“Just Be Held”

Casting Crowns wrote a song in 2014 called, “Just Be Held.”  During this Christmas season, this song reminds me about how the world brings chaos and disappointment into our lives. Many people lost loved ones this year, and the memory of them not being here for the holidays causes sadness.  For others, Christmas did not turn out the way they planned it, and they are dealing with depression and disappointment.  Some will put on a fake smile and make the best of the holidays even if they have lost the Christmas cheer.  This song, “Just Be Held” brings comfort to those who are sad, depressed, and disappointed.  It reminds us that no matter what we are going through, we are held by our Heavenly Father.

In the beginning of the song it talks about how we are expected to “hold it all together [because] everyone needs you strong.”  In times of sorrow or trouble, people expect us to be strong for the whole family during the holidays.  The truth is, God does not expect that from us.  He sees your hurt and realizes you are barely holding on.   You are on the verge of your breaking point.  God sees that and wants you to be held by Him.

The chorus tells us to stop fighting in our flesh, surrender to God, and lay our burdens down at Jesus’ feet.  Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to give our burdens to God and rest in Him.  When we hold on to our hurt, regret, and shame, we exhaust ourselves and become weak in the Spirit.  We begin to feel alone and think we are falling apart.  We feel like we are too far gone to  find peace again.  We feel like we are in a war that will never end.  That is when we get on our knees and call out Jesus’ name, because God is “on the throne” and He will hold us in the midst of our life’s storms.  He tells us to stop holding on and to trust Him in His arms.

The song continues to encourage us to not focus on our circumstances and to focus on the cross.  Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us that God “will never leave [us] nor forsake [us].”  The cross represents God’s love for us.  He cares about our every need (Philippians 4:19).  God wipes away our tears and turns our circumstances into something beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3).  He turns the ashes into beauty.

Next week as we come together with family and friends, let this song be a reminder that God wants to hold us in His arms through the hurt, the sadness, and the regret of what this season has brought into our lives.  His love overwhelms you with His peace.  Remember, to be held by our Heavenly Father is the most precious place to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Testimony

My Story Full of Regret, Past Hurts, and Being Unlovable

After asking you to share your story with others, it is only fair that I tell you my story.

The story of my home life growing up was much like a fairy tale. I grew up in a loving and caring home, never lacking anything. I lived with a mother and a father who loved each other and made sure their children were provided for. I was a very happy child who enjoyed life. But, even though I had a fairy tale home life, it does not mean there were not challenges and struggles in my life. My family was in and out of church until I was seventeen years old. We believed in God but, at times, did not devote our lives to Christ. There were many insecurities and wrong mindsets that I was raised in that I had to break away from and learn how to conquer them.

As I continue to conquer my childhood fears, God is teaching me how to be a confident woman in Christ. Recently, I have conquered my ultimate fear. It is the fear of rejection and being imperfect. I grew up with an unhealthy and unrealistic belief that I needed to be flawless to be loved. I did not want to disappoint others so I created a false image of myself. I would try to impress others by becoming just like them to feel accepted. If people were disappointed in me or did not like me, I would be very upset and try to win them over by doing anything to get their approval, even if it meant going against my beliefs. I created an unhealthy approval addiction that lasted over thirty years. I cannot say I have fully overcome these insecurities, but I can say I have boundaries. I allow God to have the final say in my actions and words.

How I overcame these fears was not a simple task. I had to go back into my past hurts and failures to see the root of the problem. I had to relive moments that I was not proud of and work through the emotions. As I was trying to find peace from my past, it brought on more guilt and shame into my life.

Through trying to process these hurts and failures, I became depressed. I hurt my family with my harsh words, lost friendships due to isolation, and missed big events in my family’s life due to depression. I was haunted daily by the fear of rejection and loneliness. The fear became a reality, and I created a life filled with negative mindsets and false accusations. I thought everyone was against me, and I had to protect myself from being hurt again. I tried to look normal on the outside when everything within me was chaotic.

During this time, I broke off an engagement, stopped communicating with my family for almost a year, lost my best friend and roommate, almost lost my job, and left my church due to being judged. Life was falling apart, and I did not know where to go for help. In the midst of all this chaos, the doctor put me on antidepressants and a strong sleeping pill. The prescribed medicine put me into a deeper depression. I could think clearly but did not know what to do with my thoughts. I felt like a zombie with no control over my emotions. I became an angry person, not caring what others thought about me.

