Everything I lost in the garden, I find again in the Father…..

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“More than any other organization or movement on this planet, the church should be a safe haven and incubator for audacity. Everyone else talks big, but in reality they have limited resources. For us, there is no limit to what we can see God do through us other than our faith to believe Him for it.” Steve Furtick

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If you want to live, love, and lead like Jesus, then there’s no other place to live but in the faith lane. To discover his plan for your life, you will need to step into the great unknown, risking everything you have. If you get out of the boat and follow the sound of his voice, you will take steps you never thought possible. –Brian Houston, “Live, Love, Lead”

I love the passion of Bryan and Katie Torwalts songs… you catch something from listening to them in a good way!

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“The hero is the one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.”~ Felix Adler

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It is officially 35 sleeps till Christmas.   Or as my husband texted me on Wednesday, 5 Mondays.

Yikes.

That seems way too close.

 

One of the things I love about Christmas apart from the fact that we are celebrating the wonder and glory that Jesus, the King of the Universe, the Lord of Lords, Creator God stepped out of glory and into humanity, taking on the form of a tiny baby born in obscurity, born to live a perfect life, born to die a horrendous death, born to make a way for us to be saved and rescued, is the family traditions.

Every Christmas Eve after we get home from the Christmas Eve service our family open one present.  And it is …. New PJS!  Which means we have cute photos the next day!

 

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Every family has its traditions but a big one is the Christmas meal.   Some do the lunch, some do the dinner, some do the mid afternoon whatever you would call it.   And isn’t there something special about Christmas food.  Even if you eat it at other times in the year, it feels more wonderful and delicious because its Christmas.

When I married Tony I didn’t realise that I married a Christmas foodie family.  My family were always yummy but pretty standard.  We embraced the kiwi summer effect and usually had a roast chicken and veges for lunch, followed by pav and strawberries, every year and then left overs and bbq for dinner.   Tony’s sister however goes all out.  It’s the turkey and the ham, the exotic salads and roast veges and 4 types of stuffing and the sauces and the graveys.   It takes all day and everyone does something.    Now I confess I feel very out of my depth in the kitchen on Christmas Day when we all get together.    So I’m allocated to bring strawberries, dairy free icecream, and pigs in blankets.  For those that don’t know pigs in blankets are mini sausages wrapped in bacon.  That’s my job every Christmas.    And on the day we all bring to the table our creations, fancy or simple, and we eat until we feel like we’ll sleep for a week and bring on new years resolutions!   Whose with me?

 

Imagine Church like that Christmas Day feast.   Imagine if we all brought our best dish to the table, every week.    Or imagine if we expected one person to do all the cooking while the rest of us kicked back and watched another rerun of snoopys christmas?

We all have something to give, something to contribute and without your dish, something is missing, the feast is incomplete.

Now also, think about this.  Who is the feast for?  The feast is for us, yes.  We come and are fed, nourished.  But the feast is for the lost.  This is God’s number one priority.  That the lost are saved, that the lost come and know how great God is, that He is real and that He has the power they need, not just for eternity but for now.  The world needs the feast we serve, need what we offer.  They need what you offer.

 

But often we can feel like I do on Christmas Day.  Inadequate and that what I bring to the table isn’t flash or fancy or something other than what it is.   Sometimes I feel unsure if what I’m bringing is enough, or will be good enough.   I fight comparison and insecurity, yes over a Christmas dinner!

We’ve been talking about being a family and that we all have a role to play, all have a dish to bring,  but sometimes we can feel like we don’t know what our place is, where we fit and what we can offer.

 

So this morning we’re going to pull it back to the micro, we’re going to look at YOU and ME, as individuals and discovering our passions and purposes.

When we find out who we are, how God has wired us, we can then bring our best dish, every week, with confidence and grace.

 

In John 6:1-15 we read about one boy who brought his dish to the table and it was used in extraordinary ways to feed a multitude of people.  God loves to take ordinary people and do amazing things with them.   “Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience, doing what can seem quite ordinary, saying yes to God in all things.”

We need to get our eyes off ourselves and our sense of limitation and lift them up, as Jesus did, to the generous abundance of God, the God who created the universe, who split the sea, who knocked the walls of Jericho down with a shout, who cured lepers, gave sight to the blind, speech to the mute and life to the dead.   Our God has no limits.

