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God’s invitation has always been for us to draw close to Him.  We see right from creation, in the garden of Eden that in the cool of the evening that God would walk in the garden with Adam and Eve

Time and time again through the OT we see the invitation to draw near to God.

Enoch walked with God right into heaven in genesis 5

Abraham was called to follow God in Genesis 10 to a new land that God would show Him, and on the way he built altars as physical representations that God was there.

Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven in Genesis 28.

Moses encountered God in a burning bush and was invited up onto mt Sinai into the visible presence of God.  He also built a tent of meeting – a place he regularly went to pray where a physical cloud of God’s presence would come down in Exodus 33.

God called Samuel in 1 Samuel 3 in a time when hearing from God was incredibly rare, so rare that Samuel, a young child at the time, didn’t know who it was.  He was the first in a line of prophets who God sent to call His people home.

In Jeremiah it says several times Time and time again I have sent you all My servants the prophets, proclaiming: ‘Turn now, each of you from his evil way of life, and correct your actions. Do not go after other gods to serve them. Live in the land that I have given to you and your fathers.’ But you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me. Jeremiah 35:15

David – the greatest king of Israel, a man after God’s heart, shepherd, giant slayer, song writer communicates through the psalms the invitation of God and that we are created to worshp and draw near.   In Psalm 27:8 he writes When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”

So how do we do it?  How do we seek God?

Read the rest of this entry »

chan

Kings 19:19-21

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

 

Elisha left his whole life, he killed ad burned his ox, he gave it all way

And followed Elijah and became his servant.

Radical commitment

Radical attitude

Radical surrender

How could he do that?

Read the rest of this entry »

God’s grand design is that each one of us step up and step out and use the gifts that He has given us to build His church and reach the world.   Every practical thing that happens here on a Sunday morning and during the week is part of the grand design to reach the world.  Every spiritual thing that happens here on a Sunday morning and during the week is part of the grand design to reach the world.  It takes every single one of us together to play the part that God has called us to do.

Grand Design 8 (1)

 

Serving helps us to discover and develop our spiritual gifts.

Sometimes we feel like we need a spiritual call to serve – if you need a sign THIS IS IT….

But seriously, sometimes we feel like we need to be called to step out but it is often in the process of stepping out that we discover who we are and who we are called to be.

Destiny is often a process of unfolding revelation.  There are the rare few individuals who know at the age of 8 what they want to be and chart out a roadmap to follow.

When I was 8 I wanted to be a brain surgeon and Madonna.  Until I realised I don’t like needles or blood at all and that my greatest fear was singing in public.  That killed that dream.

When I was looking for a job when I first moved to Auckland I interviewed for a box company.  The job required lots of maths and precision and working by myself.  With boxes. I knew within about 5 minutes of the interview that this was not the job for me.

Sometimes we need to experience a whole range of roles and jobs to eliminate what works and what doesn’t.  It is like editing your life.

In my Christian life I have done greeting, preaching, youth ministry, young adults, graphics, a church magazine, overhead projector, evangelism, street preaching, beach missions, connect groups, womens ministry, have even been in the worship team, been in a church production, and I did kids ministry – twice.  I haven’t done sound or mens ministry but I’ve given almost everything else a nudge.   Through the process I learned what I love and learned what I didn’t love.  I learned what I am good at, and um, what I’m not that great at.  Each of us was made for something, usually something very specific, and it’s okay to walk through a few different experiences to find what it is.

Our destiny isn’t just about us.  It is about the people God wants us to touch.  It is about the lives that need changing and helping. Read the rest of this entry »

Grand Design 8

7. Serving is good for your health

Studies have shown that volunteering is so good for the mind and body that it can ease symptoms of stress and depression.

There are studies that show that a part of our brain literally lights up when we help others. When we help others our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin, which buffers stress and helps us maintain social trust and tranquility. Along with oxytocin are the other chemicals like dopamine, which is a mood-elevating neurotransmitter. These drugs tend to push aside negative emotions and reduce the stress level.

Over 40 international studies confirm that volunteering can add years to your life. In fact, current studies suggest up to a 22% reduction in mortality rates!

I want to read you this paragraph from one of the articles I read on time, huffpost and various other posts about how serving serves us:

This process begins a shift from a me-orientation to a we-orientation. You start to look at people and situations with an eye for what you can offer them, and not vice versa. You break the tiresome tyranny of questions like “What’s in it for me?” The mindset shifts from consumption to contribution. Paradoxically, when serving in this way, you are no longer operating from a space of scarcity. Your cup fills and overflows.