One night I was tired of hurting those around me by my actions and words and did not want to live another day. I was miserable and afraid. This was not the first time to think these thoughts, but it was the first time that I wanted to act on them. As I am writing this, tears are rolling down my face knowing that this was a very low moment in my life. I still struggle with the fact that I wanted to end my life. I picked up my prescription sleeping pills off the bedside table and thought about taking just enough so I would not wake up in the morning to another dreadful day. No one was in my home to stop me. Not many people knew I was depressed, because I kept my thoughts to myself. No one would have guessed that I had suicidal thoughts.

God saved me that night. Instead of taking the pills, I fell asleep with the pill bottle in my hand. I woke up the next morning with the bottle next to me on my bed, never opened. Since that day, I have fought for purpose over my life and asked God back into my heart. I am thankful for waking up every day and having the opportunity to share God’s love with others. This is not a moment I want to relive, but that night God brought me back to Him. I am reminded daily of the Scripture, Psalm 30:5, which says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” I am grateful for God’s unconditional love for me. Even when I turned away from Him, He was there to rescue me. This happened in spring of 2007, and it has taken me nearly seven years to heal the hurt and shame from these events.

I pray that my story touches someone’s life, maybe even yours. I hope you can see how God loves you no matter where you are in life. Our stories matter, and we need to share them with others. To be honest, it took me two weeks to finally write my story in this blog. I was fearful of being rejected or looked at differently because of my past. God empowered me to write my story for the very first time so I can turn my past hurts and failures into a testimony. Before now, my mother and head pastor were the only ones who knew my story. I have been too fearful to speak it out, but now I am learning what it means to be transparent. I am learning how to completely trust God with my story. It is now time for you to trust God with your story, and let Him turn it into a testimony.

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!

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.

Evangelism – Part Two

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

We all have heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” When we create stereotypes over an individual or group, it turns into false judgment. A stereotype is “to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same” (Merriam-Webster.com).

When we judge people by their appearance, personality, or hobbies, we make assumptions rather than get to know them for who they really are. An assumption is “a fact or statement taken for granted” (Merriam-Webster.com).

Can you remember a time when you were judged harshly by others, because they did not agree with the choices you have made for yourself? How did that make you feel? I have experienced judgment over the decisions I have made in my life. It is very hurtful to be rejected by the people you thought cared about you and loved you. The harsh words and mockery can affect your confidence in the next big decision in your life.

Have you passed judgment on others? We are all guilty of hurting people with our false accusations and harsh words. God made us all unique, and we need to accept everyone for who they are and what they do. We may not always agree with people’s lifestyles and the choices they make, but we need to love them as Jesus loves us.

In Matthew 7:1-5, it says, “do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’”

In the Scripture above, Jesus says to examine our lives to see what is not of God. We all have to make decisions based on what is best for us. Some of the choices we make are good and follow after God. Other choices are of this world, and we learn from our mistakes. It is part of being imperfect and living in a sinful world. Before we judge others, we need to realize that we are not perfect, and there is always room for growth to become a better person.

In Romans 14, the Scripture warns us about judging others. It says in verses 10 through 14, “you, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” The words brother and sister in this passage refers to a believer, someone part of God’s family.

We are to treat people with respect and encourage them in their endeavors. We need to empower people with our words instead of tearing them down.

Evangelism – Part One

LOVE LIKE JESUS

In the Book of First John, chapter 4, verse 8, it says, “God is love.”  Jesus is God in human form with divinity. Jesus is love.   Jesus came down from heaven to bring the love of God to the world.

Jesus’ love is beyond our comprehension. He does not hold a grudge if we have wronged Him or judge us for what we have done. His love is unconditional. As Christians, we need to follow after Jesus’ example. First John 4:11 confirms the statements above by stating, “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” As we read further into First John, chapter 4, the Scripture continues to speak of God’s love, and His love living in us. It says, “we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

God is a forgiving God. Ephesians 4:32 says to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” According to this Scripture, God forgave us for our sins, and we are told to forgive others who have wronged us. Love and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. To love people, we must learn how to forgive.

What is Evangelism?

Sharing God’s love is not complex or even something to fear. Sometimes we fear of being mocked or being rejected by others when we talk about God. Have you ever felt God nudging you to share His love with a family member or a friend? What about a complete stranger in a public place? The nudge from God is not something to ignore. Jesus’ main goal, while on earth, was to spread the Good News. The Good News was that His Father was God, and God brought Jesus to earth to bring redemption into a lost world. When Jesus left earth to be with His Father, he asked us for one thing and that was to continue to spread the Good News. Evangelism is simply spreading God’s love to the world. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, evangelism is “the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ.”

Sharing God’s Love with Others

The love of God is to be spread all over the world. His love is not just for us to experience. It is for everyone to experience. Matthew 28:19 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.” As Christians, we have a responsibility to fulfill here on earth.

