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life speak

There is a quote by St Francis of Assisi that says “preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”

And I usually hate that quote.

Seriously.

I think people have used it as a spiritual cop out for actually talking to people about Jesus.   That they’ll just live their life and people will just look and see and just get it.

I’m more the peach the gospel at all times and use your words as well!  Im more the subliminal message gospel by osmosis thing doesn’t fly so speak up and be radically bold and just be real and tell your story.

 

But.

Our lives can often speak louder than what we say with our lips.

Our lives speak loudly.

Our lives can either back up what we say with our lips or can tell a whole different story.

 

Tonight I want to challenge you to live a life that loudly shows people that God is real, that He is good, that you can find hope and love and grace with Him, that living for Jesus is the best way to live and that He has real answers for real problems.

 

“The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift.”  — Francis Chan

 

Your life speaks loudly when you have faith to step out and do something for God, just as Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on water.

Your life speaks loudly when you say yes to God like the boy with his lunch that fed the 5000.

Your life tells a message when you choose to trust God in the face of your problems – like Joshua and the Israelites did when they circled the city of Jericho with its massive walls in silence for 7 days.

Your life tells a message when you make a choice to do what God wants even if its counter culture, like Daniel and his friends did when they refused to eat the kings food or bow down to idols or give up praying.

 

The Bible says in Philippians 2:15

Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

So that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world

 

Breaking that down it says live lives that reflect who God is.  Live lives that shine for Him.  Live lives that are clean and pure so that you stand out in a generation of darkness, a generation that lives for themselves, a generation lost.

 

 

What kind of message is your life speaking?

 

Let’s look more at Daniel and his mates, Shadrach, Mesach and abendigo.

They were 3 fine young men, born in Israel, but taken into exile in Babylon.  Their countries were at war and Babylon won and so they king there took most of the fine young men, the potential leaders, with him to Babylon.  The kings plan was to change the culture of this captured country by assimilating the key influencers to be like them.

All around us we have a culture saying BE THIS, DO THIS, LOOK LIKE THIS. We follow trends and brands and shape ourselves to fit in. There is pressure to conform and culture tries to desensitize us to the lax standards of the world so that we wont stand out or stand up for God.

But Daniel and his friends made a choice to not blend in but to stand out.

 

Let’s read about what happened in Daniel 1:

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.[b] 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.

15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.

 

You may not ever have to make stand on what you order for lunch but there are things that go on around us every day that we need to make choices about:

 

How we dress

What we watch on tv or youtube or play on xbox

Movies we go to

How we talk

Dating and flirting and all that

 

But deeper than that – cos those things are more like external symptoms of the inside standards – how we treat other people, do we join in the gossip or speak words of encouragement, do we join in with the smutty conversation or change the topic, will we be honest at all times, generosity, kindness, forgiving someone and moving on, trusting that God will do what He says He will do and be who He says He will be, that He has a plan and a purpose in our lives and for our lives…

 

It’s the times that we change the conversation from tearing someone down to building someone up.

It’s the times we turn up to church even though we could have slept in.  It matters.  It shows that church is a priority.

It’s the attitude we serve in when someone asks you to move the chairs, or fill in for the car park guy who didn’t turn up.

It’s the respect we show in the classroom.

It’s the language we use.

It’s the loops we allow our thoughts to ride on…. Do we let them loop around like a record player saying you’re a failure, worry worry worry, who do you think you are… or do you smash that record and start a new loop that has the voice of God that says you’re an overcomer, God’s got this and that He loves you and has a plan and a purpose for your life.  The words we speak and what we think about most determine what we believe.  And what we believe will leak out in our actions and words, in the way we live.  They will preach.

Small things eh.  They tell a story about who we are living our life for.

Never discount how much of an impact these small acts make on those in our world.

 

It’s interesting to note at the end of Daniel 1 we read that IN EVERY MATTER OF WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING THESE GUYS WERE BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE. Why? Because they were faithful to God and so He was faithful to them.

