Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
This verse begins with the supposition that “If thou canst believe” then all things are possible. Since this is the KJV it may not make sense to you so it can be easily translated to “If you can believe”. The first question that comes to mind is, Why couldn’t I believe? What are the qualifiers that limit my believing?
First of all, believing is a spiritual response rather than an emotional or mental response. It is not based upon anything that lies within us alone but it is based upon our relationship with the Lord Jesus. No amount of straining or effort will aid us in our believing. Our predicament does not necessitate the working of the Lord nor does our desires. What God will respond to is our faith in Him. It is our dependence upon His wisdom and ability that produces great results.
In order for us to believe, we must first believe that He is limitless in His power and love. This comes by our knowing Him. Experience by experience we grow in our faith in Him. Time and Time again He has proved his ability to overcome life’s barriers and give what is best for us. This relationship is built one trust at a time.
The question then becomes, Have you walked with the Lord until you are at rest with Him in charge, against whatever you face? The possibilities are only limited by your faith in Him. Do you believe that He has your best interest in His heart?
On my last post I shared some basics on writing your personal testimony and pointed out that the key to an effective testimony is the gospel. It is a word that we Christians use a lot and with a lot of different meanings. I would like to clarify some of the confusion about what the “Gospel of Christ” really is.
There are a lot of gospel messages going around today. I even saw one that was titled the gospel of the mechanic. We need to identify what gospel we are addressing. When we address the gospel of the Bible we are talking about the good news of Jesus Christ. This is not the good news of the sports world or financial possibilities, but is specifically about what is the good news about Jesus Christ. The word Gospel means “Good News”, so it begs the question, “What is that good news?” To be the gospel about Jesus Christ it must be good, that is personally beneficial; and second it must be news, that is current. Sometimes I hear the definition of the gospel as, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However great and wonderful that story is, yet it is not the gospel, but history. Yet it is not to be dismissed either because it is the foundation of the Gospel of Christ. Without it the gospel would never have been possible. So we come back again, What is the gospel of Christ? It can be summed up in two words, New Life.
It is not a life patched up, it is not a life of doing better, or trying harder. It is altogether a new kind of existence. It is the life described in II Cor. 5:17 (the new creation of God). What was utterly impossible before is now possible when we live our lives by faith in Jesus as Lord of our lives. I could never live up to the demands of the law but I can follow Jesus by faith in His ability to deliver me spotless and blameless to the Father. God’s requirement is no longer for me to meet the demands of the law because Jesus has met all those requirements. God’s requirements for me now is to accept Jesus by faith. He is the provision for the laws requirement and He will then deliver us spotless and without blemish. (Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.)
Provision for a sinner like me has been established that I might be presented spotless to God is indeed, Good News!
In today’s Sunday School class we studied the apostle Paul’s personal testimony and we closed the class with the challenge that if you haven’t written out your personal testimony, then you should. It is one of the most powerful tools you have as a Christian to share the Gospel with others. They may disagree with it but they cannot deny it. Like the song goes, “I was there when it happened, so I guess I ought to know.”
There are three essential elements that go into an effective testimony. The first element is what were you before you were saved. You are not trying to tell all of the stories of your life, just enough to validate that you were on the wrong track. Essentially, it will boil down to I was trying to go through life without Jesus to forgive, love and guide me.
The second essential element is What Happened? What occurred that caused you to see that you were on the wrong road and how did you discover the right road? The circumstances will probably be unique and different but the outcome will wind up as a personal experience with the one who died in your place and is now alive and you now know who He is, Jesus. If this had never happened to you then you still don’t know for sure. If it has, then it caused a life changing direction in your life and you are now dependent upon and a follower of, Jesus, who is the Christ. (Jn 7:17)
The third essential element is What changes has this experience made in your life? If there has been no changes and you are living just as you were before this experience then there is a problem with your testimony. It could be that you did not meet the Lord but were dependent upon an experience or something other than the Lord. If you meet him then there will be a change. It may take a while for you to learn to listen to His voice or to know when He is guiding you but change will certainly happen. If there is no change then it is worth finding out why. It could also be because you have some doctrine (teachings) that you hold that contradict with the Bible. If you truly want to know then read you bible and He will show you the error. It may be painful to discover that what you always thought was so was really tradition or even superstition. Another possibility is that you have been deceived in some manner and you need a trustworthy source that will aid you in your search.
