At the time of this recording, it’s the last Sunday of 2020. You’ve survived 2020, so, make some noise, somebody! Having a hard time? I’m going to try to help you do that today, and for the rest of this week. Amen? How, pray tell, are you going to do that, Reverend Kenn? We’re going to be talking about testimony today, the power of testimony. A testimony of the Gospel is one pf the most valued possessions that you can have in as church. The strength and the unity of the church depends on each member so living that they give to know themselves that the Gospel is true. There is power in your testimony; testimonies that give God glory.
Hey! This is Reverend Kenn Blanchard, and you’re listening to Speak Life Church Podcast. We are part of Speak Life Church, Inc. Our mission is to restore and strengthen, to provide hope for those in need, to offer a nontraditional place of worship using tech to be everywhere. All are welcome, including those souls still searching for what they believe in. Speak Life Church is striving to be continuation of the ministry of the apostle Paul using technology. You know, church and fellowship is not about the building that you’re in. It’s about learning and growing closer to Jesus. It is about building friendships and a community, and through the website, through this Podcast, through video, through live-streaming, through social media, people can be reached to do what they’ve been called to do, and they can be reached — even those who don’t feel at home in the traditional church. However, Speak Life is not all about technology; phone calls, personal visits, and meet-ups are also a huge part of this fellowship, and even a larger part of the church. The show notes, when they are available, can be found at speaklifechurch.net. You know, although Speak Life Church is a virtual church — a church without walls — it’s been operating for almost twenty years now under a different name. We’ve helped prevent five suicides. We’ve saved several marriages. We’ve organized charitable fundraisers for good causes. We’ve saved a home of a terminally ill veteran. We’ve provided fishing trips and ministry to senior citizens. We’ve officiated at seventeen weddings, and a few funerals as well. If you’ve never heard of me before, if you’ve never heard of this church, then you know something that a whole bunch of other people still don’t know. We are trying, and we are working the best we can with what we can.
This week, as I look back, I thank God for Christmas, and thank God for His Son, Jesus Christ. I thank God for you, those who are listening. For those who sent me cards, I thank you. I thank you for the well wishes on social media and email, and on Facebook. I”m thankful for health right now. 2020 has been challenging for not only me, but you too. I thank God for healing. I thank Him for your friendship. I thank Him for longevity, for the learning I’ve done, for the wisdom I’ve gained, and for just surviving. Sometimes you don’t know what you were saved from. God does, though, and every once in awhile, in your quiet time, you might think of somethings and go, “Wow. If it weren’t for the Grace of God, where would I be?” Last week, I had a nice, long message that came from Dr. David Jeremiah, some readings and some Scripture, and some lessons that he had put together about Christmas. There’s some stuff that we just kind of forget about the holidays. We didn’t transcribe it because it’s from somebody else and I didn’t want to get in trouble, but I want thank Sarah for all her efforts in making sure that the notes are there and that I’m okay. I also forgot to pray, publicly, even though I prayed prior to even starting it — and that’s probably why I forgot, because I did it, just not on the microphone. But, as Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Eternal God, our Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Son, Jesus. We thank You for His Birth, His Life, His Ministry, His Sacrifice, His Resurrection, and everything that He does now in the Holy Spirit. Father, we ask for Your Forgiveness for everything we’ve done openly and in secret. We ask, Lord God, that You would forgive us, and allow us to get closer to Your Throne. Allow us to hear Your Voice today. Allow us to hear about where You want us to go. The message today, make it clear. Make it new. Make it fresh. Touch those, oh, Lord God, who need to be held. Hold those, Lord God, those who need to be held. Somebody right now is crying, oh, Lord. They just lost somebody in their life real dear. Somebody else, Lord God, is celebrating life. You are the God of all. The sun shines on the good and the bad. We thank You, Lord God, for allowing us sunshine. Right now, it’s cold in some places. It’s chilly and downright miserable in others, but, Lord God, You are still here. Somebody is lonely. Somebody is going through a hard time, financially. Somebody, right now, is confused and angry and mad and frustrated. Father, we seek Your Peace, the Peace that surpasses all understanding. We thank You for Your Love. We thank You for Your Understanding. We thank You even though we don’t understand what to say sometimes. We don’t pray the right words. We don’t say the right things. We don’t think the right thoughts, but You still love us. Father, thank You for Christmas. And now, Lord God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable, these Your people, in the Name of Your Son, Jesus, I ask this. Amen.
