This week, guest speaker Tony Johnson brings the message on the power of your Christian testimony.
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good morning how are you guys doing this morning okay so here's the thing if you're new here i'm sorry the usual pastor he needed a vacation so he took a vacation and so he asked me to speak in his place my name is tony johnson uh i'm not the average normal pastor that speaks here he's much better than i am and probably better looking and he has a cartoon of himself usually up on the screen so that makes him awesome um so we are so glad that you could join us this morning and be here uh we are happy you chose to be with us in c3 church so here's the thing uh just quick introduction again my name is tony johnson i always forget that i used to be in the ministry i was a pastor at a church up in tampa it's been about two years since i've spoken so we're going to do this thing together we'll get through this i promise if you have seen me i am a deputy in collier county um and if you have met me while i'm at work we won't discuss that situation it probably wasn't a good one unless you want to bring it up afterwards and then we can have that discussion but i promise this if you come here and i see you at work i will not bring it up on sunday you won't even i won't even say anything i'll just walk by you and give you a wing cut yeah and then you know all right so let's go ahead and get this started we're going to take a break from the rest of the story and we're going to be in ephesians today and we're going to be talking about something that is very relevant to our time today we're going to be talking about the story of your life aka your testimony now stories are a big day a big deal in today's culture right we have so much social media when i was growing up which seems like a long time ago now like when you say you're born in 83 like that was a that's almost 40 years ago now so like i'm getting old but here's the deal when i was growing up you didn't have these social media you didn't even have cell phones so we didn't have text messaging until i was in college but now you know you went from myspace to facebook to instagram to tick tock to tw you had like all these scenes and it's all about telling a story as a matter of fact most of them are called stories you have instagram stories you have stories on tick tock and everybody wants to tell a short snippet of their story of what's going on in their life well at least what they want you to see and what they want you to know right so testimonies are important they play a vital role in our life today but oftentimes we overlook the importance of a testimony we overlook the importance of the story we overlook the god glory giving story that we all share in this room if you ex if you've accepted christ as your personal savior and so today we're going to look at it as paul begins to walk us through what our testimony is for and how important it is and so if you would we're going to be in ephesians 2 1-10 and it says this paul says this paul says once you are dead because of your disobedience and your many sins you used to live in sin just like the rest of the world obeying the devil the commander of the powers in the unseen world he is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey god all of us used to live that way following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature by our very nature we were subject to god's anger just like everyone else god is so rich in mercy and he loved us so much that even though we were dead because of our sins he gave us life when he raised christ from the dead it is only by god's grace that you have been saved for he raised us from the dead along with christ and seated us with him in a heavenly realms because we are united with christ jesus so god can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness towards us as shown in all he has done for us who are united in christ jesus god saved you by his grace when you believed and you can't take credit for this it is a gift from god salvation is not a reward for the things we have done so none of us can boast for it for we are god's masterpiece he has created us anew in christ jesus so we can do the good things that he planned for us so long ago so what we need to set up for is what this letter is about so this is to the church of ephesus it's the second most important city in italy next to rome so this is the second most important city next to rome it's made the capital of asia which is turkey today some say it's like 50 to 60 000 people it's the home to the temple of artemis which is actually found in acts 19 through 24. ephesus was a city that had a lot of magic and idolatry and the letters to the ephesians often reflects that in paul's discussion of spiritual forces at work in the world and the supremacy of christ over them so he gets into that actually ephesians 6 is where we begin to get into the armor of god if you everybody's everybody here anybody speak on the arm of god that's in ephesians chapter six but in two it's important what do we need to know about what paul is telling us in these ten verses these short ten verses packs a lot of information from paul first of all in our testimony if you are saved in this room today if you accepted christ as your personal savior we all have an old man it's our nature before we accepted christ and this is important paul is laying a foundation and he's going to build on it but first he needs to establish something he needs to establish who you were before christ and we all have an old man and so here's the deal about this old man paul gets into it the first thing we need to realize is that an old man before christ we were disobedient we were disobedient and there's multiple reasons why the natural man or the old man cannot understand the things of god as a matter of fact in first corinthians 2 14 but people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from god's spirit it all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it for only those who are spiritual can understand what the spirit means what this is telling us is that before you accept christ as your savior you cannot be