Testimonies Transform

by Jennifer Smith Lane

 “Leaving her water jar, the [Samaritan] woman went back to town and said to the people, ‘Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’” John 4:28 NIV

Like the Samaritan woman who sought love and rescue from life’s problems in the arms of men, a dark season of life led me into the counterfeit arms of an eating disorder, hoping it would save me, fix my problems, make me feel loved and accepted.

But it was the worst kind of cheater…instead of rescuing me, it enslaved me. I desperately tried to hide it, but my failing health exposed my secret. My pride could hardly bear the looks of surprise, disappointment, and disapproval I received. I lost friends over it. I lost my spark for life in it. I lost myself in the midst of it. My shame encompassed me.

It became hard to discern truth from the lies. I felt hopeless and alone. I longed for someone to come along and rescue me from the darkness that engulfed me.

No one ever did.

Then one day in my desperation, I cried out to the Lord and He heard my cry. His light exposed the darkness and freed me from my shame, my strongholds, and my sin Just like He did for the Samaritan woman. I walked away from that moment with dignity as she did, because I was transformed from being known as a sinner to a sinner saved by grace.

Why am I telling you my story? Not because I’m proud of it, but because it’s important that we testify just like the Samaritan woman did in the story.

After her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman went back into the village where she was scorned and told the townspeople what happened to her that day. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of her testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did’” (John 4:39 NIV).

Her story was so compelling that the townspeople went out to meet Jesus. After a while, they said, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (John 4:42 NIV). Jesus used her hard story of a sinner, an outcast, saved by grace to draw others to know or desire to know Him.

Your testimony is important too. Maybe you’re thinking: you wouldn’t say that if you knew my story. Or: I couldn’t, what will others think of me if they knew? Or: I’m in the midst of my trial now, so I’ll wait until it’s better. Maybe you have resigned yourself to: I couldn’t do that; I’ll mess up the whole thing.

Lies. All lies.

Don’t let the enemy persuade you to keep silent. Sharing your story of weakness, becoming vulnerable to those who may well be struggling with the same issues, and how Jesus is bringing you out of it will invite others into personal contact with Jesus. Then then Jesus will do the rest.

Mark 13:11 says, “Do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.” The Samaritan woman was in the thick of it and everybody knew her backstory. But when she proclaimed the Messiah, she allowed God to use her story to transform her whole town.

Imagine what could happen if you allow God to use yours?

TWEETABLE
Testimonies Transform – insight from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the Author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer and her husband live in Michigan where she enjoys most her role of mom to her three children.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues, studies what Scripture has to say about them through inductive Bible study techniques and teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: Have you ever hesitated to share your story? What held you back? Could your journey with Jesus help others on theirs?

 

Breaking the Silence

by Michele McCarthy

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20

“I was just calling to tell you goodnight!” I announced to my husband. After all, he was all the way across the expanse of our brand-spanking-new king size bed. My whispered “goodnight” could have been lost traveling through the chasm between us. My cellphone was planted secretly under the bed on my side. When I crawled into bed, I reached down and quietly dialed our home number. Unaware, he answered the home phone on his bedside table just as he was slipping under the sheets.

We’d been married over a decade when we bought our first king-sized bed. I was thrilled. My husband, not so much. He lamented over and over that I would be “way over there” on the other side of the bed.  When he answered the phone and heard my voice, he turned, looked through “you got me” eyes, and I waved to him from the other side. It was hilarious. Basking in my cleverness, I laughed myself silly.

Most every night I “call” my heavenly Father. We connect relationally, sharing heart to heart about the day. I ask Him to speak to me through dreams in the night. I look forward to intimate moments with Him before I slumber.

When I leave the house each day, I’m learning to ask the Lord to lead me to someone who needs to hear from Him. Recently, I was led by the Holy Spirit, at the mall, to speak to a man. Turns out He was a practicing Muslim. This conversation went beyond my comfort zone. Yet oddly enough, I felt comfort and confidence rise up in me. I have only been stepping out for Jesus like this for a few years.

This gentleman kindly tried to explain his beliefs. I listened. Sharing with him how much Jesus loved him and wanted him to excel in life wasn’t hard. I explained that Jesus is the only way to God. We talked awhile but agreed not to debate. He was as passionate about his beliefs as I was mine.

I marvel at the thousands who believed at Pentecost and the stories about the disciples in the book of Acts. But the reality is our stories today continue building God’s Church until Jesus returns.  In Acts 4:29, Peter and John asked to speak God’s word with all confidence, in the marketplace of a community who often didn’t agree with what they said. As they depended on the Holy Spirit to give them the right words, I pray for His guidance as I also speak out.

After a day of attempting to show Jesus to people who may not appreciate what I have to say, I’m ready to lay my head down on my soft pillow atop my king size bed. With a grateful heart, I snuggle deep under the covers, Christ within me, no chasm between us. No span across a king size bed keeping us apart. No cellphone necessary. God right here with me and you, the giver of rest.

