Have you ever had spiritual resistance as you pressed in to the Father’s heart?
I have. Mainly the resistance is found in my thought life.
The thoughts usually tell me who I am not, where I fail, have failed, or the droning you never measure up. Sometimes the thoughts are regrets because of my stupidity in certain past failed situations. In response, I own the thought. Pray, and ask forgiveness. A lot of the time I say out loud, “Not my thought! Get out of here!”
It’s interesting sometimes, my choice of resistance is spiritual ignoring …refusing to acknowledge the enemy or his taunts by shifting my focus. Alexa, play Upper Room Worship Radio.
I occasionally have troubling dreams. When I wake up I refuse to say out loud anything to describe the dream. I simply begin to meditate on, or pray out loud, Psalms 23.
Often resistance is an indication we are on track. It’s why Jude tells us to exercise our faith by, “keeping ourselves in the love of God.” Have you noticed resistance comes from people? This is why we need to keep ourselves in the love of God. Some of my greatest failures were when I focused upon the person, instead of focusing upon the love of My Father, giving Him my hurt and offense. Anger never heals wounds.
Keeping ourselves in His love is something we have to do for ourselves. No one, except you, can keep you, in His love. Your Pastor can’t. Your spouse can’t. Your friends can’t. They can encourage, exhort and comfort, but it’s really up to you and your faith to keep yourself in His love.
Resistance strengthens our Spiritual heart, when you have done all… stand.
Jehoshaphat was told to go stand and see …after they heard the promise …after worshipping together. The next day Jehoshaphat consulted with the people… they decided their best response to the Fathers promise was to give Him worship and praise. As they stood fast and worshiped ….focusing upon… the Father and His promise, their enemy was defeated.
Pause for effect…. They didn’t focus upon their situation, nor upon the enemies threats.
Their decision, in response to the Fathers command “to stand and see” was to worship and praise. Their focus helped them shift their mindsets and to renew their faith in His promises. As they worshipped He brought the victory.
“Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; and he said,
“Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel.
You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”
Their Response to His Promise.
Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. The Levites, from the sons of the Kohathites and of the sons of the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”
2 Chronicles 20:14-19 NASB
The Next Day
“They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said,
“Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets (His Word) and succeed.”
When he had consulted with the people,
(I often wonder what they talked about.
Hey, you’ve heard His promise for today’s battle. We are to go stand and see what He is going to do when He defeats our enemy. What should we do in response to this wonderful promise and in response to our God, Whose lovingkindness is new every morning?
The people’s response…Let’s worship and give praise! Hey, let’s also dress for the occasion.
Jehoshaphat’s response… sounds good to me!)
Side note: Good leaders trust and include people in the midst of a battle. He didn’t have to consult with the people. He could have given a directive. Jehoshaphat knew he needed to be inclusive in this major life threatening situation.
he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed.”
2 Chronicles 20:20-22 NASB
Tip: Notice where your focus turns when you are in a battle. If you are like me …you will have to consciously shift your mindset and heart. Shift by worshiping, declaring, reading, journaling, and resting in His presence.
Here is a song I sing most days.
You are Faithful and True,
All of your promises speak of You,
You are Faithful and True… O God.
It’s Who You are,
It’s Who You are.
1. Having done all, Stand.
2. Direct worship toward the Father…as you are standing firm, and as you are responding to His nature and to His promises.
Speak / Declare
I also speak out loud as I put on Eph 6 armor and as I stand against.
“Finally, I am strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
I Put on the full armor of God, so that I will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
For my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, I take up the full armor of God, so that I will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
I will Stand firm …therefore…
Usually as I close my ‘stand firm’ worship times… I sing the names of my family, my relatives, the people and leaders within my sphere of influence.
Having done all, Stand Firm! His promises are true!
Urban Church in Warrington, England was flooded when an unexpected storm blew through their area. Their community was also flooded. Many people have now been temporarily relocated and are facing the daunting task of cleaning up their homes and rebuilding. Many lost everything.
Thanks to your generosity Eyesoutward sent $700 to help Urban Church rebuild after the unexpected flood.
