The Power of Testimony

When we fail to tell people what the Lord has done in our lives; we fail at giving them opportunity to know and serve Him.

I get annoyed when I hear people say to a person sharing their experience with God, “You are always telling that story!”  Why?  Because there are so many texts in the Bible where generations of people fall away from the Almighty God because  – they did not know the Lord and what He had done for their fathers.  Think of the amazing things the Lord did for the Israelites – think about their deliverance from the Egyptians and how their children after them fell away to false gods!

The Word of God tells us that we overcome by the word of our testimony and the blood of the Lamb.  I am not inclined to think that this word of testimony is talking only about our salvation from sin and death; but every victory that we have won in the power of Christ!

No matter where you are, there is sure to be someone in the room who is deciding whether or not Christ is the answer for them.  You can not always know what people are struggling with, but you can rest assured that whatever He saved you from – there is someone else who needs to know His power in that same way!

I am always telling my children about the power of obedience to Christ.  I know for certain that my life would have been very, very different had I not heeded His call even though I did not like what He was calling me to!  So, whenever any of them have a decision to make my first question is, “Have you talked to the Lord about it?”  That is quickly followed up with my testimony, which they have heard now hundreds of times.  I don’t call it beating a dead horse – I call it reinforcing for them power, peace, victory and joy that comes when you obey.  If my children don’t obey God, it won’t be because I didn’t teach them.  They can never say that no one ever told them to just obey God.

19225458_1832950003388471_1539705968881985503_nThis photo is of my mother-in-love, Beatrice Evelyn Sorrell Chinn.  She passed away in 1996.  One of the most beautiful memories I have of my mother-in-law is her journals.  She wrote down her prayers for her children, her daughters-in-law, her grandchildren.

We found those journals after her death.  They served as a reminder to us that she trusted in God for all that concerned us and it reminded us to place our trust in Him as well.

Will your posterity know in whom you trusted?  I don’t know what your testimony is — but especially in your family and in your spheres of influence – Tell Your Story!  You were once blind – but now you see!  You were once lost – but now you’re found.

You were once ___________________________; but now you’re ________________________.  Tell It!


Joshua 2:10

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers.  And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.  

Don’t Get Caught Up In A Bunch of Spare Rituals!

Grace Changes EverythingIn order to live under His grace – we must believe that He is exactly who He says He is and that we are exactly who He says we are!

We’ve all made these types of statements and one time or another:    “Well, at least I’m not as bad as ???”; “Yeah I did that, but at least I didn’t act like ???”; “I’m a Christian! I go to church every Sunday!”.  We have all, at one time or another, had an established list of must do items that we believed made us more righteous than another; or we have all held ourselves out to be better than someone else to justify or glaze over our own sin.  Some have gotten caught up in rituals that they think make them more righteous — thanking God for food loudly in a restaurant; participating in an annual church outreach event; using all the right words (blessed and highly favored, I’m doing well by his grace, etc.); wearing Christian t-shirts/fish/crosses; etc.  Still others have become legalistic in an effort to prove themselves ‘holier than thou’.  Well, none of that will cause you to live fully under the grace of God.

If we want to live victoriously, we have to take Him at His word.  If we want to experience His favor, we have to believe Him in such a way that our faith can be counted as righteousness.  There is no way – absolutely no way – to please Him with rules and rituals.  Rules and Rituals only give us cause to judge one another.  When my boys were younger, they loved listening to The Cross Movement.  They had a song that said:

Without Christ it ain’t spiritual – you’re just caught up in a bunch of spare rituals” – The Cross Movement

If our spiritual lives consist only of rules, regulations, and statutes; then our reward will be self-judgment and the judgment of other fallen people — we will never walk in victory!  However, if we define our spiritual lives by our belief in God; in who He is and in what He says; then we walk under the Grace of God!  Christ has given us the privilege of living as heirs with Him, but we must choose to walk in faith.  Not trying to justify ourselves against another’s failings, but instead accepting the justification that we have not earned – but have been freely given by God the Father through His son Jesus Christ.

I pray that the Father will help us to live for Him and not for ourselves.  I pray that He will help us to reserve judgement and instead show mercy.  I pray that He will help us to appreciate fully what it means to be given justification and to be counted as righteous through Christ. I pray that He will liberate us from the desire to check off a list of good deeds and ‘righteous’ acts.  I pray that we will allow Him to teach us what it means to be free indeed.

However, the law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them” (Galatians 3:12)

Put on the Whole Armor!

fruit gnatsAnnoying little creatures they are! Fruit flies! I detest them.

When we were still living in Nkwanta, Ghana – one of my sons and I were talking about where in the world they come from.  I mean did they just  – you know – just APPEAR.

We did a little research and found that when you bring a piece of fruit into your home there is a very high risk that a fly has laid an egg on the skin/rind/shell of that fruit. So, if you bring the fruit home and do not wash it until you intend to eat it – the chances that you will see gnats flying around are high.

