Whose House are you Building?

Whose House are you Building?

I have a question for you all today; whose house are you building?

When you look at your life and all the choices you have made, all the passions you have pursued, whose house are you building?  Do your choices reflect God and the furthering of His kingdom or are they focused on you and the plans you have for your life.  Are you using your time to build a name for yourself or is your life building up God’s name?
Today I opened up my Bible to the book of Haggai.  I’m currently reading through the old testament prophets and Haggai was the next one.  Haggai is only two chapters so it didn’t take me long to read through all of it.  It’s a very short book and I honestly didn’t think I’d pull much truth out of it.  But as I began reading I started to see many truths and connections pop out at me.  And I want to share with you some of what God was speaking to me through this little book in the Bible.
In the first few verses of Haggai God has a message to his people and He tells them to stop and consider their ways. The time has finally come for them to begin rebuilding the Lord’s temple;
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you, the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” (Haggai 1:7-11)
The temple of the Lord that Solomon had built had been destroyed and God spoke through the prophet Haggai the message to rebuild the temple. But first God is telling his people to consider their ways.  He is saying to them that nothing they set out to do will succeed because they failed to listen and obey.  While the Lord’s house sat in ruins, the people were busy working on their own houses and not heading God’s commands.
This is a sad condition to be found in before the Lord.  I can only imagine the shame to people of God must have felt.  Here they were, God’s chosen people.  They are loved by God and God has given them everything they need.  God has asked them to build His house but instead, they focus on their house and their life.  Building their house was more important to them than building the house of the Holy and Almighty God who saved them.

As I read  I began to feel the conviction set in my heart.  How often do I also spend my time and my efforts into building my house.  Each day I try hard to make a name for myself and to make my life live up to all of my expectations.  All my effort is pouted into making my life, well, my life.  But what about God’s house? What about all the things God has asked me to do?  the reality is that I am only here on earth because of God. Yer, I don’t head His voice like I should.  Like the Israelites, I care more about my house, my plans.
Oh, how it must hurt God to see me, His child, chasing after my plans and my dreams.  Spending all my time building up my house and my reputation, when He is the one who deserves all the glory.  I exist to worship Him. God has asked me to build His house, not my house, and I have failed him so many times.

God has given me a command. the same command as the Israelites.  He has asked me to build His house and that is the purpose of my life here on earth.

Dear reader, this call goes out to you as well. Our purpose here on earth is not so that we can chase our dreams, have successful lives, and pursue fun.  No, my friend, this is not so.  God has a purpose for each of His children and for our lives here on earth.  God has asked us, just like the Israelites to build his house.  In the great commission, God says – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20)  We are to go out and tell all the world about Jesus.  Our role here on earth is to tell others about the truth.  This means that our life on earth is not about us, but about furthering God’s kingdom!
When you consider your life, are you like the Israelites, building your own house, and ignoring the call that God has given you?  I know that I have found myself there many times.  Even today as I write this, I am ashamed of all the chances I have missed because my focus was not in the right place.  But the Lord never stopped crying out to the Israelites. Finally, they heard and they listened.  The next verse in Haggai says;
Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.” (Haggai 1:12)
The people turned back to the Lord, they feared the Lord, and they build His house.  If we ever find ourselves chasing after our own desires and building our house instead of the Lord’s house.  We can be thankful that our God is a God who gives us grace.  He always gives us the chance to start over and begin building again.
So, as I end this post, I want to simply ask the question; whose house are you building?  If you are not building the Lord’s house, you are building a house that will not last.  You are storing up treasure here on earth that will not remain with you when eternity comes.  When the Lord calls us all home someday, what will we show him?  All the things we’ve done for ourselves, or all the ways we have striven to further his kingdom and build his house.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Oh, how I long for God to look on my life and be pleased with how I chose to spend my time. I would rather I live a poor, lonely life, that proclaims the gospel to this world than have all the good things of this world and hear the Lord say I could’ve done more for Him. I want to build the Lord’s house and I pray each day that He will help me choose Him.

It is my hope and prayer that you too will be building the Lord’s house.

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

What is the gospel?