Here is a report from Pastor Mike. Our church building sits at the centre of the major flooding in Dallam and Bewsey. The initial panic of the Warrington flood gives way to the steady process of repairing, rebuilding, and recovery across our community. We’ve seen so many step in to feed, clothe and house people. Volunteers have stepped up to help clear flood damaged homes and collect new furniture and appliances for those hardest hit. And many have given financially into the crisis, for which we are all enormously grateful! I want to extend thanks to everyone who has risen to meet the need in these recent days.
If you want to reach your community establish a serving relationship with your area schools.
School Outreach Success
We had an overwhelming response from our area schools.
Last month Grounds For Pleasure Coffee House gave gift cards to every staff person (320) in our school system. The gift card allows staff to receive a free coffee of their choice once a month for a year! (The coffee house is part of the ministry of Upper Room, Tipp City.)
Here are just two notes of the many we received.
Yesterday we created Valentine items for our schools. Balloons, Kisses, Dark Chocolate and Roses. Today the displays are being delivered to the seven school locations for their staff rooms. (COVID friendly: We wore gloves as we prepped the items.)
Saturday We will be taking vases of Roses to our local stores to bring encouragement and pray blessing prayer over their businesses.
We also will be taking snacks, Gatorade and helpful supplies to the Police Departments in our area. We purchased fast drying gel pens, 3X5 notebooks, individually wrapped breath mints and small packs of hand sanitizer.
Sunday, Valentines Day, will be our Kindness To Go Sunday. As people leave they pick up vases of roses to take as a gift to their friends, families, or to people in our community.
I love this time of year. Winter will soon be over… and Valentines Day is when we step into our outreach for the new year. We are very grateful for the Upper Room who empower us to continue to make a difference at our age. I just turned 69.
Thanks for your support and prayer.
Pattie receives her first round of vaccine today.
Practical Planning. How to begin to reach your community.
(The tips are for larger churches… adjust your planning for church or group size. Go, Love, Serve: You will learn most as you go, love, and serve.)
Our communities really do not care about what we believe. They care about how we care. They care about what we do. In other words, your church is defined by your community by what you do, more than being defined by what you say you believe.
Reaching into our community is a process. Everyone starts from where we are with what we have. Effective planning begins with the end in mind.“People who dream of what could be, create what could be.” LB Jones
The question, “What would it look like if we________________?”
One man saw a long and slow traffic line in his community. It formed every day at the same time except on Saturdays. He wondered, “What would it look like if I grabbed a cooler full of cold drinks and went to the car window and offered a drink to the people in the long line of cars?” He acted upon his, “What would it look like?” thought. He bought a roller cooler, soft drinks, and ice. He went to the cars in the long line of traffic and began to hand out the iced drinks. He was surprised! The receiving the drinks people, were grateful and usually asked, “Why are you doing this?” His reply, “I’m just showing you God’s love in a practical way.”
Yesterday I met a pastor who was given a Coke at a street light. The act of kindness so intrigued him he began his journey toward faith. He discovered Jesus.
Questions people often ask are: “Who would do this?” And “Why would anyone do this?”
Unsurprisingly, they most often show up at the church who were loving their community through acts of kindness. Hopefully, the person discovers the people are as kind in their church life as they were out in the community. (Sadly this is not the reality in some church settings.)
Your, “What would it look like if?“… wondering could be, “What would it look like if we serve our community with several simple projects and acts of kindness once a quarter or once a month?”
Tip: Enlisting an admin person is helpful in the planning of the outreach. They are detailed people who often begin developing a concept by beginning with the end in mind.
Start by taking a close look at your community.
If this is your beginning place take a careful look at your community.
What’s going on?
Where do people gather?
What do people do?
How can we serve and love people in practical ways?
Is there a special event where we can serve?
What are the felt needs of our community?
Where should we go?
What can we do?
When would be a good day and time to go, love, and serve?
How can we accomplish what we want to do?
Think: Where can we go to offer acts of kindness which will meet a need and encourage people?
I have a friend who has a church located near the beach. They decided to serve and show kindness to the beach community by giving away small packs of sunscreen and bottles of water to the people walking toward the beach at the entrances of the boardwalks. People were grateful. Their kindness generated conversation. People asked questions and a felt need was met.
How often should we reach out?
