Life’s Healing Choices: Sharing

Life's Healing Choices: Sharing

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Life’s Healing Choices: The Sharing Choice

Evangelism; Share; Discipleship; Restore; Purpose; Good News; Example; Testimony; Proclamation

Acts 12:1–17; Matthew 5:9; 1 Corinthians 1:2–4

The Sharing Choice: I choose to yield myself to God to be used to bring the Good News to others, by both my example and by my words.

We all have stories that start out the same way…. “I have to tell you what happened…”

The Bible is full of stories like that; this one…
Acts 12:1-17

There’s a knock at the door. But it’s too late for visitors, but then again this is the holiday season. Before you can say anything, one of the kids runs to open it… you yell out find out who it is first because you know there have been problems with some of you Christian friends in town recently… even during the passover.

Yes, your friend Peter has been arrested for his preaching, but that’s not the worst of it, the King had your friend, John’s brother James killed. He was in jail waiting trial and the King just killed him. He couldn’t wait to see if he was guilty or not… he just murdered him. John, his brother has had us all taking extra precautions since then.

So gathered with some family Mary, that is Mark’s mother, hear this knocking. It’s late, who could it be? Should we answer it? While the adults talk it over, one of the kids, comes in all excited, It’s Peter; I can hear his voice. Well you know that’s not possible, he’s in jail. Better odds to be his ghost. But she runs to open it anyway. You can’t tell kids anything.

Well wouldn’t you know it…. it was peter….Hey Peter… It’s so good to see you… We were so worried… We’ve been praying all night for you.

Peter comes in and begins to tell us an amazing story.

You see he was arrested for preaching in town. But he wasn’t just arrested, he was chained to two guards… he was guarded all day by 4 squads of 4 soldiers. All day, There was one inside his cell and another one outside the cell door; but that’s not all. Herod had him chained to one on his right and another one on his left.

All I could do is pray.

I fell asleep praying in fact. Then just a few minutes ago, in the midst of a bright light, I was hit in the ribs. I woke up thinking the beatings were starting again, but when I opened my eyes, I saw an angel of the Lord. The angel told me… quick get up. And in that moment the chains fell off my wrists. I got up and got dressed and followed the angel just as he told me.

Now I didn’t think this was really happening to me… I thought it was a dream, because we walked right by the guards all the way to the town gate. And when we got there the gate just opened as if by some unseen force… As we walked out, the angel sssshhhwwweeewwww. He was gone.

At that moment, I realized this was real. The Lord had saved me from death. I had to come tell you because I knew you were praying for me. Tell Jesus’s brother James and the other disciples for me. I need to get out of here before the king finds me here and it causes you more trouble.

And with that he was gone.

The Bible is full of stories like this one about Peter, because the Bible is a book about God. It’s a story about God working in people’s lives. It’s God’s story and Peter got to experience it.

Think of that. The God of creation, who took dust and breathed into it and created a man. Who put the stars in place would use regular old people as characters in his HISTORY. But that’s what God does, he uses people like you and I – and I would dare say, he uses you and I to write HIStory

That’s what this 8th of Life’s Healing Choices is all about.

The Sharing Choice: I choose to yield myself to God to be used to bring the Good News to others, by both my example and by my words.

It’s about telling God’s story in your story in the words you say and how you live.

You may not understand why, but it’s important to defeating sin in your life.

It’s not about bragging about what you used to do. It’s important to share you history because telling our story helps us remember… how far God has brought us… It actually encourages you. But telling our story also allows us to help others.

That’s what Matt 5:9 means:

Matthew 5:9 NIV
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Peacemakers… we talked about it earlier in terms of making amends with people we had wronged.

But it’s also helping people make peace with God as we invite them into God’s story.

When we think of telling people God’s story, we have a word for it, Apologetics. It means putting up a defense… defending God’s story. The problem with defending God with logical arguments is that often times it becomes just that. But it’s hard to argue with you when you tell me of how God changed your life… I can’t argue with that. How you used to be hard-hearted, but no longer… how you used to be a gossip, but those days are gone… how you used to be your own god, but you found the true God. The best defense of God’s story is the part you and I have lived.

Have you been healed?

Have you been able to forgive?

Have you made amends?

Have you been changed?

Tell that story. That is God’s story in you.

Our world is full of people who are desperate for hope, and that’s why we tell our story, because it actually helps people.

