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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.

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So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.    Galatians 5:16-17

Matthew 16:24 [ Take Up the Cross and Follow Him ] Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

when i became a christian i didnt know this verse – i didnt know any of the bible.  but somewhere deep in my mind i thought that if i gave my life to God that it would mean for the rest of my life i would have to be boring, good, nice and wear gray.  and listen to amy grant.  but yet, because i had jsut discovered that God was real and that i had to respond to that and that he was awesome and had died to save me and give me life here on earth and for all eternity and that he loved me and had a plan for me… i was willing to wear gray and be boring.  forever.  the exchange was worth it.  imagine my delight and surprize to discover that being a child of God ment more adventure and blessing and satisfaction than i could ever imagine! 

yet.  there is that passage.  in black and white.  take up your cross and DENY yourself. 

it doesnt conjure up images of delight and dancing. 

it brings to mind death and suffering and sacrifice and hardship.

but it doesnt mean wearing gray and living a boring life.  it doesnt mean that we need to take a sledge hammer to our tv, melt our cds, burn our clothes apart from the really fugly ones, have only 1 pair of shoes, eat stale bread and sardines, no social life, no friends, no fun…. 

it does mean we need to be discerning and choose to live according to the ways of God – ways to bless us and keep us safe and ways that lead us into the adventures of God and His love.

sometimes we need to turn the tv off and keep a clean heart.

sometimes we need to reign in our materialism and be generous.

sometimes we need to make choices about relationships that distract and lead us astray.

but the reward is so good.

when we choose the flesh we reap death.  when we choose obedience we reap spiritual rewards.

its about perspective.  we need to shake loose that idea that the stuff we’re denying is good and good for us.  its not.  really, its not.  we need to get in our heart that the reality is that God’s ways are sooo good and living for Him and living close is sooooo the way to live.  the world doesnt offer even a fraction of what God offers.

 

“In a day when believers seem to be trying to please both the world and the Lord (which is an impossible thing), when people are far more concerned about offending their friends than offending God, there is only one answer… Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him!” — Keith Green, No Compromise album, 1978.

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preaching notes for young adults service sunday 9th august:

Paul says EXAMINE YOURSELF:  Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. 2 Corinthians 13:5

How are you living?

Who are you living for?

What is your purpose?

Are you living an intentional life?

What does your life say about you?

Life is more than breathing.  We are alive for a purpose and a reason.  For such a time as this.   And we have been chosen and called by the Almighty God to demonstrate his love and glory and grace to those around us.  We are not Sims characters or robots.  We are not aimless purposeless beings.

Life is intentional.

HOW we live and WHO we live for is important.

Paul says take a hard look at yourself.  Examine yourself.  He asks us to think about how we are living our lives – to make sure we are in the faith… to make sure we are living as God would want us to live… knowing Him.

  • Matthew 10:37-39

37If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples. 38And unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples. 39If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it. CEV

37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.  NKJV

And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me.  Amplified

6You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.     27You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.  Luke 14:26-27

Take = to seize, take ahold of

Follow after me = to be in the same way

When the Roman Empire crucified a criminal or captive, the victim was often forced to carry his cross part of the way to the crucifixion site, carrying his cross through the heart of the city.

The picture is of a man, already condemned, required to carry the beam of his own cross to the place of execution. Disciples from Galilee knew what this meant, for hundreds of men had been executed by this means in their region.

The cross was an instrument of death and total sacrifice.

Jesus seems to be saying that just as a condemned man is forced to carry the crossbeam of his own cross, we are to “take up our cross.”

Denying self requires us to give up anything that we would want or seek that would hinder our doing the will of God. This does not mean that, if we want something, it is necessarily wrong. It means we must take our wants and desires down from the throne and place Jesus and His will as the governing power in our lives.

Whatever He wants with my life is what must be done with it.

Paul knew this – He LIVED it!   He made it real.  He says I HAVE

  • Galatians 2:20

I have been nailed to the cross with Christ. 20I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

So how do WE do this in real life?

You probably don’t need me to give u a list of “good crucified behaviour” – a check list of good character traits…   You have the Holy Spirit within you to transform you and teach you and to tell you when you’re walking the right road and to warn you when you’re heading into dodgy territory…

You have the Word of God that shows us who God is and how he acts and what Jesus does – he is the one we model our lives on and follow.