I want to spontaneously add an 8th to this list.   Serving just gets stuff done.  Black and white.  Stuff has to happen for all this to happen.  Serving gets that stuff done.

We make all sorts of rational explanations for not serving:

I don’t have time.

I don’t know what I would do.

I don’t have any special skills to contribute.

They don’t need me.

But the reality is that God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called. God used men and women with similar doubts to change the course of history. Moses didn’t think he was a leader or speaker, but God worked through Moses to bring Israel out of slavery. David was the youngest (and therefore most insignificant) of all his brothers, but God worked through David to defeat a giant and eventually made him a king. Paul used to kill Christians before he met Jesus, but he went on to become one of the most highly-regarded and prolific writers/church planters in history.

 

“Imagine at the end of your life you are standing before your Creator, and He asks: Did you use the time I gifted you each day to be a purposeful being? Did you follow your own path and make your time count? How faithfully did you tend to the dream I sowed in your soul?” – Brendon Burchard

Grand Design 7

6. Serving opens doors

David was a shepherd serving his father in the backwoods of Israel with the sheep.  He became King of Israel.

Moses served his father in law as a shepherd.  He led the people of Israel to the promised land.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer for the King of Babylon.  He rebuilt the walls of Jersualem and led a repopulation movement.

Joseph was forced into slavery but rose in the ranks of his masters house and then the prison because of the way he served.  He became prime minister of Egypt.

I was listening to the radio yesterday – so old school – and New Zealand poet Selina Marsh was talking about how she got her “big break” in becoming one of our leading poets.  She had been invited to a “gig” and told that there would be an amazing audience of 200 people.  She got to the venue to find out that the organiser had added an extra 0 by mistake and she was in a room with 20 chairs.  Of which only 8 were filled.  At first she was disappointed but then she thought she would just serve well and give her best performance.  What she didn’t know was that one of those 8 audience members sat on a board for the queen who appoints a commonwealth poet, for the whole commonwealth and for the queen.  He put her name forward and she has read for the queen and Barak Obama and travelled all around the world writing and speaking her poetry.   The bible puts it this way… don’t despise the day of small beginnings.

I met a evangelist this year who got his first start in leadership because he ironed the pastors shirts.  In his church they had a pastor who did everything and he and a few friends looked at what they could do to help. His friend cleaned the toilets every week before church.  He became the youth pastor.

Do you know how I got my first start as a youth leader?  I went to the church office and folded the newsletters.  When they needed a new leader, they asked me.

Often we can be passionate about something and feel called in a certain direction but if we’re not willing to be teachable, submitted and serving then it’s a red flag.   Our attitude to serving reflects our attitude to leadership.   Serving opens doors because it shapes our character and humility.  It works at a heart level and refines our motivations.

As Jesus said, you’re not called to lord over everyone you’re called to serve.  If you want to lead, serve.  If you want to be great, serve.  Doors will open if you serve.

Philippians 2:3-11

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature[a] God,    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing     by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,     he humbled himself     by becoming obedient to death—         even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place     and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,      in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

 

 

Grand Design 6

5. Serving increases our faith.

Serving allows us to experience His power first-hand. We see God step in as we step out.

When my daughter was in year 3 she asked… no she began to pray in family prayers, that I would be her bible in schools teacher.  Now, to be honest, children scare me.  Even though they’re shorter than me, kids are scary!  So she prayed and then she told her bible in schools teacher that I am a Christian… so while dropping her off one Friday I was accosted by the bible in schools head.  So you’re a Christian… we need BIS teachers.  I told him I would pray about it.  Aka this is my polite Christian way of saying no thankyou.  God, bless his heart, right in that moment said WILL YOU REALLY?  Talk about convicted.  So yes I prayed.  I was chatting to a friend and she told me to make a list of not the pros and cons but the pros and pros.  Pros to do it and pros not to.

You know, pro for doing it – kids could get saved, pros revival could break out.  Pro for not doing it…. Crickets.

So I became her bible in schools teacher.  For 3 years.  And yes, kids are still scary but God was with me.   Even when you walk through the shadow of the valley… just kidding…. But God was with me and I felt Holy Spirit empowering me and giving me creative ways to communicate the gospel.

