I stand in absolute wonder
When I hear You call my name
I am completely astonished
You wash my sin away

I’ve been saved
The Fathers Love

How Beautiful
How Glorious
How outrageous is your Love

 

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I want to tell you a story about someone short.  I can identify.  I mean I have to say I’m real happy there are some new year 7s in here because me and Mikayla are no longer the shortest people here!

 

Anyway my story is about this short guy called Zacchaeus.

Now they say that good things come in small packages but that was so not true about Zacchaeus.  He was the chief tax collector in his area and made a living ripping people off.  People didn’t like him very much and defriended him on facebook and didn’t invite him to their parties or out to McDs for a frozen coke.

Anyway he heard that Jesus was in town and for some reason just kinda felt like he should go and see him.  Like everyone else in his town.

Now short people problems here.   No matter where he stood he couldn’t see.   And people wouldn’t move to make way for him.  So he ran ahead and climbed a tree beside so he could see Jesus.

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.

 

Did you catch that.  Jesus was walking by the tree, looked up and called Zacchaeus by name.

In the crowd Jesus saw this short guy.  He picked him out.  He knew His name.

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Christine Caine posted on fb recently “I encourage you today to embrace the change necessary in order to grow into the success that God has prepared for you. God calls us to step up and into His promises and purposes, and He will give you the grace to run your race.” ~ Christine Caine

We have to be aware of our weaknesses and be prepared to grow and deal with our stuff.  We all have stuff.  We all have flaws.   We waste an enormous amount of energy trying to cover up our sins, our hurts, our hang-ups, and our defects. If we spent as much time being honest about what’s not right in our life as we do covering it up, we’d have a lot more energy for what is right in our life.

The thing about weaknesses is that we often on our strengths but leave ourselves vulnerable to attack, or to falling over in that area.  During WW2 Singapore was a very powerful military base.  With a seemingly impenetrable jungle behind it they focused all their defences towards the sea.  However the city was conquered, not by sea but by the Japanese who cut a single track bicycle track through the jungle.

The battle for sin starts in our mind, not in our behaviour. The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. If we want to change the way we act, we start by changing the way you think and feel by aligning it to the Word of God.

 

This is the beauty of the call of God, that he chooses to do extraordinary things with ordinary people, with broken people, with messy people.  He uses rescued people to rescue people.  That takes courage in itself, to be open to God.  We know He sees all and knows all but how many of us like to pretend that that there are places in our heart that He cannot see?  Or is that just me? We have a responsibility to not stay the same, to not hide from ourselves but to be honest and to let God into those places.

 

 

God uses change to change us. He doesn’t use it to destroy us or to distract us, but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion and destiny!   God uses change to transform us so we can live a best life and have relationshi8ps that flourish and can make the most of the opportunities that come our way.

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I think conferences like these must be a taste of heaven… a taste of what it will be like to worship with the multitude

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Courage leads to faith.  Courage puts you in the seat of the roller coaster and straps you in but faith is knowing that you’re going to zoom, its the confidence that its designed right and that every mechanical thing is working and functioning and that in 25 seconds you’ll be able to breathe at normal speed again…

 

Courage caused Jonathan and his armour bearer to leave the safety of the snooze under the pomegranate tree, but faith took them into the battle and the victory.  Once they heard the enemy say “come on up here” they knew that God was at work and that nothing was impossible.

 

Elijah’s faith was in a God who would answer by fire – on an altar drenched with water.  Natural circumstance did not matter or deter his faith.

 

Moses knew that God had called him up onto a mountain of fire and thunder and went up and encountered God.  His faith was in the God who had called him would keep him and sustain him and the Bible says that he was up there for 40 days and 40 nights with no food or water.

 

Faith says if God said it then it will happen.  It believes that God is good and the best is yet to come.  It believes that God is at work all the time and in all things and that He works out all things for good.

 

Faith isn’t a what – it is in a who.  We have faith in an incredible God who breathed out the stars, who created the universe, who knows how many hairs you have on your head and knows all the thoughts and dreams of your heart.  We have faith in a God who loves us so much that 2000 years ago Jesus came and lived a perfect life that we could never live and he died the death we should have, punished for the sins of all the world, for your sin, my sin.  Sin is the dumb stuff we do, the things that push us away from God.  God is perfect and holy and could have just left it at that but He wanted to be our Father and to be our friend.  So Jesus came and lived and died and took our place – its like he exchanged his perfect rap sheet for our rubbish rap sheet and now we can be called innocent and not guilty.

