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In our youth group we created the HKC Habits – the 5 things that if we did them would make us awesome Christians who know God and make Him known, who live it for real 100%.

 

And if someone was to ask me, Claire how do I live for Jesus 100% they would be the 5 things that I would tell them

H Hang out with God

A Attend Youth & Church

B read your Bible

I Invest your life & money

T Tell your story

 

H hang out with God

this is prayer, worship, reading your bible – we need to know God like we know a friend.  God isn’t far far away on a cloud with a big white beard, He is personal and near and close and we can know Him.  I’m telling you that you can talk to God like He is your friend and that God will talk to you and that its all for real.  Sometimes we make it complicated but its not.  Black and white plain as plain you can talk to God and He will talk to you.  Not in a loud BOOM voice but on the inside, it might sound like your thoughts but often comes with that sense of peace or is exactly what you need to hear and encouragers you.

 

A attend church and youth.

Now this one might be a tough one.  Because so many other options come up.  Jobs.  Sports. Friends.  But God calls us to make church and youth a priority because its where we encounter Him and learn about Him and also hang with other people who love Him.  Its important.  There are going to be lots of challenges on this one as you go through life but I can tell you that when the bible says Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you is for real truth.  God always has your back and if you make following Him and knowing Him number 1 He will take care of the rest.  Not saying it will be easy and that unicorns will open doors for you but saying its worth it.

 

B read your bible.

Yup its part of hanging out with God but it has its own thing because it is that important.  The Bible is all about God and who He is and what He is like and what He promises and how He loves and what He does.   It shows us the right way to live.  It helps us keep away from sin.  Now sin isn’t just the mistakes we make it is the intentional selfish things we do that wreck relationships, not just between us and God but between us and our friends and our families and our whoevers.  I want an unwracked life and I want unwracked realionships and I want unwracked relationship between me and God.

 

I invest your life and your life

we are part of a bigger story and a bigger family and God works it so that we collab together to do awesome things and change the world.  But it takes investing your life – while we are here I want to honour some peeps who are investing their lives… stand up all hkc leaders and servers – massive claps – these guys are investing their lives and time and energy so that we all can know God and live His adventure.

 

T tell your story.

Knowing that God is real and loves us and is awesomes isn’t meant to be kept a secret.  The bible says that God has placed eternity in the hearts of all people… which means that at some moment in everyones lives they want to know for real if God is real.  We are the best adveristments of all the good stuff God does because He does it for us.  Have you ever brought something and you just want to tell everyone.  Like I got this amazing toothbrush that just makes my teeth sparkle like the snow on the top of mount Everest or I ate this burger that was like the best burger in the world or check out my new phone it can clean the house and drive the kids to school and erase my freckles and shoot lasers out of its eyes like you must have it now…..!  you get the picture!    You never know when someone is ready to hear about the good news of God’s love and what Jesus has done so we can be set free and forgiven.  Our role is to just tell our story and let God do the rest.

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Who here watches youtubers.  We have a few that play regularly at our house… pat and jen… crainer and thea… various minecraft youtubers and every youtuber has this thing they do….

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Hit that little bell

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Here are 4 ways to hit that little bell as a way to remember 4 ways that we can go 100% for God and take it to the next level.

 

Believe that God has it figured out

God sometimes works in weird ways am I right?   This is why reading the bible is so vital, because we read about crazy situations people are in and how God does weird and wonderful things to rescue them or to get them to where they are meant to be in life.

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See yourself

Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself –  perhaps round the corner in our walk through time zone – and all you see is the big zit on your forehead, or the clothes your mother dressed you in (what was she thinking!), or the naff haircut that was all the rage in 1999 (what were you thinking) – or how young you looked only to look in the mirror now and see the wrinkles that weren’t there 20 years ago…

We are our own worst critic.  We see the flaws like the have huge neon signs pointing at them… and I don’t just mean in photos or to do with our faces and fashion choices.

We compare ourselves to other people, especially in this social media age.

We devalue the gifts and talents that God has given us.

Or we are simply unaware because our self vision is blurry and it can be hard to bring ourselves into focus because we’ve been conditioned to compare for so long and there is also that kiwi culture thing of self depreciation and not being a tall poppy.

