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Martus

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Intro

We are jumping right into our series today…no recaps just jumping in
shortly after I had become a christian, I started inviting my friends to church.
I started talking about Jesus
and I was 14 years old, my friends thought I was crazy or weird all the sudden, they didn’t go to church, they didn’t believe in Jesus…But I did and I started talking about how powerfully it affected me and changed me.
Well one day one of my friends came to church and he was a little bit older than me…and he was not a christian but he started grilling me afterwards like how can you believe this stuff…and he was just asking me a bunch of pointed and direct questions.
and all I remember was launching into this defense of why I believed in Jesus and there were a few other people looking around
And my brother was one of those who was right there
and after everything I said, he looked at me and said, “that was the most amazing thing that I have ever heard....”
And when he said that I kind of snapped out of it...
And I was like, I don’t even know what I was saying…But I know I was bold enough to share the gospel with this guy...
And when I did he literally started coming to church and he accepted Christ soon after that
And I always remember this night…its special to me…because it was the first time I experienced the power of God like that....
And I have no clue at all what I had been saying…It was like someone else was even saying it
Well after that night I was reading the Bible and I distinctly remember coming across this verse in Matthew 10...
So in Matthew 10 Jesus is sending his disciples out to share about the kingdom of God and this is what Jesus says
Matthew 10:16–20 (NIV)
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses (martyrion) to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Today’s word is Martus....and the word in Greek or Hebrew gets complicated because there are like 17 variations of it in the Hebrew and about 10 variations of it in the Greek…So Today the main word is Witness.
But in this verse Jesus is sending his disciples out and he is saying…Listen you are like the nice little sheep and this world is full of people who want to eat you up...
But when you are willing to be my witness....Then you will receive my power
When you stand up for me, I’ll stand up for you!
When I read this I remember just getting that tingly, goosebump feeling all over my body...
Not because I had done anything amazing but because I was willing and open and God used my minor and feeble efforts…And he used me!
To be a witness is to point to a greater reality that is at play....To be a witness is to share your story about what God has done for you.
And what I have found both in the Bible and in every day life that Jesus’ words are faithful
When you stand as a witness for Jesus, He is there, the Spirit of God is with you…You have nothing to fear or to be ashamed of…Because when you are a witness for Jesus, he is with you!
Nearly everything that Jesus teaches about being a witness has a correlation with the power of God
Luke 24:44–49 NIV
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Did you catch that?
The resurrected Jesus is talking with his disciples saying you are about to give testimony of me to the world....But I am going to cloth you with power to do it
I mean do you want to be close to Jesus?
Do you ever come to church and then think…Yeah but I am just not close to Jesus...
The moment that you decide to allow God to use you as a witness for him is the moment you free Him up to let his power flow through you!
When you are standing up for Jesus you are never alone!
Let’s look at another one
Matthew 28:18–20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.”
This is the Great Commission, literally the last words that Jesus shared with his disciples!
Do you see this connection…Its almost like you can go all day long sharing these scriptures because the connection is just always there
Jesus says: All authority has been given to me, therefore go and tell the nations about me! and I will be with you
From time to time I hear christians say that they don’t feel God…And there are experienced called the dark night of the soul which are totally valid and a subject for another sermon
But if you want to experience the power of God
Go tell someone about Jesus!
Go get in the thick of it
Step out and share your faith with someone, because that is an endeavor that you need God for!
So we are obviously launching right into it today, our word is witness and if you follow Jesus then you are a witness…You have experienced the forgiveness of sins and life with God!
But there are two ways in which the word is used
The first way is what I just talked about...
A witness is someone who has had an experience with Jesus and shares it with others.
Now this is key.
Many people have had experiences with God…But a witness actually shares that with others...
Think about what witnesses do in court, they give testimony
And in the Bible there are false witnesses and true witnesses…and there is a huge difference
I want to share it with you because this is revolutionary
And its so complex you have to really listen up....
A false witness tells lies...
A true witness tells the truth...
That’s it...
So We are called as christians we have to be truth tellers because everything that we say and do can be a witness to who Jesus is in our life!
We have to always be ready and prepared to reveal Jesus and the hope that we have with everyone...
And we live in a world and a culture that is so permeated with lies, that telling the truth becomes an impotrant part of sharing the gospel
I love what Jesus’ disciple Peter has to say later in his life
1 Peter 3:15 NIV
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Always be ready to share the hope that you have with others...
Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you…and he ads…Do this with gentleness and respect....
Well there is another element of being a witness that is impotrant
A witness can also be a monument in your life to remind you about what God has done for you
There is this whole situation especially in the Old Testament where two parties would come to an agreement on something…Or that God would do something miraculous…And they would stack a pillar of rocks and they would make a monument to remind them of what had happened