obedient to god it's not possible you don't understand the things that you can't be obedient to i have kids and you ever seen that look on their face when you're explaining something and they're not getting it you're explaining something they're like hey did you understand what i just said yeah what did i say i i don't know dad and so you have to re-explain that's what it's like there's no way for you to understand the things of god that you can be obedient for before you accept christ your natural man is disobedient this only gets this only gets worse paul is setting the stage like i said the foundation he wants you to understand who you were before christ so we are disobedient because we can't understand we are disobedient because we are at war with god before we are saved we are natural enemies of god romans 8 7 says for the sinful nature is always hostile to god it never did obey god's laws and it never will it never will so we're disobedient because we can't understand it and we're disobedient because we're actually enemies of god before we are saved god hates sin and before you are saved there's no buffer when he looks down on you all he sees is sin which makes us enemies of god before salvation again this is not a pretty picture that paul is painting paul is laying foundation that's going to be level it's going to be smooth because we're going to get to a minute he's going to build on it but the first thing you have to understand is the natural man before salvation the old man is not a good thing it's not something that you can look on and say oh it's beautiful it helps me to deserve this it's this no paul wants to destroy all visions of what we think we were before christ he wants us to understand exactly what we were before we accepted christ so the natural man serves a different master another reason he can't be obedient he serves somebody else john chapter 8 it's truly a great scene i really encourage you to go to read 8-9 because it is a great scene because jesus is talking to the jewish people here they have their messiah they have jesus right in front of him we often believe that if jesus were teaching us we would learn more right have we have you ever thought that we were like if jesus was talking to me i'd learn more i'd be more faithful if god directly talked to me i'd understand what to do in life if god came down and told me what to do i'd understand what to do and here here this is happening this is legitimately happening jesus is alive he's 100 god he's 100 man he's in the flesh the jewish messiah that they've been waiting on is standing in front of him and he's telling them exactly what they need to do and they're fighting back and jesus smacks them down in only a way jesus can he says in john chapter 8 34-44 if god were your father you would love me because i have come to you from god i am not here on my own but he sent me why can't you understand what i'm saying it's because you can't even hear me for you are the children of your father get this the devil and you do you love to do the evil things he does he was a murderer from the beginning he has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him when he lies it is consistent with his character for he is a liar and the father of lies can you imagine jesus is telling this to the jewish people these are god's chosen people you go back to the old testament we're working through these are god's chosen people you know what jesus tells him you your father is the devil you don't serve christ if you serve god if you loved god truly you'd you'd love me because i was sent from him even jewish people were chosen by god before salvation they were not on the same page they had a natural man so not only are we disobedient but we are destined to follow our sin nature see before christ we are destined to sin there is nothing else you can do that's it you are destined to sin the bible tells us we just saw it in john 8 jesus says we're slaves to sin not only in that verse in the bible that's not the only verse in the bible that refers to being slaves to sin and guess what it was established in genesis chapter 3 it was established in the fall of man as by one man sin entered into all the world in genesis chapter 3 when man sinned or was it woman i mean that's probably a different message i'll lay off that one we heard happy wife happy life last week we're going to get more biblical this week you know what i'm saying i'm just kidding just kidding you guys can see me later my wife is staring me down from over here she's staring me down so here's the thing we are destined to follow sin there is nothing good we can do before christ and and we try hard we try very hard we think that if we give to charities we're doing good we think if we help the poor if we feed the homeless if we are kind to people if we show kindness if we don't bully people if we accept everybody all of these things the world wants to tell you all these things are good enough the world wants to tell you that if you're a good person it's enough and the bible's telling us it's not the bible's telling us no matter what good you're doing you're destined to sin before christ it doesn't matter that's not what we're hearing today but that's what the bible is telling us so not only are disobedient not only destined to follow sin but we are dead spiritually in this short 10 passages it's mentioned twice verse 1 says once you are dead because of your disobedience and your many ways verse 6 says for he raised us from the dead along with christ and seed has seated us with him in heavenly realms because we are united with christ so we're disobedient we're destined and we're dead paul is laying a very bleak foundation because he's about to get to the good stuff so here's the deal some of us are afraid to share our testimony some of us are afraid to share this story why because we're ashamed right we've done things so today i'm going to walk you through my testimony because here's the thing it started out i went to church an independent fundamental baptist church if you do not know what it is some of you are laughing because you know like when i grew up in the church i grew up in women didn't wear pants i know that's