HOPE - you gotta give it away. Acts, #79. Acts chapter 22
What do you give people you meet who are hurting?
Recently, I went on a night-time walking tour through historic downtown Wake Forest--really interesting. But when I walked up to the gathering that night, they were all in a buzz--parents of UNC Chapel Hill students where a young woman had jumped to her death that afternoon. Where that would have shocked me some time ago, it doesn’t anymore--which is tragic itself.
Anxiety, depression, fear and just plain old worrying are at epic highs today, and in part it is because people feel hopeless. I am wondering--could you give someone hope? I am not proposing that religion is the answer, but faith and hope in the truth of a loving, almighty God does hold the answer. That is because ultimately there is only one true hope, one source of ultimate Truth--his name is Jesus. Jesus came to save; Jesus came to be our Friend.
In the last week, I have given you six thought-lines for thriving: 1) trusting God fully because he is trustworthy; 2) Paying attention to the Holy Spirit of God in your life; 3) Reading the Word of God for life, hope, truth, wisdom; 4) Intentionally setting aside time to be with God undistracted; 5) Valuing each day, being grateful and present for your life; 6) Exercising - both our bodies and our freedom too! [all archived at www.pastorwoman.net under the Morning Briefings tab]
But there is another critical way you can give people hope. Tell them why you have hope. Tell them your story -- your God story,
[right now some of you are thinking ‘my story? Huh, I don’t
know if I really have a God story, but I think I might like to…
that is, I think I would. Guess it depends on what you mean.
A God story is how you came to know Christ for yourself…
not your religion, your Baptist grandmother or your 12 years
of Catholic school… the reason you believe that Jesus makes
a difference in your life--
the reason you have HOPE!]
In the last several chapters of the book of Acts, we see Paul telling his story,
simply giving his testimony as he was on trial--first at one place and then another, to one group of people and then another. We recall how anxious Paul was to arrive back in Jerusalem, bringing donations to the persecuted believers . . . but once there, things go south immediately for Paul.
Here is Luke’s capturing of Paul’s first brilliant remarks in Acts 22.3-24:
Zoom out for a minute... What is Paul doing? He is telling his God story as a witness before the crowd. A witness tells what he has seen or experienced. Paul recounts his own experience as a prominent Jew whose life was interrupted with the truth of Jesus Christ the Messiah. The crowd listens quietly as Paul gives them the account Luke recorded in Acts 9. While it is very straightforward, the events themselves were dramatically supernatural. No one interrupts him, even when he talks about Jesus and his encounter with Him. Here's the thing: people may disagree with what you take away from some occurrence, but they really can't deny your experience. . . because it was YOUR experience.
If your experience with the Lord brings you hope, others want some of that!
That is why simply telling what you have experienced of God is the very best, most effective and certainly most authentic manner of telling someone about the wonderful, lifesaving truth of Jesus. I have not known a time such as this when people have been looking for hope. . . needing a Savior.
In the last several years, I have watched up close a beautiful woman on the outside, but rather anxious, maybe unsure on the inside - grow to be not just beautiful to look at, but when she talks about Jesus, her friend--well, her whole face lights up! And then, in spite of heartache from her earthly father, she is now so aware that she has a Heavenly Father that is with her and for her. It is true, her hope in Jesus has changed everything. Through her experience, she can give others hope and so can you. [take a few minutes and think what you could share that would be your unique God story... you will radically impact someone for the good]
My Jesus - love it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW5o2uBeMWQ