Tag Archives: Testimony

Judges 18; Acts 22; Jeremiah 32; Psalm 1, 2

In a few days I will be on an airplane heading to Kigali, Rwanda. We will be staying at a Youth for Christ facility that is so alive with the presence of Jesus.  This is my third time travelling to this country and I know I go back to visit the piece of my heart I left the first time I went.  There is a group of women at YFC who have called themselves the Blessed Ones–they feel blessed because God has provided for them and their families.  They are widows and women with HIV/AIDS who had no way to support themselves but the Director of this facility gathered them out of the slums and they have learned to support themselves and their families by sewing and jewelry.  They have bible studies together and have learned about Jesus.  Most have accepted Him as Savior, though some have not, but we love on them all.  Being around them fills me with joy.  We really have so much in common—we are all broken women healed by Jesus.  Our time together is filled with fun and laughter, hugs and tears, shared activities, and hearts filled with love for God and each other.

This time I’ve been asked to stand before them and give my testimony. There will be a translator there to tell them what I’ve said because my Kinyarwanda is not very good.  In Acts 22, Paul had no such hindrance as he spoke to the gathered Jews in their own language.

“Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.

Paul begins to give his testimony. The crowd is silent as they listen to him share his encounter with Jesus and how he changed Paul’s life.

Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’

“‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.

“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

10 “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.

“ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ 11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.

12 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.

14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’

19 “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr[a] Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’

21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

I know when I give my testimony it will not be met with the same reaction that Paul faced from the angry crowd.  People react to Jesus. They either love him or want to kill him.  Because we associate with him, we can get a similar reaction from people.

We are blessed here in the United States. We are not treated brutally for sharing about Jesus but that is not so in all countries.  We read about all the times Paul was beaten and put into jail for going from city to city proclaiming Jesus and all that he did.  We think that only happens in the bible, but Christians are persecuted today for their belief in Jesus—even more so as the end times draw near.

My encounter with Jesus was not anything as dramatic as Paul’s, but it was just as transforming. In his first speech to the Jews in the synagogue, Jesus told them he came to bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for prisoners, comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (taken from Isaiah 61:1-3).  When I tell them my story, that is what I intend to share—the impact of those words on my life.  I could make a checklist of those promises:  did He bring me good news?  Check.  Did He bind up my broken heart?  Check.  Did he clothe me with a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair?  Check.  Did he bestow on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes?  Check.  Check.

To the outward eye, these women may look different than me. But in our inner person, we are sisters in Christ.  We have been through trials and overcome them by the love of Jesus.  His presence in our lives has given us value beyond what the world says.  The last time we went, I got to hear some of their stories of how He changed their lives.  I can’t wait to tell them mine.

Lord, I thank you for changed lives. I thank you that I can go halfway around the world and have something in common with other women.  You have given us a connection through Jesus.  May we sing His praises in whatever language we speak.  It all sounds like a choir to You!  In His name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 12; Matt. 11; Nehemiah 1; Acts 11

Merry Christmas; Happy New Year; Glad Tidings; Joy to the world – songs and cards and greetings for a season. Many of us wistfully desire to keep holiday smiles, generosity, and sentimentality the whole year through. Life interrupts. We’re pulled up short. Then we wonder, “Where did my joy go?”

Commercialized industry urges us to pack up our Christmas joy, stuff it in the attic for next year, and wait obediently for the next brief holiday to hit the shelves. I have to admit that I keep my Christmas decorations up long after the New Year’s party is over, perhaps fearing I will box away joy leaving home and heart as void as my depleted checkbook. I was asked the other day if I am someone who sees the glass half empty or half full, and I could only stutter something unintelligible about relativity. So I prayed, “God, teach me where to find Your joy.” I think He took great pleasure in answering right away.

In Genesis 12:2, God promises Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed through him, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” Joy can be found in God’s smile and in the warmth of His pleasure. Even before Abraham left his countrymen to follow God’s plan, God was happy with him. I, too, can enjoy the blessings of an intimate relationship with God.

But fear and anxiety can steal joy. Over the last six months, the grandson of a good friend has been undergoing cancer treatment at St. Jude’s. I marvel to read his testimony of courage and strength, penned by his Christian mother. She points to the blessings spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Joy can be found in that invitation, for fear and anxiety melt away when burdens are laid at the feet of Jesus.

Joy also comes from knowing that God looks and listens when we pray. Nehemiah 1:5 records the confidence in Nehemiah’s prayers. “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments; please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night…” Day or night, in triumph or tragedy, even in the midst of confession there is joy in that the God of the universe sees and hears me and, most of all, answers prayers!

So when I look for joy, I need not venture far. I can see the grace of God in me, in my friends, in the church, and in the salvation of each new Christian. I want to be like Barnabas, the New Testament missionary, when he responded to Gentiles receiving the gospel message. Acts 11:22-24 says, “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” Joy does not end with the passing of a season or the storage of the Baby in a manger. Nor is my cup half empty or half full. For my  cup is overflowing with joy from the daily blessings of a good Father, divine rest from heavy burdens, and unending grace in the presence of Christ Jesus. Wouldn’t you like to drink this cup of joy?

