Choice 8: Recycling Pain


Series: Life's Healing Choices

Speaker: BJ Chursinoff

In the last lesson of our series and the last choice, we’ll learn the “Y” in our R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y acrostic stands for “Yield.” It also stands for “You.” God wants you to yield to Him and allow Him to recycle the pain in your life for the benefit of others.

We’re going to answer two important questions in this message: “Why does God allow our pain?” And “How can we use our pain to help others?”

At the end of this message, Rachelle will share a bit of her story with us.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

We are wrapping up our Life's Healing Choices series here tonight. Before we get into the message, I have some preliminary thoughts I want to share with everyone. Like I said before, we jump right in. Here's the first thought. I want to join you in praising God if you have experienced any degree of his healing power in your life throughout this series. I've heard some incredible stories throughout this series how God has been at work in people's lives, and I'm so grateful for his goodness being poured out on us the way that it has been in this season. Secondly, don't be discouraged if you haven't experienced the total level of freedom you desire in your life yet. Because let me remind you, it's only been nine weeks. A lot of the stuff people carry in their life, they have been carrying for years. You probably will need more than nine weeks to work through that stuff if it's been there for a long time. Third, when the time does come, when you do experience the healing that God wants to produce in your life, when he produces that in you, your healing journey will not be over.

It actually will be just getting started. Because when Jesus does produce life change in you, you'll want to keep the new habits going that you've picked up along the way so that you can keep your momentum going and that you can prevent relapse back into your old hurts, hang ups and habits. But there's something else for you to consider too. The main issue that you are facing in your life right now, today is not the only issue in your life that God wants to heal. It may be the biggest, the most prominent one that gets most of your attention and most of your energy. But once has been dealt with, you will come to realize that there are more areas in your life, in your heart that Jesus wants to work on. We will be working on becoming more and more like Jesus until the day he calls us to be home with him. That work won't stop this side of heaven. But let's say hypothetically that Jesus completely healed you in each and every area of your life. There's no chance that will happen perfectly before you get to heaven. But let's say for a second that it was possible, and he did that for you, you'd still have work left to do.

That's because believe it or not, your personal comfort and healing is not Jesus's only goal for you. He wants to bring healing into your life so that you can enjoy that, yes. But he wants to heal you so that you can be used to help bring healing into other people's lives who are also battling hurts, hang ups and habits of their very own. God wants to bless you so that you could be a conduit of his blessing. His blessings are not designed to terminate on you. They are meant to flow through you to others. He wants to make you a conduit of his blessing to other people. What a joy and a privilege that is if you ever get to be used in that way by the Lord. That's what we're going to spend time looking at tonight in this last message in our Life's Healing Ch choices series, how God uses the pain we've experienced in our life to be a blessing to other people. Here's a story told by a guy named Mack Owen, who is the National Director of Celebrate Recovery. He shares this message. One fact I know about people who have been rescued is that they can't keep quiet about what happened to them.

The Apostle Paul was no different. He said, "For God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." He goes on, That's what God did for me. He rescued me from a life of drug addiction and alcoholism. I found the hope that I'd only dreamed about, and I can't keep it to myself. It seems as though the reason God made me was to share this hope with another person, and then another person, and then another. The hope God gave me is there for others as well. I was at a marriage retreat when I noticed him, someone from our church whom I didn't recognize. Even though he was in a crowd of people, he looked alone. So, I went over and introduced myself and asked him, "How's it going?" It was like this was the question he had been waiting for his entire life. Immediately, he told me about his life of failure, failure as a husband, as a father, as a person. For as long as he could remember, he never measured up. Was life even worth living?

Maybe just giving up was the answer. As I sat and listened, it was obvious that here was a man who needed to be rescued, to hear about the hope that someone had shared with me. So, I asked if he would be willing to meet with me for coffee. He said yes. Over the next three weeks, I shared about my encounter with Jesus and how my life of hopelessness had turned into a life filled with hope. I shared that he too could experience that same hope, but it came at a cost. It required surrender, giving up control, and turning his life over to Jesus. I'll never forget his words as tears streamed down his face. I want to. I really do. But I don't deserve it. How could he love a failure like me? In that moment, my heart broke for him, and I said, Me too. That's the beauty of it. God only rescues broken people. As relief came over his face, he said, "I surrender." And right then he turned his life and will over to the care and control of Jesus Christ. I gained a brother that day because God had taken my greatest weakness and turned it into my greatest strength.