controversial now i don't believe it but that's what it was and if you're a guy and your hair came below your ears that was a problem we're gonna have a problem with that and so independent fundamental baptist king james version only that's it i grew up in that i got saved at a very young age i got saved at the age of 13. i was my chaplain of my christian school uh in the eighth grade uh so i i did that i surrendered to go into ministry i went to bible college i was living the life that god wanted me to live i was doing exactly what god wanted me to do i went from bible college to the ministry and i thought i was doing what god wanted me to do i was staying on track but i was 22 fresh out of college very arrogant it's amazing at 22 for some reason i thought i knew more then than i think i know more now if that makes sense as i've gotten older i've gotten less wise in my mind because 22 i would tell you i knew the answer you would sit there and tell me something like yeah i got that i just came out of college i don't know if you know this but i'll show you and i believed that and so my arrogance was a problem it was a sin see there's nothing in this that says after you receive christ you're a perfect person and we're gonna find that out so in the ministry after about a year i decided you know what this isn't for me i was like i'm not doing this because i allowed that sin that arrogance to creep in to believe that i knew what i knew nobody could tell me differently i'm i listen i don't care that you've been in the ministry 25 years we need to do it this way and so i left the ministry i turned my back on god's will for my life it didn't take long for things to spiral out of control once i left the ministry i began to chase things like money and possessions and and things like that i i would often measure my success uh in the business world on how big my tv was and you it's kind of funny but here's the thing i started out with a 30 33-inch flat screen tv and as i got a promotion it got bigger and as i got another promotion i got bigger and that's how i would judge i'd be like ah i got a nice car and a big tv right that's all i need but here's the thing i needed more i needed more i constantly needed to fill where i should have been serving christ and what that led me to because there are consequences to sin pastor gene discussed it perfectly when he talked about as you sin you will be disciplined by your father and as i sinned and turned my back on god things begin to go away my marriage right along the time that my first born son was turning close to one years old i ended divorce it was devastating because i sat there and gave my firstborn son the talk the speech the superman speech as i as he's born in the hospital i'm like yes the world will need you you will have great authority i loved it i was awesome divorce split custody i only saw my son on the weekends i ended up losing the cars that i worked so hard to gain i ended up losing some of the tvs that i worked so hard to gain because i turned my back on what christ wanted me to do you see i had let sin creep back in i wasn't a slave to it i had a choice and we're going to find that out here in just a minute see before you're saved you have no choice you are destined to sin after salvation you have a choice to serve righteousness so here's the thing why does he want us to know this why paul lays the foundation we'll get back to my testimonies in a minute paul lays the foundation it's important to understand who the natural man is and you got to understand who's writing this this is paul if you don't know the story of paul paul used to be saul paul was a bat assault was a bad man saul killed christians he was holding the coats when stephen got martyred paul saul was so bad they would send letters churches would send letters in advance and saul himself would send letters and say hey you either convert back to judaism or i'm coming in they were afraid of saul can you imagine that if you weren't say at your moment of salvation if your name was so bad that god's like i can't really have that name associated with me we're going to switch it up all right we're we're gonna we're gonna call you paul and i'm sure that's not the most creative name he could have come up with he just changed one letter i often wonder that i'm like was he just like yeah paul you're good sp there we go so he went from paul so can you imagine god being like your name is so you listen we have to change your name paul had to change his name so paul is the one who's writing this so paul understands the sin nature before salvation because i don't think anybody in here has martyred christians can you imagine paul's testimony how many years thousands of years since the new testament's been written and his testimony is on display for everyone paul's not afraid to put in there because he's getting to why we need to understand why why does he want us to understand who the natural man is because he wants us to understand that god in his rich and in his mercy and his love provides a way out it's richness look at look at the phrase there that he uses he says it's by the richness the fullness of god's mercy and love this mercy and love is demonstrated to us when we are still enemies of god we're still enemies of god when this mercy and love is demonstrated to us christ died on the cross before you were born before you accepted christ he died on the cross for you john 3 16 often quoted not thought about john 3 16 gets quoted so much and people people lose the significance of it because christ is dying god sent his only son to die on the cross for your sin when you are a sinner when you are disobedient when you are destined when you are dead christ died on the cross for your sins god sent his only begotten son to die for you when you are an enemy listen here's the thing it often gets played off because it's god oh he knew christ was going to be raised from the dead that's we often play that off but that's not correct we understand that christ on the cross took on all the sin he became sin for us he became the sacrifice for us so much so that god could no longer look upon his son this is the importance of it the importance of