Give It All

THE BEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE

There’s an album from Hillsong called Beautiful Exchange, and the title song  summarises what happens when we submit to Christ and allow Him to rule and reign within us. It is a beautiful exchange, but it’s also extreme, improbable and truly remarkable beyond words. Christ took our sins, our shame, our weaknesses, and all our filth. It was wiped away with the holiest of bloods to ever walk the earth. He took the worst parts of us and gave us His righteousness, joy, freedom and victory. It’s an exchange beyond human reason, but that’s how much God loves us.

Here Now (Madness), another musical Hillsong creation, states:

When justice called for all my debts

The Friend of sinners came instead

Every time I hear that truth, I’m thankful that I know it and have the choice of living in it daily. Christ died for all of you. All your tragedies and triumphs, hurts and heroics. He wants it all, even the parts of you that you hide from others or deny that exist within you. He sees all of you, and He’s not turning away. Be yourself before Him. That’s what I love about the Psalms. It’s so real and raw. It’s people like King David just unashamedly expressing themselves before their Creator.

Look at Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

and then Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

The Bible covers the whole range of the human, emotional experience. The highs and lows. He recorded it in the Word to remind us that we don’t have to hold anything back when we express ourselves to Him, and especially when we live for Him.

Simply put, God wants all of you. He gave all of Himself.

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

John 6:37-40

 

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Your Story

What's Your Story- (1)

The late Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story within you.”

What’s your story? We all have one. We may hear stories of others and how they were drastically transformed from their former lives. They explain their story to open mouthed listeners and it sounds so epic. Maybe your story isn’t like that. Maybe you had been going to churches for years without ever really connecting with the songs, or the sermons, until one day, your heart stirred and Christ became personal. He became not just an idea, but your Saviour.

Every story of how we come to know Him, to be embraced by His grace and empowered by His mercy, is a story worth telling. Don’t underestimate the meaning and power your story can have on those around you. Maybe you were never in a gang, or jail, or struggled with drugs or whatever. No matter the circumstances or the reaction of those hearing it, the result is the same – how one soul came to find its true home, and there’s power in that reality.Your story is more than facts. It has truth and conviction because it’s a story only you can truly share with meaning and passion, and you have no idea how that may effect those who hear it. They may be just like you, or where you were when you were seeking purpose and freedom. Your story, and your life, are both ongoing, and both point to Christ.

Every story is epic because your story is His story. It’s the greatest story ever told, for it’s the story of God redeeming and pursuing His children with tremendous love, and that’s a story that should always be shared, and lived.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.”

Psalm 107:1-3

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Acts 4:13

In You, I’m Made New

IN YOU, I'M MADE NEW

2 Corinthians 5:17 often reminds me of a beautiful butterfly, bursting forth from its drab cocoon. It’s also a beautiful reminder that although God is ancient and eternal, He is never old or outdated. He does new things all the time, perhaps not always in ways we can see, but He is always at work. He created streams in the desert (Isaiah 43:19), breathed life in to dry bones (Ezekiel 37), and turned hearts of stone in to hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). He still does new things today, of course, and He always will, and not only in our temporary, earthly life. In heaven, we can look forward to a new home, and new bodies.

That’s one of the joyful realisations in following Christ; that within Him, there is always hope for a better future. The journey to that betterment will include challenges and sorrow, but through it all, He remains, as do His promises to be with us always, and to work for our good.

It’s a glorious thing to understand that He is continually doing something within us, and those around us, so we can pray with humble expectation, knowing that every day is an opportunity to be changed, and to become more like Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

Not Just A Staff

PLACE IT AT THE CROSS

“Lord, help me to let go,” is a bold prayer, but a glorious one. We all have things that bind us to things other than Him – jobs, people, money, even our ministries. Anything is in danger of becoming an idol if we focus more on it than on Him. Place it at the cross; don’t let it replace the cross. God can use what you give Him, so choose something to give. Let us be empowered by the truth that a boy’s lunch fed 5000 people (John 6:1-14), and a sling and stone killed a giant (1 Samuel 17).

When Moses questioned his abilities and calling, God asked a question in return. (Exodus 4:1-17). It was a question so simple, He didn’t need to ask. “What is that in your hand?”

God knew the answer – a staff. He created it, saw Moses pick it up, whittle it and carry it. God wasn’t after an answer. He wanted a reaction.

That same staff was used to part the Red Sea, strike a rock to see water gush forth from it, and was held high over Israel’s victory on the battlefield. In Moses’ hands, it may’ve been just a tool for a shepherd, but with God’s power and guidance, it became a tool for the glorious Creator. It was no mere staff, but was used by God beyond its intended purpose.

What do you have that can be given from your hands and placed in His? Often it’s the simple, everyday gifts or opportunities that we overlook that can be mighty when surrendered to Him. You have a car with a spare seat on your Sunday drive? Bring someone with you. You work in the same city with someone from church? Lunch and build a bond together. That old guitar in your garage you haven’t played in years? Maybe your faithful home group musician needs assistance.

If what is in your hands aligns with what is in God’s heart, prepare for something amazing and unexpected for His glory.