Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Love to tell the Story

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. (Luke 13:34)

Although I don’t know the mind of God, I can relate to what Jesus is saying in the above verse. He was sad that in spite of all the miracles he had performed, in spite of all the proof He had shown, and no matter what He told people, they still didn’t believe in Him as the promised Savior.

In spite of their unbelief He loved them. He wanted to wrap His arms around them and protect them like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings to protect them from the elements. He longed for them to believe so that they would receive the gift of heaven – the “Crown of Life” (Rev. 2:10).

There is no other joy anywhere on earth that can be compared to the joy of knowing Jesus and there is nothing in life on this earth that is more fulfilling.

I became a member of God’s family on April 24, 1950. Although I was only a month old and much too young to understand faith, forgiveness, and sin, I was now a part of the body of Christ. Through baptism my sins were forgiven, I became a member of God’s family and the Holy Spirit put faith in my heart. It was the first of many blessings the Lord had in store for me, and just the beginning of my relationship with God.

I still had much to learn about God and life. My parents taught me at home by word and example. They sent me to the Lutheran school where I was exposed to the word of God daily in the form of Bible History lessons, memorizing scriptures and prayer. I learned to sing His praises also by memorizing and singing hymns from the Lutheran Hymnal. I was taught the word in Sunday school and in church. God’s word was intermingled in my math, history, science, language and art lessons. I was surrounded by it.

In Deuteronomy 6: 6-9 God commands parents; These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. In other words, see God in all that you do and make Him a part of your daily life.

Confirmation day
(A young Christine)

Exposure to the word and sacraments has kept my faith alive and active. My faith is what keeps me going when life gets difficult. It gives me hope for tomorrow. I know that death is not the end, but the beginning of my life in heaven with God. My purpose in life each day is to serve God in whatever situation He sets before me.

I have a burning desire to tell people about Jesus and all He has done for them. I am eager to tell them their sins are forgiven. I want them to know that there is life after death – a wonderful life in the mansions of heaven prepared for us by Jesus. People need to know that there is freedom from the guilt of sin which hangs like the weight of a heavy chain around their neck. It drags them down, as if to the bottom of the ocean, and makes them feel like they can’t breathe. It makes them want to give up, which then leads to more sin and weightier chains.

I join with the song writer in singing: 

I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and His glory; 
Rev. Guenther brought the story of Jesus to the Apaches in 1911
of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story 
because I know ti's true. 
It satisfies my longings 
as nothing else can do. 
I love to tell the story. 
Twill be my theme in glory;
to tell the old, old story
 of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story
for those who know it best, 
seem hungering and thirsting
to hear it like the rest. 
And when in scenes of glory,
I sing the new new song.
Twill be the old old story 
that I have love so long. 
I love to tell the story. 
Twill be my theme in glory 
to tell the old old story 
of Jesus and His love.

Have you heard the story? It is a true story. No names have been changed to protect the innocent because there is no protection for the innocent party in this story. God tells it like it is in His Word. The innocent party is His only Son, Jesus. The guilty are all people of all time, including me and you.

It began in the beautiful garden God made for the man and woman He had created. He didn’t ask much of them. He just warned them not to eat fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden and not to even touch it or they would die. He was not depriving them of anything in doing so, because there were many other fruit trees in the garden which they could eat from freely without consequence. They had a beautiful place to live and they were able to walk and talk with God daily.

God did, however, give them a free will. He allowed them to make their own choices. Satan had already made his choice and wanted to bring the people God had created down with him. He convinced Eve to eat from the tree and she in turn gave some to Adam and he ate also. They were now sinners and every human after them would also inherit that sin. They were doomed to die, but God still loved them.

Because He still loved them deeply, He promised to send His Son – His only Son Jesus. He would be born of a virgin mother. He would grow up to be a man and He would suffer the punishment you and I and all people deserve for our sin.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas. He was born in a stable because His parents were traveling and there were no rooms available in the inns nearby. He was wrapped in cloth by His mother Mary to keep Him warm and she laid Him in a manger, which was a feeding trough for farm animals. You can read this story in detail in the Gospel of Luke,
chapter 2.

The Birth of Jesus
God doesn’t tell us much about Jesus' childhood in the Bible, but we are told in several different places that Nazareth was His hometown. In Matthew 13:55 He is referred to as the Carpenter’s Son. From this we surmise that Joseph, Jesus stepfather, was a carpenter and that Jesus more than likely learned the trade also.