Cheers to us all!

Janet (jansuwilkinson) All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition. (2002)

After writing, today, I listened to this sermon delivered by the son-in-law of my good friend. What a delight to hear a similar message (much better delivered, too!) about joy.

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Nehemiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Ezra 5-6; Psalm 95; 3 John

13So, Tattenai, the governor west of the Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai and the others obeyed. They carried out King Darius’ order quickly and carefully. 14So the Jewish elders continued to build. And they were successful because of the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished building the Temple as the God of Israel had said. It was also done to obey the kings Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes of Persia. 15The Temple was finished on the third day of the month Adar. It was the sixth year that Darius was king. Ezra 6:13-15 (ICB)

Many years had gone by since King Cyrus had given a special order for the Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. At the urging of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Jeshua picked up the work again to complete the project so that God’s people could worship Him in the Temple once again.

But the governors of the land were not pleased. They approached the men demanding to know who had authorized their project; and sent a letter to King Darius to confirm that the men were telling the truth.

They were (of course) and King Darius not only enforced King Cyrus’ ruling, but raised the stakes, issuing a decree saying that anyone who hindered the progress of the temple construction would be severely punished. The temple was completed in record time with the help and finances of the king.

So many years before God set the rebuilding of the temple in motion, even before the Israelite returned to Jerusalem, and put protection in place so that no one would be persecuted for following God’s instructions.

This story makes me wonder about how many different ways God sets up and provides for my own journey and the successes I find well before I am even near those moments.

I am reminded of an instance a few short month after I was married. I found that I needed to leave India unexpectedly due to a change in visa laws. When looking at my pre-purchased plane ticket, I realized that the departure date was three days later than when I needed to be out of the country.

In a whirlwind, I was forced to cancel my ticket and book a flight on the only airline that had seat available in that short notice. I was frustrated because the flight would take me through the middle east and that made me nervous.

Throughout the trip God provided “angels” in the form of flight attendants and seat mates who made the journey much easier than it could have been.

The following day after I arrived stateside, I learned that all of the flights from my original airline had been grounded because of the volcanic ash plume in the atmosphere coming from Iceland. Because the middle eastern flight took a much lower flight pattern, my plane was not delayed at all, and therefore I was still able to honor the visa stipulations.

1Come, let’s sing for joy to the Lord.
Let’s shout praises to the Rock who saves us.
2Let’s come to him with thanksgiving.
Let’s sing songs to him.
3The Lord is the great God.
He is the great King over all gods.
4The deepest places on earth are his.
And the highest mountains belong to him.
5The sea is his because he made it.
He created the land with his own hands.
6Come, let’s bow down and worship him.
Let’s kneel before the Lord who made us.
7He is our God.
And we are the people he takes care of
and the sheep that he tends. Psalm 95:1-7a (ICB)
Often times, this kind of provision and protection is recognized only in hindsight.In the remembering, I’m able to give God His due praise and my faith is strengthened in the difficult times, understanding that He is there for me and will never leave me nor forsake me.
Yesappa, Thank You for having a plan for my life. Thank You for looking toward the future with provision and protection in mind. Thank You for caring for me as your own sheep. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings, Julie
(juliet2912)

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Ruth 3-4, Psalm 37, Acts 4

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.” Acts 4:12-16

 

Two Wednesdays ago I finally stood on a stage and gave my testimony. It was two and a half years in the making. It wasn’t my testimony of coming to faith but of what the Lord had done in my life. I knew the day would come. I knew the Lord was calling me to speak up but there was something holding me back. This past September I had written my name down on a list putting my offer out there to share but I still didn’t write anything down. In January of this year, I received the call to take me up on my offer. The voice on the other line gave me the details: 8-10 minutes on March 30th. I even thought to myself, “Wow, Lord! I have another two months to get this written down. What a blessing.”

On March 20th, I finally sat down to write my story. Why was I putting it off so much? Why couldn’t I sit down and put to paper the story God had given me? I knew he had been calling me to do this for months but I was hesitant, disobedient, fearful.

Would I do the story justice?

Would I communicate in a way that people would clearly see this was God’s story?

Would I remember all the important details of His story?

Would he give me the words to say?

Would people see Jesus in my story?

Would they believe it?

When the story is so big there are often doubters. Nay-sayers who chalk your experience up to coincidence. They hear and don’t believe. I have heard it in the past, “Oh, you were so lucky.” Or “Wow the doctors really put you back together.” Each time I hear those words I long for them to clearly see the truth! I was hesitant to write and share my story because of the reaction I may or may not receive. But I am not responsible for the reaction, I am responsible to respond in obedience when he calls.

