This past Sunday I preached the first message in a series we are starting here at First Pres entitled THE GREAT SUGGESTION. Below is the transcript from my message. At the end of the devotional I have a link to the PDF the will help you in discovering and writing your story.
These stories below are taken from a website titled HUMANS OF NY. HONY is “a page that began as a photography project in 2010. The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants."
The website creator writes, “Somewhere along the way, I began to interview my subjects in addition to photographing them. And alongside their portraits, I'd include quotes and short stories from their lives.”
Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog. HONY now has over twenty million followers on social media, and provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City.
Over the past five years, it has also expanded to feature stories from over twenty different countries.
“Being a grandfather is quite different. It’s much looser than being a parent. I don’t have to always worry about providing patterns of behavior. I just get to give her little kisses. I was allowed to borrow her this morning so we are walking through the park. It’s our personal pastime. She likes to look at the dogs and birds. Today we saw some blackbirds which was quite exciting.”
“One night I was talking with my wife about how perfect our life was. It was twenty-five years ago. We had four children. We’d just saved enough money to buy a new house. We felt so lucky. I remember she said: ‘What if God takes something from us?’ The next day I came home from work and found my wife screaming. She was holding our oldest son. He’d stuck his hand in the washing machine and electrocuted himself. We couldn’t revive him. We rushed to the hospital but the doctors said there was nothing they could do. I begged them to try. My friends from the church came and we all started to pray. And the doctors were able to bring him back to life. He became a case study. Today he’s 29. He has learning problems. He can’t read or write. But he has a job as a security guard. He enjoys his life. And to this day, I believe in miracles.”
“I had to leave Venezuela. I’ve lived there my entire life. My parents are buried there. But five months ago I had to leave. It just got too dangerous. One day I was attacked while walking home from the supermarket, and I woke up on the ground. I’ve had guns pulled on me several times. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’m trying to start a new life but it’s impossible to find a job. I’ve applied to about sixty shops so far but nobody will give me a chance. They think I’m too old. I tell them to try me for just a few days, but they won’t. I did find one part time job cleaning toilets and picking up trash. These are things I’ve never done in my life. But right now I can’t afford to be picky.”
Today we are starting a new series entitled THE GREAT SUGGESTION which is a word play on the Biblical mandate The Great Commission, which is found in Matthew 28:16 – 20.
Read Matthew 28:16 - 20
This is a passage that most, if not all of you have read or heard taught. It is the final mandate Jesus gave to his disciples before leaving them and returning to the Father in heaven. It is on this mountain that Jesus commissions the disciples (and those yet to come) to go out and share His story; to go out and proclaim the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. To proclaim the Good news of the Kingdom of God. He is giving his followers the commission and authority to go out and share their story what God has done and what He is doing in the world and in their lives.
The word GO in this passage is an action word, it is also actually a command and not a suggestion. The word “go” is not followed by the sentence, “If you want to.” The word GO is simply a call to evangelism. We are called to be evangelists. Now, this probably stirs up a lot of emotion in you. Some of you may be super excited about this. Others are probably very uncomfortable. There are perhaps even a few of you who are saying, “Nope, not me, not ever!” Whatever emotion it stirs up in you this series is intended to give perspective as to our call to evangelize as followers of Christ.
Today I am going to paint a picture using very broad stroke as to what evangelism is. It is going to be an introduction to sharing your story. The simplest description of evangelism I can give is sharing the story of how God is at work in your life. Your story answers the question, “What is God doing in your life?” The stories I just read are examples of what a life story may look like. Now they may not directly give focus to God but they do show that everyone has a story to tell and God can certainly be found in these stories. Regardless, if your story is mundane like taking a grandchild out for a walk, miraculous like a child coming back to life after prayer, or morose like leaving your country because of danger and facing the uncertainty of how you are going to survive, God can be found in your stories… if only you look.
We will spend the next several weeks hashing what I evangelism is and is not. But today I want introduce two truths (1. Everyone has a story to tell, it just needs to be discovered & 2. Your story needs to be told).
You Have a Story to Tell…
Your story needs to be told
What God is doing in and through you is important and helpful to helping others discover Jesus Christ. Our own individual experiences help us to share with others who are going through what you went through. Jesus commissioned his disciples to share His story. His story is the Good News of God actively working in and through his people both past and present. We have opportunities throughout our lives to share our stories with people and Jesus has given us the authority and power to share his story to those whom he places in our lives. This will be talked about more in the weeks to come… Discover It… BUT HOW???
What is your story and how do you discover it?
There is a little exercise that I would encourage you to do this week or in the weeks to come. (Click here to download "Discovering Your Story" PDF)
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
Preview or purchase Jeff's Books