I was sharing with one other broken person that there is hope for them, too. Your greatest contribution to the world, your greatest ministry, will not be found in your strength, but in your weakness. It'll come from your pain. The very thing you want to talk about the least, the very thing you want to hide in the closet is the very thing that God wants you to share. One of the greatest things about God is that he never wastes a hurt, and he doesn't want to waste yours. In this, the last lesson of our series and the last choice, we'll see that the Y in our recovery acrostic stands for yield. It also stands for you. God wants you to yield to Him and allow Him to recycle the pain in your life for the benefit of others. Most of us are under the misconception that God uses only the really gifted, the extraordinarily talented people. But that's just not true. God uses ordinary people. In fact, he does his best work through weak people. The Apostle Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 12, verse 9, "But he, (the Lord), said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.'"

Paul goes on, "Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may reside in me." People are not helped when we talk to them about our strengths. They're helped when we're honest about our weaknesses. When we share our strengths with other people, they'll think to themselves, Man, I'll never have what he has, or My faith is not even close to being as strong as hers. But when we share from our weaknesses, they'll think to themselves, "You know what? I can relate to that." Here's a quote from John Baker. He says, I have the honor of giving testimony several times a year. Every time I give it, people say, "Thank you for sharing your struggles and weaknesses with me. It's exciting to see the things God has done in your recovery." They do not thank me for my strengths. They thank me for being open and honest with my weaknesses. God gets the glory. They see that if God can restore a sinner like me, he can and will help them find freedom from their hurts, hangups, and habits. When you understand that God uses your weakness and your pain, life takes on a whole new meaning and you experience genuine recovery.

The proof that you are truly recovering is when you begin to focus outside of yourself, when you stop being absorbed with your needs, your hurts, and your problems. Recovery is evident when Jesus removes the shame and the guilt from your life and you begin to say, "How can I help other people?" So, in the time we have remaining in this message, we're going to answer two very important questions. Number one, we're talking about pain, so let's ask the question, why does God allow it? Why does He allow pain? And two, how can we use our pain to help others? So why does God allow of pain and suffering? This is a universal question. I'm going to share four reasons with you why it does. Number one, and this is going to be the very first filling on your outline, God has given us a free will. God has given us a free will. God created us with the right to choose. In the Book of Beginnings, in Genesis, we read in the first chapter, verse 27, God created man in his own image. One of the ways God's image is shown in you is in your freedom to choose.

Simply considering the creation of the universe, we see that God made millions of choices, and you too have the right to choose. You can choose good or bad, right or wrong, life or death. God says to us, "You can reject me or you can accept me. It's your choice." God could have created you without a free will so that you always did right and never did wrong. But God didn't want a bunch of puppets he could coerce to do what he wanted. He wants you and me to love him voluntarily. So, think about it. You can't really love someone unless you have the opportunity to not love that someone. You can't really choose good unless you have the option to choose bad. Now, our free will is a blessing, make no mistake about it, but it's not always a blessing. Sometimes our free will can be a burden. It doesn't take very long for most people to realize that sinful choices cause painful consequences. In exercising our free will, we all make choices sometimes that bring pain to ourselves and others. If we choose to experiment with drugs and get addicted, then it's our own fault.

The fall of our addiction causes heartache and pain to the ones that we love. If we choose to be sexually promiscuous and get a sexually transmitted disease, we bear the consequences of our own bad choice. Do you see the dilemma? God will not overrule your will. He has given you the freedom to choose. Just a heads up, what I'm going to say next is a bit heavy, but it needs to be said. Because God will not overrule a person's will, that means God doesn't send anybody to hell who doesn't choose to go there. People choose to go to hell by choosing to reject God and his will for them. God loves you. Because he does, he wants you to be a part of his family more than anything. But if you throw up both your middle fingers at God and walk away from him, you can't blame anyone but yourself. That's free will. There's one more thing to consider about the free will God has given us. Not only does he give you free will, he gives it to everyone else too. So, this means that sometimes others choose to do wrong, and you may get seriously hurt as an innocent victim.

Many of you have been deeply hurt by a parent, a spouse, a teacher, a friend, a relative, or someone you didn't even know. Now God could have prevented that hurt by taking away that person's free will to make those choices. But if he had done that, in order to be fair, he would have had to take away your free will too. Pain is part of the of the free will package. Reason number two, go ahead and write this down on your outline. God often uses pain to get our attention. To get our attention. You might not realize this, but pain is not your main problem. Your depression, your anxiety, and your fear are not even your main problems. These are simply warning lights telling you that something is wrong, and you need to deal with it. Pain is God's wake up call. Sometimes pain is severe. You think of the pain of a burn on our skin or the internal stab of a heart attack. Without these painful sensations, we might just go about our business unaware of the life-threatening dangers. But the blessing of pain is that it gets our attention and lets us know that something is seriously wrong.