Paul is pretty clear on what a Christian should do and not do…  as well as that it isn’t about rules and regulations but about our character being the outward expression of our inward obedience and love for God and desire to please him.

The 10 commandments show us what the big NOTs are – do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal etc… and Jesus unpacks it in Matthew 5-7 about how that looks in real life, that anger = murder, that lust = adultery, that selfishness and coveting = thieving….

So we’re blessed to have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God to show us and teach us….  We just need to be open and listening and reading and learning and surrendering and following…

We sing all the songs….  “All you are, is all I want, I want to see you etc…” we need to LIVE it!  we need to LIVE it!  lets not just sing the words but lets put it into day to day practice and day to day life.

So HOW?

How do we carry our cross and follow Jesus?

How do we live the crucified life?

How do we seek first the kingdom of God?

How do we love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength?

How do we be real Christians?

For me there are 3 keys:

  1. The Word
  2. Love
  3. Make the Choice
  • The Word.

I talked about the Word of God showing us how to live our lives above.  The Word shows us how we should live – who we should be – characteristics and principals

Psalm 119:9-11  With what shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word.  With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your Commandments.  I have hidden Your Word in my heart, so that I might not sin against You.

How does a young person keep from sin?  By hiding the Word of God in our hearts – by reading it and learning it and loving it and listening to what God reveals in it and doing it and thinking about it and being challenged by it….

Hebrews 4:12  For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

You want to know how to live a life that pleases God… read your Bible.   Its all in there and God will speak to you and challenge you.

  • LOVE

John 14:23 Jesus replied:    If anyone loves me, they will obey me. Then my Father will love them, and we will come to them and live in them

1 John 5:3  We show our love for God by obeying his commandments, and they are not hard to follow.

You might think God is a killjoy sometimes.

That he wants to restrict our lives and make us wear gray and be boring.

But that is so the opposite of who God is and his heart for each one of us.

He is the amazing Creator of the Universe – the universe is tucked into his hands – he speaks to us and teaches us and lives within us and uses us and heals us and transforms us…  he gives us dreams and desires – he has a plan and a purpose for us that doesn’t suck but is the kind you hope for.

“God is not merely the best version of you that you can think of.  God is far more than that, above and beyond all that you ask or think.”

Living a crucified life is about loving God.  Knowing God and loving him.  Loving him and following him.  Day by day relationship with him.  it is about sacrifice and obedience, yes, but done because of love, not because of “must do” or “should do” feelings, but because of love.

  • Make the choice.

Living for God is a choice.  Living a life surrendered to him is a choice.  Living a life that takes up the cross and says that it is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me, a life that pleases God is a choice.  A choice that is made every day, sometimes many times a day.

Romans 8:3-10 But God set you free when he sent his own Son to be like us sinners and to be a sacrifice for our sin. God used Christ’s body to condemn sin. 4He did this, so that we would do what the Law commands by obeying the Spirit instead of our own desires. 5People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. 6If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. 7Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God’s laws. 8If we follow our desires, we cannot please God.       9You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit, who lives in you. People who don’t have the Spirit of Christ in them don’t belong to him. 10But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you…

We make a choice to follow God and obey him.  We make a choice to deny what our selfish desires want and to reject them and to obey God.

Sometimes the choice is obvious – do I shoplift or not?  Do I go and get drunk or not?  Do I go mess around with that boy or girl or not?  Do I swear or not?   Sometimes the choice is a bit more gray and comes down to us managing our emotions more than our actions… the whole anger/lust/selfishness thing…  Its still a choice.

Make the decision before you go into life to obey God.  Make the decision to be one that follows God.  Let that colour every decision you make and every action you do.  Let that influence who you are and what you do.

It is about abdicating my will to Gods.  Not making me a robot – in case you were wondering… but yielding what I would naturally want to what God would want…

Lets just put it black and white.  Christians are ment to know God and be in relationship with him and do what he says. HE is God and we are not.

Crucified living may not feel pretty all the time and it may hurt.

It may not turn out to be a life of ease and comfort…  God will challenge you on who you are and what you do…  he will call you to live outside your comfort zone… but it is worth it… it is worth it….