It really depends upon what you want to accomplish, and how many people you want to reach. Some churches go out weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Some large movement churches plan a weekend, or a week of kindness/service once a year.
I was on staff at a large African American Church, Phillips Temple in Trotwood, OH. The church is located in a newer building in a depressed area next to all the public schools. Our outreach was usually once a month on a Saturday. Our goal was to create intentional acts of kindness that would lead our people into practicing kindness as a lifestyle.
People in our community like to sleep in on Saturdays, so we decided to meet at 10:30 am and go out into the community at 11 am.
We asked, “What do people not like to do on Saturday?” Wash clothes, pump gas, and wash cars.
We went to the laundromats with quarters and washing pods. We pay for the washing and drying and help fold clothes.
At the Laundromat, we introduce ourselves. “Hi! I’m here to help you today? Here are some quarters and laundry pods.” People usually ask, “Why you are doing this.” We reply, “We are showing you God’s love with no strings attached.” Conversations naturally develop as we hang out, help fold clothes, love people and offer prayer. We discovered prayer is often the connection point that connects the act of kindness to the heart.
The same is true for the car wash. “Hi! We are here to pay for your car wash. We have towels to help dry your car.” Conversations usually flow from the connection of service.
Go to the bus station with water and Gatorade. Offer people waiting for the drinks. You can also offer prayer.
One day we had an amazing time. A young couple came up to us as we were gathered sharing stories about our outreach. They asked, “Is this all you do to help people? We need help with bus fare.” My friend said, We do more come with me and I’ll get you fixed up. I don’t need to hear your story. I’ll buy your ticket and pray for you.”
He bought their ticket and asked, “Why did you ask us?” Their reply, “We saw how you were treating people. We saw you were kind. We thought, ‘If anyone would help us it would be these people.’ Will, you pray for us”
As he prayed for the couple they began to cry. My friend later told me he cried all the way home.
Large groups at events or in a town center.
Fill coolers with ice and water and give the water away. You can use a connect card or a sticker on the bottle. Recently we asked Lowe’s if we could give away water as a community service project. The answer, “Yes, that’s a great thing to do for our customers. Thank you.”
Getting permission from independent gas stations to wash car windshields, clean up the parking lot, and serve their customers. We also give away $5 bills to the first ten or so people who pull in. We say, “Hi. We are here to serve you today. Here’s $5 to help you pay for your gas. Is there anything I can pray with you?” We hand the person a connect card, the $5 bill, and wash the windshield.
We’ve been amazed at the response from the people receiving prayer. Most are deeply touched.
A Lady pulled up the pump. Our team member noticed she was looking for change. She opened the glove box, looked on the floor, under the seats. She got out of the car looked in the back seats. When she was finished looking for change our team member walked up and said, “Hi! We are from Phillips Temple? We are encouraging people today. Here’s 5$ to help.”
The woman immediately fell into the arms of our team member and began to cry. Seems she just left the hospital heading home and needed gas. Her gauge was on empty. Our team member began to pray for the woman. Both were in tears.
Here is the kicker….Two people who had received 5$ walked over and gave their money to the lady.
Kindness, begets kindness!
The lady came for gas she left fully aware of God’s love.
Gift bags to shops.
Small gift bags with granola bars, peanuts, snack crackers, breath mints, etc.
“Hi! We are here to show you God’s love in a practical way. Here is a gift for you and the other workers. Thank you for working in our community. Can we pray for your business?” If yes, we bless the business. We then ask, “Any personal need? “If yes, we pray, if no, we thank them and leave the gift bags.
Bring boxes of good tissues, hand lotion, or small gifts to encourage the staff and the residents. One lady in the home loves our visits. She is grateful for the good tissues, the flowers we bring, and the time we spend with her. She is collecting our connect cards lining them up on her bedside table.
When do you need to announce the planned outreach? Suggestion, 3 weeks out. This means your announcement/design media group and church program group need to have your information at least 3 weeks before the outreach event.
Where can we gather to meet pleasant and large enough for people to feel comfortable? In good weather, some people meet outside.
What kind of environment do you want to create for the people who come to go on the outreach? Fun, Upbeat, Inspiring etc.
When do we need to meet on the day?Tip: Mid to late morning are great times.
