Share Your Story – Part Three

THE IMPORTANCE OF TELLING YOUR STORY

The Bible has great stories of men and women who shared their stories with others. They shared how Jesus healed them and saved them from their sins. These people did not just tell their stories, but they told about Jesus’ miracles.

Biblical Examples

Jesus Heals a Blind Man

In the Book of John, chapter nine, Jesus and His disciples saw a man who was blind from birth. The disciples question Jesus asking Him, “’who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ and Jesus replied, ’neither this man nor his parents sinned […] but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (verses 2-3).

Jesus approached the blind man. He “spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes” (verse 6). Jesus told the man to “wash in the Pool of Siloam,” and the man obeyed (verse 7). Jesus gave the man his sight by using spit and mud. Now, this is not a story that many people would believe unless they saw the miracle firsthand.

The man went home and his neighbors questioned whether or not this was the same man who was blind. His neighbors began to ask questions. The man told them about the encounter with Jesus. They brought this man to the Pharisees. The man was questioned by the Pharisees, and he proceeded to tell the story. He declared that, “’[Jesus] is a prophet’” (verse 17).

The Pharisees did not believe that this man was ever blind and asked to speak with his parents. His parents refused to answer the questions and told them to ask their son directly. They spoke with the man again and the man repeated his story for the third time. In verse 25, he declared, “’I was blind but now I see!”

The Pharisees released the man. The man had a second encounter with Jesus and became a Christian. Jesus’ miracle did not just bless the blind man, but Jesus’ name was spread throughout the neighborhoods and to the Pharisees. This man’s story turned into a testimony once he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. Whether or not anyone believed him, he shared his story with others and gave God the glory.

The Samaritan Woman

In the Book of John, chapter 4, verses 1 through 42, Jesus was resting alone at a well “when a Samaritan woman came to draw water” (verse 7). Jesus asked her for a drink of water. The woman responded, “’You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’” (verse 7). During Jesus’ time, the Jews and the Samaritans did not associate with each other.

Jesus and the Samaritan woman continued to ask each other questions. The woman observed that Jesus did not have a pail to draw water from the well and inquired about it. Jesus answered, “’everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (verses 13-14). In verse 10, Jesus says He is “living water.”

The woman was eager to receive the “living water” that Jesus was talking about, and He began to speak truth over her life. He revealed that she was not married and was previously married five times. The man she was currently with was not her husband. The woman did not deny Jesus’ statements and said, “’I can see that you are a prophet’” (verse 19).

The woman was instantly changed by Jesus’ encounter. She left her watering jug at the well and walked back to town. She said to the people, “’come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’” (verse 29). The people followed the Samaritan woman out of the town to find this Messiah that she was talking about.

The Samaritan woman brought many people to Christ by sharing her story. In verse 39, it says, “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.” Jesus stayed with the Samaritans for two days and continued to share God’s love with them. In verse 42, the people of the town declared, “’we no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’”

Why we Need to Tell Our Story

After reading about the blind man and the Samaritan woman, we see the importance of sharing our story. We must be willing to be transparent with others to bring people to Christ. God has transformed our story into a testimony. It is not just a story about heartache and regret. It is a testimony of God’s love in our lives. He has changed our story from something we thought was ugly to something beautiful. God healed us and brought hope into our lives.

When we tell our story, we tell about Jesus! Jesus tells the blind man in John 9:5 that “I am the light of the world.” If we are created in God’s image, then we are to be the “light of the world.” Will you tell your story to the world?

Application:

Telling our stories are important. It helps ourselves as well as others grow in Christ.  I encourage you to re-evaluate your life to see if there are any areas that you are ashamed of or too embarrassed to speak out loud. If you feel comfortable, write down what these areas are and pray over them. During your prayer time, spend some time in the Bible looking up Scriptures for boldness and courage.

Share Your Story – Part Two

Benefits for Sharing Your Story

Sharing our story does not just benefit us. It also benefits others. It helps people grow in their faith when they see how we depended on God to help us through a bad situation. They see our strengths, and how God empowered us to find victory in our lives.

Sharing our story also shows people that we are not afraid to talk about our imperfections. If we are willing to be transparent and share our story, it will bring others comfort that we all have a past. People will feel more comfortable to share their story when we are not afraid to share our story with them.

Sharon Jaynes wrote a book called, “Your Scars Are Beautiful To God.” This is an incredible book that talks about how our past creates hindrances in our lives. Our past can be compared to a scar that we get when we are physically hurt. We may heal from the past, but the scar will remain as a reminder of where we have been and where we are now. Our scars tell a story!

Jaynes said in her book that “when we are not ashamed of our scars, but tell the story of how God redeemed our lives from the pit, people can see Jesus in our lives. He becomes real to them. Suddenly, Jesus isn’t just a man in a book or a face in a painting. He becomes the Healer, the Sustainer, the Redeemer…He becomes real.”