This Christmas season was a little different for me: I’ve never been this old before! I’ve never had adult kids. Everybody’s gone. There were no children in my life, for the most part, just adults. There were little kids at my sister’s place. I mean, I’m an uncle, and I got cousins who are young, but the kid thing was gone, and the Covid thing was happening, and I was missing my Dad. I was missing older guys, older than me, who gave me things, gave me wisdom, gave me their experiences. I miss that. It’s different when you’re at the end of that rope, looking backwards to give and to pull up other people, but it’s been a really good month of December. I got recognized by several organizations this year, and it all happened this month. There are a couple of businesses that decided to give me products to try to sell for them. Even a few lost relatives that I didn’t even know had my number called me. So, it’s been a time of connection and sadness. I lost a friend on Christmas Day. There’s been that. There have been the positives though of trying to get my musical thing back together. I’ve been practicing, trying to, everyday, with my guitar. I’ve been working on different ideas to go into the future. What am I going to do with my life, at this stage in my life? Anybody else like that? Yeah. See, we’re all in the same place. Some of us listening are wondering how we’ve made it this far! We didn’t wear helmets when we rode our bicycles. We didn’t have safe baby cribs. There was no childproofed medicine cabinets and bottles. We drank soda straight and sugar and ate candy. That time when we could leave from home and stay gone all day, play all day and nobody saw you again until the streetlights came on. Nobody was able to reach you back then. You didn’t have a cellphone. There was no PS2, PS3, PS4, definitely no PS5. There were no laptops, no tablets, no cable TV, no TV that stayed on twenty-four hours a day. There were times we played dodge ball and baseball and basketball with strange kids, and sometimes we got hurt. We fell out of tree. We got cut. We got sprains. There were no lawsuits from accidents we were in. We were in fights, got black and blue from them sometimes, but we played with kids, and we made up games. We tried out for teams, and sometimes we didn’t make it. We got picked last. Remember those days? We had to overcome it. We had to learn to do better. Sometimes we just outright failed. We weren’t as good as the others. We had disappointments. There were tests in school that weren’t adjusted for any reason. There were consequences to what we did. There was freedom and failure and success and responsibility. There was a whole bunch of stuff on the playground that probably couldn’t taken you out, but we’re still here. If you’ll stop for just a second and think about all of the things you’ve gone through, the traumatic, the horrible things you’ve gone through, and that you’re going through, but you’re still here, you might want to stop and thank God. You see, even though it’s horrible and terrible, you’re still here, and it’s up to you now to go forward, to make it a better day. It’s up to you to shine. It’s up to you to enjoy the life that you have despite, in spite of, what’s going down. Sometimes we look to too many people to help us with our own attitudes.
Today I want to talk about testimony. We’re going to get back to what I said a minute ago about “what is testimony?” and what it’s not. A testimony can usher in the Holy Spirit. You know, some people love music, but if the choir is bad they don’t like church. But, I don’t like church when the Holy Spirit ain’t there. I said there was power in your testimony in the opening. You know, you can use your testimony as a weapon against your own issues. Everybody has a testimony, and sharing your testimony releases hope. A testimony is basically a story which defines, shapes, moves, or propels. From the spiritual perspective, we’re talking about how our stories center on our salvation, on our healing, our emotional breakthroughs, or our encounters with the Power of God. Here’s what a testimony is not: I’m not talking about the testimonies of those church people who like to get up and tell a story about themselves, the guys who just like to talk, the ones who have told the same story over and over again, the one who likes to basically brag. I’m talking about a story that edifies and gives glory to God. A testimony is sharing about your relationship with God. It’s an explanation of how God has worked in your life. It’s an account of a specific saving action of the Lord in your life. The purpose is to open listeners to God, and to lead them to draw closer to Him. The Bible tells us that we should share our testimony. In Acts 1:8 it says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.” You should be ready to share how Christ became the center of your life and your source of hope. Now, I know, you’re saying right now — not all of you, but some of you are not having a lot of hope right now, but I hope to change that, too. 1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “Should anyone ask you for the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply, but speak gently and respectfully.” So, how do we do that? How do we speak respectfully and gently? You know, you want to be nonthreatening when you speak of the goodness of God. The folks who don’t called themselves “churched” are more open to listen to your story than a teaching. You want to make it personal, evidence that God is real and active in your life. People will be able to relate to some aspect of your situation and your life experience. It’s concrete and it’s real. Your testimony should arouse interest. It should stir up questions and increase a desire for God within the listener. That’s important. If what you’re saying doesn’t make the others want to know about the same God that you have, then you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do. Your testimony should speak for itself. People can argue about a teaching, but it’s hard to argue about one experience. Your testimony should be powerful — maybe not to you, but to those who hear it. Hmmm, think about it for a minute. God works through a testimony, and offers graces of conversion for those who hear. Revelation 12:10-11 says, “Then I heard a loud voice in Heaven say, ‘now have salvation and power come. The reign of our God and the