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Lindsey

Writing Your Testimony

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You will notice on our home page that you can watch/read my personal testimony at any time. I am proud to be able to share with you my story of redemption and how God spoke into my life to make me whole. If you are a believer, it is so beneficial for you to know your testimony. If someone asks you why you follow Jesus, you need to have an answer ready.

1 Peter 3:15 says,

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Today I am going to challenge you to write your testimony. Do not freak out! I am going to guide you through the whole process.

People will argue about the bible until the end of time, but people can never argue about your testimony. What you have experienced in life can only be known if you share it. As a believer, it is important that you share your story. It shows your passion for the gospel and what you share with others can ignite a fire in their spirits too.

Identifying your testimony

You must first identify the moment you first came to Christ. Think back to the day you remember giving your heart to Christ. What was your life before Christ and what drew you to making the change in your heart the day you said, “I want you to lead my life?” Think about how you were spurred to move forward with the decision to give Him everything. That my friends, is your testimony. The day you gave your life to the Lord and told Him to take control. If you do not have an experience like that, or you are not sure if you have ever done that, today is the perfect day for salvation! You cannot have a testimony yet until you first step out in faith to follow Him. You can only testify to something with confidence when you have assurance of it being solidified in your life.

Why write a testimony?

Now that you have identified your testimony, the moment in which you prayed to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, I want you to write it down. When you write anything down, the chances of your mind making into muscle memory dramatically increases. If you see it on paper, you are able to add or take away details to further ground your experience. It will make you all the more confident in how you share it. If you are better prepared, your sharing will come more naturally because you have spent time thinking of the power in which God really changed you.

It also becomes a comfort to your soul. There may be times when the enemy tries to convince you that God does not love you. He may try to speak lies of the confidence in your coming to faith. Writing down everything will be a solidification in your heart and soul anytime you wonder. You can pick up your testimony, read it to yourself and feel encouraged of God’s intervention and life change upon your path.

How to share your testimony

You have identified and written down your testimony, now what? Sharing your testimony can feel awkward at first and even uncomfortable. I promise, the more you are able to do this, the more confidence you will feel and the more excitement you will radiate.

You will want to have different versions in mind to practice. How can you practice your testimony to be 30 seconds long, 1 min and 3 mins? Think of it like a mini speech. If someone you know is struggling with something and you feel nudged to share your faith, you can throw in a short 30 sec bit by relating to them or sharing a verse God brings to mind. If the person seems open to discussing more, ask them, do you mind if I share what God has done in my life? You would be completely surprised to know how many people are open to hearing about the love of God in your life. Follow up with them too because you may be the catalyst that leads them to the cross.

The importance of your testimony is this:

If you do not know it, you cannot love Him.
If you do not love Him, you cannot live it.
If you cannot live it, others will not see it.
If others do not see it, they do not know they need it.
If they do not know they need it, they will not be freed by it.

If you know it, you love Him.
If you love Him, you live it.
If you live it, others see it.
If they see it, they will believe it.
If they believe it, they will need it.
If they need it, they will receive freedom.

Jesus said in John 15:16,

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

Ask the Lord for people to be brought into your path to share the good news with, so all can know how to glorify God in a love relationship with Jesus.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

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I have greatly looked forward to writing this particular devotional. There are so many great stories in the bible. None in my opinion quite compare with the story of boldness I will share today. It has astounded me since the first time I learned of it as a child. Daniel 3 is quite lengthy. I’m going to give a brief cliff notes version of the story for some background information before looking at any specific parts of the text. I would encourage you to read the chapter at some point on your own because simply put, it is awesome.

There was a King named Nebuchadnezzar who was ruler of Babylon. In the beginning of Daniel, we are introduced to the man whom which the book is named after. Daniel was a servant of God unwilling to wavier in becoming as the world. He found favor in the eyes of the King as God gifted him with the ability to interpret dreams. Daniel’s story is profound in how the King became awestruck in the God Daniel served. Today I want to focus on three of his buddies; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

These three guys were appointed to oversee and assist affairs in the province of Babylon. Despite the King having confidence in Daniel’s God, he decided to build idols of gold for the people to worship. All the peoples in the land were commanded at the sound of any musical instrument, to fall down and worship the graven image the King created. This did not sit well with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Obviously the reason they got along so well with Daniel and won over his favor is because of their solid assurance in the Lord God Almighty as the One True God. Eventually some nosey bystanders saw the three in resistance to bowing down and worshiping this hunk of gold they called a god and decided to tattle to the King. As you might expect, the King was not pleased in their disinterest to obey. He gave the guys an ultimatum…bow down in worship or die a fiery death. The three stood firm in their convictions. They were not afraid for they had faith God would deliver them. So the story goes, they are bound and thrown into an exceptionally hot furnace and not only did God deliver them, but they walked away unsinged. Not even a scent of burning on them.