Application:

Do you have a story to tell? What is holding you back from telling your story? Is it shame, regret, or unforgiveness? What is hindering you from turning your story into a testimony?

I encourage you to spend some time in prayer and ask God to give you the courage to tell your story. It can begin with one person that you trust who is not judgmental. It can be a pastor, a close friend, or a family member. Seek freedom from your past. The more you share your story, the more freedom you will receive in your life!

Share Your Story – Part One

Everyone has a story! A story that is influential and powerful. Sometimes we silence our stories because of the pain, guilt, or shame that it brought into our lives. We fear if the story is ever told, we will be judged by our past mistakes. The devil wants us to feel ashamed of our past. He wants us to feel unworthy and defeated. Satan can use our past experiences against us to discourage us from moving forward in our lives. If we silence our stories, we will never turn it into a testimony and use it for God’s glory.

Transparency

According to the Webster Dictionary, transparent means we are “able to be seen through” and “honest and open; not secretive.” Transparency means that we are not afraid to be ourselves with others. We break down the walls of insecurities and fears and replace them with God’s confidence.

We must be comfortable with who we are in Christ to be transparent with people. If we know who we are in Christ, we can tell our story without the fear of judgment. The Webster Dictionary definition of transparent describes what Christian living supposed look like. The more we speak about our past and turn it into a testimony, the more we will see the bondage, fears, and guilt removed from our lives. Transparency replaces the negative mindsets with God’s joy and peace. It brings freedom into our lives when we share our stories with others.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” I encourage you to not be afraid to be yourself and do not “conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2). God wants us to “be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2).

Evangelism – Part Five

God Calls Us to Evangelize

So many times we miss out on opportunities to evangelize. We allow fear and pride to get in the way of talking about Jesus. We worry about what others will think of us if we talk about God. Our biggest fear is rejection. Sometimes when God tells us to do something, we are judged by our actions or noticed when we do something out of the norm.

How many times have you opted out from sharing Jesus’ love with someone, because you did not want to be judged or mocked? I am guilty of missed opportunities, because I did not want to stand out from the crowd.

The real question is: what if no one shows up to tell someone about Jesus? What if the world never sees Jesus through us? If we never share the Gospel with others, then the world will never know who Jesus is, and they will never find their true purpose for their lives. The hurting, the hungry, the lonely, and the lost will never find hope in their circumstances. The world will never experience God’s unconditional love for them. We are meant to share God’s love with everyone around us.

In Matthew 25:35-40, Jesus says, “’For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’ ‘Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You?  When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’ ‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.’”

The world needs to see Jesus in action. If we are worried about being judged as Christians, then we need to look at how people in the Bible treated Jesus. Jesus was judged, mocked, beaten, and crucified for telling the world about God’s love.

We need to step out in boldness and tell people about God! As Christians, God calls us to be His vessel to reach a lost and hurting world.

Evangelism – Part Four

EVANGELISM IN ACTION

Evangelism is “the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ” (Merriam-Webster.com). It is to spread the Gospel to the world. As Christians, we are all called to be an evangelist. In Matthew 28:19, it says, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” God gives us opportunities every day to tell the story of the cross.

Biblical Examples

Mary Magdalene

The Bible has great examples on how to spread the Gospel. There are many people in the Bible who were evangelist. Mary Magdalene is considered the first evangelist in the Bible. Jesus was placed in a tomb after He died on the cross. Mary Magdalene came to visit Jesus’ tomb and noticed the stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty, and Jesus’ body was missing. She was unaware that Jesus resurrected and walked out of the tomb. We read in the Book of John, chapter 20, verses 11 through 18, Mary Magdalene is standing in front of the tomb weeping. “As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’” (verses 11-13). Mary Magdalene replied, “’they have taken my Lord away’ […] ’I don’t know where they have put Him’” (verse 13). She turned away and saw a man standing before her. It was Jesus in human form, but she did not recognize Him. Jesus asked Mary questions on why she was crying. She mistaken Jesus for the gardener and asked about Jesus’ whereabouts. Jesus responded by simply saying her name, and she recognized Him instantly. Jesus told her to tell others about His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven to be with God. She was the first person to tell the world of the Good News. In verse 18, Mary Magdalene approached the disciples and declared, “’I have seen the Lord!’”