God wants your life to the best life He can give.  He wants to take you on God adventures.  He has plans and purposes, dreams for your life.

God doesn’t want you to miss out.

The way to live that adventure and to do all that God has purposed for us is to live a life that consistently shows that living for Jesus is real for us.

 

Now I want to add a disclaimer.  None of us is perfect.  That is why Jesus came.  He is the only perfect one.  We all have flaws and make mistakes.  We all have good days when we feel really on fire and amped and its easy to shine, and we all have days when it feels like we shouldn’t have gotten out of bed because everything we did and do was wrong.  We are all growing.  There is grace to cover that.  This is not a message to make you feel stink.  It is to challenge you and if you’re feeling challenged ask yourself why….

 

I want to finish up by reading one verse to you 4 times, 4 different ways.   It is God’s invitation to live a life that shines bright like a diamond, shines bright like stars in the dark sky.  It is God’s invitation to step out and see Him step in.  You are not created to blend in, you are invited to stand out.

 

You are invited to let your life  speak of the amazing things that God does.  To shout with your life that God’s grace is real and covers every mistake, that His love is real and never runs out.

 

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV

Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. CEV

Do not be conformed to this world, fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed and changed by the entire renewal of your mind by its new ideals and its new attitude, so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. AMP

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. MSG

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When I was fairly newly saved a guy who prayed for me at a youth group meeting said he felt God wanted me to go home and read Acts 29.

Now you may have just gone through the files of your mind and thought, wait a minute…. there is no Acts 29.  Acts finishes, albeit somewhat suddenly and with the hint of a comma in Acts 28.

As a new Christian I had no reference and I went home, and yes, searched diligently for Acts 29.

Was this guy wrong? Was he not hearing God?

Or was he mocking me???  What was going on!

I talked to him at church on sunday following and I confess, I was kind of miffed.   I leaned more on the “he was mocking me” side of things.

And then he told me that Acts 29 is the chapter that is written by MY LIFE. That I am Acts 29. That it is the exploits that me and God do together for the sake of His Gospel and His Church. It is the adventure that God and I have together with prayer and seeking His face, and God working through me to reach those around me.

Acts 29 is the church today, you and me today, expressing and living for Jesus in power, authority and love.

Acts 29 is the adventure that YOU have in your family, in your circle of friends, at your school, at your job, making God real.  It is the record of exploits you do to make God famous.  It is the conversations you have that are about spiritual things.  It is the moments you make a stand for righteousness, it is the decision you make to not fit in with what the world says but to follow God with everything.

So how do we live an Acts 29 life?

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claire dp 1When I was 16 I lived in Blenheim and would get awesome summer jobs at fruit farms over the holidays.  One year I worked for The Jones Strawberry Farm picking strawberries, a delicious but back breaking job.  I then worked for an Apricot farmer, as a picker first of all, but then in the pack house because as we quickly discovered being near the ground is an excellent quality for a strawberry picker, not so great for an apricot picker.   My day revolved around sorting the fruit, packing the fruit, stacking the packs of fruit.  Sort, stack, pack.  I was the only one in the pack house and so spent long hot days sorting, stacking, packing.

On Tuesday a friend of mine shared a hilarious take on the myers briggs personality types on facebook – The post begins with “They say that one man’s heaven is another man’s hell and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to the sixteen Myers-Briggs Personality Types. Each one is inspired, enraged and absolutely tortured by something slightly different. Here’s the destiny that would psychologically destroy each Myers-Briggs Personality type.”

Im and ENFP and this is what it said about me.  Every minute of the rest of your life has been scheduled for you – and it’s a long series of arbitrary, solitary tasks.

