Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Share the stories of faith…Be a witness…You all heard it…right from the Bible!
And that is what the authors of the books of the Bible have done…shared stories of faith
Stories of witnesses to the great deeds of God and the life of Jesus Christ
But is that what this is all about…Is that the call to worship on a Sunday morning like this one?
Is that the call that brings y’all out here every week?
What’s so special about people reading to you out of the Bible and saying a few prayers?
We can all read…why not just stay home and read the Bible for an hour…saves gas!
And we can all pray…just stay home and pray for what you want to pray for…again, saves gas!
No…it’s obviously not that simple, is it?
In fact, it’s more complicated than some of you know or are willing to admit, isn’t it?
When we are asked to share the stories of faith, we are being asked to share OUR stories of faith
And I really do mean the stories that YOU OWN…not some friend that you once knew
I’ve been in some groups where when the “share YOUR experience” question gets asked, all conversation stops…”You want me to share MY story? Why me?”
Well, I’m gonna tell ya why you!
Admit it…when people share from their life experience, it brings the Gospel to life, doesn’t it?
It’s powerful juju when someone digs deep and lets you know what the Lord has done for them
And it is not an accident…And it’s not some scam made up by pastors who don’t want to write a sermon that week
This sharing is what God empowered all of us to do…believe it or not, that’s SHARING THE GOOD NEWS
Do you really think that all we have to do is throw Bibles at people?
That would be sharing the Good News, right?
But how personal would that be? The Apostles didn’t even have Bibles to share
Maybe it would be better if we didn’t…we would HAVE to talk to each other
What on earth do you think this witnessing is all about?
To Witness: give or serve as evidence of; testify to
Whether you believe it or not, your call is to testify to the power of God over sin in your life
You say that there is no sin in your life? No, no one here would say that, would they?
We all have sin in our lives…and some are just more obvious than others
I stand before you today as a man who has been suffering from the sin of gluttony for far too long
It is a hard fight…and most days I am winning…but the fight is not over yet…and never will be over
I try to give this fight to God, but these human blue eyes keep seeing food that looks good
A little bit of this can’t hurt, now can it…and BAM… those ten pounds need to be lost again
If you have lost those same ten pounds a time or two or twenty yourself, give me an AMEN!
I stand here today to claim victory in Jesus over the first hundred pounds…check this guy out
(Photo of Julius...unavaliable)
I remember that day well…the coat really didn’t fit anymore…and my life was miserable
And that photograph…that exact photograph…was going to hang on the wall of Sealy’s new lab
Now this other fellow…that is the guy who used to sit in that pew in 2012
(Other photo of Pastor Julius...unavaliable)
A bit different, right?
Nothing that a suicide attempt, a divorce, therapy and a commitment to Jesus couldn’t fix
I was broken…no, I was broken hearted…now I am simply broken
But I have this friend in Jesus…He forgives me every day…How do I know? I ask him to do so
And this Jesus…he uses broken people…they are all over this Bible we are going to throw at people
And these broken people…they were changed…The Lord changes people!
In fact, not a single one of us is the same as when God “found” us, now are we?
God called all of us before, maybe hundreds of times…yes…HUNDREDS
He called us hundreds of times because we are worthy…to be saved…to be used…to testify!
After all of that calling, one day you accepted His challenge…His call…to be a disciple
My question is “Are you showing the world that you have accepted His call?”
I wonder…I worry…mostly about me…Am I showing the world that I am a disciple of Christ?
Do people know what I am by the way I act…by what I say…by what I am committed to?
And I worry about some of what I see on TV…and I am selective in what I watch…very selective
One of our guilty pleasures, as we have said before, is The Voice
And that teenager was on again last week…yes the one who made it so that Caleb cannot listen to the song “Slow Hands” on the radio ever again…it’s an automatic channel surfing moment
They didn’t show the family praying this time…he just went on to sing some Justin Beiber
“I’m missing more than just your body” … Okay, enough
He is no longer on the show…and probably will not make the message from this pulpit again
There are millions of songs that would be acceptable
There are thousands of songs that would be uplifting and inspiring
There are hundreds of songs that would testify as to your acceptance of God’s call
Have those people truly accepted the call?
Have you truly accepted the call in a way that others can see a difference?
Here at service? At home? At work? In public?
Are you setting a Jesus-like example? Or maybe at least a Jesus-leaning example?
Do other folks wonder what happened to you?
My friends, I ask you to embrace the faith that you have in the Lord Almighty
Embrace it in such a way that it gives you confidence
Confidence to SHOW the world that you are a disciple of the One True Christ
The one who died on the cross so that you could one day join him in Heaven
Serve THAT God by how you live your life…Be confident!
Now, Jesus knew that this call to witness and to testify were not for the weak of heart
He knew there would be challenges and hurdles for his witnesses
Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel records a long session of prayer just before Jesus is betrayed
He prays for himself and his upcoming ordeal
He later prays for all of the future believers
He prays for his disciples
John 17:14-15… “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.”
Your savior, Jesus Christ, asked His Father in heaven to protect you from the evil one
My friends …you are in the hands of God…you are invincible…if you choose to be
You need not be prideful or stubborn…for you are invincible in love
That is Jesus’ message…that is what you are to witness…that is what you are to testify
Gwen’s daughter Stacy posted the following this week about Princess Diana: “She was a real-life princess who was capable of changing the world.”
My reply: “And so are you! Believe!!”