The Apostle Paul said this about the benefits of pain in 2 Corinthians 7, verse 9. He says, "I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance." Paul is saying that the pain in your life that was causing you to grieve actually led you to change your mind about God, and it brought you closer to Him. Nobody likes pain, but God... God uses pain to get your attention. Do you know the story of Jonah being swallowed by a great fish? God said, "Hey, Jonah, I want you to go that way to Nineveh." And Jonah was like, "Nope." And it started running the other way, the other direction as fast and as far away from God as he could. And at the bottom of the ocean, inside the belly of the great fish, Jonah finally said in John 2, verse 7, "As my life was fading away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you to your holy temple." Isn't that a great verse? God often uses pain to get our attention. Number 3, God uses pain to teach us to depend on Him. The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with pain, and out of his experience, he tells us in 2 Corinthians 1, starting in verse 8, "We were completely overwhelmed beyond our strength so that we even despaired of life itself.

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and he will deliver us. We have put our hope in him that he will deliver us again." You will never know that God is all you need until God is all you have. When it's all falling apart and you've lost it all, that's when you can clearly see the only one who's remaining beside you. Without problems, you'd never learn that God is the only real problem solver. God allows pain to teach you to depend on Him. In Psalm 119, verse 71, it says it was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn your statutes. The truth is, there are some things that we can only learn through pain. You've seen this demonstrated over and over again at the end of each message in this series, in the stories of the members of Gospel City Church who have shared with you. You've seen how each of them learned to depend on God through pain, which is one of life's greatest teachers.

Reason number 4, you can go ahead and write this down on your outline. God allows pain to give us a ministry to others. He allows pain to give us a ministry to others. Pain can make you humble, sympathetic, and sensitive to others' needs. It can prepare you to serve. When we turn to God for healing from the source of our pain, He comforts us and gives us the help we need so that we will be able to help others, too. 2 Corinthians 1, verse 4, it says, He, God, comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. Being used by God for the benefit of others is what choice eight is all about. You can read choice 8 on your outline. Choice 8 is about recycling pain. I choose, we choose to yield ourselves to God, to be used to bring this good news to others, both by our example and by our words. I hope you know this by now, if you've made it this far through with us in this series, that everyone needs recovery of some type, mental, physical, spiritual, social, or relational, and usually a combination of some, usually a combination of all.

Everyone has hurts, hang ups, and habits. Everyone has sin that needs to be removed and cleansed. Everyone has a life that needs to be healed and restored. Nobody's perfect unless your name is Jesus Christ, and it's not your name, right? When we're hurting, we want someone who understands, someone who's been through what we've been through. Can you imagine how sweet it would be if an alcoholic received help from someone who has struggled with alcoholism themselves? If someone dealing with the pain of abuse was ministered to by someone who also suffered abuse. If a person who lost a job and went bankrupt was helped by somebody who's experienced the exact same thing? Who can better help the parents of a teenager who's going off the deep end than a couple who had a child who did the same? God wants to use and recycle the pain in your life to help others. But in order for that to happen, you've got to be open and honest about the pain in your life. If you keep that hurt to yourself, you're wasting it. God wants to recycle your hurts, your hangups, and your habits to help others.

There's a beautiful example of this in the book of Genesis about a man named Joseph. Family and others did some pretty jacked up things to Joseph, and this guy was a pretty good dude. One day, his brothers decided to gang up against him and sell him into slavery. Then they went back home and lied to their dad and told him that Joseph had been eaten by a lion. Now that's a dysfunctional family. Joseph was sold into slavery and taken into Egypt. He faithfully did his job as a slave, minding his own business, when all of a sudden, his master's wife tried to seduce him. When Joseph refused her advances, she turned around and told her husband that it was Joseph who was the one who was trying to make moves on her. Of course, the husband sided with his wife and Joseph was thrown into prison. This guy's whole life went downhill fast. He was at his bottom. But God had a plan and a purpose for Joseph. Through a series of events that followed, Joseph was promoted to second in command over Egypt. God used Joseph to save not only Egypt, but other nations as well from destruction and famine.

