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dVision 7

While on holiday in Blenheim last week I went to visit my brother – he’s a builder and has the most epic beard.  Over the past 8 weeks he has renovated their kitchen and living area.  He had kept me updated over the past 8 weeks with snapchats and photos of their progress.  Progress when you’re renovating is not pretty at first.  Their first step was to completely gut their kitchen and living area including removing the wall between the two rooms.  In winter, in Blenheim.  They stripped the stipple ceiling and jib board I confess, rather them than me.  Every weekend they would drop my neice,  off to my parents so they could install walls, paint, scrape, build, whatever.   Eva and I got to see the mostly finished product on Wednesday and it is beautiful.   All the work has paid off.  They have the most epic taps and cupboards that literally make you go oooooh.

 

Vision is a doing word.  It takes action.   We cant just dream, we have to do.

I love the book of proverbs.  Firstly, it nails you on those character things… but secondly, some of them are just funny.

Prov 22:13 The lazy one [manufactures excuses and] says, “There is a lion outside!

I will be killed in the streets [if I go out to work]!”

Proverbs 31:6 (New International Version)

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

Proverbs 26:11 (New International Version)

Gray is a crown of splendor: it is attained by a righteous life.

 

But one that I have always enjoyed is this:

 

Proverb 14:4

Where there are no oxen, the feeding trough is clean, but an abundant harvest is produced by strong oxen.

 

It’s the poo profit ratio.  If you’ve got no oxen, you’ve got no poo.  But you’ve also got no harvest.  You’ve got to have the oxen to have the harvest and what do you know, oxen poop.

The idea is to have the poo profit ratio right.  Too much poo – not a good thing, you spend your time mucking the stall and up to the ankles in… .  Too little poo means too little profit.

Get the ratio right and we’re living the vision.

 

Every vision requires doing.

It requires work.  Effort.  Sweat.  Time.  Tears.  Strain.  Stretch.

As people of vision we must make each moment count.  Our whole life matters.  Dreams don’t magically come true at the right time without the right preparation and cultivation.

Do you dream of being an author?  Then write, now, today.

Do you dream of being a missionary?  Learn and serve, now, today.

Do you dream of being a worship leader?  Practice and join the worship team.

Do you dream of being a preacher?  Write messages, now, today.  Join a connect group

Don’t let your vision stay as just a blueprint.  Knock down walls and build stuff.

There are so many ways that we can feed our visions – podcasts, books, getting around people who are doing it – but at some point we need to just step out and trust God in the doing.

 

A few weeks ago I had the incredible privilege of speaking at a Renew Youth event in Whangarei.  Right up to the moment I stepped onto the stage and grabbed the mic I was freaking out and the voice in my head was saying why did we say yes to this, what were we thinking, can I back out now, I need to pee!

But as I stepped onto the stage it was like the Holy Spirit came upon me and through me and it was the sense of I am made for this.

Living out the vision may be scary – probably will be scary and bigger than what we can do on our own strength – but that is the awesomeness of doing life wth God.

Philippians 1:6 says that God will finish what He starts.  He started something in your life.  And He will see it through to the destination.  God is the dream giver and the dream fulfiller.  He gives us dreams….  those desires and thoughts you have are seeds of God’s plan.  And He doesnt just leave us to do it ourselves, He on purpose is at work to make the dreams come true.

Vision 3

Often we equate vision with doing but a massive part of vision is BEING.  We have to BE the vision, we have to BE the person that can live that vision.

Vision is more than what we do.

It is who we are.

“God-size dreams ensure our growth. When God calls us to something, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable, like someone handing us the wrong size in the dressing room. It gaps in strange places and pinches in others. We may find ourselves wanting to send it back for a more reasonably-sized dream, one that doesn’t cause so much discomfort.

But that’s a huge mistake.   God hands us an extra-large vision by design. He is not just interested in what we can accomplish for him, but in who we are becoming along the way. As we struggle to grow into what and who God calls us to do and be, we are changed and shaped more and more into the likeness of Christ.”  Michael Hyatt

 

In 1 Samuel 10 we read about the calling of Saul.

1 Samuel 10:23-24

23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

 

On the outside Saul looked like he was the right man for the job.  On the outside he was head and shoulders above everyone else, tall dark and handsome.