The question was asked.  An awkward silence reigned in the room.  My eyes nervously scanned the quiet room.  Everyone at the Bible study was deep in thought. It was as if I could feel all the thoughts going through everyone’s mind; What is the gospel?  Yes, we know what it is.  But when the opportunity arises, do we know how to put it into words? 
After the short silence, the leader of the study proceeded to share his explanation of the gospel.  Then he challenged every one of us to write up our own explanation of the gospel to share during the next study.  So here I am sitting down at my computer ready to type up, in my own words, what I believe the gospel is.  And I thought, why not share here on my blog as well.

Why understanding the Gospel is important

First of all, I want to highlight the reason why it is important for us to know what the gospel is.  We never know when we may have the opportunity to share the truth of God’s word with people.  Maybe today or tomorrow God will put someone in your life and the topic of the Gospel will come up.  Are you ready to share it with them?  If you know what the gospel is in your heart but don’t know how to verbalize it to someone else then you might fight yourself stuck.  The opportunity may come, but all you have is a sinking feeling in the gut as you can’t find your words.
Have you ever tried to tell someone about a new product or idea but you have no information or research to back it up.  Rather than persuade your friend that this new product is worth investing in, they leave thinking they are better of without it because you obviously don’t have a good enough argument.  Taking the time to think about what the Gospel is going to help us when that time comes for us to share it with someone who needs it.  It’s so much easier to tell someone about something if you understand it and can put it into words.

My understanding of the Gospel

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I believe that the gospel begins with the fact that we are all sinners, unable to save ourselves.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden they brought sin into the world and all of mankind is born into sin.  But God was not surprised when they sinned.  God had a plan for redeeming His people from the start.  His plan was Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son God, humbled himself and came into the world as a human.  Jesus lived the perfect sinless life that we could never live and then died the horrible death that we deserve.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)
Jesus took all our sin upon himself when he died on the cross. And when Jesus cried out to God on the cross; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, He was experiencing true separation from God for sin.  For three days Jesus lay dead in the grave and on the third day He rose again to life.  His resurrection means that He has conquered death and paid the penalty for sin (our sin).  Through the blood of Jesus, we too are able to conquer death and be set free from sin.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us..” (Romans 5:8)
I believe that even though Jesus died on the cross for all the world, there are some who will not come to know Him.  We are trapped in our sin and flesh and unable to be saved until the Holy Spirit does a work in our hearts and opens our eyes to the truth.  God gets all the glory in salvation and it is through faith and God’s amazing grace that we are saved.  
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:5-6)
I believe that God is constantly at work and sovereign over all things.  He uses us, His chosen children, to spread his truth, but He ultimately is the one who saves.  And Jesus will return one day and all those who are His will live forever with Him because we have been washed clean through the blood of Jesus.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
This is what I believe the gospel is.

Your Turn

When you think about the gospel, does your understanding ring true to mine or is it different?  It’s okay if you tell it a little differently than I tell it.  You may use different verses than I used or use different words than I used.  But the main truth of the gospel (that Jesus Christ came to save sinners and is the only way to be saved) doesn’t change.  If you are sharing the gospel it should still be the same message and the truths I shared above should be true of your understanding as well.
Understanding the gospel is essential to be effective lights for Him in this world. Now it’s your turn to take on this challenge.  How would you put your understanding of the gospel into words?  Write it out in your journal, or type it up on the computer.  Let us always be ready to give an account of how amazing our God is and how he Has given us new life in Jesus Christ!

 

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

5 Tips for Sharing Your Testimony

5 Tips for Sharing Your Testimony
Have you ever been asked to share your testimony?
If you’ve never shared your story before it may be scary when someone asks you that question. Sharing your story requires you to break open the ice and truly embrace being vulnerable.   I bet the question running through your head might be something like; where do I even start?  Especially if you are like me and have been saved your whole life and never really had a dramatic death-to-life experience.  How do I take a simple and borderline-boring testimony and make it worth sharing?
In my previous post, I shared more of my thoughts on the importance of sharing testimonies and why we should be sharing our testimonies.  You can find the post here. And I hope that now that you’ve thought more about testimonies you are now ready to begin sharing yours. But where do you even start? Today I want to share with you some of the tips I have learned over time that have helped me to overcome obstacles in telling my story.

