Three days is all it took…
Three days is all it took for the Israelites to go FROM PRAISING God for delivering them from the hands of Pharaoh and parting the Red Sea TO GRUMBLING against Him for the lack of water.
How long would we have lasted…
How short were their memories?
Did they really think that God, who parted and opened up the sea would let them die of dehydration?
Am I, are we much different?
Me, without food and water? Probably the same time frame.
I have to think back over the last few months to how God has been moving in my life. Moving in an unmistakable way. How long did it take for me to go from praising Him to grumbling against Him.
Read through: Exodus 14:27-31 and Exodus 15:22-24
Could it be that all our complaining and grumbling in life is really directed towards God?
God why don’t you fix this problem…
I am taking up the challenge that over the next 24 hrs to take whinging away from my tongue. I want to replace it with praise to God, prayer to God, songs to God. If complaining is the opposite of faith, I pray that I (we) can walk by belief that God has things in his hands and working for His good.
Read through the below passages:
1 Corinthians 1:18-19, 22-24
18-21 The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,
I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb--preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.
22-25 While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”
16-17 It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”
Ever wonder why God doesn’t do anything extraordinary today?
Where is the power?
Where are the miracles like those we see in the Bible?
Well, what if I told you that they are right in front of us? That’s what the two passages say.
Every time someone hears the good news, sees the good news put into practice it SHOWS God’s POWER surrounds us.
Could it also be that as we respond to God, in little and big ways we witness more of God’s ultimate power and control! Things changing from the temporal to the eternal, from death to life! Today and forever change… That’s power.
It’s hard not to get sucked into only looking for the big things. It’s harder as well as we really only PRAISE God (applaud Him) when we notice incredible things shift in our lives and around the world.
Today look around you. Notice the lives around you. Ask people what God has shown or given them lately. Maybe ask how they came to know that God always cares for them. Listen to their stories. Pay attention to how God has changed their lives, and then see if you notice how God is forever changing yours!
Maybe it’s time we threw a party to celebrate the power of God, the power of the good news and the work of Jesus Christ!
Read through Genesis 1 or scroll through the passage. And as you do, underline "God spoke" every time you see it.
Think about it, before God spoke, there was nothing. Nothing existed. And as soon as God spoke… BAM instantly the universe was created.
That is the power of God. He merely speaks, and He merely speaks a words, and whatever He says, happens.
Next read through Revelations 19 or scroll through the passage. This chapters gives us an image of the last day of earth’s history.
Every army in the world stands to fight Jesus. Every weapon is collected and is aimed and locked onto the skies above.
How does Jesus respond?
How does Jesus fight back?
We see it in the verse ‘A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue them with a rod of iron.’
Jesus speaks and the battle is over.
This week we can explore the power of our God. We will see that it is absolute. He can do anything He wishes. Nothing can stop Him. We will discover how God unleashes His power in stories like the Creation story, the parting of the Red Sea.
Two Questions we will need to keep an eye out for are:
How does God use His power?
How does God put His power on display today?
If I was to mention 'GOD'S COMMANDS'... what would be the first few that you would write down?
Well: read through this passage of scripture and see if you can see a few not so often thought of, but extremely powerful ones!
“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
That is from Matthew 6:25-30. When we hear the word commands, we often get a negative vibe, well I do at least.
What happened when you read through the passage above?
We usually hear only one command. And it is not to worry!
But Jesus told us something else too.
The command is to look around you.
In the excursion of looking around you we get to see the artistry of God. When He created the universe, He didn't just make it functional like a well-oiled machine. He filled it with beauty.
As we come face to face with the creative genius of God, I believe we discover His thumbprint on our own lives. Think about it, every time we draw a picture, write a story, mow the lawn in the shape of a pattern, bake cakes, take a picture and edit it, we express the creative image of God within us.
On Sunday I spoke from Acts 4:32-35.
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
I really wanted to follow Ben's sermon that highlighted to me that God uses us on our journey and uses what we have to share with others. No matter if we have a lot or a little God, uses us, and He uses what we have to impact the lives that are around us.
Now normally I don't hand out sermon points that tell you to GO AND DO THIS. Rather I hope I can provoke you and for you to be challenged and that the Holy Spirit and you can chat and talk about what He is able to use you for and through what you have!
BUT, here is a list and then a blog that really helped me think of some great ways to be a servant to those around me right now, hopefully impacting people's lives through the things I have in the RIGHT NOW.
Click on the picture below and it will take you to a great blog where it shares these 35 great ways to love your neighbour right now.
I hope you are both encouraged and challenged.
Mel Gibson is the director of The Passion of the Christ, a famous movie which documents the life and the death of Jesus in a very real and authentic way. His most recent movie being Hacksaw Ridge, a WWII movie realised in 2016, which documents the life of a man named Desmond Doss. Ross saved countless lives during WWII, all without ever holding a weapon, a decision which he made based off his faith. These two movies both display and highlight God’s grace, his enormous love and the fact that all those who are weary, who are burdened, who need strength and courage can come to him and receive it.
Mel Gibson’s life hasn’t been all glitz and glamor being a Hollywood movie star and director. He went through a period of time during his adulthood where he struggled with drugs and alcohol, was caught and arrested for drink driving and struggled with controlling his emotions. Despite the addictions and the darkness Mel Gibson experienced he found comfort in his faith. The development of the movie The Passion came out of Gibson’s intense fascination with the Bible, especially around the teachings of Jesus. In making the movie Gibson wanted to portray a highly realistic representation of what the lead up to Jesus death really looked like and the sheer magnitude of his sacrifice for humanity. The result being an awe-inspiring, gritty, raw and extremely authentic portray of Jesus life, death and resurrection.
