You Have A Story That Needs Told!
Ever noticed how people love listening to a good story especially a true one. And when it comes to sharing your faith, one of the most effective tools in our evangelistic toolbox is our personal testimony. Why just the other day I was preaching a funeral and began sharing my story of how I came to Christ and I noticed how I gained attention of some who before were not nearly as engaged. Not to long ago I was in a hospital room visiting one of our church members and I began sharing some things about how I came to Christ and it was evident the attending nurse began to tune in. Everyone likes to hear a good story!
Our testimony’s are powerful bridge builders. It’s a way to connect with your listener so that they can see how your life has been changed by the mighty power of Jesus Christ and how it happened in a common and real life setting. Just like the one they are living out! It’s a way to engage people, build a bridge, and help them see how they can come to faith as well.
Sharing your testimony is a great way to indirectly preach the gospel. For me my personal testimony would sound like this. Before I was saved my life was filled with emptiness and I sought many sinful ways to bring satisfaction but nothing helped. I didn’t know what my problem was. But one day a young lady invited me to church and there I heard the pastor explain the gospel. He helped me understand that mans problem was personal sin and that we would never be satisfied in life until we had our sins forgiven. That Christ paid for mans sins and offered forgiveness to all who would repent and put their faith in Christ’s payment on the cross.
You can actually share the gospel while you are telling your own story. And when you’re done, you can say, “What do you think about that? Have you ever heard that before? Have you ever seen a life changed like that before? Have you ever considered who Jesus is and what He can do for you?” Simply share with them what Jesus has done for you and what He has done for you He will do for them!
What’s your story? Everyone has one. Every Christian has a testimony, and every testimony is credible and sings of the amazing grace of Jesus.
When you really think about, every Christian’s testimony is essentially the same. We were all lost. We were all separated from God. We were all guilty and lonely and afraid to die. And we were all on our way to Hell. But Jesus Christ, in His grace, intervened in our lives and transformed us.
That is my story, that is your story and it is worth telling because when we do others will listen and some will be saved!
“ God can turn our mess into a message”
THE GUY BEHIND THE SCENE!
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
42 And he brought him to Jesus.
In our day and generation we seem to be so enthralled by those who are always out front or in front of the camera. Yet a close study of the scripture reveals that God uses those “Behind the Scene” as much as those who live in the limelight, the focus of great attention.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother is one such behind the scene fellow who made an eternal impact on the world. And he did it in a very selfless and non assuming way. He simply put the need of his brother above his own. In comparison Andrew did not receive near the attention that his brother received. It is clear that in the New Testament Andrew didn’t even come close to receiving the amount of mention as Peter. Yet his impact was major and it continues to this very day!
Peter was in the inner three of Christ. He was used to birth the Church as he preached on Pentecost. He took the gospel first to the Jew, Samaritans and Gentiles! He was the lead pastor of the Church at Jerusalem. But the fact remains it was his BEHIND THE SCENES brother who God used to bring him to Christ! When he discovered that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel (The Christ), he went and found his brother and brought him to the Lord.
If you take a little time and think about this act it is astounding and revealed the selfless character of Andrew. It would seem very possible that this behind the scene brother would have had many moments with a brother that loved the attention. How tempting it would have been for Andrew to guard his new found relationship and possible position with Christ. Certainly Andrew knew his brothers forwardness and abilities which in his mind would have been appealing to Jesus. He may have been tempted to keep this good news for himself. Perhaps he could have had fear of his brother, unsure of his response and his quick reactions. As I think about this my mind is filled with reasons why the record could have been different. Yet Andrew overcame fear and selfishness and went to his brother and brought him to Jesus!
This behind the scene guy is an example of millions of followers of Christ who are not serving to gain attention, to make money or to gain a following. They are attempting to follow Christ more than attempting to gain a following! Their desire is to see lost souls find Christ and for God to receive glory! Now there is no doubt God is calling some to be in the limelight and to be in front of large crowds, nothing wrong with that. They are humble and their desire is see lost souls saved and God glorified as well. But for so many who will never gain notoriety never think that God's plan is lessor for you!
Oh how we need to understand that often it is BEHIND THE SCENE ANDREW’S who produce OUT FRONT PETER’S. If your ministry is bringing Peter's or training Peter's to and for Christ be satisfied and embrace your God given ministry. If you are not in the limelight that doesn’t mean you are not making an eternal impact right where you are. Truth is we need more Andrew’s so we can gain more Peter’s !
Want to know what really brings satisfaction to me? Here it is, I really find satisfaction in serving the Lord more than in any other area of life. “Satisfaction is found in Serving our Lord”.
I’m not saying that it isn’t often extremely hard. Or that it does not push one to their limits. Of course it can empty us of physical and mental energy leaving us exhausted. But I have found no pursuit in this life which brings any more satisfaction than an all out committed service of the Lord Himself! Nothing fulfills the inner man more than when one surrenders to the will of God, as they truly worship with a life of THY WILL BE DONE!