Can we have ambient music playing? Will the people gathered be able to hear what we say? If not, we may need a microphone and a PA for sound. If we need sound, will we need a sound person?
Decide what outreaches you will be doing well in advance.
Once decided, order supplies, for each outreach, pick up supplies, and make the supplies ready and available on the day of the outreach. (Work up a timeline for this process. Several people should be involved in the process or know about how the process works.)
Create signs describing the outreach. (landscape paper or A-4 paper will work) Car Wash. Nursing Home, Bus Station, Town Center etc
Create instructions with location or map to each outreach location. i.e. Bus Station use a google map or described location. Instructions should tell people what they will be doing on the specific outreach opportunity. (You can combine Signs and instructions if a small group is anticipated.)
“When you arrive at the bus station gather as a group and pray. Then break up into two’s, when you walk up to people say, “Hi. Would you like water or a Gatorade?“
Begin the conversation by asking, “Where are you going?” Sometimes the act of just handing the person the drink opens the conversation. At the end of the conversation, you can offer to pray by asking, “Is there anything I can pray with you about today?” If yes be sure to pray with your eyes open so you can see what is happening to the person as you pray. Sometimes you can see a deep connection that may have opened a person’s heart to the Good News. Then share the good news!
Set up Day
If possible set up space the day before the outreach gathering. Setting up early removes most of the leader’s stress and allows for a focused and calm spirit on the day of the outreach.
Set up tables, create atmosphere etc.
Have a sign-in table with sign up sheets, pens, sharpies, and name tags.
Place the outreach signs on the tables or use painter’s tape to a wall for people to be able to see the outreach options.
Place the outreach instructions/map, locations on the table. The instructions will tell people what the outreach is, where the outreach will be, what to do on the outreach, and how many people are needed to go on the outreach.
Set outreach supplies on the tables or floor for each of the outreach opportunities of the day. i.e. Gas Station, paper towels, $5 bills in an envelope, and safe for tinted glass windshield spray cleaner.
On the Day
When people arrive. The first person to arrive is now the greeter. If you have a team pre-designate a greeter. The greeter encourages people to sign in and to write their name on a name tag and have a walk around to see the various outreach opportunities. Allow people space to wander about to view the outreach ideas and to think about which outreach they will choose.
Chose leaders. This can be done in your team before the day, or as people arrive for the outreach.
Call people together.
Share what you are doing on the day by mentioning each outreach and the assigned leader.
Tell a story for one thought practical kindness training. ie. Smile! Don’t be so serious. Have fun!
Instruct people to go to the area/table of their chosen outreach and gather as a group. Their leader explains outreach by reading the instruction sheet. Decide on who will drive to outreach. Let them know where the group will meet at the location to touch base before beginning the outreach. i.e. some training may be required. This is how you wash a windshield, or the light turns red then give drink to people in the car, the light turns green stop get out of the street.
Pray as a group. Some people like to pray specifically for glimpses of the area they are going to, or the people they will be talking to. Similar to treasure hunting. They jot down clues or impressions.
GO: Go to location. At location gather, give instructions, pray. The leader lets the owner-manager of the business they have arrived. Hi. We are here to…
Return to home base: People can return supplies, and return to share what they have learned, or they may have a story to tell. Sometimes people then go out for a meal as a group to deepen their community experience.
Tip: If fewer people come than anticipated to the outreach you can easily remove an outreach and focus on the others. Always prepare several outreach projects. You will be able to decide which outreach is most important or if removing an outreach is necessary.
What about service projects?
Service projects build bridges into the heart of our communities.
Service projects involve meeting a specific need of an organization, or a community. Our good deeds create goodwill which builds bridges of influence and connection. Service projects often involve cleaning, landscaping, painting, renewing, building, giving, volunteering, and serving.