5 Tips for Sharing your Testimony

1. Tell it like it is

No one has your story.  Your testimony is unique to you.  It may be tempting to leave out parts or even add/exaggerate parts of your story to make it seem more exciting.  It can also be hard to be completely vulnerable at times so the temptation to leave parts out is strong.  But when it comes to sharing your story, I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep it real.  Tell your story how it is.  Start at the beginning and work your way through it to the end.  If there are parts you are concerned about sharing because of how personal it is, pray about it and be willing to share if you feel the time is right.  I understand that some things need time before we go public and share and I think a wise person will know when the time is right. But when we refuse to be vulnerable and be honest with others about our struggles we miss out on the chance to allow our story to truly impact and connect to others.

2. Find a theme

The first time I began writing out my testimony I began noticing a specific theme that kept coming up in my story.  All throughout my life I have struggled with fear.  So when I began brainstorming all the ways to share my story I knew that I wanted to talk about my journey of overcoming fear.  This tactic was a life-saver for me because I always thought my testimony was so short and simple. But after examining my life and realizing there was a theme I was able to trace God’s work in my life better and use that as the focus in my testimony.
Is there a theme in your life that you have seen God help you overcome?  Consider using that theme in your story and share how God has been using the things in your life to help you get to where you are today.  You never know, maybe the theme in your life story will be just what someone listening needs to hear.

3. Add Bible verses

Another great thing to consider adding to your testimony are Bible verses. If you noticed a theme in your story, are there any Bible verses that go well with your theme? Is there a way you can share them as you tell your testimony?  Or maybe you have a life verse that you could share in your story.  Psalm 37:4 has always been a verse that I  cling to in life. I like to share it, along with other verses that have impacted me, in my story.  Don’t hesitate to share the verses that God has used to comfort you or convict you.  God’s word is powerful and should be a part of our story.

4. Connect it with a Bible character

When I began writing out my testimony I soon realized that my story was going to be really short.  Sometimes you are given a time frame that you need to meet when sharing your story.  I felt kinda embarrassed when I couldn’t even make my story long enough to reach ten minutes.  But then I had the idea of sharing a Bible story with my testimony.  During one of the times that I shared my testimony the story of Gideon in the Bible was fresh in my mind.  Gideon was asked to face his fears and follow God in scary ways and I saw a similar connection in my life.  I read the story of Gideon in the Bible and then used the theme of facing fears found in the story to lead into my story.
If there is a Bible story or passage that connects well with your testimony, consider sharing it along with your story.  You can tell the story in your own words or just read it straight out of the bible.  I personally like to do a little of both (reading key passages of the story and filling in the rest with my own narrative).  This is honestly a great tactic to have up your sleeve if you need to lengthen your testimony or make it more like a devotion.

5. Highlight God’s grace in saving sinners

The last tip I have is probably the most important tip to remember when sharing your testimony.  The most important part of each testimony is the fact that God has saved a sinner from death and brought them into the light.  Whatever your story, spend time talking about the amazing fact that God opened your eyes to your sin and your need for a Savior.  Even if you weren’t living a life trapped in a horrible sin, you were still an enemy of God and God did a work in your heart to make you His.  Highlight the amazing grace that God has given to you as you tell your story.  Don’t downplay the fact that God did a miracle in your heart when he saved you.  This is the most important truth that those listening to your story need to hear.

And that’s all I have for you today!  I hope these tips can help you as you begin looking for ways to share your story!  Whether you get asked to share your story in a group you know or God spontaneously brings up the opportunity to share with a stranger, it is always good to be ready and willing.  Our testimonies, as Christians, are the greatest tool we have in sharing the gospel. When the opportunity arises I pray you won’t miss it and that God will bless you greatly and all those who hear.
Until next time,
Sydney 🙂