God sets up divine appointments for us to share His love with others. It is not a coincidence that we talk about God with a family member, friend, or even a complete stranger in a normal everyday conversation. It is a purposeful encounter that was arranged by God. These moments are called divine encounters.

Steps on Sharing God’s Love with Others

Before we can share God’s love with others, we must know Christ personally. First, we have to experience God’s love in our lives and be transformed by it. One of the first steps to evangelism is to allow others to see Christ in us. People see Christ work in our lives when we live for God. The best way to spread the Gospel is to show God’s love through our words and actions.

Another way to win people for Christ is to accept them for who they are before becoming a Christian. We are not to judge by appearance or life choices. The only way they will accept Christ in their hearts is for us to be like Jesus. We must love them unconditionally.

God’s Expectation as Christians

As we share God’s love with those around us, some will accept Christ in their hearts and others will reject Him. Our part is to be obedient to God and to continue to share His love with others. We are not responsible for them accepting or not accepting Christ. We are to plant the seed, and whatever they decide to do with it is their choice.

We are to love people, no matter where they are in life. We are to be an encouragement to those around us. We live by example, and our example is Jesus Christ. He loved everyone equally, and we are to do the same.

The Story of the Cross

The word “love” has become numb to the world. It is just another word with no meaning and has no emotion attached to it. The dictionary definition of love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person” (dictionary.com). In a Christian sense of the word “love,” it has a stronger and more powerful meaning in which it is a “selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love” (about.com). This kind of love is called agape love. “Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for His Father and for His followers” (about.com).

God’s love cannot be explained to the fullness of who He is! “God is love” (1 John 4:8). His love is beyond our comprehension that can only be experienced by encountering His presence. The love of Christ is the most sacrificial love we will ever experience in our lifetime. His love has no bounds. Psalm 36:5 says God’s love “reaches to the heavens and [His] faithfulness [reaches] to the skies.”

Nothing can separate us from God’s love. According to Paul in Romans 8:37-39, “no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s love is the most amazing gift that we could ever receive. God allowed His son, Jesus, to die on a cross so we could have a relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We need to take a minute to think about this Scripture. God saw us worthy even when we were still sinners. We were worthy enough for God’s son to die a painful and dreadful death. That is how much God loves us. That is breathtaking!

The Story of the Cross

In the book of Luke, chapter 23, verses 32 through 38, tells us the story of the cross. This story is one-of-a-kind. Jesus was God in human form “and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). If Jesus was God in human form, then he would have felt the same pain we would have experienced if we were tortured and nailed to the cross.

Jesus was blameless! He did not deserve to be beaten beyond recognition, carry a heavy wooden cross on His back, mocked, and nailed to a cross to suffer a long agonizing death. Even in His suffering, He had compassion for us. While He hung on the cross, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34).

If I was hanging on a cross dying and was being mocked by the people who used to love me, I do not know if I would have compassion for them. In this situation, more than likely our fleshly thoughts would get the best of us. If you were nailed to a cross, after being beaten nearly to death, you would be in extraordinary pain. This kind of pain cannot be fully described in words, because it was so intense. No other man on earth has experienced the level of pain that Jesus endured. In addition to suffering on the cross, Jesus must have felt the ultimate rejection by the ones that used to love Him. These people in the crowd, mocking Him, were those that used to follow Him and believed in His miracles. I cannot even imagine experiencing this kind of rejection. In the midst of all this chaos, Jesus did not condemn us or even reject us for our actions, but, instead, He forgave us.

While Jesus was taking His last breaths on the cross, His final words were “it is finished” (John 19:30). “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 27:51). When those words were spoken, we had access to God. Jesus paved the way for us in the most tragic death.

Jesus replaced the rituals of burnt offerings in the Old Testament by giving Himself up as a burnt offering. In the Old Testament, the people in the Bible would ask God for forgiveness for their sins by sacrificing an animal, in specific terms, to honor Him. Burnt offerings was a sacred ritual. Leviticus 1:10 says that “if the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect.” Jesus is perfect in every way!

One of the most popular and memorized Scriptures in the Bible is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The agape love expressed in this Scripture is not something we can wrap our minds around. It cannot be explained why someone would sacrifice himself to save the world. This proves that God’s love is unconditional, with no strings attached.

The cross symbolizes hope, redemption, and forgiveness! The cross was a huge cost for Jesus to pay for our debts. Sometimes the cross becomes just another story. The meaning of the cross becomes numb, and we forget what it represents. We should never let the story of the cross grow numb in our hearts!