 

This is who we have faith in.  The God who has done everything to make us His friend.  The God who created you on purpose with a purpose.  The God who holds the universe together and is at work yesterday, today, tomorrow.

 

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Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.”[b] 32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.  1 kings 18

 

We’ve got to get ready in the simple every day parts of our lives.  If you want fire in your life you don’t just go “boom here I am, I’m ready” – you prepare.

 

The amazing encounter with God, the fire falling on the altar came after the altar was rebuilt, after the trench was dug, after the wood was cut and after the ox was prepared.  All of these elements take work.  Digging.  Building.  Hard Labour.   Elijah had to prepare for the fire to come.

 

Paul puts it like this – fan into flame.  Press on.  Run the race.

 

Chop the wood.  Pray.  Read the Bible.  Go to church.   Serve.  Give.  Worship.

 

Do the everyday things to make your life an altar for the fire to fall.

 

Chopping the wood takes time, effort, and consistency.  It is often done in the unseen places, in private preparation.

 

Have you ever watched a movie and been amazed at the transformation of an actor?  I know things like that fascinate me and I am a geek so often will look up stuff about the behind the scenes information about movies and actors.

 

For example, Hugh Jackman used to run on a treadmill at the gym and sing at the top of his lungs to prepare for Les Mis.

 

Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson spent so many hours training with their lightsabers for the highly coordinated battles that they had to actually slow down the footage because they were too good.

 

Here’s a geeky thing for you:  when Star Wars – The Phantom Menace was released in 1999 2.2 million employees in the US skipped word to see the movie.  This unauthorized absence was estimated to have cost the US economy $293million!

 

We see the finished product and enjoy the entertainment but behind the scenes someone has spent hours preparing for that role.

 

Your life is telling a story and this year is a brand new chapter in that adventure.

 

What are the everyday private things, the behind the scenes things, the decisions, the actions, the disciples, that frame your life and prepare you for the highlight reel moments?

 

What are the habits that you have curated that build your life a life of faithfulness?

 

What are the intentional actions that you do to build your marriage, to love on your kids, to connect with those in your world, to grow in your calling and steward the life that God has given you?

 

Character is learning how to make the little choices along the way that ultimately add up to who we become. It’s learning when to say yes and when to say no.

 

Building a lifestyle of worship, of faithfulness, of passion and purpose chops the wood and gets you ready for the fire to fall.

 

It’s like you’re painting a massive target on your life saying here am I Lord, send me!

Im not sure if this is going to be on the new Elevation Church worship album but I’m liking it.  I love songs that just so lift up Jesus and give Him glory!

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By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:3

We frame our worlds with the words we speak.  ~ Christine Caine

In the beginning God spoke and the world we see around us, the light, the constellations, the air, the grass, the incredible diversity of plants and animal life, the majestic mountains and the depths of the oceans, it was formed by the words that God spoke.

Let there be light, and there was.

God continues to speak and continues to create in our lives.

Our world is still being created by the power of God’s Words.

And as image bearers of God, our words have power to frame our worlds.

Our words speak life or death, hope or hopelessness, light or darkness. There are consequences for the words we choose and speak. Our words frame how confident we feel and how fearlessly we tackle life. They infuse courage into our actions and choices. They look past circumstances and instead hold on by faith to the faithful promises of God.

Or in reverse, our words can shame and restrain us. They place walls around the opportunities and expect failure.   Instead of creating, they decimate.

 

Psalm 141: 3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips

David was mostly good at this – it was his prayer in Psalm 141.  If you read the psalms you see the authentic real life going ons of David.  It’s like facebook BC.  He is real about the hard times.  He pours out his fears, his sorrows.  But then he reminds himself that God is good and the best is yet to come.  Sometimes we get real, but forget to then refocus on God.

 

Michael Hyatt wrote this on his blog: I think almost every problem we experience can be traced back to the stories we tell ourselves. There may be a good reason for these stories, but in the end they produce bad outcomes

He suggests we change our story, thus changing our life.