Later, during the famine, his brothers came to him to get food. Only they didn't know they were standing before the very brother that they had betrayed. When Joseph revealed himself, they expected to have their heads cut off. But Joseph surprised them. He said to them in one of the greatest verses in all of the Bible, Genesis 50, verse 20, You planned evil against me. God planned it for good. God is bigger than anyone who hurts you. No matter what other people have done to you, God can recycle it and use it for good. God never wastes a hurt, but you can waste it if you don't learn from it and share it. Others will be blessed and encouraged if you share the problems and struggles that you have gone through. God can and will use your pain to help others if you let Him. So, that brings up this question, how can we use our pain to help others? Well, the simple answer to this question is to share your story about how Jesus has worked in your life. That's it. It's that simple. You share your experiences, your journey, your weaknesses, your sin, and how God has saved you and God gotten you to where you are today.

You share how you receive the gospel and how it's changed your life. As you share, you're going to discover a blessing for yourself in addition to the one that you pass on to others. Every time that you share your story, you grow a little bit stronger. You experience another measure of healing, and you grow in your appreciation for what God has done for you. You'll end up thanking God for using you and your story to bless someone else. In 1 Peter 3, verse 15, it says, "But in your hearts, regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and reverence." You need to be prepared to give an answer to the person who asks you, "How did you make it? How did you keep from relapsing? How did you recover?" Now, sometimes people are going to initiate a conversation with you when they see that the power of God is at work in your life. They may not know it's God's power, but they see something in you that's different.

So, they ask you about what they see. When that happens, you need to be ready to share with them the source of your transformed life, which is Jesus. It's great when God serves up those evangelism opportunities for us on a platter, those times when people ask us about God. But we cannot wait every time for people to approach us before we talk to them about Jesus. The Christian life is not a wait around and see what happens life. Christianity is an initiating, groundbreaking faith. That's because Jesus doesn't tell his followers... followers to wait for people to come to them. He tells his followers to go to people and initiate a gospel conversation with them. He doesn't suggest that we go to people. He commands us to, or should I say, he commissions us to. It's known as the Great Commission. It's found at the very end of Matthew's gospel. I'm going to read you Jesus words in this Great Commission, and then what I'm going to do is I'm going to show you how the mandate Jesus gives the church in the Great Commission is tied directly to everything that we have been learning about in this Life's Healing Ch choices series.

I really want us to see how these two are connected. After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples and told them, in Matthew 28, starting in verse 19, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe or obey everything I've commanded you. Now, Jesus spoke these words 2,000 years ago to the men that he hand-selected and designated as his Apostles. But the Great Commission wasn't just a commission for them back then. It's a commission for every single person today who becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ. The moment you step across the line to become a believer, you become a missionary. You become a part of God's great plan of reaching out to lost and hurting people. God sent His original disciples out to people in the world who were broken, lost, and without God in their life. The original disciples were tasked with showing people that the brokenness in their life was due to their sin, and if left undealt with that sin would cause them to remain cut off from God now and forever.

This is what lies at the very heart of choice number one. If you remember it, it is people need to realize that they're not God. They need to admit that they are powerless to control their tendency to do the wrong thing, which is sin, and that their life is unmanageable. Disciples of Jesus need to share this news with people. We need to help people see the desperate situation that they're in. But that's not the only thing that we share with them because that wouldn't be good news if all we talked about with people was their sinfulness. Jesus' disciples had a message of hope that penetrated people's hopelessness. Choice two is known as the hope choice. We need to earnestly show people that God exists, that they matter to Him, and that He has the power to help them recover. The first disciples traveled around telling people that they had personally seen and experienced the power and love of Jesus in their life. And then they told people that God loves them too, and that He's good and that he is able to save them. Today, we need to tell people the truth of choice too, as well.

The disciples told everyone the truth about their sin and the truth that God loves... Loves them. But they didn't speak about God's love in general terms. They told people the specific good news about Jesus. They told people the gospel, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. And the disciples' changed lives was proof that the power of Jesus was alive in them. Their changed life was proof that God's living presence filled their life. Now, the disciples weren't the cream of the crop when Jesus called them, but he worked his mighty power in their lives. Can we relate to the disciples in this? Of course, we can. None of us is the cream of the crop either. But Jesus loved us. He saved us. He put His Spirit in us, and He is changing us by His power. Many people rejected the disciples and their message, but they kept on preaching anyways because that is what the Lord Jesus commissioned them to do. Although many didn't believe their message, some did. This is where we see choice three come into play. Choice three says when some people hear the gospel, they will believe it and they will choose to consciously commit all of their life and will to Christ's care and control.