Serving the Lord includes so many areas. For this pastor it is so much more than meets the eye. Certainly much more than study, preaching or leading our congregation. Serving involves being used of the Lord in any way He desires to use me. There is no big or small ways of serving the Lord. It is all service in the sight of our Lord. And the great privilege and delight that we receive by being called to such service by the Lord Himself! To be used of the God of all creation, to represent Him and to be used as a human instrument to do what He wants to do through us.
I hope you have found the great satisfaction of serving the Lord. If haven't yet may you surrender to the Lords service and find gladness in serving! For others who like myself have served the Lord for many years may we not grow weary in well doing. Recognize it is often difficult to serve Him but as we do we sense His pleasure. Nothing compares with sensing His well pleasure and nothing compares with the misery of the absence of His well pleasure! Such fullness of life or emptiness!
Do you sense God’s pleasure in what you are doing? Are you living your life well? Are you doing what God has called you to do?
It is a great privilege to be used of God.
Are you serving Him?
I read a good article published by Zondervan and wanted to share it today. I incorporated some of my own thoughts as well. Hope it encourages you to read and study your Bibles faithfully.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
When life is filled with responsibilities, it can be stressful to keep up the daily habit of reading the Bible. This is understandable, as modern life can be complex and hectic; however, we should remember that spending time in God’s Word is essential to continuing the good work of Christ within us. Reading the Bible is necessary to align our hearts, minds, and actions with Christ.
As the Psalmist wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (119:105). Reading the Bible reveals God’s path to us.
So, are there steps can we take to establish and strengthen the daily habit of reading God’s Word?
Try these 5 tips:
1. Start Small:
Let’s get practical. If reading the Bible is to become a daily habit, it will require a commitment of time. Avoid stress by starting small. Try introducing just 5 minutes of Bible reading each day and then, as the time commitment begins to feel more natural, gradually increase your reading time.
ADDITIONAL TIP: Fonts can have a huge impact on the quality of your reading experience. Make sure you select a Bible that’s been designed with a clear, readable typeface so your eyes will be able to focus on God Word’s with ease.
2. Reflect and Journal:
Keep a notepad or journal handy as you read. As God speaks to you, reflect on what He’s saying and briefly write out God’s message. This will help foster personal application from your reading. As James 1:22 tell us, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
ADDITIONAL TIP: There are Bibles customized with space for note taking and journaling. These editions are a convenient option to simplify your devotional time.
3. Set a Goal and Use a Reading Plan:
As you become more comfortable with a daily reading time, challenge yourself by setting goals to read through the Bible, or portions of the Bible, at a steady pace. There are multiple reading plans available to help you find your rhythm. Some plans are intensive, leading you through the entire Bible in as little as 90 days. Others allow for more meditation. For example, there are plans that will take you through the Gospels in 40 days and others that will help you read the complete New Testament in one year.
No matter what plan you select, remember that a reading plan is only a tool to help you stay on track as you spend time in the Word. Don’t let it get in the way of hearing God’s voice.
ADDITIONAL TIP: Checkout www.libertyfamily.org for a yearly Bible reading plan.
4. Go Deep with Study:
Understanding the context and historical setting of a passage is important as you apply the Bible to your life. Not only does the Bible speak directly to us, but it also shows us how God has spoken to His people since in ages past.
Using a study Bible and other study resources will help you learn the cultural background of familiar biblical stories. As you discover what the biblical writers were facing, a new understanding of God’s power and faithfulness will be revealed through the Scriptures. For example, Ephesians 3:20 takes on a new meaning when you realize Paul was in prison: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
5. Read with Your Community:
While reading the Bible is essential for personal growth, it also fosters strong community. Find a trusted friend, pastor, teacher, spouse or small group leader to share what God is saying to you through your daily Bible reading. Go a step further and read aloud with a friend. There is power in reading God’s Word in community and in hearing the Scriptures spoken. The accountability may help you to maintain the habit of Bible study! Don’t fail to seize every opportunity to hear the Bible preached and taught by gifted pastor/ teachers.
The Wonder of Worship !
Psalms 95:6 - O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
Genuine worship can take our most miserable moments and make them our most meaningful. One of the greatest illustrations of this is found in the Bible book of Acts. We read of Paul and Silas, who were beaten and thrown into a cold, dark, terrible dungeon for preaching the gospel. But at midnight Paul and Silas began worshiping God by singing and praising Him from their hearts and lips. As they worshiped, an earthquake came, and the prison door opened and they walked out from their misery of incarceration and entered into the majesty of freedom.
