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It’s a new year, and we have a fresh start. We have the opportunity to be who we want to be and accomplish what we want to accomplish.

 

So here’s the question I want you to think about tonight as you’re reading this.

What do you want to be about?   What are you going to represent?  What is going to define you this year?

You get to decide now.

 

Last year our Kids pastor and I did a first aid course.  I have to confess those mouth to mouth dummies freak me out as did the gory videos of what to do if someone has a knife in their thigh, burnt arms and all kinds of cuts and gross stuff!  I’m one of those people that love watching things like CSI and House but with my eyes closed through probably about 45% of it.  Usually I watch it with Tony and he is good at letting me know when its okay but this one time he was like, you can watch now but unfortunately it cut to the morge guy peeling back the guys scalp to look at the brain.  Yeah.  No.

Anyway first aid course.  I have a friend whose son did a first aid course through school then LITERALLY walked out the gates and saw a kid get hit by a car.  Literally.  He was right there on the scene and knew what to do because he had done the first aid course.  The course teaches you what to do in the crisis situation so that when you’re there in the moment you’re not having to make decisions – you know what to do and work through your checklist of what to look for.

 

One of the biggest decisions you need to make in life is who you will represent.  Some people wear tshirts to show what sports team they’re into, or what movies they love.  But I’m not talking about representing things like that but about making a decision about where you stand with God, about knowing God and making Him known.

What does it look like to represent Jesus?  What does it look like to live fully devoted to Jesus in real life?

Do you have to wear Christian tshirts?  A massive cross?  Does your ring tone have to be Jesus is a friend of mine?

There are heaps of ways that we can show that we know God and are Christians.

 

  1. what we say.

Did you know that the average girl speaks about 27000 words a day.  And the average guy about 18000.  Or if you’re Jessy about 263.  That’s a lot of words and a lot of conversations.  Sometimes the conversations are just about surface stuff – tv, youtube, the weather blah blah blah.  But sometimes they can go deeper – about what we’re worried about, how we’re stressed out, things going on that hurt us… in those moments we have a decision to make – will we encourage someone with the encouragement that God can give or just say nice things.  The bible says that God comforts us so that we can pass that on to others.  We go through things and God helps us so that we can help other people and encourage people to get to know our awesome God who loves us and helps us and gives us peace and is with us always.

We can also let people know we are Christians when they ask how our weekend was?  What did you get up to in the weekend?  I went to HKC youth on Friday and it was awesome.  What’s that?  Its our awesome youth group where we have fun and find out more about God.  Easy as.  If I had a dollar for every time I said that and then nothing more was said… until later… when that person had questions about spiritual things or was going through things… they’d come up and say hey, you’re a Christian right… its about dropping a seed, letting them know that you are a Christian so that in their time they know who to talk to.

When we live fully devoted to God it shows in what we say and what we talk about.

How many people know what my son is into?  Because he talks about it lots.

Who knows what my daughter’s favourite movie of the holidays was?  Because she talks about it lots.

When we’re into stuff we learn about it, read about it, watch youtube about it, get excited about it, buy the soundtrack of it…

And it spills over into what we talk about.

The same with God.  When you’re into God and realise that He is real and that He loves you and has a plan and a purpose for your life and will be with you always and forever no matter what, you become fully devoted and it spills over into who you are and what you talk about.  People should figure out that you’re a Christian without you having to carry your bible around.

 

  1. what we don’t say.

When you’re dating someone or married you want to do things to make them happy and you learn what makes them unhappy.  Because you love them you try to cut those things out that make the person unhappy.

When you’re fully devoted to Jesus you want to live a life that pleases Him, that makes Him happy.

As Christians we show we are different by the words we don’t use… and I’m not just talking about swear words here… but I’m talking about gossip and put downs.  Jesus is all about lifting people up and helping them be free.  When we make a decision to not gossip or talk about about someone or to someone and a decision not to swear too – it shows people that there is something different in a good way about us.   You become someone that they want to hang around and they might not be able to put their finger on it but it is because you are acting like Jesus and Jesus is someone that people want to be with.

 

  1. without words

Just like the first aid course gave me training to know what to do in a crisis situation – like if someone was to drop right now and have a heart attack I would be ready with my staying alive 30 to you no matter who CPR – because the decision has been made of how to act in that moment – making choices to follow what God says and to live our lives for Jesus can help us in that moment when we’re faced with temptation.