authority of His Anointed One, for the accusers of our brothers is cast out, who night and day accused them before our God. They defeated him by the Blood of The Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” Share when someone would benefit from your story. You may be just planting a seed for a later conversion. God will give growth to that seed and bless you for the work that you have done. And they overcame him by The Blood of The Lamb and the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto the death (Revelation 12:11 KJV). The word of God is powerful. It’s even more powerful when it’s lived out through the life of one of us. When somebody can see the Bible, they don’t have to read it. People like to beat you over the head with Scripture, but if you live like you know God, if you live what you speak, if you walk your testimony, it won’t be hard to give it. You know, one thing that’s missing a lot is transparency within the church. The more we talk about the mistakes we’ve made, the more other people can relate to you. There’s a natural tendency to want to look as perfect as possible on the outside, so we hold our past mistakes deep. Hiding things is a lie that keeps people at arm’s length. Sharing brings them closer into an intimate and real conversation. But, I know it’s a double standard, too, because folks also judge. I remember once I opened up a testimony service before we started every church service, and it changed the dynamic in our worship because the real people were shocked that the folks that they though were all perfect and clean and had everything together started off when the same problems as them. Maybe they didn’t have exactly the same issue, but we all fell. We all have stuff. We all have our own things that keep us down. There’s a wide disparity between how we judge others and how we judge ourselves. Think about it for a minute. We tend to have harsh value judgments when it comes to judging someone else’s bad behavior, and then with others, we quickly attribute enduring personality or character traits as the main reason for another’s bad behavior yet, with our own lapses, we are clearly more lenient. We might feel awful about what we dod, but we’re more likely to explain it away by citing situational or temporary factors like a lapse in judgment, peer pressure, mood, substance abuse. In essence, we let ourselves off the hook, but unfairly crucify other people. Think about that for a minute. If we were to be more transparent and not judge, we’d make a difference. So, we’re talking about testimony. We’re talking about giving God glory. Was there a specula time on your life when you realize you needed Him? Then when you heard that there was one, you rejoiced, you repented of your wrongdoings, and you believed? Is there a memorable day or simply a certain time in your life — think back. When was it for you? Were you addicted to something and then you found God, and He helped you break free? Were you severely depressed, and you found God, and He gave you hope to continue onward? Did you get in trouble with something, and you realized just how much you had messed up in your own life? Did you miss out on something — something wonderful, and then realized that things would work out okay anyway because there was a God who loved you? At some point, you realized that life wasn’t working out so well when you were running it on your own and needed help. That is testimony. It’s what we need to hear. Those are the things we have, the local, normal, regular, old, tried and true human condition. See, your stuff is no different than my stuff. Your testimony might be extreme. It could even be radical, or it might be a calm profession of a true belief. Both testimonies will show God’s Love and Mercy because everybody, the loud and the quiet, have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. I was on social media and I was sending out a picture of an elf, and the elf had a stripper — it was like a Barbie doll or something, and I thought that thing was hilarious because the guy that I got it from, that’s the kind of stuff we would do in the Marine Corp. But, I forgot that as a pastor, as a guy that everybody thinks is holy, that I don’t make mistakes, that I haven’t come from anywhere, that it was wrong. It was sexual. It was disparaging. So, I took it down. I took it off, but it reminded me of where I was, where I have been, and how quickly I can go back. You know, I thought about that double standard of judging, and I thought, you know, sometimes I want to keep the warts on my picture. There are sometimes I want to show my fat side. There are sometimes when I want you to know that I am not all that and a bowl of grits. And, when is that? Whenever I stand before you and represent the Most High God. I was doing a Bible study a few weeks ago for a local church, and I told the audience that I don’t preach as well as their pastor, and I mean that. I said it as humbly as I knew how, and people were like, “Why is he doggin’ himself? Why is he putting himself down?” Well, see, you don’t understand that the God that I serve prefers you to be humble, and that if you would abase yourself, He will lift you up in due time. The God that I serve doesn’t like a proud and haughty person, and I know it’s really easy, once you get the platform, to show only the best sides, only the good parts because you can edit out the flubs. But, I don’t want you to be fooled. I am just a man, a servant of God, like you. I do have a calling on my life. I have heard the Voice of God. I have seen His Miracles. He has saved me from so many things, and continues to do so even by my own hand. There is power in testimony. One of the things that it gives the most of is hope. You see, if I can be missed by lightning twice, if I could be saved by dolphins, if I can be rescued from myself on so many occasions of doing stupid things, if God can make the things happen for me, then whatever happens tomorrow, all I have to remember is that God is with me. Emmanuel: “God with us.” If I have survived bankruptcy and divorce and sicknesses of my children and near-dear experiences time and time again, then 2021 doesn’t look so bad because as long as I walk with the Lord and He is before me, then what should I be afraid of? If I’ve done every dumb thing I can do as a grownup, and still stand before you, to call myself a child of the Most High, I’m in