Saul’s downfall wasn’t a one time event but a series of consistent character flaws that revealed where his heart was at… he made snap decisions and followed his own heart, he built his own kingdom and did things his own way.

Compare this to David… he wasn’t even in the line up when Samuel was there to choose the new king

1 Samuel 16:6-7

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

In Acts 13:22 we read that God said that David is man after my own heart – David was a man after God’s heart.

Time and time again we read how David would seek God and follow God’s ways.  He wasn’t perfect and like all humans, had some serious character flaws, but for God to say that he was a man after God’s heart speaks volumes.

All the competency in the world can’t compensate for a lack of character. Not for long.

Eventually, ultimately, your character is your lid.

Even in your workplace character is a great level upper.  You may be the smartest person in the room but if you don’t follow through and keep your word and be kind then it may hinder you in stepping up.   Lack of character hurts marriages and friendships.  It erodes trust and closes the doors to opportunities.

As John Wooden famously said, he true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.  It means we’re the same with one person, as we are on a stage or with a thousand.   I read a great challenge the other day:  live as if everything you did and everything you said would be made public.

Saul, the man who was head and shoulders above everyone didn’t have the character to carry the crown.

Like it or not, here’s the truth:

Character, not competency, determines capacity.

 

2 Timothy 2:20-21 describes a house with objects used for common and special useage.

 

2 Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. Therefore, if anyone purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

 

So the question I want to ask today is simple.

What are you doing to grow your character?  What are you doing today to be prepared for every good work?  To be a person who will live the vision?

Psalm 119:11 says I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

As human beings we are flawed selfish creatures.  Which is why we so need Jesus!  By reading the word of God and letting it transform us inside out, letting it challenge us, letting it choose how we live and react and letting it determine our priorities, we allow God to shape our heart and it helps our character grow so we can BE the person that lives the dream.

One of the best ways to grow your character is to remain in God’s presence. And by keeping your attention fixed on Him, you will become changed.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18

We see in David’s life when he walked close with God making the right choices was easier – note I didn’t say easy, but easier.

Francis Chan says the secret to overcoming temptation – thus the secret to growing good character – is to know that God is greater.  We need to live that – in a very real awareness and sense of awe and worship that God is greater and the thankfulness that we can have a real relationship with Him.

Vision sets boundaries for how we live our life.    It affects our choices and how we spend our time.  It changes what we give our focus and attention to.

 

My dad was a marathon runner and I have very clear memories of how all encompassing the lead up to a marathon was.  He would run every day but leading up to a marathon those runs would start earlier and would often be followed up by an evening run.  Closer to the time he would take a Wednesday afternoon off (and work in the evening) and would build up his stamina and ability to run the distance.  We would go and watch the finish line and cheer him on and it was amazing to see the hundreds of people that would do this, for fun.   Dad’s vision was to run a marathon and so he trained his body to run the race.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

The MSG version puts it this way: You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.  26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

The dream is free, but the journey isn’t. At some point, we have to make a transition from believer of the dream to buyer of the dream, from vision seer to vision be-er.  No dream comes true without somebody paying for it. If we want to achieve the vision, we have to be willing to do more than just imagine the outcome. We have to sacrifice our comfort, money, time, and energy.

“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

 

“Your life from seed to full-grown tree is a process. We all like the idea of fruit, but rarely do we allow ourselves to build a root system.” Banning Liebscher

 

Vision 1

VISION is a picture of the future that gives passion in the present.

With God I believe there are 4 parts to vision.

  1. See the vision
  2. Grow the vision
  3. Be the vision
  4. Do the vision

 

The legendary sculptor, Michelangelo claimed that as he looked into the stone, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” His imagination had already created his masterpieces before his hands did the work.

Many people don’t jump start their lives because they don’t have anything to jump to! They plod along through life with little more than survival in mind. Visionaries dare to dream. They peer into the future and generate possibilities in their mind’s eye.

John Maxwell says : Vision is the roadmap to your destiny, the picture of your purpose. Without it, you may find yourself off course — or worse, going nowhere.

We all have limitations. Limited time, limited resources, and limited energy. We cant have it all.  Seeing the vision clearly helps us to prioritize which opportunities to bypass and which activities deserve our dedication.

The choices we make either draw us closer to our vision or push us farther away from it. If we’re unsure of the vision, then we won’t know how to make decisions that carry us in the right direction. Clear vision illuminates the path in front of us as we select which roads to travel down in life.

Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives.  Too many times the routines of life begin to feel like shovelling dirt.  But take those same routines and responsibilities and view them through the lens of vision and everything looks different.  Vision brings your world into focus.  A clear vision enables you to see everything differently.  Andy Stanley

 

So we all now agree that Vision is important – its necessary!  But for some of us it can be one of those ethereal things we know we should have but we’re not sure how to actually get one.  You cant go buy one off the shelf and even reading amazing books or listening to inspiring podcasts may not help.

Now in talking about vision I’m not just talking about ministry.  Often in a church context we narrow our scope of what vision is to cool God stuff – which is cool and awesome.  But God doesn’t put vision in a box.  He wants us to have a vision for our lives and that can be ministry, or business, or the arts, or science or politics.  God doesn’t want us to limit our dreams to these 4 walls – to God there is no spiritual and secular.  Everything can be a God vision.

Firstly, vision is something you can ask God for.  He is the dream giver and the dream fulfiller.  God has a blueprint or intelligent design plan created for each and every one of our lives.  In Philippians 1:6 it says that God finishes what He starts.  He has a vision for your life and He doesn’t want it to be a secret.  He loves to share it!

Vision begins with surrender.  God I give you my life.  God I give you permission for you to lead me.  God I want to live for you.  God, here am I send me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 can sound like such a cliché but it’s a very real truth…  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

From that position of surrender God begins to stir our hearts towards “something” – and I say something because often we don’t fully know what that will look like but we can be fully assured that God will direct our paths.

When I was 16 I got saved at an easter camp and I knew right from that moment of salvation that I wanted to preach.  And even as years went by I knew that that was my vision and calling – to preach was part of my something.   As I walked with God and “grew up” that began to become more defined and clear.

There are some practical questions we can ask ourselves to help define our vision

Take some time to LOOK…

Within you: What is your passion?

Behind you: How have past lessons and experiences prepared you to pursue your passion?

Around you: What’s happening to others around you that inspire you or break your heart?

Ahead of you: What do you want to accomplish?

Above you: What part does God play in your life and dream?

Beside you: What resources are available to you?

Alongside you: Who can partner with you in this pursuit?

 

These questions might illuminate the seeds of vision God has planted within you.  Vision starts as a seed and often grows and unfolds as we step forward into it.

“In the pursuit of following Him, He brought my destiny to me. I didn’t have to chase my destiny. It came. My eyes fixed on Him, walking to Him and He aligns my steps” Kim Walker Smith

close up photo ofg light bulb

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Have any of you here done anything that scared you so much you thought you might have a I need new pants moment…. Or that your heart might stop…. Or that you might never survive???

A few years ago we went to The Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise baby!

We hit the theme parks, Sea world, Wet and Wild and Movie World.

Movie world has this one ride that scared the whatever out of me but that I knew I had to get my son to do.  I knew he wouldn’t do it unless I did.  So we made a deal.  I would hold a snake if he would ride the rollercoaster with me.

So we lined up for the Superman Escape Ride.  After waiting waiting waiting about 45 minutes it was our turn.  It is at this point that my son informs me that you accelerate from zero to 100 in 2 seconds.  Yes.  What the heck!  I confess at that moment I felt slightly faint and the room felt warmer and yeah….

Now the start of the roller coaster is pretty chill.  You slowly cruise round inside an underground subway system as it tells you the story of Metropolis… and then you sit…. In front of you is the light at the end of the tunnel and you sit there… waiting…  and then WHOOSH!

As we shot out now going 100km an hour my son and I had very different reactions.  I could not scream because I was too scared.  Nor could I shut my eyes.  However my son started with some noise then closed his eyes for the rest of his short life… I mean for the rest of the ride…

At the end I stumbled off the roller coaster, we laughed and high fived because we had survived!   My fearless 9 year old niece who also rode with us was like that was the best ride ever auntie Claire now can we go on the green lantern….  Like heck no!

It took courage for me to go on the superman escape.  And the reward of my courage was bragging rights and the thrill of the experience!

 

I want to introduce you to 3 people who lived life with incredible courage.

 

If you’ve got a bible app scroll to Daniel 3.  While you’re doing that let me give you a backstory.