There is no doubt that Mel Gibsons life has been messy and dark at times yet God reached down and pulled his son back to him with his love and grace and now Gibson is producing movies that shine Gods love and his light to the world. God can use the most unexpected people to speak and to show his love into a broken world, Mel Gibson is an example of this.
Hollywood Hard man Sylvester Stallone most iconic role as an actor was playing Rocky Balboa in eight movies.
Rocky is depicted as an 'everyman' who started out by going the distance and overcoming obstacles that had occurred in his life and career as a profession boxer.
Listen to how God reconnects with Sylvester, through Sylvester's acting and playing the character Rocky.
I think we all have those moments in life, like Sylvester said of himself, that we like to take the reigns of life for our self. And what I mean by that is that we say, 'I've got this, I can do it myself.' I am not speaking about learning and growing up and using that phrase as we would to parents when we can tie our shoe laces ourselves or can set up the TV to movie mode, "Dad, I can do it myself." I think Sylvester means the deeper sense where we actually dismiss people out of our life, believe that we know best and DO NOT WANT HELP, I DON'T NEED YOU, BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR ME...
Do you know what I mean!
Sylvester had years of this, 12, (didn't he say?). Where he was a famous actor, director, writer, living in Hollywood where he thought he had made it, all by himself. But all the way through the Rocky movies God was there tapping him, nudging him that He was still there, present. Sylvester's words (and I am paraphrasing) were, I had to stop kidding myself and realize that God was with me all these years and I had to humble myself, like Rocky did in the movies and Thank God, that He is God.
Another insightful point was brought through the character of Rocky. There is a time where we have heard a bit or a lot of the Jesus story where we need to just do it! We need to act out love, the actual heart of the Gospel message. Let me be clear, so often we think that we need to spend years reading and learning and spending more time with God (which is all good), but to the detriment of loving what he loves. Your neighbour, your enemy, the lost, widowed, orphan, downcast, sad, hurting, being happy with those who are happy, bringing people together.
I think in this time, right now both elements are so, so key. God is so present and we need to act it out to others. And the great thing is, and it's played out in all Rocky movies is that God uses US and OUR talents! Even if that is boxing, art, craft, music, sport, academics, food, kind words or a hug.
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Our second testimony comes from Pro Surfer Bethany Hamilton and can be found from the ‘iamsecond.com’ website.
For me, the phrase ‘I am second’ has a merged role.
Firstly, as a follower of Jesus, I acknowledge that He comes first in my life and not me. He is my Lord, and his ways are good and lead to living life in its fullest (John 10:10). I want to live life in all its fullness and I wish this for others too. When reading the stories of Jesus it makes sense then, that He heals what is sick, mends what is broken and goes to those who are lost, right? Not only that, Jesus helps you and me understand the big and small things of life, how to Love God, Love others (live alongside) and Love the world we walk and swim on.
Secondly, the phrase ‘I am second’ leads me to this Bible verse. It is where Jesus says:
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
One good image of this is where Jesus is found washing his disciples feet in John 13:1-17. Jesus the Lord of heaven and earth came to serve, lowly and humble and not expect to be waited on (like at a king in a castle or at a fine restaurant). He came to serve others.
If Jesus served others, and I follow Jesus and so desperately want others to have life to the full as well, it means that I too must take up the posture of serving. Servanthood, as it is known, is a dying artform in two ways,
‘I am second’ is a profound phrase. Listen, I do not do this to make Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit happy with me, I do it because I follow the King who gives life, and I want others to experience the life that he gives.
This rest of the week, look for opportunities to serve…
Host a dinner party while you are at home.
Quickly make everyone’s bed when they are not watching.
Wash up some dishes so it allows your parents sometime together.
Think of a board game to play with the family, instead of plodding around bored at home. ‘Safely’ go to the shops with Mum or Dad or pack away the groceries.
Read to your brother or sister, or come up with a crazy game that might be too young for you but you know will help create fun and life in your house!
I AM SECOND
Over the next week or so we are going to listen to a few different testimonies.
A testimony is:
If I merge these together, I come to understand a Testimony as:
What would your definition be?
As a follower of Jesus, I have heard lots of testimonies (and I have my own) of who Jesus is, that He is still alive healing and helping people and how his death on a cross for our sin has impacted many, radically changing their lives. We all have testimonies of how Jesus has impacted our lives.
Watch this YouTube of Bear Grylls’ sharing his testimony titled 'My Faith is My Strength.'
As I mentioned above, we all have our own testimonies of how Jesus impacts our lives. He lives and moves and is with us daily. Which then makes sense that every new day brings the opportunity to seek Him, and see how He is helping and guiding you.
Wrongly, many people think that a testimony is only given on the day you get baptized. And for many, they feel ashamed that their testimony isn't as exciting as the last person. We might love the story shared by the lost person who was a drug addict or the bully in school who has been impacted by Jesus, their life turned around and that they have found home through Jesus' love and forgiveness, but dare I say it, that isn’t really the point.
We all have the same amazing starting point when it comes to testimonies. Romans 5:6 says:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (NRSV)
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” (NLT)
That starting point that Romans says is the fact that Jesus in His good timing, whilst we all were weak, utterly helpless and still so far from loving Him (ungodly or sinners), it was Jesus who moved first, loved first, He chose to die for us so that we can be forgiven and set free.
At the end of the day when I am putting my kids to bed the last line of our prayer time I repeat this:
God I thank you that you love us and that we can see that love through your Son and that through your Son Jesus, you are making everything good.
Pastor Luke blogs weekly for our youth.