Paul

Paul is another great evangelist in the Bible who was a devoted Christian. Paul’s story begins in the Book of Acts, chapter 9, verses 1 through 19. He was not always a follower of Christ. Before Paul became a Christian, his name was Saul. Saul was known for persecuting Christians. In fact, he was on his way to Damascus to murder more Christians. Something unexpected happened to him while he was on the road to Damascus. God blinded him, and he fell to the ground. He “heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’” (verse 4). Saul replied, “’who are you, Lord?’” (verse 5). Jesus gave him instructions, and Saul obeyed. He was blind for three days in Damascus with no food and water. Finally a disciple named Ananias was instructed by the Lord to go to Saul and pray over him. Ananias, after much hesitation, obeys God. The Lord had great plans for Saul and said that He has made him a “chosen instrument to proclaim [Jesus’] name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (verse 25). After this experience, Saul was a changed man. He was a fully devoted Christian who could not stop talking about God. Saul’s name was changed to Paul after the conversion. Paul endured much hardship for being a Christian. He experienced beatings and imprisonment. Paul’s passion for spreading the Gospel continued in prison with his writings to the early churches. Paul is considered one of the most powerful evangelists in the Bible.

There were many great men and women in the Bible who were fully devoted Christians. They were not afraid to speak the name of Jesus to a lost world.

Application

What are some ways you have shared God’s love with others?  What are some ways you can build your confidence in Christ to share the Gospel more frequently? I encourage you to ask God for His strength for you to evangelize on a daily basis.

Evangelism – Part Three

JESUS DOES NOT PASS JUDGMENT

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus shows compassion for those who have sinned. He forgives them with no condemnation. Romans 3:23 says we have all sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. First John 1:8 states that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” God forgives us when we acknowledge our sins and repent. First John 1:9 says to “confess our sins, [because] He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

God does not give us what we deserve but gives us the gift of grace and mercy. Psalm 103, verses 10 through 12, tells us that God does not “repay us according to our iniquities” but He declares, “for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is [My] love for those who fear [Me]. He goes on to say “as far as the east is from the west, so far [have I] removed [your] transgressions from [you].” In verses 13-14, it says that we are God’s children and God “has compassion on those who fear Him.”

Biblical Examples

Below are stories of two women in the Bible who sinned and were judged harshly by their actions. Jesus showed compassion towards these women and forgave them of their sins. We are not much different than they are. We sin every day, and we must repent daily.

Jesus Forgives a Sinful Woman

In the Book of Luke, chapter 7, verses 36 through 50, it tells a story of a sinful woman that Jesus anointed and blessed. A Pharisee invited Jesus into his home for dinner, and, while Jesus was eating, a woman entered the home uninvited. She approached Jesus and began to weep. “She stood behind him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them” (verse 38).

Now visualize what this moment would look like. Here is a woman who barged into a Pharisee’s home to see Jesus. She wept in His presence and began to clean His feet with her tears. She lets down her hair and begins to dry Jesus’ feet with her hair. Then she kissed His feet and poured expensive perfume on them.

She honored Jesus by serving Him. Washing someone’s feet was a Christian ritual for hospitality which means serving. During this time, a woman would lose her reputation for letting down her hair in public. It was a sign of disrespect. This woman was willing to lose her reputation to love on Jesus and, might I add, in a Pharisee’s home. The Pharisee’s created the law and for her to let down her hair in the midst of the Pharisee was putting her reputation at risk.

Unfortunately, this woman judged harshly by the Pharisee. She was judged by her actions and her sinful lifestyle. As we continue reading in the Book of Luke, chapter 7, we see the Pharisee was angry that she came into his home. He said, “’if this man [Jesus] were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner’” (verse 39). Jesus rebuked the Pharisee and told the woman, “’Your sins are forgiven […] Your faith has saved you; go in peace (verses 48 and 50).

This story is powerful and life-changing. The sinful woman was desperate to have an intimate encounter with Jesus, and she was willing to walk into a Pharisee’s home uninvited to have a moment with Him. Without saying a word, she approached Him and washed His feet. Jesus saw past her sin and forgave her.

When we share God’s love with others, we need to be just like Jesus in this story. We need to see past the sin and show compassion towards them. We need to love people like Jesus loves them.

Jesus Forgives an Adulterous Woman

In the Book of John, chapter 8, verses 1 through 11, the Pharisees brought a sinful woman to the temple courts to be stoned to death. Jesus was present and the Pharisees challenged Jesus by saying, “’Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’” (verses 4-5). “Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger” and the Pharisees continued to question Him (verse 6). He finally spoke by saying, “’let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’” (verse 7). Jesus stooped down again and continued to write on the ground. The crowd gradually left casting no stone at the woman. All who was left was Jesus standing before her. Jesus “asked her, ‘where are they? Has no one condemned you?’” and she replied, “’no one, sir’” (verses 9-11). Jesus responds by telling her, “’then neither do I condemn you’…’go now and leave your life of sin’” (verse 11).

Jesus had every opportunity to pass judgment on this woman but instead He showed her compassion and love. He spared her life from the ruthless crowd. We do not know what Jesus wrote on the ground, but it must have been powerful because everyone left without saying a word. This story takes my breath away when I see Jesus forgiving this woman of her sins and loving her for who she is instead of casting judgment. We need to be more like Jesus! We need to love more and judge less. We need to show others they have worth and accept them for who they are, no matter their life choices.