When someone offered me smokes I didn’t have to weigh up the pros and cons or feel the peer pressure because I had made a decision not to smoke.

When someone tried to get me to join in hassling someone I didn’t have to enne meane miny mo to know what to do, I had made a decision that I wasn’t going to act that way.

When someone tried to get me to cross boundaries when I was dating I was like back off buddy because I had made a decision to live my life the way Jesus wanted instead of just what felt good.

When someone sent me a link to a dodgy video as soon as I realised what I was I was like EXIT because I had made a decision to not let those things trap me and to keep pure.

When someone offered me a drink at a party I had made my decision already beforehand and so was totally okay to ask for a coke cola.

When someone was stressed out and freaking out about life I went up and encouraged them and told them my story because I had made the decision to talk to people about how real God is.

When someone was distracting me in worship I closed my eyes and focused on God because I had decided that knowing God was really important.

 

I read this on fb yesterday:

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I am not shouting, “I am clean living,” I am proclaiming “I was l ost, but now I am found and forgiven.”

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not saying I am strong on my own. I’m professing that I am weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not bragging of my success. I am admitting I have failed and need God to clean me.

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I am not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are visible, but God believes I am worth it.

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not holier than thou. I’m a sinner who has received God’s amazing grace.

 

This is what it means to be fully devoted.  Knowing that truth and reality and living in response to our amazing God.  We want to know Him and make Him known because of all the good stuff He has done for real in our lives.

 

 

 

In Daniel 1 we read about 4 guys who had made a decision ahead of time to represent God, to live fully devoted to Him.

We’ve been talking about them in church too so you might recognise the story.

Let me fill you in though in case you don’t know who I’m gonna talk about.

There was a massive war between Israel and Babylon.  Israel lost and Babylon took lots of the young leaders as exiles to Babylon to retrain them to think, act, speak and be like Babylons.

4 of these young leaders were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They even got renamed as a way to take over their whole lives to Babylonian names.  Daniel was called Belteshazzar.  Hananiah was called Shadrach. Mishael was called Meshach and  Azariah was called Abednego.

These 4 guys were faced every day with decisions that challenged who they were and God they believed in.

But they had made a decision that even in this mega tough situation with everything against them to remain fully devoted to God and to not compromise on some things that were important to them.

For them what they ate and drunk showed that they were Jews, that they followed God.

The Babylonians didn’t follow those rules at all and for every meal were serving up the stuff that God had commanded the Jews not to eat.  Delicious.  Tasty.  Tempting food.

Daniel 1:8 says that they had resolved in their heart to not eat the kings food and defile themselves.

They had made a decision ahead of time on what to do.

Sometimes that decision isn’t easy.  They risked their lives to make that stand.  Normally we don’t face getting our heads cut off for making a decision to be fully devoted to God but may have our friends laugh at us or hassle us a bit that we’re Christians or something like that right?

Some of you are at new schools, in new classes, making new friends and I bet it feels tough sometimes to not go with the flow or to let people know you’re a Christian.  Let me encourage you – the bible says that God has placed eternity in the heart of all people.  Which means that everyone in the whole world has this part of them that wants to know if God is real. Its like everyone has this God shaped hole in their life that only God can fill.  People go around trying to fill it with sports, dating, gaming, money, success, popularity, likes but only God can fill that hole.  You are here on earth as God’s representative to show people that God is real and good and awesome.  That He can fill their hole.  When we stay quiet about God we are forgetting that people actually do want to know, more than they might let on.

Sometimes we can get so worried about what the people around us might think instead of remembering the most important thing – that it is what God thinks about us that really matters, both for here and for eternity.  And the other cool thing is that God promises to be with us and to help us even in the middle of those situations.

God was totally with Daniel and his friends.  They made their decision and said they wouldn’t eat the kings food.  They ate only vegetables and drunk water for 2 weeks and at the end of those 2 weeks they were stronger, smarter and healthier than everyone else.  God was with them and gave them supernatural wisdom and strength. He had their back.

God will be with you.  In every situation.  In every moment.  He doesn’t send us out alone into our world but He lives in us and the Holy Spirit gives us power and the right words to say.  We can trust Him as we step out that He will step in.

The Bible says in Daniel 11:32 that the people that know their God will be strong and do exploits.  Those that are fully devoted to God will be strong and have adventures and see lives change and be blown away by how real and good God is.

What adventures do you want to have with God this year?  What do you want your life to be about?

 

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