Sort. Pack. Stack.  By myself.  Sort. Pack. Stack.   For 2 long months.  Thankfully not the rest of my life.   The first few days of the job were great.  Good time to pray and think, I’m by myself, I can contemplate the great mysteries of the universe and dream and plan my future.  After about a week of sort, pack and stack, by myself, a long series of arbitrary, solitary tasks, I found myself going slightly cookcoo, because how many of you know, especially if you are an ENFP there is only so much deep and meaningful productive positive thinking you can do by yourself.. through another person in the mix and boom, you’re happy, but conversating with yourself, just isn’t the same. and contemplating what is the meaning of life.  The big questions.  What was I here for.  What is God’s plan for my life.  How will I get there.  Who am I, really.

Whether you’re in a job you hate or a job you love, whether you’re at school or uni, whatever stage of life you’re at these are important questions.  What does real living look like?  Because there is a difference between being alive and living, really living.

We can go through life, even successfully, ticking the boxes that define achievement for us, getting the great job, marrying the great person, having the great kids and the great cat and the great house, travelling to the great places etc etc but even that can miss the mark of what living really is.

 

Paul summed it up in 4 simple words in Philippians 1:21

To live is Christ.

This is one those rare times when Paul is brief.  Usually he has sentence with too many commas and plenty of detail and flesh.  But this one is 4 words.  To live is Christ.

 

In 2 Cor 5:15 he says  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him.

This is the standard he is living by.  This is how he defines his life.  This is the mission statement that wraps parameters and boundaries around not only the big picture but also day to day.  Paul is saying that everything he has tried to be, everything he is, and everything he looked forward to being pointed to Christ. To live is Christ.

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The other week I had a dream I knew was from God.  Last night I shared about it with my youth at HKC as they were main characters in it.

In my dream a whole bunch of us were in a massive hotel.  It had many floors and elevators and stairs.  We were in a room with huge glass windows and glass French doors that showed us the rest of the hotel.  It had a library and big tv and comfy sofas.  While we were hanging out the hotel hallways started to fill with people.  Some were faces I knew and some were strangers.  Then there was a noise.  We looked out the windows to the outside and into the hallways and the hotel was been taken over by daleks.

The Daleks were going round saying EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE and zapping people.  We moved the couches and shelves over the doors and barricaded ourselves in the big safe room.  But we realized that the people in the halls were in danger and at opportune moments we would pull the couches back and then rush into the halls warning people and getting them to come into the big safe room with us.  In the big room they could read and rest or watch a movie.  More and more people joined us and then more and more people were going into the hallways and up the stairs and rescuing people.

RESCUED PEOPLE RESCUE PEOPLE

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Cor 5:19-21

Being a rescuer starts from the inside out.  It starts with making rescuing a priority.  It starts with aligning our heart and goals and identity with His heart, His goals and His identity.

It starts with knowing that our mission is to know God and make Him known, that “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10.  Like really knowing.

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

FirstAid

Earlier this month our Kids church pastor and I did a first aid course.  After doing the course we feel empowered and ready to save lives and leap buildings in a single bound.  We did the CPR training – 30 to 2 no matter who, to the beat of staying alive, which sounds much better than to the beat of another one bites the dust.  We bandaged head wounds, knife wounds and a range of broken bones and amputations.   I only killed Jen once in our practice scenarios.  Of course the key to first aid is blankets – do you know how many times we had to use a blanket to complete our assessments and save our patients.  Many times.  But seriously, the key to first aid is knowing what to do in an emergency situation and having some pre-prepared responses that kick in when needed.

After having a conversation with someone the other day I realized that there are parallels between first aid and evangelism.  The key to feeling empowered to step into an emergency first aid situation is as I said, that knowledge of what to do and some pre-prepared responses that guide you through a situation.   I feel confident that if I came across an incident, that because of the first aid training that I would feel competent to step in.  I even dreamed about it the other night!   I did however think it was odd that kylo ren was the ambulance driver….  Welcome to my world….

The key to feeling empowered to step into an evangelistic situation also involves knowing what to do and how to use those skills.   Our confidence comes from being trained and equipped to step in when the opportunity presents itself.