Yet, I believe with my whole heart God also wants to shake us awake – to impart boldness to us to represent His love and power everywhere we go (His plan all along). I often feel the Lord imploring us to step out of the “rest” mindset of our church huddle and speak up in our marketplace – because the time of silent Christianity is over!

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3 ESV

TWEETABLE
Breaking the Silence and Remembering to be Thankful for God – Michele McCarthy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Michele McCarthyAbout the author: A wife to her devoted husband and a mom of two fine young men, two fabulous daughters-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren, Michele McCarthy has served her family faithfully for years. She is now enjoying attending Lifestyle Christianity University and exploring long hidden talents of writing and watercolor. She has written a children’s book, Daddy and Me, that is currently at the publisher. She loves reading, scrapbooking, deep conversations and talking about Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has God led you in recent months?

Will You Join The Harvest?

by Sheri Schofield

The moon was full, lighting the pasture. The hay had been cut a week earlier and had been drying in the hot sun. Dad raked it into long rows that afternoon. “I hope it’s dry enough to put into the barn,” he said. “If not, we could lose it. Spontaneous combustion.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“If the hay is damp when it is stacked, it can get hot inside the haystack and burst into flames. But I think it’s okay. It’s been laying in the field for a week now. If we don’t get it in tonight, we’ll lose it anyway, because it’s going to rain. So let’s get busy.” Dad grabbed the pitchfork, mom grabbed a rake, and my brother and I began scooping up big piles by hand and throwing them into the truck. It wasn’t much of a field – only three acres. But we needed the hay for our cows.

There was a mist across the moon, a warning of rain to come. We all worked hard and without many breaks, piling the hay into the truck, driving it to the barn, unloading it then returning for more. It was exhausting. By the time the moon went down, we had the hay in the barn. We had raced against time and had beaten the rain.

Harvesting is hard work. But if we don’t get it in, we lose the crop. In today’s instant world, we have forgotten the work that goes into harvest. Someone else gathers the crops and brings them to market. The urgency of harvest no longer touches most of us.

Jesus spoke of a spiritual harvest. Matthew 9:35-38 tells us, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ ” (NIV)

Each generation presents a new spiritual harvest on earth. Yet many Christians have lost the sense of urgency toward the lost. We live in a world of spiritual pain and suffering, where the lost do not know where to turn for answers. Large numbers of children across America are growing up with no knowledge of Jesus. How many would gladly run to Jesus . . . if we would tell them about him?

On Sundays, many Christians are content to go to church, listen to the pastor preach and then leave, considering their spiritual duty to be done. But that is not Jesus’ message. He asks us to help him with the harvest. He set the example for us in what he did while on earth, to show us how to reach the lost.

The Harvester calls to each generation of believers: “Come! Help with the harvest!” This is not the preacher’s job: it is ours. Age does not matter. Children and elderly alike can help gather souls for God’s kingdom. Look around! We are surrounded by a world in desperate need of Christ. “The harvest is ripe!” Jesus is calling to us. Will we help?

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21, NIV

TWEETABLE
We are surrounded by a world in desperate need of Christ. Will I help with the harvest? – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the Conversation: How are you helping with the harvest?

I Really Blew It

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…   Romans 1:16a NASB

I missed a big opportunity. God handed it to me on a silver platter. Well, to be more accurate, it drove up in a silver pickup truck and stopped right beside me. But I let it get away without a fight. I really blew it.

It happened one beautiful Saturday afternoon. I had just stepped out of a Lifeway store and was headed to my car. Just as I reached the first car in the parking lot I heard, “Ma’am? Excuse me ma’am!”

“Ma’am?” Oh, does he mean me?

I turned to see a young man sitting in a pickup truck, now directly between the store and me. His window was down and he was looking directly at me. And there wasn’t anyone else close by.

Yep. He meant me.

The young “cowboy” wore a sleeveless t-shirt and tattoos covered both arms. He needed directions. “Is there a bookstore around here somewhere?”

I thought about looking around for a hidden camera. I mean, really? He was sitting in front of a bookstore. Surely this was a joke.

“Seriously?” I asked. “Lifeway is right there,” I pointed as I declared the obvious. But I could tell the cowboy had no idea what Lifeway was by the look on his face.

“Uh, it’s a Christian bookstore,” I stammered. Half statement, half question. Still no recognition.

“I’m looking for self-help books,” he added hopefully.

Okay. God threw the door of opportunity wide open, but I slammed it shut.

I stumbled around and told him I didn’t know the area – which I didn’t. That I had a friend waiting in the car – which I did. Then I suggested he try Sam’s, which was close behind us.

By the time I got to the car, I was kicking myself over the lost opportunity. As I began to tell my friend about the encounter, all sorts of better responses began to pop into my head.

There’s a Book in there – I would be pointing at Lifeway – that will give you help that lasts for eternity.

I have a Friend that can help you with anything and everything – of course, that would be Jesus.

Or if nothing else comes to mind, I could always simply ask:

Do you know Jesus?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted or taught or written about Peter’s encouragement to always be ready to share Jesus.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

This guy needed hope. He was actively looking for it. He even asked me where to find it. I know the One who is our ultimate, eternal Hope.