Paul in 2 cor 1:4 said this:

2 Corinthians 1:2–4 NLT
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

How does it help? Because when I hear what God has done in your life, …not how bad you were… I hear about a God who loves me, who shows grace, who cares about people… If I’m struggling with life, I need to hear that.

Remember the Apostle Paul, remember he was struck blind… he was a pharisee among pharisee’s out to kill the church, who was now a preacher for the church. Obviously something happened to him that hasn’t happened to any one else, so what happened? That’s what he told people, How God got his attention. You can share that too.

I can share how  God got my attention

Scripture says:

Proverbs 20:30 TEV
30 Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.

God loves us, the worst thing for us is to be separated from Him. Life’s hurts, habits, and hangups, can be the very things that get our attention and bring us to repentance. Paul knew that and wrote in 2 Cor 7:9 “I’m happy because…. sorrow led you to repentance.”

Many people say, “But I haven’t gone through what they are going through… how can my story I help others?”

I think of people who have lived a pretty good life. I wasn’t an alcoholic, I didn’t have an affair, I haven’t done anything really bad…you don’t have a dramatic salvation story like Peter, a dramatic transformation like Paul, and you don’t have a prodigal story.

BUT you do have a story. If you are a Christian you have been changed. You have experienced GOOD NEWS. Maybe you haven’t thought about it like that before, but no one is born a Christian, just b/c you are american doesn’t make you a Christian, we all at some point have to decide to love Jesus our LORD…that’s God’s story in your life…

Watching Jose Urquirdy hit. Baseball hitters have different stances…. but great hitters all have same form at point of contact. They get their differently, but the place they get is the same.

Maybe it was your feelings.

God got my attention through my:  Feelings

I know especially guys don’t like to talk about feelings, but they are universal… we all have them…. even if we try to pretend we don’t.

Paul told the church in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 6:11 NIV
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.

Often God’s story is by breaking our heart. What broke your heart? When a child was born? When a child died? Do you have a holy discontent? When you see a child abused does it move you to do something? What is your heart?

Share that, because sharing what you really care about, what most impacted you, will help others see how God moved you.

Another,

God got my attention through my:  Faults

Galatians 6:5 NIV
5 for each one should carry their own load.

Just like everyone has a heart for something, we all have a mind.. and in our thoughts, we all know what it’s like to be insufficient. To not be able to live up to expectations. God calls us to be holy and we all know what it’s like to not be. We all have faults…. they are different, but they are the same. Talk about yours… it’s part of your story and part of God’s story.

So you used to be a judgmental gossip… but Jesus changed the way you think of others? Maybe you struggle to forgive… but God has changed you.

These are common to many of us, but hearing how a relationship with Jesus can lead to change is inspiring.

Another way God gets our attention:

God got my attention through my:  Failures

1 Timothy 1:15 NIV
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

We all have failures, no matter how tall you are, you have fallen short. Maybe we didn’t commit a felony, but we all have experience failures. Sometimes we get stuck there and Jesus draws us out. Maybe you have a failed marriage, or a parent who wrote you off; or a child who won’t talk to you. This may be your story, but you aren’t alone. We all have failed God’s standard, we all need a savior.

We all know what it’s like to fall short. Share you story.

Another one… for some of you

God got my attention through my:  Frustrations

Feelings, faults, failures… they are universal, so are frustrations. I have studied frustrations for all my life…. and I’ve been human for over 50 years now. You know what I’ve discovered? People can’t count. 12 items is easy… 10 fingers and 2 feet.
If you have more items than that, you shouldn’t be in the express lane. I shouldn’t have to count your items for you. That’s mine, I have others.

In all the things that frustrate you, the common denominator is YOU. You are the problem…

Romans 7:18–19 NIV
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

That’s what God wants you to see, some of you God used your frustrations to get your attention – to make you want a better way than anger… than feeling out of control.

finally…

God got my attention through my:  Fears

Maybe for you it was your fear that God spoke to you in. As irrational as they may be. I have a friend who was terrified in war. He prayed one of those fox hole prayers… and he was faithful to reading the bible every year. He shared with me how he had read the entire bible every year since then. Fears changed his life.
Maybe that’s your story.

Everyone is afraid of something… even the tough guys even the champions of faith.

Everyone has a story of what brought them to God and what keeps them humble before him… knowing they need a savior.

Years ago i heard the story of Joni Earekson Tada

Diving into the bay…. striking a piling, Joni was paralyzed from the shoulders down and has spent 52 years fighting to live.

