A resounding testimony of faith in Jesus Christ will get you into more trouble than you’ve ever been in, in your life.
You thought we were going to say how good life would be if you went “all in” for the Lord and told everyone about Him?
Let’s say it again…
A strong outspoken witness for the Lord Jesus Christ will box you into a corner and make you put up or shut up.
That’s why you ought to do it. That’s why you ought to erect a neon sign in your front yard declaring that “Jesus is Lord at 203 Garden Cove” or wherever you live. You ought to put a Bible on your desk and wear t-shirts that celebrate Jesus and put Him in your conversation.
Pray in restaurants before meals, speak to waitresses about their spiritual welfare, and witness to your colleagues at work.
So live and speak that when someone wants to attack the Lord Jesus Christ and can’t lay hands on Him, they start looking for you. (Acts 5:41 comes to mind.)
In declaring yourself for Jesus, you ought to remove your safety harness and throw yourself totally into God’s hands.
Quit being so cotton-picking careful.
What are you afraid of?
Tell people you’re a Christian and that it’s the best decision you ever made and that to know Jesus is the best thing on the planet.
Keep doing it and then watch what happens. It might be painful, so be strong.
We have a couple of stories, one from a longtime friend and the second from God’s Word.
Diane tells this story about her family.
There was a time when their children were small and times were hard. Diane had quit work to be a stay-at-home mom, and they were trying to make do on Philip’s salary from the department store.
As if life were not already complicated enough, Diane got sick and had to have a battery of tests and medical treatments. The condition was on-going and the costs were frightening.
As the one who paid the bills, Diane always made sure they sent the clinic a payment of some amount each month. However, it hardly put a dent in the total bill, which kept increasing.
During all this time, they never missed tithing their income to the Lord through their local church.
One day, they received a phone call from the clinic. “We appreciate that you pay toward your bill each month, but we are going to have to ask for one-half of the total now. Until you do, you can’t charge anything more to this account.”
That was a blow. They began praying in earnest about what to do.
About this time they received word that Philip’s parents were coming to visit.
His mother and dad had never understood why Philip and Diane had continued to give a full one-tenth of their income to the church when they barely had enough to live on. In fact, they criticized them for doing so. Diane says, “They were skeptical, even antagonistic, about our commitment to the Lord and our church.”
As they prayed, they began to see a way out. They could borrow the money from Philip’s parents until their income tax refund arrived in a few months.
They hesitated, because their tithing testimony had said the Lord would provide for their needs. And now they would be borrowing from someone unsympathetic to such convictions.
Diane: “How could we ask them without making God look bad? Without having them doubt even more our commitment to Him? and especially God’s willingness to provide for our needs?”
“We were so concerned about protecting our testimonies and the integrity of God before their eyes.”
And yet, borrowing from Philip’s parents seemed to be the only way.
They decided in order to lessen the anxiety, they would ask for the money as soon as the children went to bed.
That evening, as the young parents went upstairs to tuck the little ones in, Philip’s mother said she had something to discuss with them.
Diane: “My heart was pounding. I kept asking the Lord to help me discern His plan.”
They gathered in the living room with Philip’s mother, and she began to speak.
God had answered their prayer. But not as they expected.
“Philip and Diane,” mother said, “As you know, my parents died recently. And they left me their estate.”
It was a sizeable inheritance.
She continued, “I know you have quite a struggle financially. And you are such wonderful parents to these precious little girls.”
“It’s obvious that everything you make goes into your expenses, and you are not indulging yourselves.”
She wanted to give them money.
The gift paid the entire medical bill and more.
Diane: “No one but the Lord knew about our need. We had told only Him.”
They never did get around to telling the parents that they were within a hair’s breadth of borrowing money from them.
The Lord had provided. Their faith and obedience were confirmed.
Diane: “We wouldn’t trade the hungry years for anything.”
Now, the story from the Bible.
It’s the 8th chapter of the Old Testament book of Ezra.
God was using a priest named Ezra (along with others, of course) to rebuild the Jerusalem temple destroyed in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. This great symbol of the nation and the center of their faith would inspire the people to righteous living and encourage exiles to return and resettle the country.
As the temple took shape, Ezra asked for priests who were willing to return to Jerusalem and take over the worship leadership (8:15-20). The Lord provided and many responded.
Next, they would be needing the holy vessels returned to their proper place inside the temple. Chapter 7 tells how King Artaxerxes issued a proclamation releasing all the temple vessels–stolen during the ransacking of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.–back to the Jews. This was a miracle in itself.
Chapter 8 tells how Ezra transported these stolen utensils back to Jerusalem. They had to be worth a king’s ransom.
But, the man of God had a problem. The route from Babylon to Jerusalem, many hundreds of miles, was fraught with dangers, thieves, unscrupulous townspeople, and other dangers of infinite variety.
Ezra was frightened.
“I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way.” (Ezra 8:22)
Oh? And why is that, Ezra?
“We had said to the king, ‘The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him’.” (Verse 22)
Ezra had been bragging on God. His mouth had written a check he was now fearful of cashing.
His testimony–his boast to the king–had painted him into a corner where he had to make a choice: either admit that he overstated the case or throw himself on the Lord for protection.
He sought the Lord, then chose the latter. “We fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty.” (8:23)
The rest of the story: “Thus we came to Jerusalem.” (8:32)
God was faithful.
What a resounding testimony will do–
–1) It will identify the Lord Jesus Christ as the Master of your life and everything of any value in you.
Don’t say it if you don’t mean it and intend to live by it. An impulsively spoken testimony of faith you do not have and commitments you don’t intend to keep are worse than silence.
However, “let the redeemed of the Lord say so,” said David in Psalms 107:2.
The inimitable Dr. B. Gray Allison used to say: “If you’ve got it, you’ll tell it. Do you have it?”
–2) It will force you to put up or shut up.
This kind of crisis can be the best thing that ever happened to you. Come through it victoriously and you will grow a mile overnight. Back away from it and you will be years in recovering.
The process will be painful, you need to know. You spoke your testimony in a moment of sweet giddiness when the Lord seemed so near and all your burdens had been lifted, and now, you’ve been called on to live up to your faith or admit you are a hypocrite.
And hasn’t the world seen enough hypocrites?
Let’s not give them any more.
–3) It will capture the attention of the watching world.
Outsiders and onlookers–people who do not know the Lord, those who may know the Lord but have never been challenged, and those seeking the Lord and unsure where to find Him–will watch to see if things are as you said, if the Lord can do what you claimed.
They are deciding if this God is one they ought to be paying attention to.
You are exhibit A.
–4) It will dare the enemy to do his worst.
You are throwing down the gauntlet to him, daring him to test you. ”Bring it on,” you’re saying.
This is what baptism was intended to be, a public announcement to the world–to the righteous as well as the enemies of righteousness–that this one is publicly declaring for Jesus. Until that moment, you may have been hiding in the shadows, a secret follower of Jesus. But no more. You are going public, suiting up in the full armor, and carrying out His orders.
You have just painted a target on your own back.
That, I expect, is the reason most of us live for Him timidly, hide in the back recesses of the church, and keep our faith to ourselves.
We hope that the Lord notices and the devil doesn’t.
–5) Going all out in your witness for Christ will honor the Lord.
The Lord loves it when His people stand up and claim ownership by Him. He particularly likes it when they back up their words by living like they mean every word of it.
On the one hand…“Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
And on the other…. “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:16).
Hey, Christian, don’t you need a little excitement in your life? Aren’t you tired of the humdrum of daily existence?
Stand up for Jesus, step forward for Him, and speak up for Him.
Now, stick around and let’s see what happens.