So the first time this happens is two guys named Jacob and his uncle Laban are having a conflict and they kind of agree to some terms so they build a pillar of rocks
This is sort of like a peace treaty…But in the bronze age you don’t always have pen and paper available so you stack rocks and give it a meaning...
Genesis 31:52 NIV
This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me.
So you see what is happening here…You walk by this stack of rocks…and thats not naturally occuring in nature so you have to stop and look at it and think, why is there a stack of rocks here
and the answer is that stack of rocks served as a witness to the peace treaty...
that stack is just always there so generations down the line can say what is that stack of rocks for...
And you can say…well its when Jacob and Laban made peace with each other
And this is impotrant too! Because these little monuments get passed down from generation to generation and tell the faith story of your family
So in my office i have this frame with string in it…and this hangs over my door...
When I was 28 I got my first Senior Pastor position
And let me tell you…I was freaking out…I was scared…Every Day I was like, thank you Lord but WHY??? I’m to young to be leading all these people...
These people have had slippers longer than I have been a Christian!
and totally out of the blue, an older man in the church named Merwin Maginson, who is highly respected, made this frame and the frame is a work of art you should really look at it…and he places a small piece of string in it
And Merwin wrote me a card and the card says this
“This is a reminder that people are like string. Rarely will you get a string to go where you desire by pushing. Continue to stay out in front and keep pulling.”
I was so self conscious of leading a church at 28…And Merwin didn't know it at the time but this little note and this little string didn't just come from him but it was as if when I got it and I read the note, God affirmed me as a 28 year old Senior Pastor...
I was like the youngest guy there, and this silly little string bears witness to me every day that I am called to lead and that I have to get out there every day and live out my calling
So Just as Jacob and Laban made an agreement and set up a pile of rocks as a witness to that agreement
Just as Joshua made a rock pile of 12 stones when they went into the promise land
This silly little string and frame affirmed me in my calling and it really means so much to me....
In our own church we have been doing little things that bear witness to what God is doing in our lives...
The prayer wall in the lobby....The cork boards…The crosses that we all signed on easter bear witness that Jesus died for us and loves us and my hope is that every time you walk in here you remember that the walls bear witness to you about what God is up to....
That God is in the work of redeeming lives and you see that just plastered over every wall...
And I think its impotrant to have these little monuments of faith that bear witness to what God has done for you…Its a way to tell the story to your kids and your grandkids
Its a way to say, Look what God has done in my life
But the last thing that I want to share with you today about this word doesn't actually include the word witness but more of the idea around it
From the very beginnings of the Bible God has wanted to raise up a kingdom of priests
So what does this mean....Priests are people who are intercessors…They connect people to God...
The intention of Israel was to connect all other nations to God…that is what a priest does...
So beginning with the story of the Exodus God does miraculous things with Israel…He literally shows them his power
There were 10 Plagues Which made pharaoh release Israel
There was a miraculous escape of leaving Egypt through the Red Sea
God provided water in the midst of a dessert
There God provided mana, and food where there was no food and God displayed himself in a pillar of clouds
So after all of these super natural things that God did for his people this happens
Exodus 19:3–6 (NIV)
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
So God takes his people into the dessert by miraculous means
and says…Look you are my kingdom of priests…Tell all the nations about it
But there ends up being a big problem
It turns out the People of God are bad witnesses…
They don’t follow God
They continually oppress the other nations
So God sends a new witness....And that new witness is Jesus...
Jesus goes around healing people, challenging the religious elite and saying things that are radical like
I only do what I see my father doing
Jesus becomes the perfect witness of who God really is he reveals the father
and then he takes the cross
Which becomes a monument and a witness of itself to the world
Jesus takes this monument of execution and death and now billions of people hang it around their neck as a witness to their forgiveness and the love of God
Jesus is the perfect witness because as the Apostle Paul says he lived by the spirit and not the flesh
One of Jesus’s good friends Peter is talking about what the church really is and he borrows these words from Exodus...
He says...
1 Peter 2:9 NIV
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
You are God’s chosen people called to bring his light to a dark world
You get to tell people that once you were in darkness but because of Jesus you have experienced true love and forgiveness
and we call this the priesthood of all believers
If you are a believer in Jesus, you have truth to tell!
You have a story to tell
The book of Revelation ends the bible and in three separate places God is praised for making the church which is a kingdom of priests
a kingdom of faithful witnesses who continue to tell the story of God
I think that God makes it so clear through scripture.
If you have experienced the love of Jesus…The redemption of Jesus...
You are a witness and a priest
God has always wanted a movement of people who will connect the world to himself
faithful witnesses, priests! and when you live in that God will create these monuments of witness in your life and he will clothe you with power from on high
I want to bring up someone who is a witness to what God has done in her life, a priest in the prisons
Pete Dremel would you join me on stage?
I want to bring up someone who God is using in huge ways in prison.
Pete Dremel Will you come up here

Pete The Witness in Prison

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