How did you feel as you heard the stories that were just shared? Were you sympathetic? Were you compassionate? Did you think of your own story? Did their stories give you courage or inspiration? How were you personally impacted? What might happen as a result of these brave souls being willing to share how God met them and moved in them and on them in their lives?
Every year God has led me to a theme for our church to help us focus as we start the New Year. This year is the “Year of the Story.” It perhaps will challenge each of us beyond any other year’s theme. The challenge is simply to use your own personal story to tell others about Jesus.
Have you seen the “Word Cloud” app on FB? It searches everything you have posted and lists your top words from all of the words you have posted during the year.
I did mine and my top five words were: God, Teays Valley, Church, and thankful! Without even knowing it, over the course of this past year, my posts were telling a story. They were describing who I am, what I love, where my hope lies, and how my life is impacted by my walk with Christ and affiliation with this church. They were the centerpieces of my posts and are the centerpiece of my life. I am grateful for the online presence of Facebook and other social media which are great tools for using our words to represent Christ.
I want you to think about your personal God-stories as seeds, something that can be implanted into someone’s heart, take root and grow. It is something that can become food for thought in someone’s mind that can open the door to more conversations about your relationship with Jesus. The biggest evangelism tool you have is your own personal story about what Christ has done for you. What you say about who Christ is to you is the most convincing thing your family, friends and co-workers can hear about Jesus. Your story makes the Bible 3-dimensional for non-believers.
Some Scriptures I want you to think about with me:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Disciples cannot be made without words. They must be taught to observe what God has commanded. To refuse to testify is to disobey the command of God.
Romans 10:11-15 says, How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Your words may not be received by everyone you share with. You may not get an audience with everyone. Some may be offended for a minute or even distance themselves from you, but what does the last part of this Scripture say? “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” You will not only be welcomed, but those who receive your words will think you are the best thing to ever happen to them, that you have given them the greatest news a person could ever receive and they may even want to kiss your beautiful feet! Your words could be the defining moment for a person’s entire life and eternity! “But I risk offense if I share!” And you risk people spending eternity in Hell if you don’t.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8 God will give us Holy Spirit power in order to use our words to win people to Him. To keep our stories to ourselves is to deny the Holy Spirit’s power in us.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16
To be ashamed of the Gospel is to be ashamed of Christ. Disciples of Jesus are willing and wanting to share His word. Listen to Luke 9:26: “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Sharing your story will make a way for you to overcome Satan! Revelation 12:11 says, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
If you want victory in your life, if you want to be an overcomer, be a story-teller, be a testifier, be one who shares the Good News of Jesus Christ and what He means to you! The devil can’t stand a Christian who is not ashamed of the Gospel!
So, here it is. The challenge for 2014 is to tell your story in as many ways possible. Perhaps for many of you this will be the first time. I guarantee you, God will honor your commitment to share Him with others because your story is His story, and He wants it told!
In just a moment during our time of invitation, I am asking you to put your name on the front of the blue card on your chair and to make your commitment on the back. I am offering you 20 ways you can share your story during 2014 and want you to mark as many as you feel comfortable with. Let’s look at these suggestions together. They also appear in your bulletin.
- I will write out my story and allow the pastor to read it confidentially.
- I will write out my story and allow my family to read it.
- I will write out my story and send it in cards to friends.
- I will write out my story and share it in a small group or Sunday School class.
- I will write out my story and share it in a church service.
- I will write out my story and share it at an “open mic” fellowship night.
- I will write out my story and read it on video to be put on the church website or shared in a service.
- I will write out my story and read it on video to be put on Facebook.
- I will write out my story and put the script of it on Facebook on my wall or my personal info page.
- I will write out my story and share it one-on-one with friends over lunch.
- I will write out my story and invite friends over just to hear it.
- I will write out my story and allow it to appear in a book of stories by TVCOG members.
- I will write out my story and share it with the youth or children’s ministry.
- I will write out my story and share it at another church.
- I will share my story with at least ten people this year.
- I will participate in “cardboard” testimonies during a service where I put a word or phrase that describes what I was on one side of a piece of cardboard and a word or phrase on the other side of the cardboard that describes how Christ has changed me.
- I will text a three to five sentence testimony to friends that I think need Christ.
- I will start an online blog where I testify monthly or weekly.
- I will post my favorite Scriptures online regularly and explain why they are my favorite.
- I will pray for opportunities to share my testimony.
If you have other ideas, list those as well on your blue card.
As we get ready to move into our commitment and prayer time, I want to ask you to consider reading the following statement with me. Allow me to read it first:
“I am created by God and am re-created by the Holy Spirit to become like Jesus. I trust God, seek Him, follow Him, worship Him, and tell others about Him. When I sin, I will ask for forgiveness and move on in victory. That’s my story, and I am sticking to it.”
Will you stand with me? If you can read that with confidence, saying it describes who you are or want to become, read it now with me as I ask, “Teays Valley Church of God, what is your story?”
I am created by God and am re-created by the Holy Spirit to become like Jesus. I trust God, seek Him, follow Him, worship Him, and tell others about Him. When I sin, I will ask for forgiveness and move on in victory. That’s my story, and I am sticking to it.
May you “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.” I Peter 3:15