It’s life changing when you can be set free through worship. Our almighty Lord may deliver us immediately from our situation and He may not. The fact is at times when we worship the Lord our problems remain or even increase, but as we worship they no longer seem overwhelming and enslaving. It is not because our problems have been taken away but because we have focused on our Lord instead of our problems and on His greatness. In so doing we have gained His eternal perspective and repented from an earthly one.
The word worship means “worthship.” We should worship God because He is worthy of our worship. No matter what we’re going through, no matter what our circumstances may be, when He delivers us and when He allows the problem to remain. God deserves our worship and He desires it. There is never a time when the Lord is not due worship.
We were created to worship Him. God made us to bring Him pleasure. And God is pleased when we worship Him with a proper heart, especially when things are not so positive.
# 1 Reason To Share The Gospel !
It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
In just this one Bible verse we find the primary reason that each follower of Christ should share the gospel continually. It is because every human will die one day and after they do they will personally stand before the Lord’s judgment.
I hear often the statement “ I don’t like hellfire preaching”. I think you would agree with me that preaching about hell has fallen on hard times. And because of that many preachers have stopped preaching on this topic altogether and many others are preaching much less and much lighter on the subject.
Thousands of messages are preached in churches and via the airwaves and internet on how to prosper, how to have a healthy family, how to succeed in marriage and many other biblical doctrines. But we must preach the whole council of God and we most certainly need to preach on main doctrines and hell is one of those.
We have to look at this topic biblically, not emotionally, and remember that life comes to an end for everyone. We have to realize that everyone's earthly life will come to an end but after physical life is over each person will still be alive in heaven or in hell.
As we read the New Testament it is clear that Jesus spent more time talking about Hell than anyone else. Of the forty parables He told, more than half of them relate to God’s eternal judgment of sinners. That is because Hell is a real place for real people. J. I. Packer said, “An endless hell can no more be removed from the New Testament than an endless heaven can be.”
The # 1 reason for sharing the gospel is so people won’t go to Hell. We can tell people if they come to Jesus that life will be more abundant that is true. But the greatest aspect of the gospel, which means “good news,” is that we don’t have to go to Hell. Instead, we can go to Heaven and that is GOOD NEWS!
If you know a child, teen adult who does not know Christ, then they are headed to Hell. The question is what are you doing to reach them? May we each be encouraged with this truth to share the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ!
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
In John 14, the Lord Jesus promised the the Holy Spirit would come after He ascended to back to heaven. He commanded his disciples and others to assemble in the Upper Room and pray until that event took place. He taught them when the Holy Spirit came at that moment they would be ind-welled and empowered by the the Holy Spirit. That promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Since that event every person who has repented of sin and received the Lord Jesus as their Sovereign Savior has immediately at conversion been ind-welled with the Holy Spirit of God. Sometimes people say we need another Pentecost. No, the original Pentecost was more than sufficient. However, can what happened to them still happen to us today? The answer is yes and no. Nowhere else in the Bible do we read of a mighty rushing wind, and the Spirit coming upon people like flames. But in Acts we do frequently read of the Holy Spirit empowering, speaking to, and using the believers.
The power given by the Holy Spirit to the first-century church at Pentecost is available to the twenty-first century church today. The power that was given to them then is available to us now. We have living in us the almighty Holy Spirit of God who can give us the power to live and witness for Him. We have the possibility of living powerful lives if we were to appropriate that power by faith.
The Holy Spirit filled the first-century believers again and again and again. We read in Acts 2 where Peter and the disciples once ind-welled and endued with power spoke with much authority and many heard their gospel presentation and were saved. We read of Peter at the Beautiful Gate being led by the Spirit to pull a crippled man to his feet. Then we read of how the Lord filled him with the Spirit, and he stated that Jesus was the Messiah.
This same power came upon the apostle Paul when he was trying to preach the gospel to the governor, and a sorcerer was opposing him. And the Bible tells us in Acts 13 that Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, turned to this man and rebuked him. It took a boldness from God.
When the believers were preaching the gospel and were told to stop, they prayed for even more boldness to do so. And in Acts 4:31, after this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they all were filled with the Holy Spirit and preached God’s message with boldness.
If you have ever been opposed or ridiculed for sharing your faith you have also been tempted to stop sharing your faith. The early church found the answer was to pray and be filled with more power of the Holy Spirit gaining boldness to continue sharing the gospel of Christ. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:14, "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet".
May each believer be encouraged with the biblical fact that we have the Holy Spirit in us and when we allow His control He will release His power in us for Holy Living and Holy Boldness!
THEY SHOOK THE WORLD BECAUSE THEY SHOOK THE DUST AND SO CAN WE!
After that he appeared in another form unto the two of them, as they walked, and he went into the country. Mark 16:12
Sometimes it can seem as though God has failed us, that He hasn’t done what He said He would do. Maybe some very difficult situation has become a part of our lives. Because it has happen we can become disillusioned and disappointed with the Lord Himself because He has allowed it.