School Clean Up Inside And Outside
Painting / Fixing School Playground Equipment
Volunteer As School Mentors, Hall Monitors, Story Tellers, Book Readers, Team Sport Coaches /Helpers
Providing School Supplies And Backpacks
Adopting Families At Christmas For Clothing And Gifts From List, Family Given By School Counselor
Teacher Appreciation Breakfast On Staff Training Day
City Park Clean Up
Serving At A Food Pantry
Serving At A Homeless Shelter
Painting Homes For People In Need
Painting Playground Equipment At Low-Income Apartments
Throw A Party At An Apartment Complex Bouncies, Food, Games, Crafts, Face Painting, Prizes
Trash And Litter Clean-Up In Known Trashed Areas
Providing Shoes And Socks For Kids In Need
Washing Windows / Cleaning Parking Lots Of Businesses
Toilet / Restroom Cleaning
Mowing Grass For People Who Cannot
Hospital Greeters, Hospital Chaplin Helpers, Visit Emergency Rooms With Small Gifts: Water, Coffee, Donuts, Small Packs Of Tissues…
Host Large Community Events: Community Easter Egg Hunts, Creating a Safe Place For Families On Halloween With Games, Food, Crafts and Fun
Free Car Washes (one dollar car washes, the person receives a dollar at the end of the car wash)
Every service project will need planning steps and implementation.
Obviously, key people will need to be contacted, meetings arranged, permission given and a process put into place. Simply being with the end in mind. Form a team, and plan the steps similar to the steps in the first section.
Tips: Go to the community chamber of commerce speak to the Mayor or the person who is responsible for community service. The aim is to discover what they need, and how you can help meet their need. The same is true for reaching hospitals, schools, health agencies, homeless shelters, food pantries, etc.
We went to a large elementary school and asked, “What is your biggest need?” The answer, “Please help us re-paint the school bus arrival and departure letters in the bus pick up drop off area.”
The school is one of the largest elementary schools In Ohio. It has seventeen hundred children attending, mainly bused to the school.
We complied and painted the parking lot with matching A through Z letters. We also cleaned the playground, put up new basketball nets, mulched the playground area, and painted the playground equipment. This small task brought order back into the chaos and made the kids feel better about their playground. We were also asked to remove the bushes from around the building. We removed six dump truck loads of bushes. The school looked better and the trash problem in the bushes fixed. Doing what we were asked to do with excellence opened other kinds of opportunities within the school system.
We hosted a teacher appreciation breakfast on staff in-service training day. The principal stood before a hundred fifty teachers and told the teachers what we had done for the school. She spoke for ten minutes. As the teachers received their gift bags, and their breakfast, many of the teachers said the same thing. “Thank you so much no one has ever done anything like this for us before.”
I was with Caleb Ingram and we were speaking to a large group of young people (20’s early 30′). It felt like a college or a special gathering. We were with a few other people who were on the team.
We then drove to another location to speak. It was my turn. I stood and began to speak about the power of testimony. I started by saying, “I’m the old guy I’m 72 years of age.” Interestingly we had to use our i-phones as our PA system. (I turn 69 this month)
I began to tell them about the sovereign move of the Holy Spirit in Pensacola… Pre-Brownsville. I talked about how hundreds of young people were swept into the Kingdom and how churches were started, small gathering places popped up… like the Upper Room, Yancies Surf Shop Inner Light Bible Study, Open Bible, Charity Chapel, and Liberty Bible College.
No big names… mainly the move happened as young people shared their faith by telling their story and inviting their friends to come and see.
The Bible Is His-Story.
Here are several examples:
A woman at a well
Note: her story created interest, wonder, and intrigue. After Jesus stayed a few days, they no longer just believed because of her story. They heard for themselves. This is the goal. People would hear Jesus for themselves and believe. The story is the spark that causes people to ponder, wonder, and desire to investigate for themselves.
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. NIV
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard forourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” NIV
This is the goal of all stories. People hear Jesus for themselves and believe.
A blind man
Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” NIV
This guy was pressed by their hostile questions, so he shared his story and finally responded… ‘do you want to become his disciple… do you?.’
Peter, John, and Paul
Life experience is what they shared.
Acts 4:20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” NIV
Their opponents, stated, ‘These people have been with Jesus.’
1 John 1:1-3
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we haveseen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched
we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
The life appeared;
we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. NIV
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long-I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” NIV
Note: Paul didn’t get into political posturing, or theological debates, he told his story.
Tell your story it is relevant.
Telling what you have seen, heard, and experienced has amazing power in this generation.
How do you develop your personal story?
Follow these simple steps. Write as you go through the steps. Think about the language. Think about your experience, your situation, your trial, your test. What you have been through, or come through is your life-giving story.
