries out to God his only hope. He sees his salvation in suffering. He offers his voice and praises to God because that is all he has to give. “Salvation Belongs to the Lord!”   It is in this dark place that Jonah finds the saving Grace of God.

This is an open invitation. You might be 3 steps out the door, 3 miles down the road, 3 days in the belly of a whale. But the invitation is there. Our God is compassionate and merciful.

What is your turning point? What is the turning point where you STOP running FROM God and start running TO God?

For some of us it is the storm and the whale that stops us in our tracks.

For some of us its one day we wake up and realize that our hearts are cold and we can’t remember the last time we had peace with God.

For some of us it’s when the wheels fall off our marriage, our finances, our health. When the anger overtakes us and we fall apart emotionally. When we feel like we’re drowning and that we’re at the end of our rope.

Let me tell you, you are never too far away from God. Jonah was in the belly of a whale. He had run as far as you could away from the will of God. He was a prophet – his job was to hear from God and he stuck his fingers in his ears and rebelled.

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you.” Jonah 2

BUT let’s look at it this way. Does your turning point need to be at the lowest when you’ve hit the wall?

Every day we have the opportunity to say YES to God.

Yes I will choose to forgive. Yes I will choose grace. Yes I will choose to hold that gossip in. Yes I will choose to be grateful. Yes I will choose to be salt and light.

You don’t need to run to turn.

And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Mark 1:16-18

Immediately the disciples followed Jesus. They turned from their old life to their new life.

all week i’ve been reading things that encourage me to run WITH God.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27 jumped out at me as i read my bible last night.

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1 Corinthians 9:24-27

You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever. I don’t run without a goal. And I don’t box by beating my fists in the air. I keep my body under control and make it my slave, CEV

 

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection,  NKJV

 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave  NIV

 

you’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition.  MSG

 

You know that only one person gets a crown for being in a race even if many people run. You must run so you will win the crown. Everyone who runs in a race does many things so his body will be strong. He does it to get a crown that will soon be worth nothing, but we work for a crown that will last forever. In the same way, I run straight for the place at the end of the race. I fight to win. I do not beat the air.I keep working over my body. I make it obey me.  NLT

 

 

 

we are in a race : life and following can be described as a race – it has a set course and a set finish line

we run for a prize : though we are saved by grace and cannot repay our salvation or earn anything, God does promise rewards for those who serve well and obey

run to win : we must make a choice to run the right race the right way, fixing our eyes on the finish line and running with purpose

our prize is priceless : we don’t run for a trophy but for eternal rewards

run with direction : direction determines destination – we must run to the finish line that GOD has set, not an imaginary finish line

disciplined to win : runners make choices that increase their opportunity to win, they exercise and eat right, likewise we need to make choices that set us up for success

purposed to win : we don’t run aimlessly but we run with purpose and passion, knowing that winning and finishing is really the only thing that matters.  we are not distracted by by other things around us but have purpose. 

 

 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours.Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither.Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it,  AMP

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