understanding the natural man is so we can understand how great god's love and mercy is for us and we're gonna we're gonna explain a little bit what that does for us what that drives us to do so god is rich in his love and mercy we also need to know that god frees us from the bonds of sin romans 6 18 now you are free from slavery to sin and you have become slaves to righteous living god frees us from the slavery of sin we can now serve righteously listen once again all the things we do before salvation all those good works they equate to nothing it's what we do for christ that matters it's what we do for christ that matters see we're going to come up on the new listen we're getting towards the holidays i said it two weeks ago i'll say it again there's going to be a lot of people telling you hey if you give to this if you give to that you're going to have the little santa people outside ringing the doorbells god bless you if you do that ring the doorbells and you give money to that and it makes you feel good about yourself because you're giving money to a good cause that's not what it's about that's not what this season's about listen we're doing toy drives at work where we're going to give kids toys and they've never had toys like these and that is exciting that is great to do i'm excited to give kids these things but that's not what it's about see we put our hope and faith in those things and when they fail us who do we turn to and unfortunately we think that these are the important things we put our stock in this that we're doing something good for the world i'm giving johnny a christmas like he's never had before toys are temporary if you're a parent in here you know that there's the lost toy like dead wasteland that you have i have bought so many lego sets and i've slaved at putting those together and now they're all in a box like in pieces and i'm like man i spent four hours putting this star wars thing together and now it's in a box because why it's temporary it's temporary these saints are temporary god frees us from slaves to the temporary sin is a temporary thing it's a temporary satisfaction god frees us from that and he makes us slaves to something that lasts forever righteous works last forever they go on listen there's things that happen i have seen i wish i could have the testimony that would tell you these miraculous testimonies that people have there are some people that have amazing testimonies i can tell you this that i have seen people give and not see the results of that giving i've seen people give to christ i've seen people sacrifice up to the last dollar i knew it was them doing it and they'll never see the rewards of that we had people who in their will gave the church money and as they passed away that church gained that money and i've seen people accept christ because of whatever donation went in it helped bring somebody to christ they'll never know that but it's eternal that's an eternal that's that's gonna last forever so here's the thing god brings us from death to life we get to live our life is due to the life of our lord and savior christ's death atones for adam's sin and his resurrection provides life over death first corinthians 15 21 through 22 22 so you see just as death came into the world through a man now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man just as everyone dies because we all belong to adam everyone who belongs to christ will be given new life we're given new life this should be exciting listen we should be excited in life you know why because we have something that not everybody has we have new life we are raised from dead to life we should be excited we have a reason to live we have a purpose and we're still getting to what we're going to do with that paul is now he's laid the foundation about how terrible the natural man was before christ how bad it was and then he's starting to build on pillars because he's saying hey as bad as it was here's the deal god so rich in his love and mercy one column god frees you from the slavery of sin another column god raises you from death to life another column i'm laying paul is laying these columns down and he's going to bring us to the purpose of it all but he's laying them down on the foundation that you didn't deserve it you didn't deserve it there is nothing that you could do as a natural man that you could earn salvation we are inherently sinful i tell my kids that all the time i said we are inherently evil when we are born you don't have to be taught to lie it doesn't happen i have three boys as cute as they are they they do it very naturally and sometimes very well and if you have listen you look into those big brown eyes and you're like i know he's lying to me but i just can't help it he's so cute so here's the deal we're naturally we are born evil i know we don't want to hear that that's not what we're being told we're not being told that you're evil you're being told that hey man you're good just the way you are we accept who you are we accept your truth is your truth you're good man no the bible tells us before christ there's nothing good about us and yet even though there's nothing good about us christ so rich in his love and mercy sent his son to die on the cross christ raises us from spiritually dead to spiritually alive christ frees us from slavery to sin and here's why he does it he does it all for his purpose and his glory see that's where we struggle with sometimes your testimony is not your story and that's hard that's hard right it's hard in our culture to say what do you mean it's not mine it belongs to me nope we are walking examples of god's grace love and mercy here's what i want to ask and we're going to get to in a minute are you a good walking example of god's grace love and mercy or are people not seeing that are we not sharing that testimony are we on instagram and facebook and tick tock recording videos of fantastic family thanksgiving which we all know is a lie we've all seen like the new meme with the dinosaur that's like mom before thanksgiving people come over and then the nice dinosaur from toy story that's like mom after yes i've seen it i've seen it happen my mom is she's probably watching this