I cannot wait to dive further into this story. My summarizing is so meek in comparison to the words of scripture. Check out Daniel 3:16-18. The three respond to the threats of the king in this way,

“O, Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

WOW! Can you imagine someone threatening to end your life unless you comply with their wishes and telling them, “NO.” I want to pump my fist every time I read this section and yell, “YEAH!” because I know what is about to happen and I get super psyched up knowing how greatly they angered the king. The king was so filled with anger, he ordered his officials to maximize the heat in the furnace seven times the original temperature. Then, our three friends were tied up and tossed in. The officials who threw them in were killed instantly because the heat could not be contained enough when the door of the furnace was opened. Nearly immediately after they are thrown in, this happens in verses 24-25,

“The King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.””

Again…awesome. Verse 26, the king finally gives credit to our God as the “Most High God.” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are pulled out of the furnace and to everyone’s amazement, “The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them (verse 27).”

The King finally reconciles that the God of our guys is the only One worthy of sincere worship. At the very end of the chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar sets in place a new law demanding the worship of only the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Check out what he threatens the people with who refuse. Verse 29 says, “Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

God is so awesome. What would it look like for you to have the boldness of these three men? When Satan leads circumstances or people to guide you into temptation, why fear putting your foot down. The point of this entire story is summed up in two verses, Daniel 3:16-18. Look at it again:

“O, Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

The God I serve and the God you serve, is able. It does not matter what you are caught up in, He is able to deliver you from bondage, sinful past, lies you tell yourself and any temptation you are sucked into. He. Is. Able. Even if He does not deliver you from a trying circumstance and things do not turn in your favor, do not bow in order to appease the world. No matter where life attempts to overpower you, God able and you do not have to settle for less than what He desires for your life simply because it seems like the only foreseeable option at the moment. Do not bow.

The story ends with rejoicing. Although they could have died, they were delivered from evil and the king promoted the three to an even higher seat in the province of Babylon. You see, when you bow, you allow others to control who you are. When you refuse to bow and seek to please the only One that matters, God Almighty, the reward for your courage will be given.

Matthew 16:26 says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

Sometimes people lose their life for standing firm in the Lord, but I guarantee, they are rewarded far greater than you or I could ever imagine by the Lord in His kingdom. Standing firm does not mean you will lose your life, but it does means God will be glorified and that is the point for our existence.

Matthew 10:32-33 says, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Someday when I am no longer on this earth and am in the presence of my Lord in heaven, I look forward to meeting Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and hearing their story of how God lead them to victory that day.

Psalm 23

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Psalm 23,

“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
They comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me
All the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of
the Lord
forever.

When Christ redeems us, He becomes our shepherd. It is humorous that often in scripture, followers of Christ are referred to as sheep, since Jesus is referred to as the great shepherd. Sheep, if you think about it are not viewed as the smartest of animals. They get spooked quite easily and behave timidly. If left in a pasture all day to graze on grass they would be content to stay put and they tend to stick together to avoid being alone.

In the first paragraph of verses in this Psalm, it is easy to notice the sense of peace in the Psalmist’s words. When led by the Lord to lush areas to experience calm and soothing environments, it is easy to feel safe and joyful. When we feel satisfied and things are going our way, it is so easy to feel the presence of the Lord. When we get into challenging situations do we react with the same mentality?

Look at the second paragraph. Do you have confidence in God’s protection and comfort over your life where you could actually say those words and believe them wholeheartedly? When we walk through troubled times and encounter scary situations, it is easy to wonder where God is.