Sometimes following Jesus isn’t all happiness and roses… it is loneliness and suffering, discipline and sacrifice. There are times when God works on our character that just aren’t pleasant… when we feel like we are walking through the fire and flame,   Obedience can be painful. Obedience can strike at the heart of the things we want to hold onto the most. It can cause us to walk in a direction we hadn’t planned on, and maybe even don’t want to. Obedience can put you in a circumstance and place that stretches your heart and faith. But obedience has a reward. Intimacy with God. Obedience I believe does please God.

And I want to throw this out there… there are rewards and consequences for how you live your life….  Matthew 7:21-23 21Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. 22On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” 23But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!”

EXAMINE YOURSELF…

We live our lives as a response to the love and grace God has poured out upon us.

I live my life in obedience as a response of thanks and awe and gratefulness to God for his salvation and love.

For God so loved me that he gave his only Son that I would not die but have eternal life.

It is not that I first loved God but that He loved me first and sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin.

My life is not my own….  It was rescued and redeemed and paid for by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, to pay the penalty for my sin and rebellion against God.

LEAD ME TO THE CROSS:

Tonight… examine yourself.  Test yourself.

Are you living as Jesus calls you to live?

Or are you living for yourself?

Tonight though we can make a fresh start.

Tonight we can come before God and repent – say sorry and then determine to live a changed life – and start fresh.

If you have turned away from God and have been living life your own way and rebelling from him – tonight you need to come and start again.

There are consequences for how we live our life.  Consequences that are either rewards or not.

God is calling you to come and know him and to live for him pleasing him.

Start now.  Start now.

You cannot give place to the world, to your passions or your laziness. Words are not enough to claim the kingdom of God. It takes strength and courage and violence. You must violently resist the tides of the world. Violently give up all that holds you back from God. Violently turn your will over to God to do His will alone. This violence is what I pray you will come to know, for how else will you know anything of the life of the Lord Jesus? Fenelon from 100 days in the secret place

The violence that Francis Fenelon is talking about in this above quote is not about arrogant rough hit and punch violence.  it is not the voilence we see on tv or read about in the news.  it is not filled with swearing or expressed with fists.  It is the passionate pursuit of ones goals – in our case – the Kingdom of God. With force and decision and resolve we must resist the desires of the flesh and hold onto the course before us – the narrow path of holiness and surrender. It takes guts to follow Christ. Jesus himself said:

Matthew 16:24-25 If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it.


Sometimes following Jesus isnt all happiness and roses… it is loneliness and suffering, discipline and sacrifice. There are times when God works on our character that just arent pleasant… when we feel like we are walking through the fire and flame, and feel like we are walking those paths alone. God seems distant and prayers unanswered.

i was watching Rob Bell’s Nooma dvd NOISE today and i was again stirred by Elijah meeting with God on the mountain top – not Mt Carmel, but a forgotten, hidden mountain where he had run away too.  he had run away from his ministry and the people and the opposition – he was running away from life.  While on the mountain there was an earthquake, a mighty wind, a raging fire – but God was NOT in the fire or the wind or the earthquake.  he was not in the loud demonstration.  he was in the small quiet voice… Rob Bell pointed out that this really means SILENCE.  God was in the silence.  God is in teh silence we face in our lives, when he seems far away he is so near.  do we hold on and hear him and find him or do we continue to run?

Take hope in the words of the Bible, that say that God IS with us through the fire and the flame (Isaiah 43) and that He does hear our prayers always.

1Peter 1:6-7 in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations; so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Our faith is regarded as being much more precious than gold to God. It does go through the fire of refinement as we are shaped into the character of Jesus.

We must be committed to following God, to allowing His way in our lives and to walking one step at a time forward. We must be committed to making God-decisions, not just good ones, and to rejecting the things we must reject. No one ever said it would be easy, just worth it. Eternally.  we must press on, as Paul said.

Living the Crucified Life

Paul says EXAMINE YOURSELF:  Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. 2 Corinthians 13:5

How are you living?

Who are you living for?

What is your purpose?

Are you living an intentional life?

What does your life say about you?

