God is the Great Engineer, creating circumstances to bring about moments in our lives of divine importance, leading us to divine appointments.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (MSG)
18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
1 Peter 3:15-18 (MSG)
13-18 If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.
Matthew 5:13-16 (MSG)
Salt and Light
13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
I believe this in every fiber of my being because I have lived it: Changed lives, change lives.
In the past, I didn’t know how to begin my Jesus story. I measured my words, thinking that just the right number of words said at the perfect time would make or break the impact that this woman had on another fragile and damaged human heart. I was fearful. On top of all that, I didn’t want to be responsible for messing it up. It was all about me, me, me, when it should have been about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!
There was a time too, when I was anxious about judgement. I was a Christ-follower, but I was not allowing Christ to lead me. My heart wasn’t right before God. I had a kind of casual friendship with Him, but I didn’t truly know Him. A dear sister introduced me to the nature of God and what that means to our changed lives and I am so grateful to her. What if she had been afraid to share her story?
As a result of that one woman’s bravery, I now know He is with me always and in every situation, so I don’t carry tons of fear around in my purse with my wallet, lipstick and tissues. There is nothing I can do or say that will separate me from the love of God. Do you understand how very freeing that is? It has LIBERATED me to be salt and light (I want you to shout that out. Do it. It feels GREAT!) I now have the freedom that only Jesus can give! I can “be the salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.” If I do make a mistake, I won’t lose my salvation; however, if I live in fear of failing in some way I am disobeying God. I read this recently and loved it so much that I copied it onto an index card and taped it to my bathroom mirror—
When we fear criticism and are overly self-protective, we can miss out on being a gift to others. You see, what God wants you to accomplish is not just about you; it’s about many people that God wants to influence and help through you. Ask the Lord to give you the strength you need to move forward in the face of criticism. And remember, you are living life for the approval of that one.
So here are some important things to remember the next time God presents you with an opportunity to share your story:
- It isn’t all about you. When you follow Christ’s command to love others that includes shedding your self-awareness as you take on the image of Christ. Personally, when I look into another woman’s eyes and see the pain she is holding I have no choice but to be obedient to Christ and tell her the Good News. That always means I must choose to be vulnerable and transparent. She sees my brokenness and the Holy Spirit works in her. It may be the first tiny seed or it may be the final straw, but if God is in it, a woman may come to a saving knowledge of Christ through my witness. I am an ambassador and Christ is honoring me and using me to reach a lost human being with the Good News of salvation. I love to use the word “ambassador” which is from 2 Corinthians 5:20. It is one of my favorite passages in scripture and the main reason why I serve in women’s ministry at my campus. It is nothing less than thrilling when you are able to lead another woman closer to the heart of Jesus.
- Everyone thinks their mess is way worse than your mess. No matter where it happens or when it happens, women think very similar thoughts as they decide whether or not to share their story: They will not want to be around me after they know this about me. They will be so shocked, revolted and appalled by what I did when I…(fill in the blank with the worst of the worst). Let me set you straight. First, no one is going to be surprised…because again everyone thinks their mess is way worse than your mess and secondly, sisters, only God’s opinion of you matters anyhow! He wants you to have the confidence to shout it from the mountaintops! You were lost and now you are FOUND! The power is in the whole of the story, so don’t hold back the worst bits. Let it GO! Shame is a lie Satan uses to keep you bound up. Break the chains. Don’t forget this choice bit of God’s truth: “By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (MSG)
- It really is ALL about the Holy Spirit. Control of the conversation about Jesus must be released to the Holy Spirit. We must trust that the Holy Spirit ministers to us and He ministers to the person we are speaking to. You are not God, but you are a conduit of God’s love and grace for the person you are ministering to. I love this quote from Oswald Chambers, “Allow God to have complete liberty in your life when you speak. Before God’s message can liberate other people’s [life that] liberation must first be real in you. Gather your material carefully, and then allow God to ‘set your words on fire’ for His glory.”
- Evangelism isn’t one conversation, but many conversations. One of my most savvy friends told me it takes at least thirteen Gospel presentations for an individual to accept the grace of Jesus. Personally, I think that number is on the low side. So what if you are the first or the twentieth? And what’s more, you must remember that you and I are just the mouthpiece for the Gospel message. God is the one who saves, not you and certainly not me! From 1 Corinthians 3—
5-9 Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
There are people that God has placed in your life for a reason. Prayerfully, deliberately, reach out to the people He places on your heart. Don’t be afraid. Pray as you speak, have confidence that the Holy Spirit is living within you, and know with certainty that God is on your side. Lock eyes, open the window of your soul, and confidently tell your Jesus story.
You can tattoo this on your heart: God is fighting for me! He is the firm foundation on which you can always depend. He wants you…heart and soul. He sent Jesus to die for you. What more could God have done to prove His love for you? Today, choose to begin living a life of gratitude for what Christ has done for you. Reach out with confidence to those around you who need the Good News of Jesus Christ. You’ve got this, because He’s got you! Don’t forget…make it your creed…changed lives, change lives!
Celebrate your freedom in Christ and praise Him as you listen to In Jesus Name. Trust me, you’ll have to play it more than once as you dance around your kitchen! Follow that up by remembering how good He is with I Surrender.
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 38 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is at the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.