In Judges 6 we read about how an angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and calls him a mighty warrior, a mighty man of valour.  Gideon literally says who me?

Gideon is sure that God has the wrong guy, that His angelic gps is off.  He lists all the reasons why it oculdnt possibly be him.

Im from the weakest family in the weakest clan.  God, you’re wrong.

But God is never wrong and He sees the gold in who we are.  He sees the potential and He has created you on purpose with a purpose.  God has in fact written into the very fabric of who you are the gifts and talents that He can use to change the world.

2 Cor 4:7 says We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours.

When we see ourselves with supernatural vision, as God sees us, we can step out in confidence because we’re aware and living in that reality that the power and awesome sauce comes from God.

Having supernatural vision of ourselves means we can appraise ourselves with honest eyes – none of us are perfect, but we are loved by One who is.  We all have flaws, but we have a God who forgives and is transforming us day by day, from glory to glory.

We can accept the good, the bad and the ugly because we know how greatly loved we are by God and that we are on a journey of becoming more like Jesus.

Having a wrong view of who we are can so hold us back because we may feel that what we have to offer isn’t enough. We are like that one boys lunch.  We may evaluate ourselves as insignificant but God uses what we bring and surrender to Him.  With God it is more than enough.

We have to accept the flavour of who God has created us to be and run with that.  You are you because God created you to be who you are meant to be.  He wanted one just like you.  You will reach people that only you will reach.  You will communicate the gospel through your words and your life like only you can.  You will serve in unique ways and the world needs the gift that you are.

Confession time… I come across, I think, like a mostly confident person.  But there have been times when insecurity battled within to shut me up and shut me down.  My greatest fear growing up and into my 20s, apart from spiders, was singing in public and dancing in public.  But as many of you saw in our highlights video last week and can look around the corner I ended up in a lead role playing an 8 year old brat, singing and dancing on stage, in the Ultimate Gift.  I had auditioned not to acutally be in the production but to make friends as I had only recently joined the church.  There were many times that I said to peter I cant sing that note and he would tell me yes you can and you will.  There were many times I was shaking on the inside but had to step out and do it anyway.

Even with preaching and leading I often battle the insecurity that I am not enough.  When I was 19 I did a personality test with a group of other youth leaders at my church and they all came out as Cholerics – powerful leaders – or Melencholics – deep thinkers.  And then there was me. Sanguine.  Funny popular.  Light and fluffy.  Again when I was in my late 20s I did a preaching course and everyone in the course were deep and spiritual, or theological and wise sounding and then there was me.    On the outside it looked like I had it together but on the inside I was questioning if what I brought to the table was enough.  God in his graciousness continues to encourage me that my voice is His voice and that everyone needs superhero pop culture references and gun noises from time to time.

Your life is telling a story. There are people who need your brave, courageous steps forward in faith, beyond pain, disappointment, or challenge, coming through with a smile on your face, joy in your heart, and purpose in your step. There are people who need your story of hope, redemption, healing, forgiveness, victory and courage! Your story – your life – it matters.

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See others

Did you know that experts say that we have 7 seconds to make a good first impression.  That first 7 seconds can determine what people will think of us from that point on.  7 seconds is not very long!

I first met my current pastor, and boss, and friend when he  spoke at a conference at my church in Dunedin.  On the Sunday night there was a massive combined churches event in the town hall and I remember going forward for prayer and Peter prayed for me.   I was getting massively touched by God and having an amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit when these two elderly ladies came up and started praying unusually for me.  Now back in the days I was quite an alternative grunge dresser so was probably wearing lots of black and ripped jeans and I remember having this cool hair style that night where I had put my hair in like 30 pigtails then wound them round and round to make like mini buns all over my head.  I also had lots of ear rings and a nose ring.  And so they were trying to cast a few things out of me.  That I didn’t have.  I was on fire for Jesus and was a youth leader at my church.  But they judged me on my appearance and judged me as demon possessed.  Peter tried to come to my rescue and then they unusually prayed for him too…. Yikes!  Talk about first impressions!

 

In Luke 7 we read about a woman who couldn’t shake her first impression.