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abendago are 3 friends and along with their mate Daniel.  They were born in Israel and when we read about them they’re teenagers and they were taken as captives from Israel to a place called Babylon where they were assimilated and retrained and kept there as prisoners of war.

 

Babylon is everything Israel is not.   In Israel they believe in God and live by a moral code.  In Babylon they don’t.  In fact the king set himself up as a god, had a massive gold statute of himself made and when the music played da da da dahhhh everyone had to bow down to the statue in worship.  This was not some optional extra or some freedom of choice thing, you HAD TO BOW DOWN or you’d be thrown in the crazy fiery furnace aka big bad fire.

This was the world they lived in AND in some degree it is the world we live in. Read the rest of this entry »

So we all love movies where the hero overcomes the odds, scores the girl, defeats the bad guy, saves the day, right?  As of the start of the week ENDGAME has made $2.73 billion which means a lot of people have seen it including one fan, Agustin Alanis who has seen it 103 times.

It’s like there is something in our DNA that is drawn towards stories of ordinaryish people who rise up and become the hero and I think something in all of us that wonders if we were put in that position… if we were bit by the spider… if we found a droid with a secret message… if we were struck by lightning… that we would accept the challenge and be the hero.. am I right?

Well in the bible we meet about a moment just like this – a guy plucked out of obscurity, chosen by God to be king, who against all the odds defeats the bad guy and saves the day.

So Israel have this king, Saul, but he’s gone off the rails a bit and God has chosen a new guy to be king and sends Samuel, the prophet to go and anoint the new king.

b3eb61fbd7cc7d0f1e6a8d11012578d5_thumb.jpg

Now here begs the question… where do you find a new king?  There aren’t schools for kings, you cant go to a shop and select one off the shelf and you cant order one from the internet.  Perhaps you could do a show like the bachelor, where you give a rose to the candidates and end up living happily ever after with the king at the end…  or survivor “the tribe has spoken”…

God tells Samuel to go to visit a family in Bethlehem and that he has chosen one of his sons to be king.

Read the rest of this entry »

low angle photography of cross on top of mountain

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You know, the bible is a little bit like the MCU.  In the MCU there are lots of big characters, your heroes, villians, people with great hair, plot twists, love stories, battles, victories, loses, and everything in between.  There are also the theories and the mythology and the easter eggs all the way through the 22 movies that belong in the MCU.

The bible is a lot like that.  Main players, heroes, villians, people with great hair, plot twists, love stories, battles, victories, loses, theories, themes and the all-important easter eggs all the way through the 66 books in the Bible.

Read the rest of this entry »

backlit cemetery christianity clouds

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Reblogged from:

The Answers: 30 Similarities between Abraham offering Isaac on Mt. Moriah and GOD offering Jesus on Mt. Calvary

In an earlier post that you can read HERE, I suggested that if you study the story of Abraham offering Isaac on Mt Moriah carefully, you could find as many as 30 similarities between that story and the story of God offering Jesus as a sacrifice on Mt Calvary. I posed this question to our Connect Group at Hebron Church on Sunday, and here are the 30 similarities that we found.

In both stories…

  1. The father leads his son to be sacrificed.
  2. A donkey is involved on the road to the sacrifice.
  3. They leave their “homeland” to go to the place of sacrifice (Abraham & Isaac travel to the mountain, Jesus leaves heaven to come to earth).
  4. To get from where they are to the place of sacrifice requires a journey.
  5. Each son is the “one and only son” of his father.
  6. The son is a descendant of Abraham.
  7. The son had been born with divine intervention.
  8. The sacrifices take place on the same mountain (called Mt. Moriah in the Old Testament, called Mt. Calvary in the New Testament — also known as Mt. Zion, by the way)
  9. The companions that were with them stayed behind (most likely on the hill across the valley, called the Mt. of Olives) when the son went with the father for the sacrifice.
  10. The son carried the wood/cross to the place of sacrifice.
  11. The son asked questions of the father.
  12. The father knew what he was called to do.
  13. The son was submissive to the will of the father.
  14. The father was willing to sacrifice his son, if necessary.
  15. The father believed in resurrection.
  16. The father loved the son.
  17. A resurrection was prophesied (Abraham said, “we’ll come back to you.” Jesus said, “I will rise on the third day.”)
  18. The son was laid upon the wood/cross.
  19. The son was bound to the wood/cross.
  20. Abraham had a knife to pierce his son, Jesus’ skin was pierced by whips laced with bones, glass and rocks.
  21. The Lord Himself provided the sacrifice (the ram, Jesus). [Note, the word order in the Hebrew text of Genesis 22:8 could read, “The Lord will provide Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” A foreshadowing of Jesus]
  22. Blood was shed.
  23. The sacrifice was a substitute (ram a substitute for Isaac, Jesus a substitute for us).
  24. The sacrifice was a demonstration of love for God.
  25. Men of great faith in God who were committed obediently to the will of God.
  26. The ram was caught in the thorns, and Jesus had a crown of thorns on his head.
  27. Abundant blessings flow because of the sacrifice (abundant life).
  28. Abraham was tested, Jesus was tested.
  29. The son ultimately survived the sacrifice.
  30. The son was resurrected on the third day.