Serving increases our faith that as we step out God will step in.

Often we feel unqualified to serve or lead.  But it is as we serve that God empowers us.

 

Grand Design 5

4. Serving connects us with other Christians who can help us follow Jesus.

When we’re working side by side with other people, a bond inevitably forms. This was part of God’s plan for how the church is supposed to work.  We are meant to be connected.  We need each other.  That’s why Hebrews 10:24-25 instructs us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together… but encouraging one another.”

Serving puts you side by side by different people who you may not naturally connect with, who are different to us, who challenge us on different levels and who God uses to iron sharpen iron aka grow us up.

When we are on a team we are connected to people who are going to encourage us, teach us, inspire us and that we’ll do life with.

When we did the Christmas production 20 years ago I auditioned because I was new to the church and wanted to be part of something to make friends.   That production is how my husband and I “um got together…” so you know…

“God uses what is happening in the Church to make us into the people of God, and He’s doing it through out-of-tune worship leaders, weird messages and awkward people we don’t want to sit next to.”  Brooke Ligertwood

 

 

Grand Design 4

3  Serving helps us to be more like Jesus.

Jesus is always serving.  He focuses on the needs of others and then answered them sacrificially.

Jesus encourages us to follow His lead and serve one another. After washing His disciples feet which was a great act of love, humility and service, Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

When He is tired and wants to take a break, we see Him minister to those in His path out of sheer love and compassion for them.  When He is worn out and thirsty from travel, the need of the Woman at the Well leads to a moment of great healing.  When He is just trying to catch a little sleep while the fishermen disciples get them across the Sea, the fear and doubt of his followers led Him to calm the wind and the waves.  He sacrificed His hunger, thirst, fatigue and eventually His whole Body for His people.  It is who He is.

A follower of Jesus cannot truly know Him and be like Him unless they act like Him.  Jesus makes this point repeatedly in the Gospels.  The greatest among us is the servant, the slave of them all.  He did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

Serving does an invisible work on the inside of us to make us more like Jesus because serving requires sacrifice and commitment and all the things that don’t come naturally to us.

 

Grand Design 3

2. Serving allows us to experience the joy and peace that comes from obedience.

1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms… so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

 “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 can often over spiritualize things – we want revival, we want a great move of God, we want the lost to come and for this place to be filled to overflowing.    We want to be used by God to lay hands on the sick and see them healed, to give prophetic words and see mighty things happen… but great moves of God happen because we all say YES to whatever God is asking of us.  Move chairs on Friday night tick.  Do the dishes after Sunday, tick.  Serve in crèche tick.  Why?  Because all of those things have to happen to make room for people to come.  All the practical things that happen on a Sunday and during the week make room for people to meet Jesus.  When you put out the morning tea cups and supplies you are making room for conversations over coffee about Jesus that can change a life and a family.  When you serve in the crèche you make room for a mum and dad to be ministered to.

Our yes to serve and be part of the team makes room for the great things of God to happen.

Let’s not underestimate the eternal impact our obedience and saying yes has.

Jesus gets black and white on obedience: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15, ESV)

We love God, then let the evidence of that be shown in the way we obey His call to use our gifts to serve.

 

God's Grand Design v6

“How God forms ‘me’ is inextricably linked to what God is forming in us as ‘we’ — the church.” – Brooke Ligertwood

God’s grand design is that each one of us step up and step out and use the gifts that He has given us to build His church and reach the world.   Every practical thing that happens here on a Sunday morning and during the week is part of the grand design to reach the world.  Every spiritual thing that happens here on a Sunday morning and during the week is part of the grand design to reach the world.  It takes every single one of us together to play the part that God has called us to do.

Grand Design 2

1. Serving helps us to discover and develop our spiritual gifts.

Sometimes we feel like we need a spiritual call to serve – if you need a sign THIS IS IT….

But seriously, sometimes we feel like we need to be called to step out but it is often in the process of stepping out that we discover who we are and who we are called to be.

Destiny is often a process of unfolding revelation.  There are the rare few individuals who know at the age of 8 what they want to be and chart out a roadmap to follow.

When I was 8 I wanted to be a brain surgeon and Madonna.  Until I realised I don’t like needles or blood at all and that my greatest fear was singing in public.  That killed that dream. Read the rest of this entry »

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