God has called each one of us to be ambassadors and witnesses – to shine His light into the world so that people will see God in the darkness.  It is God who saves and draws people to Himself but He demonstrates His love and grace and lives out salvation in us.

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God has called each one of us to be ambassadors and witnesses – to shine His light into the world so that people will see God in the darkness.  It is God who saves and draws people to Himself but He demonstrates His love and grace and lives out salvation in us.

God has qualified and empowered each one of us to do this momentous task.  It should be done every day in every conversation in every opportunity.  It’s not something we turn off or turn on.  We don’t clock in or clock out. We ARE witnesses.  24/7.  We ARE the light of the world, unhidden and shinning bright. God often uses small matches to light up great torches, no matter how small you feel in this world, He has something big in store for you and will use you in amazing ways.

I know for myself that the key to being a witness and a light is to say YES.  One small word changes my intentionality level and willingness to be used by God.  One small word.  YES.

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When we say YES to extraordinary things can happen.  Our willingness to say YES opens the doors for God to bring people.  Saying YES can be the hinge that will change our lives, and the lives of those that we have God conversations with.

  1. Recognizes & Responds

When we say YES To God we recognize that it is His will, not our will.  He is God and He sees all and knows all.  He can lead us to the desert because He knows who we will meet there.  He can take us to unfamiliar “places” because everything is on His radar and map.   Saying YES acknowledges that He is Lord and that we are not.

YES is our response to God’s love and grace.  Obedience isn’t to win salvation or “pay it back” because it is a free gift from God, but when we love Him we want to live to please Him.

1 John 2:3–6  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

 

John 14:15 puts it even more black and white.  “If you love me, keep my commands.”

 

If we say we love God and yet are not prepared to talk to other people about Him, and are not prepared to step out as God leads… then what does that say about our faith????

 

 

 

  1. Responsibility

God has given us the ministry of reconciliation.  God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. 2 Corinthians 5:19-21

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that all who believe in Him will not die but have eternal life. And God uses you and me as ambassadors, as representatives, to proclaim this good news.

God’s plan is to rescue the world and the very agents of change to proclaim the gospel is you and me.

Rescued people. People who have experienced grace for real.

We have a responsibility as ministers of reconciliation – as ambassadors for Christ.

Todd White, awesome evangelist, says he isn’t a professional evangelist, he is just a full time Christian.  When we make evangelism a task instead of a lifestyle we relegate it to the to-do list, or the maybe-do list.   We put our evangelist hat on when it suits us instead of living all the time on the ready, in the role, ambassadors representing Jesus everyday, in every way.

It is our responsibility as believers to “Live in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God will come to know God because they know you.”

Pray that God would set up scenarios which would give you the chance to invite someone to church and share your story with them. Don’t be reactive, be proactive and ASK God specifically for these moments.

 

 

  1. Results

I am more convinced now than ever before that someone who says “yes” to God in big ways and in small ways is a world changer and an eternity changer.

Sometimes the world seems so big and the commission to tell all the world about Jesus can seem quite daunting. But I have personally experienced the wonder of simply being obedient to whatever is right in front of me and it is enough.

My job is obedience. God’s job is results.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 says I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Isaiah 55:10-11 says “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,

And do not return there,

But water the earth,

And make it bring forth and bud,

That it may give seed to the sower

And bread to the eater,

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
When we have God conversation with someone we are planting seeds, watering seeds and sending forth the Word of God.

Don’t you love the iconic spray and walk away add.  30 Seconds, spray, walk away.

In the same way we have a conversation, we pray, and then we walk away.  The results belong to God and just as the 30 seconds solution works on the lichen and moss, dissolving it, so the words of God and the Holy Spirit works in people’s hearts dissolving barriers against the gospel.