1 John 4:18 says, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

Believing the words of verse 4 allows us to walk straight into battle unscathed, intentionally reliant on God’s control to take our fear away. When this happens, evil flees. It senses the presence of the Holy Spirit and it cannot touch us. It is imperative to remember the powerful hold the Holy Spirit has over evil. By neglecting to give credit to His power, it is easy for the “what if” questions to take over. God does not put any fear within us. Fear, most certainly is the work of the devil.

James 4:7-8 states, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

And

2 Timothy 1:7 graciously reminds, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

The last paragraph in this psalm speaks gently of the reward waiting to be received, for those who put trust in the Lord and give no credit to the enemy. Even in the midst of facing your enemies, peace should still be the reminder of God’s blessings over you. The anointing over with oil indicates blessings to be received. This goodness comes to those who follow Christ. It is only through faith in Christ, this assurance can be embraced. From salvation on, our fears and the evils threatening to control our being on earth have no power over us. The Lord speaks goodness and mercy over us and if we are faithful, we will dwell with Him forever.

When life gets tough and situations bring you fear, walk through them with your head held high with confidence knowing you are not alone. The same power that conquered the grave lives in you.

Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

A Model of Forgiveness

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Stephen: A Model of Forgiveness

I am amazed at what technology can do. Not long ago, thanks to Instagram, I met Jeff. Jeff was born hearing, but has since lost hearing in both of his ears and is learning to rely on ASL for communication.

I look forward to him sharing his story very soon about the amazing things God has done since beginning the path of learning ASL and seeing God’s broken heart for the deaf. Jeff reached out to me and shared how he felt the pressing of the Lord to write a devotional for us!

I am SO thrilled to introduce him today as this week’s devotional writer! I hope and pray that the words God gave Jeff to share with us come alive to you and prick your heart to live out your faith. I am humbled at the beauty in the cross of Christ and how God can use total strangers to stand beside this ministry by joining in His Kingdom work through our time and talents. Many thanks Jeff!

Contributing Devotional Author: Jeff Braunns
ASL Translation: Lindsey Berger

Jeff:
“Hello! My name is Jeff. I am so excited to share the love that Jesus has with everyone! Thank you, bye!”

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Acts! In Acts you see the disciples doing many works and wonders in God’s name. The word spread and the number of disciples continued growing!

Acts 6:7
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

In Acts 6 the Bible tells us about a man named Stephen. Stephen was a man full of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 6:8
“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. “

Some people from the Synagogue of the Freedmen started to argue with Stephen, but God had blessed him with great wisdom and they could not stand against what God had blessed him with. In fact, they were so angry with Stephen that they persuaded some men to lie about what he had said. They seized Stephen and took him before the Elders. Stephen spoke the truth before the members of the Sanhedrin.

The Bible say in Acts 7:54, “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.”

Stephen was stoned to death for speaking the truth about what God had done!

The part of Stephens’s story that has remained with me through the years is this passage:

Acts 7:55-60
“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

WOW! Stephen was so full of God’s love and The Holy Spirit, that even when he was being stoned to death he asked God to forgive them!

Stephen’s story touches my heart. He was just a man, but he was so filled with the love of Christ that he was able to forgive the very men that killed him!
Many people are not able to feel the true love Christ has to give because they are so filled with hate.

Forgiving someone that has wronged you is one of the hardest things to do while you are on this earth. Giving forgiveness is one of the biggest ways to show what God’s true love really is. Just by forgiving someone you are being “like Christ” (a Christian).
If the Son of man is able to give us love, and forgiveness to all of us who are sinners,
we can do the same.

Miracles of Jesus – Part 4

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As a believer, you know the most important part of the story of Jesus Christ is His death, burial and resurrection. He was hunted down, nailed to a cross and left for dead. God already had sealed a promise in the fate of His Son, but the story has a miraculous ending. One that absolutely no one anticipated, making it all the more amazing. This month we have spent a great deal of time looking at a few of the miracles of Jesus. I purposefully saved this for last as it is the most tremendously glorious of them all, the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord.

Jesus never sinned, He held the power of God in His hands, yet He fully allowed His Heavenly Father’s plan to unfold that led to His death on the cross. He was brutally mistreated, beaten, mocked, then His hands and feet taken and nails were driven through them on the cross.