i got to be careful so my mom is the greatest person i love my mom to death but my mom before people got to the house on thanksgiving was i like old school in the night gown hair and curlers cooking in the kitchen you're trying to sneak pieces of turkey she's smacking your hand she's like get away and she's like you're afraid to go into the kitchen like i just need some water i'll wait i'll get water later i don't need water you're afraid of your mom but the minute she goes upstairs and just like superman she comes back down the stairs she's got the nice thanksgiving attire on the hair's done and people come in the house she's like oh welcome you want to eat the good with the good china i never get to eat on the good china but we put on the good show and that's what we want to show people right that's the piece we want to show people we want to show people the good selfie with me right now but on the other side of that selfie it's a mess here's the thing i just told you that i went to bible college i listen i was the quintessential christian if you will i set the stage i was a model christian until i wasn't that's why i wasn't often times in the american culture we are raised to believe if we work hard enough we deserve the recognition we deserve the power we deserve the success we deserve that because we put in the effort right my dad raised me to be that way he's military he's like if you work hard hard work pays off i heard that my entire life hard work pays off so we think if we do great things good things these all earn us something like oh i'm giving at church today unfortunately the church supports this message today too the church supports the message that if you give you cannot give god you heard that phrase you can't you cannot give god the problem with it is until god doesn't give the way you expect him to give see that's the thing we believe that there's things we deserve we earn by doing things that are good that's not what the bible tells us the bible tells us the whole purpose of your life after christ is to be an example for future ages god wants to point to you and paul knew this paul's like hey the reason why i'm telling you how bad i was because paul says i was the chief among sinners but i want you to understand that because i want you to understand how great god's love how rich in mercy he is and what he was willing to do for me during that time listen new life and hope all wrapped up in the gift of salvation cannot be earned or worked for it is a gift and unlike christmas there is no naughty or nice list you god died on the cross for god so loved the world john 3 16. for god so loved the world there's no caveat there there's no this group of people that group of people you who did this you who did that no for god so loved the world there is no naughty and nice lift that this gift is not earned there's nothing you could have done to get it and here's the thing there's nothing you're going to do after christ that makes like that payoff oh god's lucky that he gave me salvation because now i'm doing this no no you never can do enough to pay back the sacrifice that god made on the cross so what do we do what do we do with all this information well you tell your story not just verbally say i went to college in missouri if you're from missouri or you've been to missouri and you love missouri i you are an amazing person missouri was four years of bible college and it was uh i was it wasn't terrible but it wasn't great either like it doesn't snow in missouri it ices in missouri my first car accident i'm getting way off tangent here my first car accident was a piece of ice that fell down from a bridge and i drove over because i couldn't stop because it's icy there's a car behind me i couldn't go left or right and so i had to roll over this piece of ice and i thought just snow because i'm from florida and i've never driven in ice before and i ran over this block of ice and it shot up and just totally destroyed my radiator and i was like what just happened i got attacked by snow that's what happened in my mind i'm like this is i'm done with this i'm done and you would college would not stop because of snow so you walked in the snow to school and like you're freezing and it's not fun it wasn't fun but the thing that was that was funny and annoying and with those who lived in missouri is it's called the show me state it's called show me state and you used to say things and they would respond with one phrase they would say well i'm from missouri you're going to have to show me and i'm like what the sky's blue look up i don't know what to tell you what do you mean show you it was annoying they used to say it about everything like oh i'm not having this discussion with you but here's the deal it applies to this topic today it's not just verbally telling your story about christ it's living it see here's the thing i had turned my back on christ i had left the ministry i was seeking after success i paid the price i was divorced i was not seeing my son every day i was paying the price for my sin and that pushed me further away but god so rich in his love and mercy saw fit he brought an amazing woman into my life she's sitting over there right now that's my wife crystal she brought to me he brought an amazing woman into my life and here's the deal crystal went to church without me it happened i'm supposed to be the spiritual leader of my house i'm in sin i know i'm in sin there's no way i'm going to church and so crystal would try to get me to go to church every once in a while i'd find a church that she would go to and i would kind of go for a couple weeks and be like no and i knew it i was convicted the entire time you know why it's hard for me to step in church because i knew i was wrong because once you accept christ and you're no longer slave to sin you know you're sinning you have a knowledge of it there should be a part of you that goes i shouldn't do this i should do it differently but then one day september 2015. two weeks before that i got this new position in bank of america and i was a rookie and it was great pay raise but the schedule was terrible i worked sunday through like friday it was insane and there's a