Sharing Your Testimony

Sharing Your Testimony
Today I want to talk about something that has been on my mind…like a lot.
Testimonies.  What is a Christian testimony?  What makes a good testimony? Why should we share our testimonies with others?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard so many people say that they don’t have a testimony worth sharing because they were raised in a Christian home and have always made good choices. Since they don’t had a dramatic conversion story they conclude that their story isn’t worth sharing.  But my question is this: Why does not having a dramatic “from death to life” story unqualify your story from being told? To be honest with you all, for the longest time this has been my view on testimonies, but God has been slowly teaching me that this mindset is wrong.
Everyone has a testimony that is worth telling because every testimony is a beautiful story of God’s amazing grace in a sinner’s life!
I used to have the wrong mindset about testimonies.  I saw my testimony as simple and not special. I can’t even recall the exact date I was saved, which is something every good testimony requires, right? I’ve always been the good girl who loved God and began to follow God at a really young age.  There also haven’t been any major sin issues I’ve had to overcome in my life like some stories I’ve heard.  As you see, my story is a bit, well …boring.   But God’s been slowly working in my heart.  Over time God began to change my view on testimonies.  I met more people with similar stories of being raised in Christian homes and I watched how they shared their stories with the same vigor as someone who was saved out of horrible sins. Then one day, I was asked to share my own story at my church’s college group and also at a Christian camp I work at.  Suddenly I couldn’t just brush off my testimony as boring.  I really had to come to terms with the truth that I do have a story worth telling.
God showed me that there is no such thing as a boring testimony.  If you were saved young, or old, God did a work in your heart.  If you have a history of following God faithfully or a history of struggling with sin, God still has done a work in your heart.  A testimony is not about us, it’s about God and the great work He does in bringing sinners into the light.
If God did work in your heart and it doesn’t matter how it happened, it’s a beautiful story!
If you ever find yourself believing the lie that your testimony is boring, I want to challenge you to think again.  Your story is a beautiful story of a sinner coming to know God in a way that is unique to you.  Whether your testimony is simple like mine, or a dramatic experience that gets everyone’s attention, your story deserves to be told.
God has also began showing me that there are actually some pretty cool benefits for us when we tell our testimony. Below I have come up with three reasons why it is important for us to share our story with the world, no matter what our background is.

Three reasons why we should share our testimony
  1. Sharing our testimony makes us more aware of God’s grace and goodness in our life.  When I took to time to sit down and write out my story I was amazed at all the ways I saw God’s hand in my life.  I saw God’s grace in not only saving me at a young age but also in how He filled my heart with a passion for Him and his word at such a young age.  Sharing our testimonies helps us to see God’s grace in ways that we often overlook.  God shows each of us amazing grace in not treating us as our sins deserve.  When we share our testimonies that is an amazing truth to share and praise God for.
  2. Sharing our testimony brings glory to God. Whether you have a story like mine, simple and not very exciting, or a dramatic story, each story brings glory to God.  The Bible says that the angels rejoice in heaven over each new person that believes in God.  God saving you at a young age in a Christian home brings just as much glory to God as someone who finds God later in life.  When you share your testimony you have the opportunity to share God’s glory with the world.  Each time you share how God saved you from sin you are bringing glory to God’s name.
  3. Sharing our testimony is a opportunity to share the gospel.  When we share our story of how God saved us, a sinner, and brought us into His light, we are sharing the gospel.  When we are witnessing to those who don’t know Jesus, it can be daunting to think about how to share the gospel with them.  But by simply sharing our testimony with them we are pointing them to the greatest truth of the Bible: that Jesus has the power to save sinners and change lives.  Whatever our story is, God’s work is written all over it and each time we share it with the world we are pointing others to the good news of the gospel.  Being willing to share our testimony is one of the best tools we have for sharing the good news of the gospel with this world.
So as I end I must ask you, is there something holding you back from sharing your testimony?  If you are finding yourself believing you have a story that is better left unsaid, I want to challenge you to think otherwise.  Take some time to think about how God’s grace has played a part in your life. Consider taking time to write out your story.  When I was first asked to share my story, I took some time and wrote out on paper my story.  Simply writing down how God has worked in my life from start to finish helped me to see it in a new light.
I also understand that sharing your testimony can be a daunting task, especially if you feel like you don’t have an exciting story. Just remember, you have to start somewhere, and you will getter better in time.  After sharing my story a few times I realized that even though it was hard at first, it does get easier over time.

If you want to learn more about sharing your testimony I’ll be sharing some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned about sharing your testimony in my next post.
Until then
~Sydney 🙂