Number 30 requires a little explanation. Jesus was literally resurrected on the third day. As for Isaac: Abraham heard from the Lord that he was to sacrifice his son. As far as he was concerned, Isaac was as good as dead at that point. The journey from their home to the place of sacrifice took three days. On the third day, God provided the ram so that Isaac was spared his life, i.e., he was “resurrected” on the third day. The Bible tells us that Abraham had great faith all along, believing that even if God did call him to slay his son that God would bring his son back to life!

Not sure if we got all 30 of them right? Maybe you found other similarities? Let me know.

Keep studying, and keep trusting in the will of God, the ways of God, and the Word of God.

On Wednesday I celebrated my 26th born again day – the day I became a Christian.

I was invited to youth by a friend in class who had never talked to me about God or youth group or anything before, she just turned to me and said do you wanna come to youth group.   I said yes.  Because God had been at work in my life way before then to draw me to him.

But sometimes we forget this.  We forget the power of invitation.  We forget about how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  We forget that God uses us to share the gospel and to invite people to church.

We get busy with life and family and work and doing, and we forget that Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and save the lost.  His priority mission was one of rescue.

I want to take Evangelism out of the too hard basket and help us see that this is something we can do in our everyday real lives, with everyday real people, being our everyday real selves.

It is not something for just special super spiritual people. It is not just something for pastors.  It is not even something just for extroverts.

It is the on earth mission that Jesus has given every single one of us if we are Christians.

Read the rest of this entry »

FOLLOW DP 7.jpg

So I remember when I moved to Blenheim in year 12.  Up to then I’d lived in a little place called Gore where they roll their Rs and where they have small school.  My school was year 7-13 and had 350 kids, total.  My school in Blenheim had 1500 GIRLS.

So in my first week I got lost, a lot.

I remember getting assigned to this peer support leader in my class and she would show me on the map where I was meant to be or escort me to class. I remember distinctly getting lost on my way to math class one day though.  Which was fine, as I didn’t like maths, but the math teacher was the meanest teacher ever and super strict and was the netball coach. Why is that important, because in my first class at math she asked me if I played netball and I was like no way, I hate netball.   Anyway, my peer support person was named Mary.  She was about yay high with brown bobbed hair.  Along with about 628 other girls at my school and she said follow me when it was time to go to math.   We got out into the corridors  where its squishy and busy and lets just say I had a height disadvantage.  One minute I saw mary the next minute all I see is white shirts and backs.  Because I’m short.  So we get outside, take a breath of fresh air, because hello, hair spray, deodorant and coconut oil…. And then I saw mary in the distance and so I followed her.  Round the corner, up the stairs, down the hall, all the way to French class.  Not math class.  Because that was not mary.  It was some other yay high brown haired girl with a bob.

I had been following the wrong girl.  And I ended up in the totally wrong place.

 

At the very start of the year we want to talk about what does it look like to Follow Jesus for real.  Sometimes we can have our good ideas, or no idea, but what does Jesus, the One who is setting the course of our life say what it means to follow him.

You see being a chrsitian isn’t about being a nice person, or being kind, or friendly, or even isn’t about coming to church and reading the bible and knowing stuff about Jesus it is about knowing Jesus as a saviour and a friend and a lord and following Him, letting Him set the path for our life, knowing God and making Him known.

 

In John 14:6 Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life.   John 14:6

I am the way.  Follow me.

I am the way the truth and the life, No one gets to the Father, to God apart from me.