So often though don’t we put the pressure on ourselves to not only plant the seed, water all the other seeds, weed the patch, apply fertilizer and harvest the crops….   The results are Gods.  God may lead you to pray with the person or to take them to the next level but the results are His.

 

 

  1. Refocus

Peter talked last week about how we are being conformed into the image of santa, I mean Jesus, the perfect evangelist, the perfect apostle, the perfect teacher, the perfect prophet, the perfect pastor.  We are all being transformed to be more like Jesus.

This transformation process is the journey of refocusing on what is really important.

Seek first the kingdom of God.

“The Enemy is trying to get you off assignment. He wants to distract you with something that God is not emphasizing in your life so that you will miss what God wants to teach you in that moment. Make no mistake: God is trying to grow you exactly where you are.”  Banning Liebsher

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.” —James 4:7-8 MSG Focus

Life is more than breathing and so often everything can become focused on me me me unless we surrender to a constant process of refocusing.

Refocus on what is important to God.  People.  Lost people.  Jesus said His mission was to seek and save the lost.

Refocus on how God sees people.  Do we see people as unreachable, in the too hard basket, or that they’ve got it all together?

Having the heart and lifestyle of an evangelist means that you will begin to look at the people in your life differently. Every person in your life is created in the image of God, and Jesus commands every one of them to follow Him. God has placed these people in your life so that you will do everything that you can to influence them. Following Jesus means that you will be teaching other people to follow Jesus.

God sees people as children He loves and died for and did everything to rescue them.  When we refocus and allow God to soften our hearts for people we align ourselves with his heart.  It is often the hardness of OUR hearts that is the barrier to people getting saved than it is the hardness of their own heart…

Being completely honest, list a few reasons why you’ve avoided inviting your friends to church. Then pray over each one of them – that God would give you compassion and courage instead of focusing on yourself.  Ask God to change your perspective about those who don’t have a relationship with Him: ask Him to open your eyes to the reality that their soul CRAVES Him.

 

  1. Rejoice

When we say YES to God we get to be part of the redemption process.  “Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person.” He wants to partner with us – that rescued people would rescue people.  That we who feel the effects of grace and love, who have experienced salvation for real, would then get to go and tell other people about it.   There is incredible joy in being used by God.  There is nothing better than a conversation with someone that becomes a spiritual conversation.  Heaven throws a party when one person gives their lives to Jesus.  That is rejoicing.

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As I pause to help others, I am reminded that, just like Jesus, we are called to notice the people around us and to bring a touch of hope into their lives.  A person pursuing obedience is able to pause and touch those that He says need our time, in spite of busy schedules.  The obedience soul redefines who she is through God’s eyes and any hesitation to do what He asks fades way. // Lysa Terkeurst

 

Whether I’m writing an encouraging note to a discouraged friend or lending a helping hand to a mother who is overwhelmed with the responsibilities of her life, I’ve discovered its so simple to bring the light of God into the midst of our everyday world.  It is in the small acts of life that He can be reflected so beautifully – taking a meal to a new mother, welcoming a new neighbour with an invitation for dinner, or even just smiling at strangers as we pass them on the street.  as i pause to help others, I am reminded that, just like Jesus, we are called to notice the people around us and to bring a touch of hope into their lives.  // Lysa Terkeurst //

 

“Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person.”  // Lysa Terkeurst

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God has made us ALL to be witnesses – not just the people people, or the extroverts or the youth or the whatever, but all of us.   If you are a born again Holy Spirit filled believer in Jesus Christ then the bible says that you are filled with power to be a witness.

Sometimes we need a reminder as to what that means and to how that can look in our real life, and a reminder about how passionate God is about this.  God is passionate about the lost and the prodigals.

 

Now we can know that in theory.  We can know the nice bible verses and have a mental agreement that yes, God loves Lost… people.

But how do we embrace and engage the wonder of evangelism and make it real in our lives.

What does it look like for your life?  For your context?

 

Who do we invite?

How are we invite someone?

Why are we inviting them?

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