We're going to get the same responses when we share the gospel with people today. Many will reject us, most will reject us, and the message that we share with them. But this is the great news. Most will reject, but not everyone will reject. Some are going to believe. Some will turn their lives over to Jesus. What do new believers do after they become born again? Whether it was 2,000 years ago when it happened or whether it's today, they get baptized. Why? Because Jesus commissioned his disciples to do that. They were specifically told by Jesus to baptize anyone and everyone who became a new disciple of his. Then what did the disciples do? They do what the brand-new disciples who had just been baptized? According to Jesus' words in the Great Commission and according to history, they began to teach them to obey everything that Jesus commanded them to do during the three years that he spent with the Apostles. They passed on the commands to the new followers of Christ. So, get this, they began to teach the new disciples the very same things that you have been taught throughout this Life's Healing Ch choices series.

Choices 1 to 3 are evangelistic in nature. The content of these choices lead people to see the hopelessness in trying to live apart from God and the hope for their life that is found only through faith in Jesus Christ. But then when people receive Christ, choices 4 through 8 are actually commands Jesus gives his followers to obey. We need to grasp the significance of this statement. If you are a Christian, you may be thinking that making these life ceiling choices are optional for you, or you may think that the primary reason for making the choices is because you want your life to be fixed. But what I want you to see is that the choices we've been learning about are really commands that have been given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. That means we are to make these choices primarily because Jesus tells us to make them. Now, why would Jesus command his followers to make choices that will lead to healing and freedom and abundance in their life? Because he loves us, and he wants good things for us. Because he wants the lost and broken people that we will come into contact with to see his power working in our life.

Because that will get their attention and possibly lead them into a saving relationship with Jesus, too. Jesus wants us to obey his commands because he wants each one of us to be a trophy of his grace, put on display for the people in our life to see. The choices 4 to 8 are really just commands of Jesus to be obeyed. Let me show you choice 4, openly examine and confess my faults to God, to myself, to God and to someone I trust. Well, Jesus commands his followers to do this. In his sermon on the mountain, Jesus says this in Matthew 7, verses 3 to 5, Why do you look at the splinter in your brother's eye? But don't notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the splinter out of your eye.' And look, there's a beam of wood in your own eye. Hypocrite. First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you'll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother's eye. Jesus calls us to address the issues in our life with the beam of wood in our own eye before we ever consider trying to help others with their issues. And what are our issues if they aren't our hurts, hangups, and habits?

Jesus tells us to address them and to get rid of them. So, we work on doing that for ourselves, and we work on helping our brothers and sisters do the same in their lives because it's what Jesus commands us to do. That's choice 4. Choice 5, voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life. Let me say that again, every change God wants to make in my life. Humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. As Christians, we need to do what God wants to do in our life, even if we don't want to do it. That's what it means to have Jesus as our Lord. Matthew 7, verse 21, Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my father in heaven." It is God's will that you make certain changes in your life, which, if you remember, is the life you handed over to him when you decided to become a Christian. God reveals his will to you. When he does, whatever it is that he wants to do in you is our duty as Christians to bend our knee to the King as we say, not our will, but yours be done.

So, we voluntarily submit to whatever our Father in heaven wills for us to do. It's his will that we address the sinful patterns in our life as he shows them to us. That's what choice five is all about. Choice six, if you remember, is evaluate all my relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I've done to others, accept one to do so it harmed them or others. We looked at this choice only a couple of weeks ago. If you're here, you may remember what the main reason is we forgive people because Jesus tells us to. When it comes to forgiveness, Jesus says in Matthew 6, verse 14, For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly father will forgive you as well. But if you don't forgive others, your father will not forgive your offenses. When it comes to making amends, Jesus says in Matthew 5, verse 23, So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled with your brother or sister.

Then come and offer your gift. Forgiving others and making amends is our best interest to do because it will lead to healthy and more fulfilling relationships which make for a healthier and more fulfilling life. Forgiving others and making amends is what Jesus commands us to do. We do it for ourselves, but we also help our brothers and sisters do the same because Jesus commands us to. That's choice six in a nutshell. Choice seven, reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading and prayer in order to know God and his will for my life and gain the power to follow his will. You're not going to believe this, but Jesus also speaks to this idea in his sermon on the Mount. In closing that wonderful sermon of his, he says in Matthew 7, verse 24, Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn't collapse because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn't act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house and it collapsed. It collapsed with a great crash. Knowing, cherishing, and applying the words of Jesus to every area of our life will enable us to have a life built on a foundation made of rock. When the storms of life come against us, and they will, a life that is built on the rock of Jesus Christ will be strengthened against potential relapse opportunities. That's what choice 7 is all about, spending time alone with God so that we can know his will for our life, so that we can do his will in our life. That's what building our life on the rock is all about. Choice 8, our choice for tonight, yield myself to God to be used to bring this good news to others, both by my example and by my words. In the Great Commission, Jesus tells his disciples to go to people who are far from God and invite them into a relationship with him. He commands us to go to them, and we've come full circle. That's what we're doing in choice eight. We're going to people just like Jesus commands us to.

