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.