Author

Mary Loudermilk

Browsing

“So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household,” (Ephesians 2:19, Christian Standard Bible).

Shortly after I graduated from college, I packed my bags and moved to a foreign country where I lived for the next three years. As you can imagine, it was quite an experience—new culture, new language, unfamiliar foods, different climate —different almost everything. Suddenly, I was the foreigner, with so much to learn as I tried to adapt to all the differences. I never did apply for citizenship; and when I left the country, my resident visa was cancelled.

Privileges and Responsibilities

Citizenship brings privileges and responsibilities. While living abroad, I enjoyed many of the same protections as a citizen (access to police, etc.) but other privileges were restricted (such as voting in an election). As a foreigner, I needed proof I would not become a financial liability to my host country, and I also needed a visa to live in that country. Had I chosen to remain permanently, citizenship would provide more benefits than I enjoyed as a non-citizen.

Although I carry a passport from the United States, I really am a citizen of another country. Philippians 3:20 tells me so: “For our citizenship is in heaven.” At the moment I suppose I could describe myself as an Ambassador at Large for the country of my true citizenship. If you are serving the Lord, you hold the same position.  Second Corinthians 5:20 describes our responsibilities—for citizenship does carry responsibilities—this way:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God’” (CSB).

Wherever we go, we represent the Lord and His kingdom. Our primary job as an ambassador is to bring others to salvation so they too can enjoy all the benefits we enjoy as His child.

Heavenly Citizenship

We obtain our heavenly citizenship through our new birth experience (John 3:3). Then we are entitled to all privileges of citizenship, both on earth and eternally. In this present life we enjoy love, peace, joy, mercy, and so much more. We have access to our King and can approach Him at any time. But the eternal benefits far outweigh any blessings we receive in this present life. We will share eternity with Him in Heaven.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new . . . He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:4-7).

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for all the benefits You’ve given me. My loyalty belongs to You, and I want to represent You well in all I do. Help me to never forget my responsibility to bring others to You. When I do, I will truly be Your ambassador.

 

“To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified”

Isaiah 61:3, New King James Version).

I overheard a conversation between two ladies at church, both going through difficult times. One had battled her situation for several months, the other not as long. The “veteran” was advising her friend, “When things get really bad, I just begin to praise.” For her, putting on the garment of praise was the way to find peace in the midst of life’s storm. Her advice was on target and biblical.

The Midnight Praise Session

Acts 16:16-40 tells the familiar story of Paul and Silas in a Philippian prison. Their trouble began with the healing of a damsel possessed with the spirit of divination (what we would call a fortune-teller). The jailer was charged to keep the two men safe, so he moved them to the inner part of the prison and, as an added measure, put their legs in stocks. This was no “country club” prison; and no one cared about their comfort. Yet, at midnight Paul and Silas put on their garments of praise and began to pray and sing. Can you imagine the amazement of the other prisoners? Circumstances did not matter; they focused on praising God. If their fellow prisoners were confused before, the earthquake that followed really grabbed their attention.

Covering Ourselves in Praise

How do worship and praise help when trouble and despair try pull us down? If we change our clothing—covering ourselves in praise to God—the heaviness lifts. Praise drives out negativity and worry. Faith increases and God steps into our circumstances to perform the miraculous. Isaiah 25:4 describes the Lord as “a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat” (English Standard Version).

When trouble overwhelms us, the enemy loves to fill our mind with worry and doubt. He desires to steal our faith and silence our praise. Rather than give in to his tactics and accept defeat, it’s time change our clothes. Let’s put on that garment of praise and start dancing.

“Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11). 

Prayer: Lord, I claim victory over anxiety, doubt, and discouragement. When trouble comes my way, I will praise You. When the enemy fills my mind with negative thoughts, I will praise you more. I will put off my sackcloth and put on gladness and praise. You are my strength and place of safety.

 “For we cannot but speak of the things we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

Everyone has a story to tell, and each story is unique. We all come from different backgrounds and life experiences and have our own testimony of God’s grace in our lives. God often uses our unique experiences to minister to others.

When we read the Gospels, we find stories of ordinary people whose lives intersected with the Creator of the Universe. We relate to them because they were average people just like us. They weren’t perfect. They had struggles. But reading their stories gives us hope. If the Lord could turn their situation around and put them on a new path, He can do the same for us.

The Samaritan Woman’s Story

John 4:4-42 tells the story of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at the well by Sychar. It was her testimony of this meeting that brought the others of the city to see Him. “The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ . . . And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did’” (verses 28-29 and 39, New King James Version).

The rewarding thing about sharing our story with others is seeing their own story begin to develop. The people of Samaria said, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” (verse 42).

Others Want to Hear Our Story

So many people are reluctant to share with others about the Lord. It’s not a lack of concern for those who don’t know Him; it’s a lack of confidence in their ability to explain the Bible. The thing is, all we really need to do is tell them our story. People want to hear what God has done in our life.  Our testimony may be the means of their hearts becoming open to more of God’s Word.

Your testimony is about what you have personally experienced. It’s what you have seen and heard. Ask God to lead you to someone today who needs to hear your story. Only you can tell it.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe (Psalm 107:2, New International Version).

Prayer: Lord, You have given me a story—a story of forgiveness and redemption. Help me to share what You have done in my life so that others can have this same salvation experience for themselves, so they will have their own story to tell.