Jesus Changes Lives

Posted on 07/31/2011 by Rev. Jennifer L. Faust

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


*** There are no public prayer requests this week. ***

*******

Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

Visit http://search.almcyberchurch.org and make it your default search engine and home page. Every time you click a Google ad, we receive a small commission (sometimes over $1). This is one way you can greatly support this ministry at no cost to you.

******


WHAT A MIGHTY GOD

What a mighty God we serve
What a mighty God we serve
Angels bow before him
Heaven and earth adore him
What a mighty God we serve

HE IS THE KING

He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is
  Jesus, Jesus,
     Jesus, Jesus
Oh, he is the King

His name is Jesus, Jesus
Sad hears we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
Open wide the prison door
And he's able to deliver evermore

FREEDOM

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom

There is peace, there is love
There is joy (there is joy)

It is for freedom He's set us free
It is for freedom He's set us free

I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free

We will walk in Your freedom, walk in Your liberty
We will walk, Lord
We will walk in Your freedom, walk in Your liberty

We will dance in Your freedom, dance in Your liberty
We will dance, Lord
We will dance in Your freedom, dance in Your liberty

We will jump in Your freedom, jump in Your liberty
We will jump, Lord
We will jump in Your freedom, jump in Your liberty

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
    THERE IS FREEDOM!!
Where the Spirit of the Lord is
    THERE IS FREEDOM!


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


Lord Jesus, Thank You for this time to fellowship with other believers and to share Your Word. Lord, as I share these testimonies of Your love and how You change lives, I ask that Holy Spirit would speak to hearts. If there is anyone here who needs You, I ask that You would give them courage and the strength to say "Yes, I need Jesus to change me, too." Thank You for changing us into Your children and You wash us white as snow. I pray all this in Jesus' name, Amen!

Today's sharing time is titled Jesus Changes Lives and He truly does! I'm going to start out with people you all might not know. Now, I won't be telling you everything about these people, but I hope you learn something about these people in our history as Christians.


The first one is John Newton. He was born in 1725. He was involved in the slave trade until 1954. He was a good friend to William Wilberforce who is credited in abolishing the slave trade in England and the US and also other parts of the world. John became a Christian during a sickness and this brought about him becoming a minister and to author many hymns. He wrote one of my favorites "Amazing Grace." Jesus changed his life and so he penned some great lyrics. I'm going to sing you the first verse of "Amazing Grace." Amen!

The next person is George Muller. George started out life in the early 1800's in what is now Germany. He lied, stole things, and gambled while his mother lay dying. He even stole from his own father and eventually ended up in jail. While in the university, a fellow student invited him to a prayer meeting. There he was welcomed, and he began regularly reading the Bible and discussing Christianity with the others who attended the meetings. After seeing a man praying to God on his knees, he was convinced of his need for salvation. As soon as he got home he went to his bed where he knelt and prayed. He asked God to help him in his life and to bless him wherever he went and to forgive him of his sins. He immediately stopped drinking, stealing and lying, and began hoping to become a missionary. He began preaching regularly in nearby churches and continued meeting with the other churches. Later, he ran an orphanage for children. George never asked anyone for anything, but prayed to God that He would provide all their needs, and He did. Wow uh? Jesus sure changed his life!

I didn't mean to pick just men, but oh well. The last one is C.S. Lewis. His full names is Clive Staples Lewis. He was born in Ireland in 1898. He knew about Christianity, but he didn't follow Jesus. As a teen, he studied mythology and the occult. He later described he young self as being angry with God for not existing. And then, as an adult, Jesus changed his life. C.S. Lewis became a Christian and wrote many famous books about Christianity including The Chronicles of Narnia.

Now, let's switch to people of the Bible who Jesus changed their lives by showing Himself to them.