Here is a timeline of what happened to Jesus according to Luke 23:44-24:49
About noon, darkness covered the land.
The curtain was torn in two.
Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
Jesus breathed His last.
People who saw this, finally believe He was the Christ.
His body was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linen and laid in a tomb.
Three days later, those planning to prepare His body with spices, found the stone rolled away from the tomb.
Jesus begins to appear to many.

When Jesus appears to His disciples, initially they are startled for obvious reasons, they witnessed His death. They did not believe He was real, they thought He was a spirit. Jesus says to them in Luke 24:38-39, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Hop a few verses down.

Luke 24:46-47 says, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Jesus had told them all along this would happen in vaguer terms and though they believed, they could never fully grasp the purity of their faith until the day of His resurrection.

Jesus was raised to life through the power of God Almighty. No earthly power or any other spiritual being could have accomplished what was done that very day. Jesus walked through physical death because He was made to be like us, flesh, but also so we could see what it was truly like to be made like Him in death, resurrected.

Like I mentioned in Part 3 of this series, “Miracles of Jesus,” those who come to the saving redemption of Christ Jesus, will still experience physical death just like those without it, but death will not be permanent. Once you are redeemed, death has no hold on you anymore than it has hold on Our Lord, Jesus. This was the most amazing miracle of all, bodily resurrection, the victory over death.

1 Corinthians 15:55 says, “Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?”

Life in Christ means newness on earth and eternal joy after this life is over. You will be made new in the resurrection of your new body upon death, just like our Lord and that is something that will give us peace in a world of uncertainty.

Miracles of Jesus – Part 3

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We have spent a great deal of time unpacking the miracles and wonders of our Lord Jesus Christ during His time here on earth. We first discovered His miraculous birth through the conception of the Holy Spirit. Then we looked at Jesus’ adult ministry and how He fed over five thousand with just two fish and five loaves. Today, we are going to look at His ability to raise people from the dead. A feat completely impossible for any human to do.

The story of Lazarus is rather lengthy. Please take time to read John 11:1-44 on your own time. I will do my best to summarize and focus mainly on the last section, verses 38-44. By reading the story in its entirety, you can get an idea of why this story has such a profound impact on the people, on Jesus Himself and on us.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were all siblings. Jesus had a solid affection for them. The sisters knew Jesus well and Mary was the woman in previous scripture who had anointed Jesus’ feet with costly oil. Their brother Lazarus had fallen ill and the sisters sent word to Jesus. He was not concerned whatsoever and told the sisters, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (verse 4). Jesus stayed in their town two days longer despite the disciple’s urgings for Him to retreat. Jesus explains to the twelve that Lazarus is sleeping and He will go wake him. Unfortunately, He actually meant Lazarus was dead, but the disciples thought He meant he was in literal sleep. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead in a tomb for four days. By this time, his body would have already begun to smell and the process of decomposition would have started. Martha and Mary both try to place blame on Jesus, using words in hopes he would feel guilty like, “if you were here, our brother wouldn’t have died.” (verses 21, 32).

Jesus was overwhelmed with sadness over the death of Lazarus and this is the only time recorded in the scriptures where Jesus wept (verse 35). Martha confirms her belief in His Lordship and power, but Jesus, deeply moved, traveled into the town where Lazarus lay in his tomb. There was much mourning over the loss at the tomb, but Jesus was ready to show them His power exceeding anything they were capable of understanding up until this point.

Verses 38-44 says,

“Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Although the sisters claimed deep belief in Christ, there was still doubt. Martha warned Jesus about the odor because of the amount of time which had passed. Jesus again replies, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

How many times do we see God work a miracle in our lives or in the life of someone around us and we still do not believe? God may even say something so direct as Jesus did to Martha to remind us that He knows what He is doing.

TRUST HIM.

Jesus raised Lazarus and He lived again. Jesus was not only demonstrating His power, but He was foreshadowing the very miracle which was to come in His own life. Many people believed in Him that day. Can you imagine what Lazarus was thinking?! HE WAS DEAD. THEN JESUS GAVE HIM LIFE.

This is the whole point of this story! Jesus sought out the one He loved who was dead and gave Him life.

The greatest miracle that I see from this story is how I, just like Lazarus was dead, Jesus came to me, spoke life into me and gave me life.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

You want to experience redemption from death? You want to be raised in newness of life and walk with a God who has the power to redeem your dead heart?

Come.

In Part 4, we will look at the most amazing miracle of all. You will not want to miss out!