Describe your life before Christ, or during your test, during your trial, or your situation. I was lonely, angry, hurt, unfeeling, guilty, rebellious, a drug user, etc. I was broke, sick, discouraged, bound, depressed, etc.
What circumstance or situation enabled you to consider becoming a Christian or to pray for health, security, healing, etc.? What was your situation? Was it a crisis, an invitation to church, a relationship with another person, a response to a believing friend? Did you attended a church or pray? Were you desperate?
What brought you to the point of commitment, life change, health, or situational change? Describe the process and the moment you asked Jesus to come into your life. We are discovering many people simply pray, ‘Well Lord. Here I am.” Describe the process of your circumstance shifting to bring healing, hope, or freedom.
Describe how you have changed since you became a believer or gained the victory. I was angry now I have peace. I was a thief now I don’t steal. I was sick now I am whole. I was bound now I am set free. I was broke now I have money in the bank.
Write your thoughts in a concise manner so you can remember how to share your story with another person.
Usually, when I teach on the topic in a group setting, I encourage the people present to share their stories with one another within 1 to 3 minutes. After the sharing time I ask, ‘How many of you were touched by what you heard?’ and ‘How many of you were encouraged by what you shared?’ In almost every instance, every person responds in the affirmative.
I’ve discovered that many people are interested in reading or hearing my story. I cannot ever remember a time when the story of my journey of faith was not fitting to a situation.
(Remember your story is updated by your experience and by your journey of faith.)
Your personal story is one of the most powerful assets you have.Your story can impact the people in your sphere of influence.Your testimony tells the story of how you came to know Jesus Christ.Your story is a reflection of your changed life.
Over the years people have attempted to say my relationship with Jesus is just a figment of my imagination, somehow I thought myself out of my situation and the power of positive thinking alone is what changed my life.
However, my life-story reveals a life that declares much more.Jesus as Savior is my reality.I am not the same person; I have been born again.My story of a changing life reveals this truth.
The Bible is the story of men declaring what they had seen and experienced in the Old and New Testaments.Peter, on the day of Pentecost, declared,
“This (what you see and hear) is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.(a demonstration of what God said would happen)” (Acts 2:16, NIV)
The disciples had experienced a powerful infilling of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.Peter was testifying to this fact.His explanation was the testimony / the story of his experience.The early disciples declared to the opposing religious leaders of the day,
“We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20, NIV)
They encountered Jesus and were living a Spirit-led life.They heard His words and had also participated in His wonderful deeds.
His words and His works are what they proclaimed.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.And our fellowship is with (not was with) the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:13, NIV)
The religious leaders of the day had noted the disciples were unlearned men but they also noted something else—these men had been with Jesus.Something about their words and their lives revealed this reality.
When Paul was confronted by the skeptics of his day, his defense was not to begin a great theological debate.He simply gave his testimony, he told his story.(See Acts 22 and 26.)
As a matter of fact, his story had such power upon King Agrippa, the King himself exclaimed,
“Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28 NIV)
The gospels and the Book of Acts are written testimonies, stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.They wrote about what they had seen and heard.
In John 4, John noted Jesus revealing three key
1.The principle of progressive revelation.
2.The power of story.
3.The principle of sowing and reaping.
In the chapter, we see the impact one woman’s story had upon an entire town.Jesus was speaking with a woman at a well.As He spoke with the woman she received more than she bargained for.She was looking for water; she received a revelation.The revelation of who Jesus really was the water that changed her life.As the conversation developed, Jesus encouraged the woman to go and bring her husband.
“I have no husband.”, she replied.
Jesus said to her,
“You are right when you say you have no husband.The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.What you have just said is quite true.”
I laugh at her understatement, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.”
At the end of the conversation, Jesus plainly told the woman He was the Christ.
Here’s the progression:
She first saw Jesus as a nice Jewish man.
Next, she defined him to be a religious person.
She questioned the where of worship.
He explained worship was not defined by where a person worshiped.True worship was defined by the Who and how a person worshiped, this is what was most important.
Then he revealed knowledge about her life.She knew he had no way of knowing anything about her, so she perceived him as a prophet.