schedule that came out monday through friday but seniority gets the good schedules right for those that work in business world seniority gets them so my boss comes around goes what schedule would you like i'm like well i'd like to monday through friday and she's like yeah right and so i prayed a flippant arrogant prayer and i said listen god you give me monday through friday i'll go to church on sunday and god answered it and i was like what she came back to me the next week she goes hey i don't know how it happened but you work monday through friday i'm like i i know how it happened now i'm going to church i'm going to church sunday so we end up going to this church where my youth pastor from when i was a kid was the executive pastor and the pastor uh the senior pastor was up on stage and he had this huge cage we did a lot of things very like ordinance so like we had this huge iron cage it looked like a prison cell on the stage as a matter of fact that's what it was and so and he said we were talking about things you were locked in with right and he said some of you in here today are locked into your past and it's keeping you from serving god and he slammed the gate closed and when that clank happened when that loud slam happened i instantly knew god was talking to me and in order to keep my wife from seeing a tear roll down my cheek as i was like i'm not crying i told god that day we would never be out of church again we'd never be out of church again as a matter of fact i told him we'll serve we'll serve the next week i volunteered i got to do the coolest job ever we had a massive parking lot that volunteers would park in the back and i got to ride the golf i got to drive the golf cart for the volunteers up to the front of the church it was so great like in the morning i was the first person you got to see hi how are you good to have you here thanks for serving get in the cart and then i tell them like buckle up it's gonna be the best ride in the park and i would drive them up to the building now what was weird is i never got returned customers they would not drive back with me like yeah we'll wait for the next guy you can go but it was awesome and so i did that and i was like i'm serving god i'm doing exactly what i'm supposed to be doing and then god was like no push me a little further my executive pastor goes hey man we need somebody to lead all of our children in student ministry i'm like no that's okay i'm good thanks no no i'm giving i'm tithing i'm writing a golf cart it's awesome i'm serving you god no no no no no god convicted me again and within a month i was leaving the bank industry and going to the ministry i was then serving as a student pastor over a student ministry my wife eventually became the children's pastor over the children's church because here's the deal here's what we have to do we need to live obediently we demonstrate our love for christ did you hear him he said if if you loved god you would love me that's what he told us in john 8 but in john 14 15 and 21 he says if you love me obey my commandments those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me and because they love me my father will love them and i will love them and reveal myself to each of them if you love me obey my commandments obedience is an action it's not something you talk about it's something you do so we're not just supposed to talk about our testimony we're supposed to demonstrate it through living obediently how about this one live joyfully joyfully if you have salvation you're aware of your sin and you realize you don't deserve this amazing gift this should make us joyful i don't have time to get to the verse the whole verse but in first peter 1 3-8 it tells us this so when your faith remains strong through many trials it brings you so much praise and glory and honor on the day when jesus christ is revealed you love him even though you've never seen him though you do not see him now you trust him and you rejoice with glorious inexpressible joy what does some what does the world lack today joy we have a bunch of angry people whether you're on this side of the political fence or this side of the political fence or this side of the vaccine or that side of the vaccine there's a bunch of angry people on either side christian's word to be joyful we have something we don't deserve we have something that's been given to us that we couldn't earn and it's an eternal gift of life how can we not be excited how can we not be full of joy we're to live with hope which comes from our trust in god romans 15 13 tells us i pray that god the source of hope will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the holy spirit so we live our testimony by living obediently joyfully and with hope as a deputy what i see today is a world that lacks all three i had a great example already lined up when i wrote this message and i was working on it and then this week happened this holiday week is crazy a lot of crazy things that happened but the one that sticks out the most started two nights ago we have this there's a state-funded youth home for children that are removed from their parents and guardians and the state is their guardian the state is regarding they live in this home there's like 100 of them there maybe more but they always run away from there right they always run away and we have to go get them but this time uh it was i believe it's friday night uh they this call comes out and it says hey there's these three little kids that ran away from this youth home for states they ran away so we got to go get them so i was pretty close so i drive up actually they made me run like 400 yards oh my goodness i was like i'm in the radio it must have sounded like a dying buffalo they're running northbound help me i need a can of corn no i'm just kidding did somebody bring me a diet mountain dew i'll be fine just give me that no so i'm running out for him yelling stop stop stop stop they finally stop i catch up to him and i'm talking to him on the way back and there's this one little girl i won't give her name she's 12. and she is the oldest 12 year old you ever meet her mouth sounds like an adult she acts like an adult and she's in this home