Life is more than breathing.  We are alive for a purpose and a reason.  For such a time as this.   And we have been chosen and called by the Almighty God to demonstrate his love and glory and grace to those around us.  We are not Sims characters.  We are not aimless purposeless beings.

Life is intentional.

HOW we live and WHO we live for is important.

Paul says examine yourself.  Test yourself.  He asks us to think about how we are living our lives – to make sure we are in the faith… to make sure we are living as God would want us to live… knowing Him.

I have been nailed to the cross with Christ. 20I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Matthew 10:37-39

37If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples. 38And unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples. 39If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it. CEV

37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.  NKJV

And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me.  Amplified

6You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.     27You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.  Luke 14:26-27

Take = to seize, take ahold of

Follow after me = to be in the same way

There are rewards and consequences for how we live our lives.

Galatians 5:19-21 19People’s desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. 20They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are 21envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God’s kingdom.

Revelation 21:8 But I will tell you what will happen to cowards and to everyone who is unfaithful or dirty-minded or who murders or is sexually immoral or uses witchcraft or worships idols or tells lies. They will be thrown into that lake of fire and burning sulfur. This is the second death.

Matthew 7:21-23 21Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. 22On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” 23But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!”

So how do we do this in real life?

You probably don’t need me to give u a list of “good cruicified behaviour” – a check list of good character traits…   You have the Holy Spirit within you to transform you and teach you and to tell you when you’re walking the right road and to warn you when you’re heading into dodgy territory…

You have the Word of God that shows us who God is and how he acts and what Jesus does – he is the one we model our lives on and follow.

Paul is pretty clear on what a Christian should do and not do…  as well as that it isn’t about rules and regulations but about our character being the outward expression of our inward obedience and love for God and desire to please him.

The 10 commandments show us what the big NOTs are – do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal etc… and Jesus unpacks it in Matthew 5-7 about how that looks in real life, that anger = murder, that lust = adultery, that selfishness and coveting = thieving….

So we’re blessed to have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God to show us and teach us….  We just need to be open and listening and reading and learning and surrendering and following…

We sing all the songs….  “All you are, is all I want, I want to see you etc…” we need to LIVE it!  we need to LIVE it!  lets not just sing the words but lets put it into day to day practice and day to day life.

So HOW?

How do we carry our cross and follow Jesus?

How do we live the crucified life?

How do we seek first the kingdom of God?

How do we love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength?

How do we be real Christians?

We live our lives as a response to the love and grace God has poured out upon us.

I live my life in obedience as a response of thanks and awe and gratefulness to God for his salvation and love.

For God so loved me that he gave his only Son that I would not die but have eternal life.

It is not that I first loved God but that He loved me first and sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin.

My life is not my own….  It was rescued and redeemed and paid for by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, to pay the penalty for my sin and rebellion against God.

Tonight… examine yourself.  Test yourself.

Are you living as Jesus calls you to live?

Or are you living for yourself?

Tonight though we can make a fresh start.

Tonight we can come before God and repent – say sorry and then determine to live a changed life – and start fresh.

If you have turned away from God and have been living life your own way and rebelling from him – tonight you need to come and start again.

There are consequences for how we live our life.  Consequences that are either rewards or not.

God is calling you to come and know him and to live for him pleasing him.

Start now.  Start now.

many people say they want to be martyrs for Jesus – yet they dont do a flash job living for him (no to diss anyone here).

Do not desire crosses, unless you have borne well those laid on you; it is an abuse to long after martyrdom while unable to bear an insult patiently. — Francis de Sales

one way the real cross is outworked in our life here and now is how do we handle all of those “small” things – a rude driver, a grumpy workmate, a provocative woman, a tired child, a difficult situation.

Luke 14:27 You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.

when jesus told his disciples to carry their cross they probably knew exactly what he was meaning and the challenge and the severity of the call.

  1. The Cross was the death penalty for criminals. During that time, criminals carry their own cross to the crucifixion site. When people saw this they knew that they were looking at a dead man. 
  2. The Cross means that you have no more right. That you are under the power of the government and council who have condemned you to death.
  3. you have left everything behind.  you have left your family, your job, your home, your friends, your lifestyle… everything is in the past.