“I would rather be in this wheel chair with Jesus, than walking without Him.” Joni Eareckson Tada

What she found that being with Jesus in a wheel chair proved to be greater than any life she could have had without him. As we get closer to Jesus, we find that to be true. He doesn’t always deliver us from our situation, but we find that his presence in our lives changes us in profound ways.

That’s the second thing I can share….I can share how God got my attention, and I can share what I learned in the healing process.

I can share what I  learned in the process

We can’t help but learn when God gets our attention.

That’s what Paul experienced for sure:

He was arrested, he was beaten, he experienced all sorts of trials:

2 Corinthians 1:8–10 GW
8 Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be ignorant about the suffering we experienced in the province of Asia. It was so extreme that it was beyond our ability to endure. We even wondered if we could go on living. 9 In fact, we still feel as if we’re under a death sentence. But we suffered so that we would stop trusting ourselves and learn to trust God, who brings the dead back to life. 10 He has rescued us from a terrible death, and he will rescue us in the future. We are confident that he will continue to rescue us,

Paul saw his suffering had eternal significance. It taught him. I’m not saying that God punishes us to teach us. What I’m saying is that God never wastes a hurt, he never misses an opportunity to tell his children he loves them. That I can share.

I can share what I learned in the process: to depend on  God’s love

Paul said it again and again in his writing… God has… and God will… when all else is crashing down, God’s love never changes.

And because his love never runs out, we can trust God’s word.

I can share what I learned in the process: To follow  God’s word

Obeying God’s word makes a difference. Practicing forgiveness, being generous, serving others, surrendering to Jesus really does make a difference

I can share what I learned in the process: I need  other people

I used to think I could do it all on my own… I didn’t need anybody. I’ve gotten this far on my own…But then I discovered Jesus, and everything changed.

Who helped you? For me it was my friend Guinea Legg… It was Mrs Henroe…. It was Themo, Claudie, Ashley, Dane… men and women who changed my life. I wouldn’t be the same with out them… Who changed your life?

I can share how God can bring  good out of bad

For God, nothing is as bad as it seems.

You can’t fix stupid… God can. Good can come from Bad.

Romans 8:28 NLT
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Tom and I are serving on a Kairos weekend… WTE in prison. by the end of the weekend, men will be telling stories of how prison was one of the best things in their life.

Genesis 50:20 NIV
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Bad becomes the source of Good when God is at work.

I can share how Jesus gives me hope  to change

That’s the last thing I have for you to share, how Jesus gives you hope to change.

Talk about your struggles. Here’s a secret… no one thinks you are perfect. We know we aren’t, and we know you aren’t. So we can talk about that’s the reality today… but Jesus is leading me as I take these healthy choices… to change.

The Sharing Choice: I choose to yield myself to God to be used to bring the Good News to others, by both my example and by my words.

This choice is about inviting others to start taking Healing Choices.

I’ve shared with yall that this season I’ve been an assistant coach with KCFB.
On Thursday, our last regular season practice, we have a tradition… every team has the tradition that I”ve been a part of, for seniors to give a speech. At KC, they call it passing the torch. It’s a chance for them to share what it’s meant to be a prt of the program and then “pass their torch” to an underclassmen.

To a player, they all talked about what it’s meant to be a part of a team. They talked about great memories and shared encouraging words for the next class. Every year, it’s the same, kids crying, hugging, coaches crying, hugging. Great memories and encouragement and thanksgiving. They told their football story.

Stories of transformation are like that… they draw us in…

We need to get used to telling our God story. How we came to faith and what changed

I understand that many of us here today don’t have prodigal son stories… ones who went off and crashed our lives. But what about the older brother in the story? You remember the one who never left… who seemed to respect the father.

That’s where many of us church folks feel we fit. We haven’t been that bad…. you’ve never walked away from God. In fact, when you think of the prodigal, you are glad they found redemption in Jesus, it’s just not that you really needed Jesus do to die… that’s where you realize how wrong you have been.

The elder brother in the story leaves without having learned the lesson, but you didn’t. You get it. You realize that while you haven’t committed some big awful sin, you still need Jesus. Because the closer you get to Jesus the clearer your mistakes are. You still have a story to share. And there are people dying to hear it.

So let me help you….

What was your life like before you surrendered to Jesus.

what were the circumstances of you coming to a relationship with Christ?

How has your life changed since Jesus became your Lord?

If you are a Christian, you have an answer to all of those… that’s His story in you… That’s good news

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