Miracles of Jesus-Part 2

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I do not know why in our human minds, we misjudge the power of Jesus time and time again. The disciples had faith enough to follow Jesus, but it was not until they saw Him change water into wine that they fully understood the capacity of their belief. When we place our faith and trust in Christ, there will be days we think He is not big enough to handle our needs. There will be days when we feel overwhelmed by His power and there will even be days when we read and marvel at all He can do. Jesus feeding the five thousand is one of those stories to me.

In Matthew 14: 13-21, Jesus shocks His disciples yet again by doing an amazing feat. The story begins with Jesus learning of the death of John the Baptist, His dear friend. John had been beheaded by King Herod and Jesus wanted to be alone. As He departed by boat, crowds heard of His location and followed Him. When He arrived to shore, Jesus was met by the large crowds and it says in verse 14 that “He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Even though Jesus was weary and heavy in heart about the death of John, He did not withhold blessings to bestow on those who desperately needed healing. As the day progressed, the disciples came to Jesus and urged Him to send the crowds away so they could buy food for themselves in the villages. Starting in verse 16, things get awesome.

“But Jesus said, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They said to Him, ‘We have only five loaves here and two fish.’ And He said, ‘Bring them here to me.’”

What the disciples failed to recognize is the importance of providing both for the spiritual and physical needs of the people. Sure, we can preach the gospel, but when someone is physically in need, the bible says in Matthew 25:40, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” I believe Jesus wanted His power to be again displayed for the disciples who are so much like we are, fickle in our faith.

The story goes on in Matthew 14: 18-21:

“And He said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and two fish, He looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

This story literally gives me chills every time I read it. The disciples wanted to walk away and let the people deal with their hunger themselves. Jesus did waiver in is desire to help. He immediately took action. Again, JESUS. TOOK. ACTION. He did not hope they would come up with a better plan. He asked for the fish and bread, gazed up to His Heavenly Father and blessed it. He anticipated greatness as He looked to heaven. He did not doubt and He did not wavier in His thoughts. He immediately took action.

We also know the crowds needing food exceeded five thousand because that number only accounted for the men present. There is absolutely no other way anything on this scale could be physically possible. Jesus did a miracle and the people’s needs were met.

Two takeaways for me I want to share with you from this story are as follows; Jesus took action and He anticipated a great blessing.

It can be incredibly difficult as a believer to not struggle with bending to the temptations of the world or assuming God will not provide for your needs in whatever capacity you are needing them. It is crucial for us as children of God, to trust and believe the big things in this world He can make happen. We also need to live in such a way as with great expectations. When we do not trust God will deliver, we tune our radar out and miss amazing blessings. When we pray, we ought to pray with joy, all the while knowing He has great blessings for us just as He anticipated the great blessings from above to provide food when realistically it was impossible.

In “The Miracles of Jesus-Part 1,” Mary the mother of Jesus was told by an angel she would conceive that which was from the Holy Spirit. Before departing, the angel left her with these incredible words in Luke 1:37, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Miracles of Jesus – Part 1

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Jesus Christ’s story is a miracle in and of itself. When we think of the many miracles of Jesus, we tend to think of how He healed the sick and raised the dead, all of which are mind blowing. We will embark on a four-part series focusing on the miracles of Jesus. He presented Himself in profound ways and He touched the minds and hearts of many. He continually proved His power and complete authority over normal human abilities. It is the reason why He is so hard to understand, yet so awesome in His Lordship. Let’s jump right in and discover more about the Christ we know as Lord.

 

The greatest miracle of Jesus began when God placed His Spirit in the womb of a virgin, to bear the King.

 

I do not need to go into detail of what all takes place in order to conceive a child. Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly parents, did not engage in sexual activity to bring Him into existence. God is so incredible in His infinite power, that He Himself manifested His Spirit into the womb of a pure woman and she gave birth to the world’s Savior. Though many did not believe, angels visited Mary and Joseph on separate occasions, reaffirming God’s choice for them.

 

The prophet Isaiah foretold of the birth of Christ in Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

 

We know in the gospels, the story of Christ’s birth spreads throughout all the land. We know Isaiah was not wrong in his foretelling of this miraculous event. We know this is the first and greatest miracle, God coming in the form of a human infant, growing into a child, then into an adult for which He was destined to die.