So on March 20th, I prayed for help and began putting to paper the story God had been writing. As I typed, the words flowed freely and the story came together. I knew the Lord was writing the words on the page when I looked down and saw 10,000 words in just a couple of hours!

I shared my story at my weekly bible study meeting with about 250 people.  I was prepared, excited and nervous but as I stepped onto the stage my jitters were gone. I had peace and confidence, and a boldness in my voice and in my heart I knew wasn’t of me. I was reminded that when the Holy Spirit moves, none can deny it. It is up to Him to change hearts and open eyes and ears. I will continue to write and share as long as the Lord gives me opportunities.

 

Sweet Lord, thank you for the opportunity to share what you have done in my life. Holy Spirit, thank you for the power and the boldness to speak clearly without fear. And now, Lord, grant your servant to continue to speak your work with all boldness through the name of your Holy Servant, Jesus.

Side Note: Psalm 37 was texted to me on the morning of one of my follow up appointments at shock trauma. I love how the Lord weaves His story and plans our steps.

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2 Chronicles 36; Revelation 22; Malachi 4; John 21

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears this say, “Come!” Let whoever is thirsty come; whoever wishes may have the water of life as a free gift. Revelation 22:17 (NCV)

Jesus said to them, “Come and eat”…Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, along with the fish. John 21:12-13 (NCV)

The end of the year is a perfect time to remember my past, not in such a way that bogs me down and makes me depressed over my failings, but in a way that lifts me up and gives testimony to God’s goodness in my life. It is a time to reflect on His timely provision, His faithfulness, and His constant beckoning.

This year has been a difficult one for me. Spending the first half of the year in the U.S. as a single mom to my two daughters while my husband ministered in India and then spending the second half of the year re-adjusting to life in a third world country has made for a lot of stress and struggle. I have dwelled much of the year in a desert place – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – hungry and thirsty for more connection, especially with Jesus.

“But for you who honor me, goodness will shine on you like the sun, with healing in its rays…” Malachi 4:2 (NCV)

As I look back, I am reminded of the oases that God offered me throughout the year, havens that allowed me to be refreshed, to heal, to be encouraged, to taste and see that He is good:

  • My family’s support. Though my parent’s house became overrun with baby paraphernalia and toddler’s toys, Nick Jr. and Sprout cornered the TV airways, and temper tantrums and time outs were a moment by moment occurrence, they welcomed us with open arms. They helped me love my kids on purpose and made it possible for me to care for myself as I transitioned into a mom of two.
  • My friends’ encouragement. I was re-united with women I’ve known for years and I experienced divine encounters with new friends. Bonding over coffee, playdates, and MOPS meetings gave me time for adult conversation and helped me remember that I am not alone in my journey as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother.
  • My church body’s acceptance. I am blessed to call many places of worship ‘home’; communities where I am readily received whether I’ve been there every week or only visit once in a blue moon. The people are caring, the corporate prayer and worship is a breath of fresh air, the pastors’ messages fill my spirit, and the nursery workers are God-sent, allowing me precious moments to spend time with God without worrying about my children.
  • My husband’s and in-laws’ provision. I grappled with the thought of returning to India because our living arrangements in the past had been less than ideal (150+/- square feet of living space without a place for a kitchen and without running water). When my daughters and I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by an apartment on the second floor of my in-laws house which tripled our living space and provided a kitchen, a bathroom on the same level, and running water.
  • My daughters’ unconditional love. No matter how unruly and high-spirited my girls are, no matter how many times they do things that infuriate me and break my heart, there is nothing in the world quiet like the sweet, and sometimes sticky, hugs and kisses from my children. Their expressions of love melt my heart and strengthen my revelation of love with the Father.

The end of the year is also an opportunity to think about my hopes for the coming months. It is a time to make future plans, to make choices about what paths my journey will take. It is a time to listen to what the Lord is saying about His will for my life.

The Lord has been whispering the word ‘COME’ to me recently. “Come near to Me. Be connected to Me. Position yourself in My arms. Let Me be your priority. Let Me give you what you need, the desires of your heart. Let Me give you joy. Let Me show you the truth about who I made you to be. Let Me be your fulfillment. Let Me feed you and give you drink. Let Me give you peace, freedom. Rest in Me.”

The follower whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Peter heard him say this, he wrapped his coat around himself. (Peter had taken his clothes off.) Then he jumped into the water. John 21:7 (NCV)

When I hear these words spoken to me, I want to dive into His Glory. I want to drink His living water, His new wine until my thirst is abated. I want to be renewed by the rivers, baptized in His restorative blood once again. I want to run toward my Creator, my Savior. I want to embrace Him and never let go. I want to abide in His oasis and be filled by His daily bread. I want to draw close to His heart and rest forever in His presence. And, I am grateful that I am His daughter, His beloved.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May it be your best year yet, full of abundance and blessings!

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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