I suggest we align our story with God’s Word.

 

Not just the words contained within the pages of the Bible, but the personal words that God has breathed life into for each one of us. The things God has whispered into our heart.

He says you are loved.

He says you are chosen.

He says you are called.

He says you are empowered, to do all and everything that He has purposed you to do.

He says you belong.

 

We need to allow Him to write HIS story into our heart, changing the soundtrack of negativity and insecurity that we often play on repeat, replacing it with faith and fearlessness in the expansive grace of God.

This year let’s be really intentional about how we speak – about ourselves, about others, to ourselves to others.

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God has given us The Bible for a reason.  This is the living breathing alive active powerful Word of God that reveals who God is and what God does and what God likes and what God is doing.  Not just at the big picture level but to you personally.

 

Live like everything you read in the Bible is true. Doubt your doubts. You won’t regret it.  – Carey Nieuwhof

 

To grow in courage you have got to get this book inside you – you’ve got to read it and let it inspire you.

Put yourself in their shoes….   When goliath faced the giant, he didn’t know the end of the story, he was just a teenager with courage to believe that if God said He would win he would win.    When Moses split the red sea, he didn’t know the end of the story, he was just an old man with a stick got said lift up.  When the little boy brought his lunch to Jesus he thought maybe just the disciples might get a snack, he didn’t know the end of the story, that his lunch box fed 20000 people.  When Shadrach, Mesach and Abendago said no way will we bow down to a false god, they didnt know the end of the story and that they would walk with Jesus in the fire.   They are humans, like you and me.  What got them in the book is their faith and courage, they chose to step out and let God step in.

Getting familiar with The Bible feeds your faith and faith is the key that unlocks adventure.  You get stirred to believe in a great God who does extraordinary things with ordinary people.

 

As you step out into new things remind your heart of the times when God has come through for you.  Turn up the testimonies and let them stir your heart to have courage to face the new opportunities.  God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.  He has gone before you, is beside you and is there to give you a push behind you!

 

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

Now I’m not suggesting you quit your job or your family or anything because you look around and don’t like what you see…. Or that you defriend people in real life…  But we can have a measure of say about the people who are closest to us and who have permission to speak into our lives.

I remember being in my early 20s and a couple of friends told me to stop being so spiritual.  I was like “seriously!”  I don’t think so!  I had already had to make that choice when I first became a Christian – I hung out with some kids that came to youth group, but they weren’t living it.  Instead they were into surfing and binge drinking.  After a few months I felt like I was in the middle of a tug of wall, I’d take 2 steps forwards with God but then they would pull me back.  I had a big decision to make.  I knew that God was real and I wanted to live to please Him, but I couldn’t do it in that social group.

Proverbs 13:20 He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

This year God is calling us to step out of the boat and do awesome things – and we need people who are going to encourage us and call out the gold and potential, not who are going to pull us down or tell us that we cant do that.   We are called to live holy lives and we need to surround ourselves with people who stoke the fire.

We need to hang out with people who throw water on the fires of our fears and throw gasoline on the passions of our dreams.  Kris Vallotton

Lets surround ourselves with people who are going to stir our hearts towards obedience, towards adventure, towards the purposes of God.

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This year to live out the things that God has planned for us we are going to need courage and faith.  God is calling us to stretch out our tent pegs and to step out of the boat.

 

We have to have courage to embrace change.  To believe in the impossible.  To have the converstations with people about Jesus.  To pray and believe for healing.  To apply for the new job.  To put your hand up for new opportunities.

 

Moses had to have courage to go up Mt Sinai.

He was one man out of a whole nation and he said I am not afraid I will go up on the mountain and meet God because he knew the heart of God, he had a personal relationship.  The reward of his courage was he met with God face to face, he met with God like no one else has in history.  We have to have courage to go hard after God, to make that decision to carve out time to spend with Him, to pursue His presence and to want more, even if those around us hold back.

 

Jonathan Edwards, 18th Century theologian and preacher wrote 70 resolutions when he was 19, which he read once a week to remind himself for 35 years, more than 1,800 times before his death in 1758.   All of his resolutions have been summed up in these two statements:

 

Resolution One: I will live for God.

Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.- Jonathan Edwards

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