Peter. Peter was the a fisherman who was very brash and blurting things out. He started following Jesus and Jesus even changed his name. He was named Simon, but Jesus changed it. Jesus said that on the rock, Petra, He would build his church and from then on Simon was called Peter. We remember Peter as the man who wanted to walk on water, but once his eyes forced off of Jesus, he started to sink. Jesus saved him of course. Peter cut off the ear of a guard coming to arrest Jesus, but Jesus healed it. Peter even denied Jesus three times. The cock crowed and he wept. After Jesus rose from the dead, He prepared breakfast for the disciples on the beach. Let's look at those verses.

John 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."

And so Peter became a fisher of men and some theologians say he was crucified upside down because he was not going to be crucified the same way as Jesus. Peter was never the same after he knew Jesus.

What about the woman Jesus saved from being stoned to death? Jesus changed her life. We don't know what really happened after that, but I am sure she looked at her life differently. Who wouldn't after someone saves your life and tells you to go and sin no more?

What of all the people Jesus healed? Their lives were forever changed. The lame walked. The blind could see. The deaf heard. The sick were healthy. The demon possessed were free. The leper cleansed. The list goes on. I am sure that these people never lived life the same.

What about the ones that we think are too far gone? The ones who sinned the "Big Sins?" We may say that all sin is sin in God's eyes, but there is a voice in the back of our mind that says I'm not as bad a sinner as so and so. And so we put a label on the sin that others might do, but hold on! We have ALL sinned and fall short of the glory of God! Romans 2:23

The most amazing conversion story, I think, is in the Bible in Acts 9. Let's read it.

The Damascus Road: Saul Converted
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" 5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Ananias Baptizes Saul
10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." 11 So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight." 13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." 15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." 17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. 19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
Saul Preaches Christ
20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. 21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?" 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Wow! Saul went from the Christians worst night mare to being one of them! That's definitely a God thing!! No one else could change a person so much!

Has Jesus changed your life? Do you have a testimony story of how Jesus changed your life? If so, tell everyone about how Jesus changed your life! If not, if Jesus doesn't live in your heart, then we can do something about that today.

Before I close though, I want to share my testimony. I'll try to condense it.

I am not sure where to begin, so I will begin at the beginning. I was born on June 8, 1981. I am the oldest of a "mixed" family. My parents got divorced when I was really young. I grew up with my mom for a time, until I was about 7 or 8. I am not sure what happened first, but I was saved in the backseat of my grandparents' car and also molested by my own grandfather when I lived with them for maybe a year or so.
My dad remarried in 1989. My step mom was really nice and she helped me through puberty, because I couldn't call my mom every time something happened. I started to drift away at this time. My step mom didn't know why, neither did my dad. When I was about 10, I blurted out that grandpa had molested me and my dad talked to him, but that was all. Nothing else really happened.
I also got baptized when I was about 11 years old by my step grandpa. It didn't really change my feelings toward my grandpa, who had hurt me so much, or myself! I still felt guilty, ashamed, and alone. I think I thought that if I got baptized somehow God would take away all those feelings that I had that I deemed "bad".
For a while, I walked around like nothing was wrong, but at home, I had changed. I stayed in my room a lot and kept to myself more. I didn't talk a lot at school or at home. My mind was always thinking about my hurt and I didn't know what to do about it. I was just a little kid. The problem was that I thought everything was my fault.
Also, it didn't help that my dad was physically abusive. He would hit my siblings and me. My dad and my step mom had four children together, but at this time not all of them were born yet. I felt like nothing was going right. Everything was going wrong!
My life didn't mean a THING to anyone. I thought about killing myself, but that seemed a bit too easy. When I was about 13, my grandpa (the one that molested me) came to get me to help clean these big houses. There, he molested me again. I thought, this isn't right. Before I didn't know if it was or not, but now I KNEW that what he was doing wasn't right.
I wanted to scream, but my voice didn't seem to work. I felt trapped, alone. It was like my grandpa knew how vulnerable and alone I felt. He wanted to keep doing it so that he had control over me. I didn't want it. I hated him for what he was doing to me!
I had started to come out of my shell, but I backed into my little "protected" space again. My step mom must have thought something was terribly wrong, which of course there was. I couldn't tell anyone. Grandpa told me to NEVER tell anyone. What was I supposed to do?
I had started going to youth group at my church, but after the second molesting period, I stopped going. I felt so out of place. Then, I started going again. It was like God wanted me to go. Like He knew I needed whatever the youth group could give me.
The youth group was going to the Brethren National Youth Conference, and I decided to go. While there, I told my roommate about what grandpa had done. She was the first one I told other then family. My roommate in turn told our youth leader.
My youth leader, Deb, came to me and said that my roommate had told her about something that had happened to me. I spilled everything. I didn't go into full detail about what had happened, but I told her more than what I had told my roommate. I cried and cried after I told the full story. She comforted me and hugged me. The most important thing she did was tell me over and over that is wasn't MY fault.
That idea and knowing that someone cared for me and that I could talk about it gave me strength. Deb went to Children and Youth services. My step mom has asked me why she did that and I told her it was part of her job. I had to tell my story to policemen and to my lawyer. I had to go to a gynecologist, which wasn't fun! I had to testify against my grandpa at a court hearing.
I know though that what Deb had said went with me, but not only that. I also know that my grandma went with me, too. The wife of my grandpa, who had molested me, had died about the same time I was to testify. I could feel her presence with me and that gave me much needed strength.
This youth leader showed me a kindness that I will never forget. Deb helped me see that it wasn't my fault, that I was loved, that God could do something with me. She also taught me that speaking up about something like this is the best healing anyone can ever receive. It is hard to know when to talk about this, but I know that talking about it heals me.
While I was still in college, I told my testimony many times. I read my testimony in classes, to two youth groups, and told some friends as well. I am just ashamed anymore. I am willing to speak out and say YES this DOES happen. I will not put it under the rug and hope it goes away.
I have learned that even though I couldn't see Him, God was there with me through this all. Now, when I tell my story, I don't cry like I used to. I feel the pain still, but it seems that God is saying "Jen, I love you. I want you to rise above this and help others." That is why I tell people. To let them know they aren't the only one. Who wants to be the only one in any situation? No one. but who thinks they are? The person going through the situation.