That is how two of the Lord’s disciples felt after the Crucifixion of Jesus. They had lost hope, and sadness had overtaken them. They had left the city and the place of the cross, going back to their original lives. When Jesus appeared to them, they were walking away from Jerusalem into the country (see Mark 16:12). In their thinking , Jesus had failed them but in reality they had misunderstood the Lord’s purpose for coming to the earth. Their wrong desires had helped them to formulate opinions on what they thought Christ had come to do. They thought He would be a militant Messiah, not a suffering Savior.
If they had read the Scriptures carefully, and listened more carefully to His daily teachings they would have come to a full and clear understanding that He was going to suffer and die for the sins of all mankind. The Old Testament was full of details and Jesus while on this earth declared this over and over.
That was the problem with these discouraged disciples, that was the reason they were leaving Jerusalem. In their minds and hearts it was over. Jesus had died and He had failed them. They were headed back to the way life was before they began following this ONE who said He was the Messiah. Life for them was miserable again because in their minds CHRISTHAD FAILED and had FAILED THEM.
For those of us who have read the Bible we know that in time these two as well as thousands and thousands of others who thought God had failed, realized that He had not failed but fulfilled what He needed to do and three days later arose from the dead.
Jesus was doing exactly what He had set out to do, and they had misunderstood. And when it seems like God has failed them, it is because they had failed to understand what He had said and what His purpose was.
So for each of us today the lesson is that when it seems that Jesus has failed us we must remember that Jesus has not failed but we have failed to understand. Exercise patience, trust the Lord to reveal His purpose in His time!
JESUS NEVER FAILS! WHEN IT SEEMS AS IF HE HAS
LOOK WITHIN AND SEE IF WE HAVE FAILED IN
LISTENING TO HIS WORD’S !
I read the following article this week and wanted to pass it along. Greg Lauri wrote the article and I loved it because of its concise and clear way it reminds us of what Christ's death accomplished for us. Hope it helps you enjoy and understand our Lord's passion this Easter Season!
When Jesus had tasted it, he said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
The cross was the goal of Jesus from the very beginning. His birth was so there would be His death. The incarnation was for our atonement. He was born to die so that we might live. And when He had accomplished the purpose He had come to fulfill, He summed it up with a single word: finished.
In the original Greek, it was a common word. Jesus probably used it after He finished a project that He and Joseph might have been working on together in the carpentry shop. Jesus might have turned to Joseph and said, “Finished. Now let’s go have lunch.” It is finished. Mission accomplished. It is done. It is made an end of.
So what was finished? Finished and completed were the horrendous sufferings of Christ. Never again would He experience pain at the hand of wicked men. Never again would He have to bear the sins of the world. Never again would He, even for a moment, be forsaken of God. That was completed. That was taken care of.
Also finished was Satan’s stronghold on humanity. Jesus came to deal a decisive blow against the devil and his demons at the cross of Calvary. Hebrews 2:14 says, “That through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil.” This means that you no longer have to be under the power of sin. Because of Jesus’ accomplishment at the cross, finished was the stronghold of Satan on humanity.
And lastly, finished was our salvation. It is completed. It is done. All of our sins were transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His righteousness was transferred to our account.
So Jesus cried out the words, “It is finished!” It was God’s deliberate and well-thought-out plan. It is finished--so rejoice!
The satirical site The Onion ran a humorous (note: fictional) article with a biting truth. The article was titled "World Death Rate Holding Steady at 100 Percent." The article reported:
World Health Organization officials expressed disappointment Monday at the group's finding that, despite the enormous efforts of doctors, rescue workers and other medical professionals worldwide, the global death rate remains constant at 100 percent.
Death, a metabolic affliction causing total shutdown of all life functions, has long been considered humanity's number one health concern. Responsible for 100 percent of all recorded fatalities worldwide, the condition has no cure.
"I was really hoping, what with all those new radiology treatments, rescue helicopters, cutting edge surgeries, health foods/ herbs, new medicines and what have you, that we might at least make a dent in it this year," World Health Organization Director General Dr. Gernst Bladt said. "Unfortunately, it would appear that the death rate remains constant and total, as it has inviolably since the dawn of time.”
The above satire was meant to be humorous but in reality it is very sobering and serious. The reason for this reality is because man sinned and God sentenced death to all who would be born of women. Physical death is appointed unto every human. But the more stark reality is that eternal death is also appointed unto those who refuse to repent of their sinfulness and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. 100% of all who refuse to receive Christ will die forever and forever. Yes 100% ! There has never nor ever will be any improvement on that rate of eternal death for all rejectors of God’s only plan for eternal life, - the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Physical death is appointed unto 100% of all humans but the good news is that eternal death is only appointed to rejectors of Christ but the gift to all who receive Christ’s gift of forgiveness of sin is eternal life.
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.