Read the rest of this entry »

I love the slow pace of the new year – its time to rest, chillax, stop collaborate and listen… which for me means binge watching west wing, sleep ins and reading lots.

To kick the year off I read Shawn Bolz Translating God, which if you’re interested in knowing God more and making Him known more is well worth the read.

In Translating God he talks about connecting with Brian Welch, guitarist of Korn, who is a born again Christian and seeing God at work in and through his life.  Korn for those who don’t know, is a heavy heavy heavy metal band.  Its lyrics and concerts are not pretty.   Think drugs, sex rock and roll and then multiply that by 10 and you’re maybe getting a clear picture.  After getting saved Brian stepped away from Korn, realising that it perhaps wasn’t the best environment to walk with God and live free.  After about 10 years though he felt led by God to rejoin the band and now at concerts has a team of prophetic people scout around the audience handing out VIP backstage passes to meet with him.  These fan meet and greets however aren’t just about signing autographs or having selfies with Brian, they’re gospel presentations and supernatural encounters that see people saved and set free.  Heavy metal fans who went for a concert and met their Saviour.

I wouldn’t call Brian ordinary, but God chooses to use ordinary people to extraordinary things.  I love how God loves to use the unexpected to do amazing things.

Think about some of the main players in the Bible.

Moses – Hebrew baby, hidden away despite a death order for all male babies, then adopted by the Egyptian princess, raised in the palace who then discovers his heritage, murders an eyptian and flees to the backside of the desert where he becomes a shepherd for his father in law.  God then uses him to deliver the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and to lead them to the promised land.

David – a man after God’s heart, who commits adultery and then has the womans husband murdered

Peter – a fisherman who often speaks before he thinks, who denys Jesus 3 times, even after Jesus told him he would

Mary was an unwed mother.

Jonah ran away from God.

Elijah was depressed and suicidal.

Jacob was a liar and a cheat.

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

 

God has proved time and time again that He moves in unexpected ways through unexpected people, yet when it comes to our own lives we often want God to colour inside the lines, to be a cosmic genie granting our wishes and moving in predictable safe ways.

 

Think about some of the key moments in the Bible:

Walking around the walls of Jericho in silence until the 7th day was an unexpected battle plan.

Splitting the Red Sea was an unexpected escape route for the people of Israel as they fled from Egypt.

From the prison to the palace was an unexpected progression for Joseph.

Boy chosen to defeat a giant was an unexpected choice and a massive risk!

An elderly couple who have been barren have a promised son is outside the laws of nature.

The first preacher of the new church was an uneducated fisherman who just over a month ago had publically denied even knowing Jesus was an unexpected leadership promotion.

Being born as a human child to a virgin teenage girl, who then wed a carpenter and grew up in obsecurity, becoming a capenter himself, revealed as the Son of God who then was arrested and executed on the cross – our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose death seemed like defeat but was the greatest victory as it was the punishment for our sins and the price paid to rescue and redeem us, and was not the final say as Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose to life!

 

This morning at the start of the year I want to challenge us to say yes to the unexpected and to equip us with some keys to empower us to thrive when the unexpected comes our way.

 

 

 

Nothing is Unexpected to God.

 

One of the things I love about God is that nothing takes Him by surprize.  We will face the unplanned and the unexpected this year, but we’re loved by a Saviour who knows no surprises.

Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

 

Luke 12:7 says that God knows the number of hairs on our head which means He is paying attention to even the tiniest detail of our lives!

 

God is never surprised. To be surprised you have to be uncertain about what is coming. You have to not know things. God never not knows about the future or about anything. He is never uncertain about what is coming.

We can know this for at least two reasons. One is that the Bible shows that knowing the future, even the future of human decisions, is part of what it means to be God. And the other is that the Bible shows that God knows the future because he plans the future.

Sometimes  you just have to yell PLOT TWIST and then carry on in full assurance that God is the author of our life and that your plot twist did not shock Him.

God is all powerful and when we find ourselves facing a giant, or blocked by the red sea, or up against walls we can be confident that God is able and that nothing is impossible to Him.   We often box Him in and place our human limitations on God who has no limits.

This means that we can put our hope in God.  We can put our trust in Him.  He is the God who never fails.   He is the God that promises to complete the good work He has begun in us and that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his children who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.

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