Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

This year's theme of our denomination's group, Great Commission Women is Tell Me a Story.  This is a bit from a devotional I shared at our leadership retreat last weekend. 

Colossians 4:2-4 (NIV) ~
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

When my children were little they loved it when I would tell them a story.  Sometimes it would be a Dr. Seuss book, other times it would be an animal story and still others a fairy tale.  One of the things they loved is that I would really get into it and become the character in the book.  I would play the part of each character, changing my voice to match.  I would get giggles and rapt attention.  They would beg for me to read it to them again and again.  I would finally have to just close the book and say, “No more tonight!”

It was a sad day for me as my children grew and no longer wanted me to read to them.  I missed telling a story.  But then one day, I discovered something about my life.  I had a story to tell, deep inside of me.  A story that I could share with others.

It is a story of a changed life.  A story of how God took a lonely and sad girl, who had to deal with a tough childhood, changed her, called her into full-time ministry and placed her with a prince.  It’s a story of how God gave her many challenges along the way, some of them dealing with things that most other people will never have to go through.  It’s a story of how God trained her for battle and taught her to fight with the armor He gave her.  A story of battling in prayer for my children, for my church family and for my extended family.

It’s a story of peril, redemption and victory.  It’s an exciting story that others could relate to and want to hear over and over. 

But I am not the only one with a story.  You have one too.  Each of us has a story that God has given us and can be used to show others who He is.  You see, your story is not to be used to bring glory to yourself.  It is meant to glorify the One that saved you.  It has been given you so that through it, you can point others to Him.

We need to handle our story with care.  We should present it in a way that brings honor to Christ.  It should show others how God is working through you.  People also need to be able to read this story on their own.  Everything in you should reflect the love of Christ.  Others should be able to see Christ in you without you even having to open your mouth to tell them about Him.

My challenge to you is:

1.     Do you know your story?  Do you recognize how God is working in and through you?  Can you articulate what Christ has done for you?  Practice this on a regular basis.  If you need help, ask a trusted friend.  Write it down.  Tell it to others.

2.    Are you sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading?  Do you wait on Him before you tell others.  Do you just barrel ahead with sharing without making sure it's the right timing?  When you feel the timing is right, are you obedient in sharing the message?  Or do you keep your mouth closed in fear?

3.  Are your actions and word screaming louder than your story?  Sometimes we can be a terrible witness for the Lord.  We can be critical, arrogant, divisive, insensitive and disconnected.  When people look at you, do they see Christ in you or are your sinful behaviors, words and attitudes getting in the way?  Don’t ruin the story by distracting from Christ.

Your story is a beautiful thing.  God has given us a different chapter in His book.  Some of you are dealing with loss and heartache, others deal with abuse and rejection, others deal with special need children.  Whatever story God has given you, make sure you are glorifying Him in it.  Then go out and tell the world your story!