because mom and dad didn't see a reason to have a kid anymore so she went to live with her brother and her brother abused her and so she got taken away by dcf she's 12. and as i got a chance to talk to her you could see the potential in her eyes from this little 12 year old like you could see the 12 year old potential like when i look at my son i look at all three of my sons i see that potential in their eyes and i see this potential in her eyes and i begin to talk to her and it saddens me because she's living without joy she tells she's like nobody cares nobody cares who i am nobody cares what happens to me take me to jail nobody cares she doesn't have any hope and here's the deal they're getting to do all kinds of crazy cool stuff they got handed like 500 to go in and buy whatever they wanted the other day they're going on christmas tours and things like that they're going to see movies and funny enough none of this stuff seems to be helping because it's all temporary see she doesn't need somebody to give her gifts this year she needs somebody to be an example of joy hope and love of a god who cares who she is and who knows who she is that's what our testimonies to be every christian she runs across should demonstrate that and she should go what do they have because that's what i want what do they got in a world today where everything doesn't make sense where hope is being put in things like you know drugs relationships all these temporary things listen if my wife only put her hope in me she would feel bad by two hours her hope would be gone she would be hopeless she'd be like oh my goodness i can't believe no this is ridiculous no even married i don't put my hope in my wife and i hope she doesn't put it all in me i know she doesn't i put my hope in the fact that i have accepted christ as my savior and that's eternal because when she fails to live up to my expectation or i fail to live up to her expectation my hope is not lost because it's not built on that see this little girl's hope was built on relationships those are failing it was built on temporary things those are going away we need to demonstrate the eternal hope and joy of salvation why do we do it to reflect the glory of god and his great sacrifice listen matthew 5 14 through this matthew 5 14-16 says you are the light of the world like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden no one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house in the same way let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will under will praise your heavenly father again points back to god our testimonies have a purpose our testimonies point people to god there can be no greater purpose whatever happens this season this holiday season whatever you give to all those things are great but there's no greater purpose than pointing to a god who loves before you love him who provides eternal hope in a hopeless world and who provides life when you are dead so here's the question does our story reflect christ or does it reflect us does our story reflect christ or does it reflect our lives are our selfies about awesome thanksgiving dinners workout picks not against those i take a couple myself as you can tell but does our story reflect christ or does it reflect us does our life reflect christ or does it reflect the world do we walk around with no joy i smile a lot because i know how much of a sinner i am and i understand what god's done for me i smile oftentimes when i shouldn't there is somebody in the room who i work with who will tell you johnson smiles way too much i will be on scene and it's like a bad scene and i'm like what's going on like what are you smiling for i don't know man i can't help it we gotta demonstrate that joy we should be liv this season is about the fact that christ was born the christ who's gonna die on the cross for our sins who's who's gonna save us from sin who's gonna become the ultimate buffer between us and god he was born this is the season we celebrate that listen i love christmas trees i love christmas decorations our christmas tree is up entirely too early this year it's up it's ready to go it's great that's not what it's about it's about christ it's about the joy of christ not the joy of the season does our life reflect christ here's the thing do you have a testimony today if you're in this room and you have not accepted christ as your savior today is the day of salvation and if you have questions about that there are people around this room who would love to talk to you you can come up talk to me you can talk to dustin in the back carolee's going to give announcements in a minute you can talk to her you can talk to ed in front there are people in this room who want to help you walk through that decision don't leave this room today without accepting christ as your savior if you're in this room and you've accepted christ we still have time your story story's not done the book's not closed the question is when you leave here are you gonna live demonstrating joy hope and god's love because that's what the bible tells us to do i think there's only one way to end this message and that's in ephesians 1 15-23 this is a prayer for the church of ephesus from paul and it says ever since i heard of your strong faith in the lord jesus and your love for god's people everywhere i have not stopped thanking god for you i pray for you constantly asking god the glorious father of our lord jesus christ to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of god i pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he's called his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance i also pray that you understand the incredible greatness of god's power for us who believe in him this is the same mighty power that raised christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at god's right hand in heavenly realms now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else not only in this world but also in the world to come god has put all things under the authority of christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church and the church is the body it is made full and complete by christ who fills all things everywhere with himself amen