and now..now I'm 30. I am married and have a great relationship with God and my husband. The relationship with my grandpa (the one who molested me) never became healthy. I forgave him, but I didn't get a chance to say that to his face. He died in 2004 and I didn't go. I wasn't ready. My relationship with my father is getting better, but it will take time. Time that we don't have, but time that I need to have to get through all of this. It is amazing that I could forgive my grandpa faster than my dad. During this past year, I did in fact start the process of forgiving my dad for the abuse. Forgiveness is a freeing thing.

If I never allowed Jesus into my heart, I believe with all my heart I would not be in SL. I may not even be alive right now. I know Jesus saved me from myself! Thank You Jesus!!

The Bible says in

2 Corinthians 5:17
New King James Version (NKJV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

I think that's why I love butterflies. Jesus made me new from my old self. I went through a cocoon like state to be transformed into who I am now and who I am yet to be! That's why I not only love butterflies, but because my SL name Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish.

God can transform you, too. What you need to do is allow Him to change your life. No, it won't be easy. But it will be amazing and you don't have to travel alone on this journey. We are all in the same boat. We all need a Savior.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for transforming me from the little girl who felt shame and guilt into the woman who could forgive and be at peace knowing You were with me every step of the way. I ask right now, Holy Spirit, that you would speak to the hearts of those who are open to You and do what only You can do! I ask that the lost will be found in You and that those who have wept in the night their joy shall come in that morning were Your light shines upon them. Wrap Your strong arms around us all and heal our cracked vessels. We need You Jesus to sustain us and to equip us for the journey. I pray all these things in Jesus name, Amen.

I'd like all of us to get our of our seats and come down here to the front. If you need ministry or prayer, please instant message me or Ben or someone on the staff or ministry team.

Make sure you stick around after this prayer time to chat with us in the fellowship room to your left, my right.

May God richly bless you as you share with others how Jesus have changed you life and how He can change theirs as well. Go with God.