We go make disciples. We help them obey the commands of Jesus, and then they go and make disciples doing the same things we taught them to do. This is why Jesus gave us commands. That's why he commissioned his first disciples to tell new disciples how to obey all of his commands. That's why if you're a Christian today, you obey the commands of Jesus and help teach other Christians how to obey his commands too. He is sending us today to do the very same thing he sent his Apostles to do 2,000 years ago. I hope you can see that the eight life's healing choices are not a subset of the Christian faith. These choices are central to the Christian faith. They provide a simple and basic way to understand how to practically live out Christianity. We need to see that the choices are not something that we do just because we want the broken parts in our life fixed, although that's a very nice side effect to making these choices. We need to see the choices as something that followers of Jesus do for themselves and invite and instruct others to do too. We're going to make these choices in our life because Jesus calls us to.

Moving forward, when this series is all wrapped up and in our rearview mirror, we will continue to use the content in this series to help disciple you if you call Gospel City Church home. If you are wrestling and stuck in a season in your life where you're not experiencing spiritual growth, one of the things we're going to look at is if there are any of the choices that you haven't made in your life. Because if there are any choices you haven't made, it's our responsibility as a church to help you make them because Jesus commanded us to teach you how to do these things, and He commanded you to do them. So, if you aren't doing them, then there's a discipleship opportunity we can work on together, if you're willing, that is. If you are a Christian, you call Gospel City Church home and you aren't willing to work towards obeying Jesus, I got to give you this heads-up so that you're not surprised when it happens. Someone is still going to try to help you anyway, whether you want it or not. That's basically what intervention is. Paul says in Galatians 6, verse 1, Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourself so that you also won't be tempted.

Carry one another's burdens. In this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. If you are a believer, it is your responsibility to share in the problems and troubles of other people, whether they are Christians or not. Sometimes when they're willing, and sometimes when they're willing and sometimes when they're not. This is where our beatitude for this choice comes in. Matthew 5, verse 10, blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Reaching out to others with the good news of who Jesus is and how he wants to change our lives is not always easy or welcome. You will experience opposition when you try to obey Jesus in this area, but we are blessed when we carry out the mission that God has given us. Acts 20, verse 24, Paul says, I consider my life of no value to myself. My purpose is to finish my course and the Ministry I receive from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of God's grace. What Ministry is it referring to here? The Ministry of telling others the good news of God's mighty love and kindness. There is no greater accomplishment in life than helping somebody find the peace that comes with having a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

The world has far more people who are ready to receive the good news than those willing and ready to share it. Do you know that math? There are people right now in the world today who need to hear your story. You don't have to be a biblical genius to do this. This is the great part. You can simply tell what has happened to you. That's the most powerful story. There's a story in the Book of John where Jesus heals a blind man, and the religious leaders are furious about it because Jesus healed this guy on the sabbath. They questioned the man who had just been healed. Now, keep in mind, this man knows virtually nothing about Jesus, except for the fact that he was the one who just opened up his blind eyes. The formerly blind man says in John 9, verse 11, he answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes and told me, Go to Siloam and wash. When I went and washed, I received my sight." But they kept pressing him because they wanted to find some accusation they could bring against Jesus. So, the formerly blind man said in John 9, verse 25, "Whether or not he's a sinner, I don't know.

One thing I do know, I was blind and now I can see." Here's what I know. Jesus showed me mercy. He opened my eyes, looked at each other and said, Look at me. I am proof of who he is and what he can do in a person's life. You can say the same thing. I don't know where all the verses are, but this is what Jesus did for me. I used to be like this, and then Jesus made me like this, and he could do the same thing for you, too. Nobody can refute that. That's your personal experience. God wants to use you, and he can do that if you are willing to share your story. So, the right about it step on your outline will help you get your story down on paper. Following our guidelines to consider as you prepare. We'll go through these really quick. Number one, be humble. We're all in the same boat. We're all fellow strugglers. When you share your story, when you witness, you're basically one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. You're not saying, I've got it all together, because you don't. You're pointing them to the only person who does have it all together is Jesus.