 

The first miracle Jesus performed as an adult was in John 2.

 

Shortly after Jesus called the twelve to follow Him as disciples, in John 2, Jesus attended a wedding with them and His mother. As the wedding festivities were enjoyed, wine for the guests ran out. Jesus’ mother turns to Him and says in verse 3, “They have no wine.” We see immediately her intentions are for Jesus to use His power to remedy the situation. In verse 4 Jesus responds to His mother, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Reading this verse might make one think He is put off with His mother, but Jesus is trying to distance Himself and His mother’s request.

 

Jesus ultimately decides to honor His mother’s request by instructing His disciples to fill up six stone water jars and upon drawing it out, there was wine. In fact, the bridegroom comments in verse 10 about the wine being the best. “But you have kept the good wine until now.”

 

The most pressing thing of importance to know about this first miracle of Jesus is in verse 11. “And His disciples believed in Him.” Remember, when Jesus first calls the twelve, they do not question, but instantly follow Jesus at His calling. This is the first time they see His words in action and for them, that was huge. They did not dismiss Him before this first miracle, but seeing something tangibly has a different effect on your faith than the simple act of only believing.

 

The miracles of Jesus are vast. Having faith in Him can be tough because we do not get to physically hangout with Him like the disciples did. When you come into a relationship with Christ and you obtain true salvation, miracles will be evident in ways they never were before. Starting your journey to faith in Christ is not difficult and does not require much. You only need to accept His words, ask for forgiveness and believe firmly in your heart and you will see the mighty works of our Lord.

 

The Power of Prayer

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When I was twelve years old, horrible stomach pain plagued me for nearly a week. My parents began to express concern and took me to the hospital. The doctors in the emergency room ran some tests to confirm I had appendicitis. Within the hour I would be receiving emergency surgery. I was terrified. I rarely had to go to the doctor as a child, but never to the hospital since birth and now suddenly I was going to be knocked out and cut open! I recall having a calm numbness about the situation, like everything was happening in slow motion and soon I would wake up from a dream. Unfortunately, it was all very real. I had so much inflammation you could see my appendix bulging from my side with only a glance.

My mom contacted her parents, my grandparents, and come to find out at that exact moment, my grandma and grandpa were at the local prison leading a bible study. They along with all the inmates in attendance, stopped their lesson and spent time in prayer over my health. My parents stayed near my side and also prayed continually for the next thirty minutes while doctors waited for the operating room to be cleared and ready. My doctor returned and asked how I was feeling and oddly commented about the inflammation site looking less inflamed. He ordered another quick scan of the area to reaffirm what he had already determined a short time ago. He left the room while a nurse scanned my stomach. A few minutes after the nurse left, the doctor returned looking completely baffled. He looked at my parents and I with bewilderment in his voice and said, “I do not have a medical explanation for this, but Lindsey is fine. When you brought her in, her appendix was so inflamed it was near the point of rupturing and now…the inflammation is completely gone. She has no need for surgery and you all are free to go home.” We all looked at each other speechless. It was truly a miracle. God answered our prayers.

I could tell you story after story of person or situation I know of, who have witnessed first-hand the power of prayer played out in their life. For some reason that day, God decided to heal me quickly, as to not need surgery. God just as easily could have used surgery for His glory too. I cannot pretend to understand what He did that day for me, when others have died from the same ailment. God hears every prayer and when you have faith in the words you give Him, He does listen.

Scripture says:

1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.”

James 5:13-14, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick. Let him call the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Scripture also says in Mark 11:24,

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

When you pray, God will answer in one of three ways, “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” He does not love you any less when He says no. His goal for us as His children is to faithfully trust Him with our desires and be willing to accept His answer, whatever that may be. Let’s take a look at an example of each.

When God says, “Yes.”

In the first chapter of 1 Samuel, we are introduced to Elkanah. He has two wives: Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah has children and Hannah has not been able to bear children. Hannah obviously had a hard time with this and her lack of children was a steady burden to her soul, for she deeply desired them. Every year Hannah would travel with her family to the temple. The year recorded in 1 Samuel 1-19 speaks of Hannah praying in the sight of the priest, Eli. Eli thought she was drunk and when Hannah explained to him she was pouring her heart out to God, Eli says in verse 17, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” The next day she and her family returned home and she spent time with her husband, conceived and gave birth to a son.

