April 19, 2014

One


Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

~Luke 15:3-7~

Have you ever wondered what matters most to God? It's actually pretty simple. He wants to see His children acknowledge and live for Him. The thing that matters most to God is the ONE. If that truly is what God is passionate about, when is the last time you have gone out of your way for the one? When is the last time you noticed the one who is missing? When is the last time you prayed for someone who didn't know how to pray for themselves? When was the last time you went searching for the one?

I am pretty passionate about this message because it wasn't that long ago that I was the one. Yesterday, I told you a little bit of my story. Today, I want to share the difference it makes when someone sees you as the one.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I was at a point in my life where I was starting to get on a path where Jesus was more to me than a good song and a great message. He was becoming My Jesus, my personal Jesus who actually cared about me and wanted to have a one-on-one relationship with me. Because of that, I started serving in youth ministry. I loved it, but I felt a bit out of place. All the youth leaders one, knew each other and two, they were a lot further along in this whole relationship with Jesus thing. They were awesome, but I felt like an outsider so I was always the last leader to show up and the first to leave. Luckily someone saw that I was the ONE lost sheep. 

There was this girl that was another youth leader. She actually led praise and worship for youth. She was beautiful and passionate and the way she loved Jesus seemed to be written on everything she did. This same girl always seemed interested in what was going on in my life. She sought me out every week to get to know me and ask me more questions about myself. She was invested in me? What? Why? I didn't really get it, but before I knew it she was asking me to hangout with her and even sit with her at church. I was no longer the loner sitting alone in the back. Now somehow I was the girl sitting with someone on the very first row. 

God is the one who changes someones life without a doubt, but he NEEDS his other children to fully carry this plan out. Yes, God was doing incredible things in my heart but He needed some other people, like my friend Whitney, to come along side me and show me how to walk this new Jesus thing out. He needed someone in the flesh to care about me the way He did. He needed someone on earth to not care about my past but to see my future and pray for it when I didn't know how. He needed a Whitney. I was the outsider who she strategically brought back to the group like a lost sheep. In that moment, I was her one.

If you lost a sheep, like in Jesus' teaching, you wouldn't put them back on the outside of the herd. It would be far to easy for them to wander off again and become lost. You would put them in the center of the group so that even if they had the desire to stray, the other sheep would be pushing them from every direction to prod them on to the right direction.

This weekend tons and tons of people will pour through the church doors. Many of these people are just "Easter Peeps," the people who come to church once a year. As the church it is our job to make them the ONE. It is our job to seek them out. It is our job to be their Jesus in the flesh to care for them, to pray for them and to invite them to become an insider.

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April 18, 2014

Jars of Clay


"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that 
this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

~2 Corinthians 4:7~

Just a short six and a half years ago my life was very, very different. I was a senior in college and living a life for me. I had grown up in church and continued to go most Sundays all through college. I even served on most Sunday mornings in the children's department. From the looks of it I was a good Christian girl. But that image mostly stopped after I walked out of the church doors on a Sunday morning. The rest of the week was mine and I chose to live it however I saw fit. 

Well since my life plan wasn't going according to plan, I decided to be "called" to another church. {:The only real reason I went was because there were more young people and in my mind that equated to me finding a husband there.:}  Well, my life is proof that God can take your selfish desires and use them to transform your life. I started going to church there on a weekly basis and sat by myself every week in the back of the room. But week after week I was feeling something I had never felt before. I was feeling God speak and touch my heart. I would cry during worship and didn't really understand why. I would find myself thinking about messages all through the week. It was…weird. 

Even though God was doing something in my heart, I still felt like an outsider at this church. I didn't know anyone. I'm a bit reserved when I don't know anyone, so it wasn't like me to just go up and introduce myself to strangers. One Sunday I felt like God was asking me to get involved with their youth ministry as a leader. In my seat I gave God a silent, but stern NO. Well, who would have guessed it, but one of the few people I knew at the church came up to me after service and said "Hey, I want to introduce you to Danny." Danny just so happened to be the youth pastor. God was becoming quite persistent. 

He invited me to come check out youth that Wednesday, and it wasn't long before I instantly had a group of friends and a group of young people I was passionate about leading and being a role model for. Being surrounded by these other leaders changed everything. They were sold out to God. They lived for him in and out of the church, yet they were normal. I had never really seen something like this. I wanted what they had and I followed their example until it become "normal" for me too.

When I was coming to church I felt God, but when I started serving in the church, I started to act on all the things God was doing within me. It was when I decided to plant myself in His house that I really began to grow. {:That shouldn't have surprised me. I mean it is Biblical after all, but it's crazy how you can hear things for years but you don't fully accept them until you experience them:}

God took this ordinary jar of clay, me, and filled it with a precious message that has forever changed my life. I am ordinary. My life is ordinary, but I carry something so precious and valuable within me and you can too. 

God doesn't care who you are or where you have been or even how bad off you are in this moment. He just wants you. He wants you to put your trust into something you have never seen before so he can show you the evidence of His reality through your life. 

It's not fancy, it's just jars of clay, with the most precious, all-surpasing power within. And it's yours if you'll take it.


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