In Ghana the fruit is so very good so we always brought home fresh pineapples, avocados, mangoes and watermelon. I always washed them well before storing them. One particular day I awoke and there were still my little flying friends in the morning!  I checked my fruit well and found a very small soft spot on my watermelon – that was the culprit! We got rid of it – and my little flying annoyances disappeared. They were attracted to “live” trash – fresh fruit, yeast, etc. They were attracted to things that show that they have life.

As I thought about this I thought about the myriad of issues that we are facing in our ministry life.  It seems that not a days go by that we are not dealing with some issue that threatens the effectiveness of our ministry – nothing major, just annoyances that make you want to shoo them away. Annoying – these little darts that the enemy keeps throwing at us. We pray, we fast, we practice silence before God, even lectio divina – and yet they persist. It occurred to me that like my little flying friends – these darts are attracted to life. The enemy would not be annoying us so much if he didn’t see that our ministry was alive and doing well. You see, the enemy too is attracted to life! He wants to steal, kill and destroy – and if there is already spiritual death, then there is nothing for him to take, execute, or annihilate. So I guess we are in good company!

Fruit Flies!! I do despise them – but as for the annoyances of the enemy, I say bring ‘em on. I am alive in Christ, I am fully devoted to His mission in this world – and if that brings on attacks from the enemy, then I have the faith to conquer them, to withstand the test, and yes – to expect the incredible and the impossible! I am clothed with the breastplate of righteousness — and that will extinguish the darts!

I encourage you to put on the full armor of God when the enemy comes your way.  He wants to discourage the army of the Lord; but trust that God has you and will keep you.  If it is for the sake of the Kingdom of God – Don’t Quit!

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11

Breathe! You’re winning!

Psalm 62-5A life of faith is a life of battles.  This is difficult line to read – but one that is so very true.  Victory is assured …  that is indeed true – but we win only in Him and we keep the advantage on the battleground only as we continually pray.

The enemy is always seeking to wreck us; to turn us on our heads; to confuse us; to make us feel like we are at a loss. But the battle belongs to Our Lord – and yes, Victory is Our Savior’s!

The lesson of the believer, one that must never be forgotten, is that we are in battle!  Somehow, it seems, we have come to believe that we can sit back and feel like royalty because we’ve already won – but this is not nearly true!  The battle will not end until He has returned!

Stand firm! Hide the Word of the Lord in your heart! Have faith and do not fear! Stand on the Rock of Our Salvation at all times!  In times of trouble, remember that God is your salvation, your strength, and your glory.  Don’t get proud when it seems you have won – NO! Remember to whom the victory belongs – He is your glory!  You are not the victor – it is the One to whom you have given your life; the One who gave the life of His Son to save you.  The hope for peace is not in any other being but Him!

The riches of God’s lovingkindness Will Not Fail!  The supply that comes from His hand Will Always Be Enough! The Prayers we bring to His throne Will Always Be Heard!

Don’t put your arms down – stay in the battle and expect to enjoy the victory with your King! He will give you rest – don’t doubt it! Breathe – Trust – Expect!

Psalm 62:5 – 6

God, the one and only—
I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I’m set for life. 

 

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

Trust In The Good LordMany find comfort in these words – but for me, they can cause angst.  It’s the word “let” that causes problems for me.  I mean, what am I supposed to do when the trials and problems of life really do give me pause or cause me to have fear?

I know – I know –  I know what you Christian folk are saying, “Jan! take the thought captive, bring the thought into submission with the will of God, trust, I KNOW!!  But that word “let” still gives me a lump in my throat.

Maybe you never had an issue where the money was just not enough to meet your obligations.  Maybe you have never faced the type of illness that a doctor says cannot be cured.  Maybe your life is on course and you are not only joyful but prosperous.  That is what I tell myself when I encounter people who tell me not to allow myself to worry.  I say to myself that they have no idea what it is like to be in my shoes!

Well, I Thank God for His Word!  These words were spoken by the very Son of God, and knowing that Jesus said the words tells me that it really is possible for me to disallow my heart from fainting at the first sign of trouble.

I go on to read Christ’s words in Matthew 24 as he describes the perilous times the world will face but he reminds those that follow Him that they are not alone.  And then I remember that the Word of God gave me another “let” that gives me power and strength – “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 2:5)– and as I continue to read His Word and allow Him to speak to me I am reminded that if I have the mind of Christ I cannot be troubled for it is against the mind of Christ for me to have a troubled heart or mind even when all around me seems full of trouble.  Then I remember that He also told me that if I could only remember at all times that He has already overcome the world – I will know that I too will overcome.

Now, let me say that my heart began to feel lighter and the lump in my throat was less uncomfortable.  Let me also be clear that my situation had not (and indeed has not) changed – yet I am hopeful, truly, that He desires to and will indeed work it all out for my good and for His glory.  So today, you know – later on after I start thinking about my trouble again – the moment it seems that my heart just might faint, I will not let my heart be troubled, instead I will start singing, clapping, dancing and praising Him in advance of my deliverance!  As I praise – it will lift my heart from trouble to a place of triumph and I will not be able to stop myself from rejoicing.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled! As my mama always tell me,  “Just trust in the Good Lord!”

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. 

John 14:1