I blew it. But, I’m praying today that God will give me another opportunity. Maybe I’ll head to Lifeway.

TWEETABLE
I really blew it, but God is a God of second chances- @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s Bible study. Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Do you regularly pray that God will give you opportunities to give the reason for the hope you have?

Grace Calling

by Fran Sandin

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”   I Peter 3: 15 NIV

It all began when my husband, Jim, and I stopped for lunch in a small-town. Before entering the building, I excused myself to the ladies’ room. There was no appropriate area to set my purse as I washed up, so I placed it in the clean sink. Since it was raining when we arrived, I thought nothing of a few drops of water on the purse when I left the bathroom. Once we were seated, I reached into the purse for my phone.

That’s when I discovered the inside of my purse was soaked. It didn’t occur to me until that moment that the sink had an automatic faucet. Evidently the faucet mistook my purse for hands. Soooo—you guessed it. The phone was wet and dead.

We visited an AT&T store where a handsome young man, Jose, waited on us. He and another worker checked the phone and confirmed, “It is dead.”

I turned to Jim and apologized, “I am so sorry about this. Please forgive me.” He responded with such grace. “It was an accident! You need a phone, so let’s buy one now for your birthday.”

Thankfully, I answered a few questions; and while icloud loaded information from my old phone into a new one, we visited with Jose.

He told us he was a first-year college student working toward a business degree. During our conversation, Jim shared a tract written by our son, Steve, two months before he moved to Heaven. “So What Happens Next?

Jose repeated the title, and said, “I’ve always wondered about that. May I read it now?” We were quiet while he read most of it. Then he asked, “What advice would you give a young man my age?” It was a wonderful opportunity to share verses like—”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NIV).

Jim shared his own testimony and I asked Jose, “Do you have a Bible?” Jose was delighted when Jim helped him download a Bible app on his phone. We left the store feeling we had just experienced a divine appointment. I asked Jose to give us his name, so I could pray for him. He also included his telephone number. So, a few days later, I followed up with a text to thank him for helping us and added, “I hope you have trusted Jesus as your Savior.” He wrote back “I sure did,” and expressed gratitude for our time together.

I am overwhelmed by grace—the forgiving grace of my husband, God’s grace in providing our salvation, the opportunity to share good news, Jose’s prepared heart; and the joy of Jose’s accepting God’s grace toward him as he received Jesus Christ. To God be the glory!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace that is greater than our sin. Help us to always be ready to share that good news with others. In Jesus’ name, A-men.

fran sandlinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced a divine appointment?

 

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

You Shall Receive Power

by Sheri Schofield

There was a sale at my favorite clothing store, so I headed toward town with the music of Travis Cottrell singing “Power In The Blood” on my radio. I am passionate about reaching the lost, and I long for that power to reach those in my town who do not know Jesus. Caught up in the song, the words of Christ came to mind: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32, NIV)

By the time I reached the store, my heart overflowed with the knowledge that Jesus’ blood shed at Calvary held a supernatural drawing power for those who so desperately needed him. I entered the store and looked around, the music still ringing in my spirit. Finding some items, on my way to the dressing room, I cheerfully told the clerks that my new book, The Prince And The Plan, had just been sent to the printers. As my friends, they knew something about this book on the plan of salvation I’d written for children.

When I was nearly finished in the dressing room, one of the clerks called back to me, “Is there an adult version of that book?” I hurriedly dressed and went out. The woman was full of questions. Those questions quickly became deeply personal. She asked, with tears in her eyes, “Is there a way for all a person’s sins in life to be swept away and someone can start over again with a clean slate?”

“Yes!” I told her how God put all the sins of all mankind for all time on Jesus that day at Calvary. How He punished Jesus instead of us for those sins. And if we believe in Jesus and accept his free gift of salvation, we are made holy in God’s eyes. We become new, clean, holy people!

My friend was crying openly by now right there in the middle of the sales floor. The other clerk, a Christian, was handling the customers so we could talk. The woman put her arms around me and sobbed as I led her in a prayer to receive Jesus as her own personal Savior. Over and over she said, “I am so glad you came in here today! Thank you for coming in here today!”

I walked out of the store knowing that I had just seen a demonstration of the power of Jesus blood drawing this precious woman to himself — and he had used me to do it! My friend is now attending church and Bible study. I spoke with her again yesterday. She said, “I had not planned on that happening when you came into the store that day! But you were so full of power!”

 I told her, “That power was not me! That was Jesus! He filled me with his own power,  and he sent me in here to talk to you, and to bring you to himself.”

The power of the blood of Jesus had taken away her inhibitions and overwhelmingly drew her into the grace of God. She had recognized that tremendous, supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in me.

I believe the Holy Spirit is preparing to pour that power out on Christ’s devoted disciples in this world, for Jesus’ return is very near. Let there be one last sweep of revival, Lord!

“He said to them . . . ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . . ‘ ” (Acts 1:8, NIV)

 sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, will be launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the supernatural power of God?

Photo by Henri Meihac on Unsplash