Sermon, , This is My Story, part 1 We Are Witnesses

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1 The Book of Isaiah is arguably the most Christian book in the Old Testament. The Book of Isaiah is in the Old Testament. And the Old Testament is full of the history of God s dealings with the Jewish people. And with the commandments and wisdom and prophecies He gave to them. It only occasionally has images or themes or foretelling of Jesus Christ and his gospel and what he would do. Except for the book of Isaiah. 1 P a g e You could say that Isaiah is the most gospel book in the Old Testament. Gospel meaning the good news of Jesus Christ and the act of telling that good news. In Isaiah we have the Suffering Servant prophecies in Isaiah 53 that give details of a suffering servant that correlate amazingly to the life and death of Jesus Christ that came some 600 years later. In Isaiah 9 we have the child born, who is also Mighty God and wonderful counselor, and upon whose shoulders the government will rest. In Isaiah 11 we have the shoot springing from the stump of David s lineage, who will have the Spirit of the Lord upon him who will be the anointed one, the Messiah. In Isaiah 52 we have how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. In Isaiah 61 we have the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. And In Isaiah 55 we have the invitation to grace to all who are thirsty and hungry to come. And... we have something I had never really seen. for all that it is. until a couple weeks ago. Isaiah 43:10-12 which says You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. 11 I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. 12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, that I am God. God calls his chosen people who know Him and believe in Him to be witnesses for Him to tell others that: 1. there are no other gods, 2. that He is the only savior, 3. and that He, the Lord, is God. He calls his people to be his witnesses to be good news tellers and that s in the OT.

2 This then, in fact, is what Jesus had in mind or was reiterating when he told his disciples Acts 1:8 You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. When Jesus told his disciples to be his witnesses, he was saying what God had said thru Isiah: Go tell people that: I am God, that apart from me there is no Savior, so that they can know me and believe in me the way you do. 2 P a g e A couple weeks ago we were looking at what Jesus said to the churches in the Book of Revelation. And to one church there Jesus praised those who were being his faithful witnesses. To another church, he reminded those who were not, that he was the faithful and true witness. to encourage them to be his witnesses. We are witnesses. We are to be his witnesses. We are witnesses to the good news of God in Jesus Christ our Savior. To encourage us in this paramount Christian truth and mission, today, we are beginning a new sermon series called This Is My Story (Title slide) This is my story is a phrase from that song Blessed Assurance that we just sang. This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long. Telling my story is one way that I can be a witness for God my story of what I believe about Jesus Christ and God, my story of how I came to faith in Jesus Christ, my story of the good things God has done in my life. When I tell my story in these ways, I am being a witness for God. It is an effective way to be a witness in our time and culture. And, it is one of the least difficult ways to be his witness. So, for the next few weeks we are going to talk about telling our story and we are going to tell our stories. Next week, I am going to tell my story of how God got a hold of my life. The week after, Pastor Glenn Rader is coming back, and he ll tell his story, and he ll tell the story of what God did when he was pastor here for a dozen years, And we will tell our story as a church.

3 3 P a g e Another week, I have an amazing video testimony that will really inspire us and bless us. At the end of the month, Bobby Pushwa is going to tell his story to inspire and challenge us. And hopefully along the way some of you will tell your stories. Today, I d like to encourage us in this mission of being his witnesses thru telling our story by talking about the motive for our story, the model for our story, and the means for our story. First, The motive for our story In June we had a graduation party for our last son to graduate high school, Joshua. In the spread, in the food, we had a great looking cherry pie for dessert. It had a full flaky crust, not one of those lattice tops. No offense to you who make lattice tops. I was planning to have a nice piece of that pie. But during the party on our back deck, I was sitting on a deck chair when I felt a pinch on the back of my knee. I jumped up and said oww, and as I did it, the pain kicked in more, and said Oww! The back of my knee starting swelling up right away. So much that people started asking if I was breathing okay, because of anaphylaxis. It bothered me so much that I forgot about that cherry pie. The next day I could hardly walk, and it was spreading down my leg, so I went to the ER. I spent the night in the hospital to get IV antibiotics. They guessed it was a spider. Then, about 5 or 6 days later, I noticed my wife eating the last bits of a piece. of cherry pie. And I said, Where s my cherry pie? She said, That it was all. (That s her Pennsylvania Dutch way of saying it was all gone.) I said. Why didn t you tell me there was cherry pie left all this time. And she said, You knew it was in the refrigerator. But I didn t know. Because, I was stuck on the couch. And I couldn t do the stairs to the kitchen.

