by: Embrace Church
Each week, as a local group of people who are trying to fulfill the Great Commission in the spirit of the Greatest Commandment, we meet in order to encourage each other, challenge each other, and push each other to be on mission together. Part of that process involves the study of scripture and application to our lives. This includes teaching, asking difficult questions, and giving space for everyone’s answers. We believe that circles are better than rows. But not everything that is prepared for this time of teaching and discussion makes it to Sunday evening. Here are some additional thoughts from Sunday’s time together. We hope and pray you find these additional thoughts compelling, challenging, and encouraging to your faith.
One of my favorite songs is by a band called Big Daddy Weave. The song, “If I Told You My Story” speaks to me on a personal level. I hear the words and often wonder what people would hear if they heard my story. In fact, I asked people on Facebook® and Instagram® “If you could describe your story so far in one or two words, what would they be?” Here are some of the answers I received:
Blessed, Hope-filled, Reviving, Refreshing, Lived Loudly, Loved fearlessly, On a Blessed Adventure, Always Growing, In Progress, Ongoing, Forward March, Love Filled, Always Learning, Grateful, Pivot, Redeemed, Hallelujah, Total Miracle, Unexpected, Philly Cheesesteaks (a real response that I'm still trying to get more details on!), Always Growing, Always Learning, Beautiful Mess, Repetitive Re-surrendering, Secure, Peaceful, Recovery, Rollercoaster, Grace, Hurting, Healing, Mercy
As we continue to look at the traditions that we have on Sunday nights, one tradition is the sharing of our testimony. Our stories, what has happened, how God has worked, where we struggle, where we thrive, all have great power. When we give praise and glory to God, our stories become His stories with a special anointing empowered to move people towards God. It is an incredible thing to be a part of. The more I ask for people’s stories, the more I hear commonalities. In order to understand how God can use your story, it may help to understand two different kinds of testimonies.
Paul’s Transformative Journey
Paul wasn’t always the guy who wrote the majority share of the New Testament. Before he wrote things like, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” he did things like “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3, ESV). Then, one day while traveling, Saul was introduced to Jesus. In his conversion of faith, Saul’s name was changed to Paul, he walked away from his old life and began passionately pursuing the mission of Christ. You can read Paul’s story in Acts 9.
Many of us have a story like Paul’s story. Hopefully, you weren’t murdering people for their beliefs. However, you may be a recovering addict, a reformed abuser, or some other past that you may be less than proud of. Then, on your own journey, you came face to face with Jesus. Provoked by the irresistible grace and mercy of Jesus, you surrendered your own will, your own way, for something much better. You gave up life, and you were made new.
Mary’s Steady Faithfulness
Unless you’ve done much studying, you may not know much about the mother of Jesus past the fact that she is the mother of Jesus. To the outside world, Mary wasn’t fit to be anything. A woman in a time when women were traded for property wouldn’t be thought of useful, helpful, or significant. An unwed, inexperience, young woman was about to be at the forefront of the greatest story in history. She was chosen for one reason; she had found favor with God. You can read Mary’s story in Luke 1.
Maybe you have a story like Mary. Your life of faithfulness is evidence of God’s grace, and a testament to God’s glory and faithfulness to His promises. There was no stumbling moment, no moral rags to moral riches transformation. Often to referred to as not being tested, the testament of Mary, and perhaps yours, is one of continuous devotion to the call and command of God.
What About You?
If I had to guess, I’d say that you have a story as well. Perhaps a great transformation or maybe one
of unending dedication to God. It is
also possible that your story is a combination of both. Both stories have
incredible power. Whatever it is, you need to understand something very
important about your story. Your story,
your testimony, is meant to point people to God. We don’t share our stories to puff ourselves
up or to brag or prove our worth. Like
nearly every other person in the Bible, we are imperfect people used by a
perfect God for His Kingdom. When we
recognize our place in His story, miracles happen. So, what is your story? How has God moved in
your life? How are you praying God will move in your life? Leave a comment and
let us know!
For the Kingdom & City,
Mark Adams, Planting Pastor