Monday, October 26, 2009

Unashamed and Testifying

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me, His prisoner. 
But join with me in sufferings for the gospel by the power of God, who has saved us 
and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done, 
but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus
 before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light
 through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher."
2 Timothy 1:8-11

In these verses Paul instructs Timothy to not be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus Christ. That may seem odd unless we keep in mind that the Jewish community often associated suffering with unconfessed sin and the early church suffered because of their faith. However, Paul knew that although God’s Son did not sin, He suffered tremendously during His life on earth. He suffered even more in His death because He paid for our sin. To demonstrate His love, Christ took on our shame and our sin and gave us His righteousness! I hope our desire is to not be ashamed to speak His name or to testify of His love and goodness. If we ever find ourselves in a situation in which we are ashamed I hope we will figure out way and turn back quickly. When we hurt, I hope we will rest in His love and comfort, praising Him in the pain. I hope we will never be afraid or ashamed to be mocked, ridiculed, or rejected for His name's sake because Jesus was not ashamed to call us friends, to be mocked, ridiculed, and rejected for us.

These verses point out how Christ abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. I remember receiving an email that said one of the men from a former church needed prayer. His 21-year-old daughter had gotten spinal meningitis and died very unexpectedly. They are a family who loves God. I want to quote a part of the email Glen sent out when she died. “"Britt is with the living and loving Lord, celebrating in wonderment the beauties of His heart, His hands, and His works --"This day you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43) -- "In Thy presence in fullness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures forever" (Psalm 16:11) -- God delighted in her homecoming and welcomed her -- "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15). Though we grieve (in the mist of a supernatural peace that under girds my family at this time), we do not grieve as those who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4:13), for we will join her in His future -- many lessons learned, many changes made upon us, miracles of comfort abounded -- the goodness of His heart and tenderness of His care was so obvious to my family, in the midst of anguish, despair, and sorrow…"

I have not seen Brittany's parents for years, but we have heard her dad, Glen, preach and know He loves God with all of His heart, soul, and mind. He has led many people to the Lord and will continue to do so. Because of Christ's resurrection, we each have the same hope Glen expressed in his letter. The pain and suffering in this world will be nothing compared to the fullness of God he will experience with Him in glory. In this life all of us will grieve, but we will not grieve as people without eternal hope. Because of Christ, our grief will not turn to despair, but it will lead us into a deeper intimacy with the God who passionately loves us! It will make us homesick for heaven.

Salvation is not just fire insurance to save us from hell. While we never want to get over the fact that in love Jesus took God's wrath for our sin, we remember He called us with a Holy calling according to His purpose and grace. Each of us has been called to grow in holiness and to develop and use the gifts Christ gave us. If we seek Him with all of our hearts He will reveal Himself and His plans. As we offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God, there is no safer place to be than in the center of His will. God may lead us to become a missionaries, teach school, come along side the hurting, encourage others to trust God, or exhort others to follow Him more intently. Maybe you will lead a person bound in sin into a relationship with the Creator. You don't need to wait until "you grow up" or until you are perfect, for God to use you. Life will knock you around and hurt at times, but in the center of His will, there is hope, purpose, peace, and courage to face whatever comes your way. I encourage you to reflect on Christ's life, death and resurrection and ask Him to reveal His purpose for Your life and then live life unashamedly knowing He holds you in His hand.

Prayer: Father, I praise You for abolishing death’s sting. Thank you for the tremendous testimony Glen has had over the years. Father, I also pray that each of us would be unashamed of the gospel of Christ, that we would willingly suffer loss for the sake of spreading Your word. Please give us the courage to proudly proclaim Your truth and testimony of Your love to those at home, at school, our neighborhoods, and even to those in our youth groups and churches that might need to be reminded. Teach us each to use the gifts and answer the calling to a life of service and a life of love. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!