good company. If I can grow up poor, off I can get through physical abuse, if I can get through everything that this world can throw at me, and I’m still standing, I got nothing to do but give God glory for it. Give Him praise. Even though I am not that, because of Him, I am. And, you too can share in this testimony, that no matter what you’re going through right now, with the Power of God, change can happen, and has happened, and if you would hold on a little bit longer, you will see more change coming. If you would give testimony, not for what you don’t have, but for what you do, if you were to fill up a paper right now, writing all of the things down that God has blessed you with, it would fill up several sheets, and if you couldn’t fill it up, it’s only because you’ve forgotten, or you don’t think that it was His Hand in it. That would be a mistake. Some people take for granted that they are allowed to breathe this morning. Some people take it for granted that they didn’t get hit by a stroke last night, or just a few moments ago, that their blood pressure didn’t rise, that a blood vessel didn’t bust in their heads, that they can still use one side of their body. They take it for granted that the cancer cells that passed through their bloodstream left and didn’t metastasize. You take it for granted that the evil somebody did to you did not lead to death, that would end your life and not give you the chance to do better tomorrow, that everything that you don’t have may have been — and probably is — God holding back what would hurt you or change you or alter your life, or that you were not ready for at present. But, if you would give Him Glory for it, thank God for the large and the small, that would be a blessing. That would be smart. Solomon reminds us that “He has made everything beautiful in His Time. Also, He has set the world in their heart so that no man can find out the work that God taketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for man to rejoice and do good in his life. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven — a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which was planted, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to break down, a time to build up, a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance, a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from that embracing. There’s a time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away, a time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silent, and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time of war, a time of peace.” And God sets that tone and that time.
This year has been a monster for so many of us, but it’s also evidence that God is with you. Testify about it. Tell somebody about the goodness of God in your life. Yeah, I know, you lost that job that you just got, but you don’t know what God kept you from. Yes, you know that there are financial issues, that you need more money! You need more of this. You need more of that. Talk to God about it. What has happened to you has given you an opportunity to talk to Him. There are blessings in talking to God. And sometimes in testifying, you also learn about someone else’s trouble, someone else’s issues, someone else’s life. You find out that you’re not all that and a bag of grits either, and that you shouldn’t be feeling sorry for yourself. You know, comparison is the thief of joy. We do that so often. “I should be further along in my life.” Says who? “I should be here instead of there. I should have X amount of dollars in the bank.” Says who? “I should be ____ by now.” Says who? Says the Enemy, the adversaries of God, said that little imp that influences the other person who says cross and mean things to you. Often they are family members, the person who is putting you down when they could lift you up with the power of their testimony. That’s one way you can defeat the Enemy, too. When he reminds you of how small you are, about how you lack things, and you don’t have this and you don’t have that, it gives you an opportunity because he is waiting for you to go, “boooohooooo.” Instead, tell him how great your God is. Tell him about how big He is. And watch the light shine in a dark place. There’s an old gospel song that says, “Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings, and see what God has done.” It’s a little corny to me sometimes, depending on how it’s sung. I was at a church with like, a whole bunch of elders, and they sang it the old school way, and it didn’t sound too hot. I’m sure there are some choirs that can crank that thing out and tune it up just a tad, but the words are real. The lyrics are truthful: Count your many blessings. And, give a testimony. Amen? Amen, somebody!
This year I watched a whole bunch of different versions of A Christmas Carol by Dickens, and the one theme that’s common in that story no matter how it’s done is that you can change. As we change the calendar from 2020 to 2021, think about how you can change, for the better, for the good, and “good” is how it fits God’s Eyes, not the world. Thank you so much for that! Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for The Word. We ask, Lord God, that You would allow us to give a testimony. Help us, Lord God, to say the right things to give You glory. Help us to consider the blessed state that we are in, no matter whether we’re free or incarcerated. As long as we have breath, we have the opportunity and the ability to give You praise.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
And how about in Mandarin?
And for my Korean folks:
하늘에 계신 우리 아버지,
아버지의 이름이 거룩히 빛나시며
아버지의 나라가 오시며
아버지의 뜻이 하늘에서와 같이
오늘 저희에게 일용할 양식을 주시고
저희에게 잘못한 이를 저희가 용서하오니
저희 죄를 용서하시고
저희를 유혹에 빠지지 않게 하시고
You know, sometimes you forget that God is for everybody. When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory. Thanks again for listening, downloading, and sharing this episode. Telling somebody else about your testimony is important.
May the Lord bless thee and keep thee. May the Lord make His Face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee. May the Lord lift up His Countenance upon thee and give thee peace. Now, to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the Presence of His Glory with exceeding joy, to the only Wise God, our Savior, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, both now and forever. Let the church say, “Amen.”