When God says, “No.”

Our next example is of God saying “no” to His own son, Jesus. In Matthew 26, the timeline of the plot to kill Jesus, His betrayal and arrest goes by quickly. Jesus knows what is to come and how He must suffer and die on the cross for us. Even so, as He spends time in the garden of Gethsemane, in verse 39 it says, “And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” Of course we know God does not remove His Son from the garden to escape death, burial and resurrection. The key is when He says, “not as I will, but as You will.” In times when God clearly says “no” to something we desire to be different, if we can maintain the attitude of trusting He knows best for us, then in the end all will turn out right, just as it did through Jesus’ death.

When God says, “Wait.”

In Genesis chapters 12-15, Abraham, a righteous man, is called by God in obedience to serve. Abraham who is already older in age, is told by God his wife Sarah will have a child. Abraham at various times becomes exceedingly impatient waiting on God. He even has relations with his servant Hagar and she bears a son. Still, God tells him to wait on the promised descendant He desires to give him. In total, Abraham and Sarah wait fifteen years for the promise to be fulfilled and their son Issac to be born. Even through his disobedience, God still kept His promise.

God’s timing can be frustrating to wait on, especially when He does not give us what we want. Prayer is powerful even when the hoped for outcome is not received. God does listen, but God also knows what He is doing. Keep praying, power will be evident. He is sovereign and His will is best. He created you, trust Him to have guidance over your path. Put on the attitude of Jesus, “not my will but yours.”

False Prophets

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As a kid, my siblings and I were involved in a number of church activities. My favorite was a ministry called AWANA’s. Every Wednesday night my mom and dad would drop my siblings and I off at AWANA’s. Right away the fun began; two hours of learning bible stories, crafts, playing games and my favorite: bible challenges. Each week, our homework was to read through and bring back the completed workbook section, having memorized the weekly verses. The leaders would quiz us on the homework and we would take turns sitting one on one, word for word reciting the verses. You earned patches and emblems to add to your AWANA vest for the work you completed. I have awesome memories sitting with my dad in our kitchen working through verse memorization together. Each week I returned for AWANA’s, I always felt incredibly accomplished when I could recite an entire verse by memory.

AWANA takes its name from 2 Timothy 2:15

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

(Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed).

As much as you or I strive to rightly handle the word of truth, there will always be others in the world who purposefully and wrongfully handle the word of truth. These people are called False Teachers. There are MANY false teachers and false prophets in the world. Some prefer to appeal to the masses, while others simply prey on individuals to mislead.

Televangelist Benny Hinn is one popular example of a false teacher and prophet appealing to the masses. For many years, Benny has appeared on TV claiming to have special God given miraculous abilities to heal people and prophecy the return of Christ. All his attempts to heal and see the future have been proven false. I have seen first hand the work of false teachings.

I traveled to China many years ago. Several of my teammates had met a Chinese Believer who appeared to be solid in His Christian faith. My friends were invited to continue attending a local bible study taught by this man. After a few sessions, one of my friends became unsettled over some discrepancies with this man’s teaching and found them to be unbiblical. One night after the study, this friend of mine approached the man privately with some rather pointed questions regarding his doctrine. The man became angry and a verbal altercation erupted. Many days after the dust settled, the other locals were fully aware of this man’s false doctrine. As a result, he was kicked out of the group and refused further conversations with my friend.

Both examples are real and daily life happenings around the globe. For those of us who walk on solid ground they can be unsettling reminders that our world is being temporarily ruled by the Prince of Darkness, Satan. He will use workers of the flesh to entice you with untruths, in hopes to lead you astray from God. This is why you MUST clothe yourself daily with the words of the Lord in your heart and know truth from untruth.

It remains essential for you to know the truth in order to weed out false teachings. Do not fear these liars, but know what you believe and why you believe it.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

John makes it very clear in 1 John 4:1-3. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”

Rest assured, as you begin or continue to share your faith with others, you will encounter those with opposing beliefs. Proceed with respect and love for they have been led astray. The Holy Spirit will give you words to say and He can use you to guide them back to the truth.

For Deaf 316 Ministries’ full Biblical Doctrine, consult the BELIEFS section of our website.