4 Soon after, it occurred to me, that this might be what it will be like on that final day when all humanity stands before their Maker. And some people there will not have known Jesus Christ. They will not have understood who He was. They will not have believed that He was the Savior, the only Savior. And when they are confronted with this huge cosmic reality if they can, they will look at we who did know and believe, and will they not think or say, Why didn t you tell us!? 4 P a g e And in our defensiveness, all that some of us will think or say is, You knew He was there. You knew He was there! You knew! But many, many, many won t have ever known. And many, many, many won t have ever understood. And some of us will tell ourselves: They could have found him if they looked. He was right there. in the refrigerator all along. But they couldn t get to Him on their own. They were broken. Our world was broken. And the mission was given to us to take the gospel to them. And the mission was given to us to take the gospel to them. And the mission was given to us to take the gospel to them. What parable of Jesus does this remind us of? The Gospel of Luke, chapter 16. Jesus told a story about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The beggar used to sit in front of the rich man s gate and beg for food. When they both died Lazarus was carried by angels to be with the OT patriarch Abraham and those who were Abraham s children by faith. But the rich man was in torment in Hades. The rich man called to Abraham and asked him to send Lazarus to warn his brothers about where he knew they would be heading too. But Abraham said they have Moses and the Prophets they have the Word of God. The rich man said, No, but if someone from the dead goes to them they will repent. But Father Abraham, said if they won t listen to God s Word and God s prophets, even if someone rises from the dead, they won t listen.

5 And the main point Jesus was making in this parable is that we have to repent and turn to God in this life. After we die it will be too late. But one of the other ideas we can see indirectly in this parable, is that people don t tend to repent and turn to God s Word on their own. Someone needs to go to them. Someone living. Someone who is still on this side has to tell them, that someone did rise from the dead to show them the way to paradise! Someone needs to be a witness for God. 5 P a g e The apostle Paul is explaining the need for the gospel in Romans 10 and it leads him to conclude: Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Yes, I am being a witness for God today. But the same is true if we say: how can they believe without someone telling them their story. The motivation in taking the gospel to people who are far from God without faith in Christ the motivation for being witness thru our story is that eternal destinies are on the line. That s the motive for telling our story. By the way, I have to interject here... soon after, my wife got me another cherry pie. There s the motive for our story Now, The model for our story In the Gospel of John, chapter 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. He opens his eyes. And the religious leaders, the Pharisees, who already don t like Jesus because he breaks their rules and challenges their hypocrisies, call this man to give testimony about Jesus. They ask him what happened with Jesus. And he tells them Jesus put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see. They ask what he thinks of this Jesus? He says, I think he s a prophet.

6 6 P a g e And they say, John 9:24-25 Give glory to God by telling the truth, they said. We know this man is a sinner. He replied, Whether he is a sinner or not, I don t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see! One thing I know. I was blind, but now I see! 2x That s being a witness! Is not that man being a witness for Jesus Christ? Yes?! Amen?! And is he not simply telling his story? So, here s the model: He tells them: - This is what I was like before. - This is what happened when I met Jesus. (Or this is what God did for me) - This is how I m changed. (Or this is who I am now.) That s the model. Or some slight variation of that. This is the same thing the Apostle Paul does repeatedly in the book of Acts. Paul is a Pharisee himself. He is a persecutor of Christians after Jesus rose and ascended to heaven. He s killing Christians for spreading what he believes is a false faith. Then, Jesus appears to him in a vision on a road and speaks to him. He knocks Paul to the ground. And Paul is blinded by the light of Jesus in the vision. (It s an ironic opposite of John s story.) Paul does what Jesus says in the vision and shortly after gets his sight back. Then, Paul goes around the Mediterranean world speaking to kings, governors, crowds, Jews, pagans, intellectuals, Romans, women, slaves, children anyone who would listen. And the couple of the times we see him speaking to these people in the Book of Acts in the NT he tells the same story. This is who I was. Then I was on a road and Jesus appeared to me in a vision. And this is who I am now because I ve seen the Lord. I once was blind, but now I see!

7 That s the model for us for being a witness. This is who I was This is when I met Jesus. This is how Jesus changed my life. 7 P a g e It s what we know. It s what we ve experienced. Other s might not accept it. The Pharisees told the blind guy to get out. But some others will. Following that model, what is your story? What is your story from a key time in your faith journey? What is your story from a time of crisis? What is your story today? That s the motive for our story. That s the model for our story. And, last point today. The means for our story The means as in how is it going to happen? If the model is our engine. Then the means is our gas. What fuels the engine of our story? The Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples: Acts 1:8 You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. You will receive power from the Holy Spirit and that will enable you to be my witnesses. The Holy Spirit is the power in our witness. Jesus was talking to his disciples about being his witness in Luke s gospel and he said: Luke 12:8-9, I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.

8 8 P a g e 11 When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say. Oh, yeah, there s another motivation for telling our story. Jesus says, we cannot hide our faith if we acknowledge him, He will acknowledge us. And, He says, the Holy Spirit will give us the words, when we are his witnesses when we publicly acknowledge Him before others. How could you possibly be his witness? Trust his Holy Spirit to give you words. How could you publicly let others know you are a Christian? Trust his Holy Spirit will help you with your words. How could you possibly tell your story to anyone... of how you were like this once, or you were going thru this once and you simply trusted Jesus to be your Savior and this is how He helped you? The more you trust Him to do it, the more power you will receive. Do you not feel like you have power? Pray for it. Let him guide you in what is your best story. Then trust Him. The more you trust the Holy Spirit of God, the more you will be able to say This Is My Story. So, I challenge you this week, to pray about it, think about it, and try to write out what is your story. What is your story of how you came to faith in Christ. What was going on? What were you like? What made the difference in you believing? And then what difference has that made in your life. Or, is there some major event in your life that gives you a testimony in a similar way? If you like, share it with me. it. Or mail it or drop it off. And if you like, we can talk about sharing it with all of us. Let us pray.

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