You should write it out then review it. Then see if you can improve it. Then use it and then go over it some more so that you have the document that accurately relays your story. It is one of your most effective means of sharing the gospel.
I spend a lot of time at my desk because that is where I do most of my work. I also have an amazing focus on what I am doing. This is both good and bad. It is good because I can zone out a lot of distractions and get a lot of work done. It is bad in that an interruption really throws my focus off and I have on occasion been quite frustrated because I lost my train of thought. It then causes me to be rude and sharp. It is bad also, because I have lost track of time and missed important meetings or stayed up much later than I had realized.
I am currently learning to look at interruptions in a whole new light. Where I had formerly considered interruptions as a detriment, I am now learning that they are a part of life and sometimes contain a wonderful blessing. Whereas, in the past I have not appreciated the outcome of my reactions to an interruption, I am now starting to see a better result. So what is making the change? First of all, I think that my attitude is changing. I now view an interruption as something that is important rather than a hindrance to my progress. Other people make a huge contribution to our progress in life and therefore should be treated as an asset and a blessing. Situations do not have feelings or preferences, they just are. Blowing up at them only demonstrate our own need for growth. Sometimes they are the opportunity we have been looking for.
Another adjustment I am making is that I realized that I was not demonstrating the grace of God. Instead of being reactive, I am becoming more patient to allow the Lord to work on me and to give the interruption its due attention. After all it is the Lord that guides the events of our lives and supplies us with all we need to do His will.
In spite of the progress I have made so far, I still have moments of confusion as to what is the right course to take. I am still a work in progress but I know that the Lord will not leave me half done and He will continue to work on me until He finishes His work on me. Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Monday was my scheduled time to meet with the prayer team for our church. You never know what God has in mind for you and Monday was no exception. The weather was cold and windy. When I got there the attendance was lower than normal. But here was a man I was unacquainted with, who was there. As it turns out he is representing the Southern Baptist Convention in ministering to the Sutherland Springs Baptist church. He shared some things about the horror of the shooting, how the church is responding and how the Lord is using this situation to further His kingdoms work.
It was such an honor in getting to pray with him and then later to get to know him a little more. I had an immediate connection with him as he also has a burden similar to mine. He works with disciplining new pastors, equipping the saints and seeking revival. He then told me that before coming to this prayer meeting that he felt the distinct impression that the Lord was directing him to come. When he thought about it and was thinking I don’t really see any reason to come, then the Lord persuaded him that he really needed to come, so he did. Then he surprised me by telling me that he we also have another common bond in a man who was instrumental in my own life, Manly Beasley. As we talked together I quickly realized that this was one of those divine appointments. He and I both left with the distinct impression that we will be working together in the future.
Today I was in Home Depot getting some things for my small garden and as I was checking out, I felt impressed to engage the clerk in conversation. When I did I found that he was more than willing to talk. He not only responded to my lead but engaged me in conversation about the Lord. He asked me several questions and even opened the door to further contact so I gave him my card. As he looked at my card he noticed the picture of my book and began to quiz me about it which led to my website. He thanked me and assured me that he, too, felt that this was a meeting from the Lord. As I walked away, once again with the distinct impression that I had been at another divine appointment.
If you remember that I invited you to come along with me while we go on an adventure of faith. I confessed then as I do now that I do not know where this journey is leading but it is quite evident to me that He is leading. It is so exciting to see the Lord as active now as he was 2000 years ago..