When He was 8 days old His parents took him to the temple to be circumcised (Luke 2:21). After this, we don’t hear any more about His childhood until He is 12 years old and He was taken back to the temple in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Here we are told that when His parents left Jerusalem to return home, Jesus was left behind. They had thought He was traveling with other family members or friends. After their first day of travel they began looking for Him and realized He was not with them. They went back to Jerusalem to search for Him and after 3 days found Him in the temple listening to the teachers and asking them questions. (Luke 2:46) In verse 51 we read; Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them, and in verse 52; And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

A 12 year old Jesus

We learn in Luke 3: 23 that Jesus was about 30 years old when he began His ministry. He went from town to town doing miracles and preaching the good news of salvation to all He met. He appointed 12 disciples to go with Him and be his helpers and companions. He taught them so that they in turn, could continue His ministry after His death and resurrection.

The Jews hated Jesus and accused Him of being a false prophet. They refused to believe that He was the promised Messiah, but He had many other followers who did believe. He healed the sick and drove out demons. He fed more than 5000 people on two separate occasions with just a few fish and a few loaves of bread. He made the blind to see, the deaf to hear and speak, and the lame to walk. He healed people with leprosy. He calmed the sea and walked on water. He turned water into wine at the wedding of Cana.

The night before Jesus died he ate the Passover with His disciples. At this Passover meal He instituted the Lord’s Supper, which we still participate in and celebrate today when we take Holy Communion. He predicted that Judas would betray Him to the chief priests for 30 silver coins. He predicted also that all of His disciples would fall away on account of Him and that Peter would deny that he knew him 3 times before morning dawned. It all happened just like Jesus had said.

A last supper with friends
After supper He went to Gethsemane to pray. He asked His disciples to watch and pray with Him, but they fell asleep. Twice He came back to them and asked them to watch and pray with Him, but to no avail. They continued to sleep until Judas came with the soldiers and betrayed Jesus into their hands by giving Him a kiss on the cheek.

He was then taken before the high priest. The details of the events leading up to, and including His crucifixion and death can be found in any of the four Gospels – Matthew 26 & 27, Mark 14 & 15, Luke 22 & 23 or John 18 & 19. The story is told there much better than I could ever tell it here.

Death on a Cross
 When Jesus died on the cross He suffered Hell for us, being forsaken by God His Father. He received the punishment we deserve for our sin. He paid our debt, and then conquered death and the devil by rising from the dead three days later.

We celebrate His resurrection from the dead each spring on Easter Sunday. Details about His resurrection can be found in the very last chapter of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and in chapters 20 and 21 of John.

After His resurrection He appeared to Mary Magdalene and He appeared to His disciples more than once and even ate with them. He appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus. He showed His disciples the holes in His hands and His feet. Because Thomas doubted, Jesus had him place his hand right into His side. He also appeared to His disciples by the sea of Tiberias where they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Early in the morning Jesus was there on the shore and commanded them to drop their nets down on the right side of the boat. They caught more fish than their nets could hold and at that moment they recognized Him. He then invited them to have breakfast and shared a meal with them again.

He is Risen Indeed
John states in chapter 21: 25; Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Now you know the story and I enjoyed telling it, but don’t take my word for it. Pick up your Bible and read it for yourself. Through the written word the Holy Spirit will ignite faith in your heart. If you are one of the fortunate people who already has faith, your faith will be strengthened.

Through faith you will find fulfillment for your life. You will experience the joy of a personal relationship with Jesus. He walked the earth just like you and I. He faced the temptations, the sorrows and the pain that we face in life. He is your best friend and your brother. He understands your fears. He knows what it is like to live and He knows what it is like to die. He promises eternity in heaven to all who believe. He wants you to be there with Him.

“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”. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:16,17)

I love to tell the story! I want everyone I meet to be able to experience faith in God and freedom from sin and death. It gives life a whole new meaning.

Hark the voice of Jesus crying, “Who will go and work today? Fields are ripe and harvests waiting; who will bear the sheaves away?” Loud and long the Master calleth; Rich reward he offers thee. Who will answer, gladly saying, “Here am I – send me, send me?” (Christian Worship # 573)

Here I am Lord! I am ready and willing! Send me!

By Kristeen – to God be the Glory!

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