Sometimes we get all “spiritual” and declare like peter did in the fevour of the moment:

But Peter was so sure of himself that he said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never say that I don’t know you!” All the others said the same thing. Mark 14:31

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I go with you now? I would die for you!” John 13:37

yet we know that within hours Peter denied that he even knew the Lord, swearing and cursing.

Instead we should be people who day by day allow God to shape us and transform us.

Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better. Colossiand 3:10

we should take up our cross and live daily, moment by moment, transforming and obeying and abiding and learning and loving God.  it is in the midst of life that God is demonstrating himself through us.  we should pray for LIFE – a life gloriying God and shinning for him.

the quote above is saying that we shouldnt long for a flash in the pan experience or a go out in a flame of glory type life, wanting the gold star for extraordinary sacrifice, but that we should every day and in every circumstance demonstrate God and his grace and love and character.  we should pray for opportunities to LIVE for Jesus – our lives can make such a significant difference…

Colossians 3:1-14  You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God’s right side.  Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth.  You died, which means that your life is hidden with Christ, who sits beside God.  Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory.  Don’t be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex. Don’t be immoral or indecent or have evil thoughts. Don’t be greedy, which is the same as worshiping idols.  God is angry with people who disobey him by doing these things.  And that is exactly what you did, when you lived among people who behaved in this way. But now you must stop doing such things. You must quit being angry, hateful, and evil. You must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others.  And stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits.  Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are circumcised or not. You may even be a barbarian or a Scythian, and you may be a slave or a free person. Yet Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.  God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient.  Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you.  Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.

You cannot give place to the world, to your passions or your laziness. Words are not enough to claim the kingdom of God. It takes strength and courage and violence. You must violently resist the tides of the world. Violently give up all that holds you back from God. Violently turn your will over to God to do His will alone. This violence is what I pray you will come to know, for how else will you know anything of the life of the Lord Jesus? Fenelon from 100 days in the secret place

The violence that Francis Fenelon is talking about in this above quote is not about arrogant rough hit and punch violence. It is the passionate pursuit of ones goals – in our case – the Kingdom of God. With force and decision and resolve we must resist the desires of the flesh and hold onto the course before us – the narrow path of holiness and surrender. It takes guts to follow Christ. Jesus himself said:

Matthew 16:24-25 If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it.

Sometimes following Jesus isnt all happiness and roses… it is loneliness and suffering, discipline and sacrifice. There are times when God works on our character that just arent pleasant… when we feel like we are walking through the fire and flame, and feel like we are walking those paths alone. God seems distant and prayers unanswered.

Take hope in the words of the Bible, that say that God IS with us through the fire and the flame (Isaiah 43) and that He does hear our prayers always.

1Peter 1:6-7 in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations; so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Our faith is regarded as being much more precious than gold to God. It does go through the fire of refinement as we are shaped into the character of Jesus.

We must be committed to following God, to allowing His way in our lives and to walking one step at a time forward. We must be committed to making God-decisions, not just good ones, and to rejecting the things we must reject. No one ever said it would be easy, just worth it. Eternally.

“there is nothing better than knowing we’ve been redeemed”

there is nothing better than knowing we belong to God, that we are part of his family, that we are forgiven and clean and righteous. there is nothing better than knowing we are loved and liked and secure with God. and the awesome thing is we can be assured and confident in being saved and knowing God. we can be confident of his everlasting love and grace.

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

“When you stand the tall trees and mountains bow
When you speak the fiercest of oceans is still”

God is almighty! he sees all and knows all and is full of love and compassion. he is interactive and personal in our lives, near – not far away. creation sees and shouts of his glory – the heavens declare the creativity and wonderfulness of God. i look at creation and i see a creative God who has the universe in his hands. i see how he cares for the sparrow, the flower, the fruit bat, the zebra, the goldfish, the house cat, the seagull, the spider, the tiger… i see how he cares for his creations and know that he cares for me above all others and that i am loved and precious to Him. and so i trust Him.

“I will take up my cross and follow Lord where you lead me”

so how do we respond to this awseome God? how then shall we live? in worship and surrender. obeying God. learning about Him. knowing Him. we should live our lives to please Him, to know Him and make Him known.

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Worship Wednesday

1000 Things

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