You're still getting it together. You're on the road to healing, but you're not there fully yet. Getting there is a lifelong journey. Number two, be real. Be honest about your hurts and faults. The members of Gospel City who have shared their stories with you in this series have modeled how to do this. They've opened themselves up. They were transparent, vulnerable, and real. Can you imagine the courage it took for those people to talk about their struggles with all of you? Draw from their courage and open up your hearts as well. You, too, can help other people by being honest about your hurts. When you're honest about your hurts, the honesty spreads and helps those who hear your story to open up too. And then number three, don't lecture. Don't try to force people into heaven. It's really uncomfortable for you and for them. Don't Bible thump anyone. Don't try to force them to believe what you do. That will be the ultimate exercise in fertility. Just share your story and trust that God will move upon their heart. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read. Some people wouldn't be caught within a hundred yards of a church, so they probably would never hear a sermon.

But you have a story that can reach them, a story that they can identify with. You can reach people a pastor never could. Just share what God has done for you, and hopefully they will want what you have. Ask yourself, who could benefit from hearing my story? The answer is people who are currently experiencing what you're already recovering from, people who need to know Christ and the freedom found in him, and who need to know the eight choices that are found in this series. They might be your peers, your neighbors, or your family. Tell God you're available and then get ready. If you are prepared and willing to share the good news of how God has worked in your life, God will wear you out. Can you imagine getting to heaven and someone saying to you, I'm in heaven because God used you. I just want to thank you for sharing your story with me of how Jesus worked in your life. Do you think that sharing your story would have been worth it? It will far outlast anything you do in your career, anything you do in your hobby. We're talking eternal implications, getting people from darkness into light, from hell into heaven, from an eternity without God to an eternity with God.

People will be enjoying the presence of Jesus with you for the rest of eternity. There is nothing more significant in life. Closing thoughts. As we come to the end of these eight choices, I want to congratulate you on taking this healing journey with us here at Gospel City. If you completed each of the choices to the best of your ability, then you have already begun to see some amazing changes and healing in your life. This is only the beginning of what God's got planned for you. I would like to share a prayer with you as we close. This is known as the serenity prayer or the prayer for serenity. If you've been around recovery circles for any length of time, you've probably heard the shortened version of this prayer. I'm going to pray the full version. Would you go ahead and just close your eyes and bow your heads with me? And if you want, make these words your own. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did, the sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that you make all things right if I surrender to your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

Amen. Amen. With that said, I'm going to invite Rachelle to come up, and she's been gracious enough to offer to share some of her story with us here tonight. Thanks for doing this, Rachelle.

My pleasure.

So, first question for you, would you be willing to give an example from your life where God has used pain or trouble to refine your character and grow your trust in him? Have you found that God has not wasted your pain?

God has not wasted my pain. I have two things I'd like to share. So, through my pain, I've seen that God has done a big work in me. So, for those of you here that knew me 10 or 15 years ago, I think you would likely agree, I'm not the same person that I was, and I thank Jesus for that. So, the biggest pain that I've experienced so far was the death of my ex-husband. So, I'll share a bit of where I was at and why and how it affected me. So, he struggled with a severe, undiagnosed, untreated mental illness, and that quickly affected everything. It brought a lot of trouble in both of our lives. Because of that, that's why eventually it was unsafe for me to continue to have contact with him. And then at one point after no contact, several years later, I received a letter from him, and he was saying that he regretted his actions, that it was an act, and he shouldn't have acted that way to someone as sensitive as me. And he asked me if I would proceed with a divorce. So, I applied for the divorce, and it was approved.

But I was still praying and still believing that God would heal him on this Earth and that we'd be reunited. So, the death was just a huge shock. It was not on my radar. This week, I'm a bit more vulnerable than usual because the anniversary of that day is coming up this week. Yeah. And then through that time, I had to put my trust in Jesus. I wouldn't have known what else to do. I wouldn't have survived. And I saw that the way Jesus loved me, it was not chaotic. It was not confusing. He showed me the way to go. And when I couldn't move forward, he would just carry me. And he didn't take the steps for me. He'd just hold me. And then when I was ready, he was still there. And then the second story I wanted to share was it actually happened this week and it relates. So, I recently went on a missions trip overseas and we were very busy, and a lot of new experiences and a lot of amazing things happened, but we had very little time to process. And then also a lot of us caught a virus that was going around.