 

Luke 7:37-39 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

 

Her name is never recorded but she is labelled a sinful woman.  She is identified by her issue.  She is known by her reputation.

The host of the party looked with his natural eyes.  He looked and saw a sinful woman – he judged, he condemned, he isolated, he rejected.

Jesus however saw so much more.  He saw a woman forgiven.  A woman free.  A woman worshipping.  A woman prophetically anointing him for burial.  A woman grateful.

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See the future

Within all of us, no matter what age we are, there is that question of “what will I be when I grow up” – that sense of the unknown and uncertainty of what could or could not happen.

 

Supernatural vision rests in the confidence that God is our loving Father, that we are fearfully and wonderfully created, that all the days of our life are written in his book as Psalm 139 says, that He is good and cares so so so much for us.

We are trusting an unknown future to a known God.  When we are confident in the character and heart of God we can entrust our future days to God.

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See The Present

There was such a swirl of activity around Jesus, with so many people coming and going, that they were unable to even eat a meal. So Jesus said to his disciples, “Come, let’s take a break and find a secluded place where you can rest a while.” 32 They slipped away and left by sailboat for a deserted spot. 33 But many of the people saw them leaving and realized where they were headed, so they took off running along the shore. Then people from the surrounding towns joined them in the chase, and a large crowd got there ahead of them.

34 By the time Jesus came ashore, a massive crowd was waiting. At the sight of them, his heart was filled with compassion,[o] because they seemed like wandering sheep who had no shepherd.[p] So he taught them many things.

35 Late that afternoon, his disciples said, “It’s getting really late and we’re here in this remote place with nothing to eat. 36 You should send the crowds away so they can go into the surrounding villages and buy food for themselves.”

37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.”

“Are you sure?” they replied. “You really want us to go buy them supper? It would cost a small fortune[q] to feed all these thousands of hungry people.”

38 “How many loaves of bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” After they had looked around, they came back and said, “Five—plus a couple of fish.”

39 Then he instructed them to organize the crowd and have them sit down in groups on the grass. 40 So they had them sit down in groups[r] of hundreds and fifties. 41 Then Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, gazed into heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the bread and the two fish and distributed them to his disciples to serve the people—and the food was multiplied in front of their eyes42 Everyone had plenty to eat and was fully satisfied. 43 Then the twelve disciples picked up what remained, and each of them ended up with a basket full of leftovers! 44 Altogether, five thousand families[s] were fed that day! // Mark 6

When you look at your life and your today, your present circumstances, what do you see?

The disciples saw the need, the problem and saw their lack.  They forgot to have supernatural vision despite having just been out on amazing mission adventures, despise seeing Jesus again and again change the world with His mighty power.

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2 years ago I needed glasses.  It’s that thing that happens when you turn 40.  I couldn’t read the Netflix suggestions and if someone waved to me across church I’d be completely unable to tell you who it was.

When I went to pick my glasses up the optometrist got me to stand near the back of the shop and look out across the road.  I could see there was a café… some people…. Parked cars… then I had to put my glasses on.

Well.  The song I can see clearly now was sooooo true.  The café had words on it, signs.  The people had faces.  The faces had freckles!  It felt like a miracle.  Everything was in high definition!

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The book of James is all about a faith lived out, a faith expressed in the way we behave, our behaviour the advertisement of what we believe.

We are living billboards declaring that God is real and that God is love and the way we live has a massive influence on those around us.   It has been quoted here before someone will read the Bible or come to a church they will read our life first, we are the first Bible most people read.   What a challenge.

In James 4:8 we have one of the most familiar and popular verses of the book.  If there was a bible verse countdown of greatest hits of the bible James 4:8 would be on it.  I share it almost every time I have a mic at church.  But there is a part B to James 4 that I never read out loud.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.  James 4:8-10

 

James is going after Christians who say they love God with their mouths but live life their own way.

He’s going after Christians who use their perseonality defaults as excuses for their character flaws.

He’s going after Christians who pick and chose what parts of the Bible they accept and believe in.

He’s going after those who look great on Sunday but whose workmates wouldn’t even know they’re Christians on Monday.