Finally, as the light of revelation entered her heart she responded by boldly asking Him if He was the Christ.His affirmative answer revealed who He really was.
She was so moved by the insightful encounter, she left her waterpot, went back to her town and told her story to the men of the city.She said,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29, NIV)
Jesus had not told her everything she had ever done, but just enough to let her know, he knew her.Her simple story had power.All the men of the city came out to see Jesus.
The result.“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him.”…and then they asked Jesus to stay.He stayed and interacted with them for two days.Because of their encounter, many became believers.
They said to the woman “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know/believe that this man is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:3942, NIV)
Her simple “come and see a man, could He be?” story had the power to draw the people of the city toward Jesus.Then as they were drawn to Jesus they were able to hear for themselves, and hearing Jesus for themselves, they believed.The whole region was transformed.
Your story and my story has this kind of if-it-happened-for-you, maybe-it-can-happen-for-me kind of power.
Your story can ignite faith in someone’s heart and draw people toward Jesus.In the same manner, as the people hearing Jesus for themselves your story may prompt the person to listen, and to hear Him for themselves… they may then believe.
This is the main purpose of all of our stories—people would hear for themselves and by hearing, they would believe and come to saving knowledge of the mercy and truth found in Jesus.
Many people think, “I wasn’t a Hell’s Angel.I never did drugs or got drunk.I didn’t hang out with people who did.What kind of testimony can I possibly have?I’m just a normal person.”Well, there are a whole lot of normal people out there who need to hear Jesus can save normal people just like you.
Your personal story has the power to change a life.
Your story is powerful.
Don’t listen to any lie that tells you your story isn’t valuable.You are unique and have unique circumstances.The people we want to reach are also unique.Our stories somehow connect to the heart and inspire people to move forward.
The best person to help another person is a person who has been through what someone else is now going through.
I was checking out at a grocery store.The lady checking my groceries was friendly.I mentioned I was heading out to visit my grandkids.She told me she was raising her grandkids.Intuitively I knew the reason.
I asked, “Why are you taking care of your grandkids?”She told me her daughter was in rehab and attempting to kick her drug habit. I briefly told her I understood.I was a person who made it.I had overdosed more than once.Jesus had changed my life.I told her if He could help me, He could He help her daughter.
I asked if I could pray for her and her daughter.More than grateful she agreed.I prayed a short prayer and again encouraged her, “If Jesus could set me free, He could set her daughter free.”We prayed. Hope flowed.That is the power of testimony.He did it once, He can do it again!
Here are a few helpful steps to help as you develop your personal story.
What was going on in your life before you gave your heart to Jesus?I was angry, hurting, disillusioned, sad, aimless, etc.
How did you begin to change and move forward toward faith?What was the process?What were you thinking, feeling?I felt discouraged, fragmented.I knew something was missing from my life.I began to think about my life where I was going; what I was doing.Someone told me about Jesus.Then…
When did you invite Jesus to come into your life?Be specific.
How is your life different now?
Also, our story is always changing.Daily Jesus meets our needs, heals our bodies, forgives our sins, provides for us, protects us, and speaks to us.As He lives with us and in us our lives change and our prayers are answered.We are growing from faith to faith.Our stories reflect our current reality.
When speaking to pre-Christians I often tell them I refused to acknowledge God as being a personal God who had a purpose and a plan for my life.I tried to find some convincing evidence so I could deny His existence.I wanted to deny His existence so I could live like I wanted to live and do what I wanted to do.I did not want to become accountable to a God who might be out there somewhere.The wisdom of men, more specifically, my logic, was foolishness to God.
Now I have come to know Him, I have been gathering a history of consistent evidence.He indeed does exist.He is very interested and active in my life.I testify to this reality by telling people what Jesus has done for my family and me.I tell them about the provision I have received at just the right moment, the healing I have experienced, the sins have been forgiven and the words I’ve heard Him speak.
Because He is a living reality I am learning to walk with Him on a daily basis.My current life story declares to all who will listen, my God is much more than some mystical idea or an impersonal force somewhere out there.My life declares His interest, His concern, His love, and His reality.It is Good News.Every person who knows Jesus can openly testify to this truth.He is changing us.
What’s your story? On a blank page take a few minutes and outline your story.