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.

So then, how do we find out what our signature dish is?   How do we find out what we are bringing to the table?

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If we knew the people that God had worked through in the past we would be encouraged about His ability to work through us.

Think about it…

Mary was an unwed mother.  Oh the shame.

Matthew was a tax collector who ripped off his own countrymen to line his own pockets.

David slept with someones wife, got her pregnant and the murdered her husband.

Jonah ran away from God.

Elijah was depressed and suicidal.

Jacob was a liar and a cheat.

Peter the disciple and first leader of the early church was flaky.

Paul, who wrote at least ½ of the New Testament, orchestrated the genocide of Christians in the early church.

Lazarus was dead!

In fact God doesn’t often pick the most intelligent, qualified person in the room. God often chooses the least qualified so it’s evident they’re not doing things out of their own strength but out of His.

Insecurity robs not only us of the reward of serving, the reward of making a difference, but it robs those we are called to minister to and connect with.

We’ve got to stop comparing our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.  Comparison involves constantly worrying about what people think about you and it is a really fast way to forgetting what God thinks of you.

We have got to deal insecurity and its BFF comparison a death blow.

The way to do this is to counter the lies they tell with the truth of God.

I am a son of God.  I am a daughter of God.

I am called and chosen and equipped and empowered.

The Holy Spirit lives in me, the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in me.

God gives me wisdom.

It’s not by my might, nor by my power but by the Holy Spirit.

Every time that negative thought creeps in, every time it tells you that you don’t matter, or that you’re not important, or that you cant do that like they can, or you’re not good enough, counter it with the Word of God just as Jesus did in the desert when the enemy questioned his identity and purpose.

“It is written” and “the Bible says” are 3 of the most powerful words you can ever say and they will change your life.

About 12 years ago I did a preaching course run here at church by our previous pastor.  Everyone else in the group was deep and meaningful and spiritual.  And then there was me.  Comparison tried to make me conform to how everyone else did it.  But gun noises and Lost references kept on popping out of me and I had to embrace who I was, give comparison and insecurity a punch in the face and be myself.

It’s the same situation Gideon faced himself in.  The angel of the Lord appeared and said “Mighty Man of Valour” and Gideon said who me?  Insecurity answered instead of faith.  Thankfully Gideon allowed God to transform his identity and self image so that he could play his part in the deliverance of Israel from the MIdanites.  We know Gideons highlight reel, we can read it in the Bible, but once upon a time he stood at the beginning of his story with the challenge to play his part.

Goodness, stepping out can be a scary thing.  Being real and giving something of yourself can be vulnerable.    But if we stopped every time we felt fear or insecurity then we’d be living very dull lives.

David in Psalm 53:6 says When I am afraid, I will put my trust and faith in You.

He’s saying when I’m insecure, I will put my faith and trust in You who is greater, in You who have called me.

He’s saying when I look down on myself, I will put my faith and trust in You God.

When I compare myself to others, I will trust you God.

I will do it afraid.

There is a powerful scene at the end of Cinderella – the 2015 live action movie – where Cinderella looks at herself in a mirror as she goes to meet her prince charming… not dressed in the ball gown but in the rags of a servant.   The narrator asks this question.

Would who she was really be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take—to be seen as we truly are //  Cinderella 2015

That is the big question.  Will you take the risk?  God loves who you are, He likes who you are and I think we do too.  Kick insecurity and comparison to the curb.

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“This is God’s way: Putting extraordinary tasks on the plates of ordinary people so that ordinary people can see what an extraordinary God can do through them.” ~ Priscilla Shirer

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You can intimidate the enemy by not giving ground, by focusing on the Lord, and by aligning yourself with majesty. He doesn’t know how to fight against that. He never has. He’s never been successful at it because he doesn’t know how to do it. All his hope is to create in you an atmosphere that he knows how to control. But he can’t control a person who is a worshipper because out of that place of worship, you have peace, you have faith, you have Presence, and the enemy doesn’t know how to come against that!  Graham Cooke

This song is a call to more, a call to give it all, a call to know God and make Him known…

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