He’s going after those who think they’re fine living one foot in the world and one foot in the church.

He’s going after you and me.

 

We live in a world that lives for self – if it feels good do it – and that pushes against the boundaries that God sets.

We live in a world that has made sin so accessable and acceptable.

In fact if you hold to biblical values you are often branded as bigoted, judemental and narrowminded.

 

But this world is God’s world.  He makes the rules.  Not because He is a kill joy but because of His great love for us.  His boundaries are to bless us, to bless our relationships, to bless our future, to bless us with wholeness and the peace that comes from right living.

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When I was in year 11 the big excitement for the year was that we got to go to the ball.  It was a big deal, well for a girl.  On the Friday before the ball my dreams came true.  The boy I liked asked me to go to the ball with him.  Swoon!  I had my dress and shoes and everything ready and was just waiting for this one magical moment to happen.

That afternoon as I was biking home I was knocked off my bike.  I knew my leg was broken.  But I walked the 2km home, with my bike, because pre cell phone, what do you do right?  I got home and my mum was like, I think you’re okay, your stockings aren’t even ripped….  But I knew, and the dr confirmed, that my leg and ankle was broken in 4 places.

And for those that want to know, yes I went to the ball, with the boy, on crutches, in a cast that my cute knee high cocktail dress did not cover….

Sometimes things might look all okay on the outside.  We put our public faces on and face the world with a Im fine when the reality is that on the inside things might be falling apart, or we’re drifting away from God or walking through a difficult season.

The stockings might not be ripped but on the inside we are broken.

 

Firstly, our brokenness is never an excuse to not drawing near to God.  He is close to the brokenhearted, has compassion on the weak, and is the good shepherd.  Often we feel our weakness disqualifies us from drawing near to God and we forget that He calls Himself our Father.   He is intensly personal and intesnly loving.  He is gracious and merciful.  No pain or struggle is too great.   No problem is an obstacle to God’s love.   In fact God’s love is the remedy and antedote for the pain and weakness in our lives.

Hebrews 4:16 says Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

It is in our time of need, when we need mercy and grace, when we feel our most unconfident that God invites us to approach Him.   He’s not the kind of God that says just put on your big boy pants and get your act together – unless you need that in His most loving wisdom – but He is the God who wraps Himself around us and carries us, who heals us.

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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.”

 

I grew up going to the catholic church, where it was more of a Sunday thing and a set of rules.  God seemed far far away on a cloud somewhere and wasn’t relevant to real life.  I didn’t think much about God between Sundays and if I did it was more about if I had been good enough or how many hail marys would that cost me at confession at easter time.   I never thought of God in the context of relationship or friendship.

It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I began to wonder if there was more to life, more to me and more to God.    The very first time I went to youth group my whole grid on God was shaken as I heard someone pray and I just knew he knew God and that God was real and that I could know Him too, in fact I knew I MUST know Him.  I had no idea what that looked like but that sense of I MUST KNOW GOD was so strong and real.  I went to their easter camp and on the Saturday afternoon the speaker said go find a space by yourself and talk to God.  I found a space by myself under a big tree and cried and cried because I knew I wasn’t good enough to talk to God, or go to heaven.  That night the speaker told us about jesus and how He made the way for us to come close to God and I went forward and gave my life to Jesus.   God had been drawing me and it wasn’t about how good I could be, He had made the way through the death of Jesus and my part to play was to say yes to His invitation.

It’s almost a chicken and the egg scenario… what came first… God invites us to draw near, we draw near, He draws near, He invites us to draw near, we respond and draw near, He draws near, He invites, we respond, He draws near.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done – God invites us to come close, to be His friend, to be His child.

Romans 5:8 says But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

So how do we do it?  How do we draw near to God?

We see in Matthew 6 that Jesus gave His disciples guidelines on how to make this real in their lives.  He says

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you [c]openly.

 

We can see keys in this verse that will help us develop a lifestyle of prayer and seeking God.

 

On Purpose – one of the key words in this passage is when.  We need to have a when.  We need to schedule our times with God and make it an on purpose regular commitment to carve out time with Him.   Our lives get so busy and filled up with work, extra curricular activities, people, families and I know that unless I have made it a regular rhythm to spend time with God it gets to the end of the day and its like ooops, hey God thanks for a great day you’re awesome snore snore snore….

