“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their tes-timony…” Revelation 12:11a
THE POWER OF YOUR TESTIMONY
When we experience something wonderful, our first response should be to treas-ure and be thankful for it. Our next response should be to share it with others. Your testimony has power over the work of the enemy. Here are a few reasons to share your story:
1. Your story gives God glory: our testimony shows that God is greater than my stories or experience. It is not about you; it is about God and His contin-ual work in and for you. When you share your testimony, you are sharing the story of God’s hope.
2. Your story is refreshed as God continues to work in you: As God works in you, you will gain more stories than your initial salvation story. God works in us every day and He is changing us to be more and more like Jesus, so your story does not end until you leave this world.
3. Telling our salvation story keeps it fresh in your mind: the more you tell your salvation story, the more you keep that first love burning strong. It is possible to do good work and still be missing that first love (Rev. 2)
4. Your story empowers others: stories of how God has worked in your life can encourage others who may be going through the something similar. You are able to help carry their burden because you already have gone through something similar. You can free them from their “prison.”
5. Your story creates transparency in the church: the more you are hon-est about our mistakes and failures in the past, the more people can relate to you. Sharing your story honestly can bring people closer into intimate and real conversations.
6. Your story cannot be disputed: unbelievers may argue about the Bible and the Christian faith. But they cannot argue with the experiences you had in your life. They either believe it or not, but they cannot argue with it.
7. Your story removes fear and encourages: when you tell your story, you are remembering God’s goodness in your past. When you do so, it gives you more faith and courage for life in the present.
8. Your story is valuable: we all love stories, both believers and unbeliev-ers. Stories teach us lessons, they broaden our point of view, they help us relate with others. In other words, they help us see beyond our little world.
9. Your story is your hope as a believer: God tells us to share our story. If someone asks about your hope as a believer, you should always be ready to share it. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
10. Your story is uniquely you and yours: it is specifically yours. It may be an extreme and radical one, or it may be a calm profession of true belief. In either case, it depicts God’s love and mercy to those who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
There was once a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won first prize. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned the farmer’s strategy for growing winning corn. What was it? Simply this: the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.
“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.
“Why” said the farmer, “don’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”
The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn.
[Bender, James (1994), How to Talk Well, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.]
Oswald Golter was a missionary in northern China during the 1940’s. Af-ter ten years of service he was returning home. His ship stopped in India, and while waiting for a boat home, he found a group of refugees living in a warehouse on the pier. Unwanted by anyone else the refugees were stranded there. Golter went to visit them. As it was Christmas-time wished them a merry Christmas and asked them what they would like for Christmas.
“We’re not Christians,” they said. “We don’t believe in Christmas.”
“I know,” said the missionary, “but what do you want for Christmas?” They described some German pastries they were particularly fond of, and so Oswald Golter cashed in his ticket, used the money to buy baskets and baskets of the pastries, took them to the refugees, and wished them a merry Christmas.
When he later repeated the incident to a class, a student said, “But sir, why did you do that for them? They weren’t Christians. They don’t even believe in Jesus.”
“I know,” he replied, “but I do!”
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph. 2:8-9
St. Augustine once shared a powerful imagery, “God always pours His grace into empty hands.” No one’s hands could have been emptier than John Newton’s. His father was a merchant ship’s captain and was always at sea. His mother did her best to raise him, teaching him the Scriptures and sacred songs. Unfortunately, his mother died just before his 17th birthday and John would follow in his father’s footsteps. After losing his morther, John Newton’s world was the open sea. The world of the Spirit, tenderly taught by his mother, had vanished over the horizon and was lost at sea – much like Newton’s own soul. In his own words, John’s “delight and habitual practice was wickedness,” and he “neither feared God nor regarded men.” In short, he was “a slave to doing wickedness and delighted in sinfulness.”
After a short stint in England’s Navy during the war, John was dishonorably discharged and he then went to Africa aboard a freighter. In the shadow of the African Continent, John Newton was finally hired aboard a slave ship, where African men, women and children were treated like cargo and shipped across the Atlantic as slaves. In March of 1748, somewhere in the middle of the North Atlantic, grace grabbed a hold of him. The hand of God rescued a shipwrecked soul. A powerful tempest had engulfed the small slave ship. All hands were awake and on deck, as voices were shouting with urgency. Water was beginning to flood the hold. Newton wondered if this was how it was all going to end – entombed on the ocean floor. Then something remarkable happened – John Newton began praying. Later, he would surrender his life to Jesus and eventually become a preacher. He preached the Gospel until the venerable age of eighty-one.
Newton especially loved crafting sermons and hymns together. Reflecting on his life as a slave trader and on his conversion to Christ, John Newton wrote the hymn Amazing Grace over 270 years ago. Today, we have nearly 4,000 separate renditions of John Newton’s hymn. It comes in every style, crosses every border, and reaches every ear. When it’s announced at church, people stand a little taller to sing it. They lift their voices a bit higher. Just for a moment, they are catching a glimpse through the gates of heaven.
Perhaps, one of the reasons that this hymn has been so singularly loved and enduring is that every single verse conveys some powerful element of God’s truly amazing grace. The hymn helps us to discover three truths about the grace of God:
1. God’s grace has a captivating presence that draws sinners in (“how sweet the sound”)
2. God’s grace has a compassionate purpose for every sinner (“that saved a wretch like me”)
3. God’s grace has power to change sinners (“I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see”)
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Our church’s theme for 2019 is Show Others the Goodness of Jesus. It is God’s will for us to usher more people into His kingdom. We desire to share the good news of His love and the message of salvation and repentance through the blood of Christ to all that we come in contact with. We can do that by living our lives exemplifying the goodness of Jesus.
As we are constantly reminded that our Lord desires for no one to perish, we want to align our hearts with His and do our part to bring the Gospel near and far. Through the years, in our efforts to further satisfy our Lord’s heart to “let the children come to me” and seek to be witnesses in “our Jerusalem”, we have conducted the Vacation Bible School Ministry from the very beginning of our church’s existence.
Each summer, we see many children in our community gather together for a week-long fun-filled program. VBS 2019 will be held in all our campuses this year. In fact, it is happening right now in our Michigan campus. Our VBS theme for the younger children is “Roar – life is wild and God is good”. We will help the children discover that through the ups and downs of this wild life, God is good as they enjoy campfire storytelling, camp tunes, skits, games, crafts, and snacks, even as we seek to reinforce Bible truths each day. For our youth, their theme is No Equal. Indeed, for God’s disciples, there is no one that can compare to our Lord.
Time magazine published a study indicating that “kids with a spiritual grounding tend to be more resilient in the face of life’s setbacks and are less likely to suffer from depression.” Dear brothers and sisters, won’t you take some time and pray for our VBS ministries in all our campuses? And if your schedule allows, volunteer a week of your summer time to help the children learn how their lives can be transformed by God’s great love for them. Our God is calling you to be vessels of His love and grace to these precious young ones. For many of them, this may be the only chance they have to experience our Father’s love for them.
In this current age where the relentless attacks on foundational biblical principles are ever so rampant, would you do your part to help point these children in the right direction and give them a chance to remain on the right path as they grow in this dimly lit world that chooses to dethrone God, reject Him and His values? Let us remember God’s admonition to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”