The key is to find what time works for you.  Some people are morning people and delight in spending time with God in the morning.  Some people are NOT morning people but find that giving God that time as a sacrifice sets them up for the day.  Others do lunch with God and find time in their breaks to read the bible.  Some listen to the audio bible or a podcast on their commute to and from work, making their car a holy place.  Though once I have been having a worship time with God in the car and literally had to pull over because I burst into tears and was overcome by His presence!!!   I am a in the night hours person and have my reading time at night because that works for me and is a way of ending my day with God’s words filling my heart and mind.  Find what works for you and then in the immortal words of nike, just do it.  Do it on purpose and be intentional about it.

 

Place – Jesus instructed his disciples to go into their room, shut the door and spend time with God.   The idea is to have a meeting place, just like Moses did with his tent of meeting where he would go and meet with God face to face as friends.  There is something about having a room, or a chair or a place where you go and meet with God.   In the movie War Room the women turned their walk in wardrobes into prayer closets and created an intentional space to spend time with God.  It gives it the sense of this is my God meeting space, when I come here, when I sit in this chair or this room, I meet with God.

Susanna Wesley was a mother of nineteen children who recognized her need for quiet being with God. (No small feat when you have nineteen children and no netflix, movies, iphones or ipads ) To ensure she had quiet time, she would put her big hoop skirt over her head to create a private sanctuary. She trained her children not to interrupt her if they saw her with her skirt over her head!

 

Personal – each of us are wired in unique ways – to live and to connect with God.  How you pray and worship will look different from the person next to you.  There are so many creative ways to spend time with God and there is no one right way.  Prayer doesn’t have to be kneeling beside your bed with your hands clasped – unless that works for you!

In our high school girls connect group we’ve been doing Youth Alpha and one of the sessions was on prayer, followed the week later by a session on the bible.  Over those two nights we talked about the different ways that we pray and read the bible.  Some of them journal, write out prayers, draw prayers, do word studies, follow youversion bible plans, dance, lie on the floor, sing out loud, meditate, memorize… you get the picture.  Paul Saunders shared how he likes to go for walks and over the course of his walking God would show him some random object or thing outside and speak to him, like object lessons.

 

Persevere – I remember the first time I felt God in my bedroom – it was a completely unexpected moment – I knew that God was at church and at camp but that God in such a tangible way would be in my bedroom blew my mind.  I was just sitting in my bean bag, so you know, not on my knees with my hands clasped – I seriously really knew nothing when I became a Christian! – listening to some worship music a friend had given me.  All of a sudden it was like I felt an incredible peace and joy and love and all the things I had felt when I gave my life to Jesus.  I jumped up and jumped around and danced because I was just so happy.  My parents actually asked what was going on – I think because the music sounded um, joyful instead of um, more metal which had been my genre of choice.

But its not always like that.  Sometimes I’ll pray and worship and have that awareness of God’s presence, that peace and sense of Him that I’ve grown to recognise as God, but other times its like me talking to you right now in conversation.   Sometimes words jump off the pages, okay, I confess, the screen of my bible, like it was written just for me and other times  its more like just reading.  But I know that Jesus said that when I draw near to God, He draws near to me and rewards me for seeking Him.   I think that is why God uses the word SEEK.

Firstly as children of God and in fact as human beings God is always with us, in the sense that God is omnipresent and therefore always near everything and everyone. He holds everything in being. His power is ever-present in sustaining and governing all things.

But there is that shift when we consciously fix or focus our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God, when we turn aside from everything around us and the distractions of the world and life to focus on God and God alone.

(1 Chronicles 22:19)  “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.”

Jeremiah 29:13 says You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The passion translation says: Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

We have to preserve in spending time with God.  Though we may not feel it every time we read the bible, pray and worship it is having a positive effect on our spirit and our life.  Time with God is never wasted.  Often what we store up in the silence comes back to us in the storm and we find that the things we have read in the past comes back to us at the exact right time we need it.

Every time we draw near to God, He draws near to us.

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Worship Wednesday

1000 Things

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