So, by the end of it, we were exhausted. Coming home, thankfully, I was able to recover pretty quickly and get back into my routine. But a lady I was traveling with, she came home, she lives on Vancouver Island, and she gave me her permission to share this. She was struggling, but I didn't realize that. But soon I noticed she wasn't participating in our group chat anymore. So, I reached out and she shared with me that when she came home, home, it was just a culmination of physical, mental, emotional exhaustion, tied with things happening in her personal life and her professional life. And she found herself in this black hole that she... That's how she described it. And she shared with me that when you're in a place like that, if somebody tells you Jesus loves you, she said it's like water off a duck's back. She couldn't receive it in that place. Unfortunately, she didn't reach out for help until she was really having a hard time. But when she did reach out, then her friends and church family were there. And then her pastor also shared with her a resource that she said that was one of the things that helped bring her out of that place.

And she said to me, "I don't know if you've ever been in that place." I said, "Yes, I have." So, she shared the resource with me. I told her, "Thank you. I'm doing really good, but I want to keep it that way." And then this week, I had a mini panic like attack out of nowhere. So, I was on a 6 AM prayer call. We finished our prayer time, and everything was fine. And we were just discussing an upcoming event. I felt panic and I started to cry and couldn't stop. And then the call ended, and I was having a hard time breathing. I just wanted to curl up on my bed and I felt so exhausted all day and I was in and out of tears all day and just having a hard time. And so, I reached out to a couple of friends, including this lady, and now she was able to encourage me. And because of both of our experiences of pain, we were able to support one another when we both needed it.

That's awesome. Thanks, Rachelle. So, what did it look like for you to look back on the events of your life with the lens of seeing Jesus as the central figure? Were there things you were able to see more clearly when you took the time to put pen to paper and write your story? Did you face any challenges in doing this? And how did you overcome those challenges? That's not really one question, that's four, but you can do it.

So, since I was a teenager, I've always felt that the importance of writing down anything that I feel like God is showing me. So, I have that practice, and I've also tried to keep a written testimony of some sort that I can update every so often, every few years or whenever it's needed. And then the most intense time, and I think the most recent time, was just after the death of my ex-husband. It was March of 2020, and I temporarily got laid off of work because of COVID. And it was just a huge shock to my system, to my entire being. And so, my whole perspective was rocked. And I felt like my memory is not reliable. It's not accurate, and everything was jumbled. So, I felt the need to spend that time. For me, I wrote out a timeline. So, I did a whole Excel spreadsheet. My personality, I like to be very thorough, so I was extremely thorough with this. I felt like I had to do this. I did it for the last decade of my life, every year. So, what I did was just to help me out, I wrote where I lived, where I worked, major events that happened, any groups I was part of, which church I was part of that year, and then anything that God had showed me, either in a dream, visions, or prophetic words spoken over me.

And then that helped me to just look at it and see it. And then because I had all the time in the world. I tried to speak with my counselor as often as she would have time for. And then when we were together, we went through the timeline with a fine-tooth comb, and then we prayed over all of the pain and went through everything. And as we did that process, I was able to write in sentences and paragraphs about my experience. And then I redid the whole testimony. And when that was completed, it felt like a burden was lifted off. And then I got to share that with some close people in my life.

That's awesome. In 2 Corinthians 1, verse 4, it says, "God comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort others when they're troubled." We'll be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. So, what opportunities have you had to share your story? How has it been a way to encourage Christians, as well as witness to people who do not yet know Jesus?

Yes. I'm a very reserved person, so I still have a hard time sharing freely unless I'm asked to. But what God has done in me is He has given me a desire and a willingness to be used in any way. So, if I feel like part of my story is going to benefit someone, I am happy to share it. And basically, I want to say "Yes, Lord," in any way.

That's awesome. What would you say to a Christian who has never taken the time to consider their testimony? What would you say to the Christian who is scared to share their story with others?

So, I would have the same answer to both of those people. And I would like to share a passage that Jesus told us in John chapter 12, 23 to 28. It's the parable of the kernel of wheat. So, Jesus replied to them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. To the one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servants also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Now my soul is troubled. What should I say? Father, save me from this hour. But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven. I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." So, I see two major things. First, Jesus is our example. He's our example in everything. And He literally laid down his life and the Father produced much fruit from that.

But it also says, "To those who serve Him," who serve the Father, and that's us. And then I also wanted to share the lyrics of an amazing song that was written by the Chinese Church, and it's translated into English, and it's called A Colonel of Wheat. So, I'll just share the verse and the chorus. 'Verse is, "A Colonel of Wheat, if it falls upon the Earth to perish, a harvest of new life will rise up from the ground. If I lay down my life to die for the Lord, He'll give us great revival to cover all the Earth." The chorus, "Lord, take my life. Lord, I desire to be the seed that falls to the ground and dies, laying down my life to see new life. It's my desire. Lord, I desire all of my rights and my heart I give to you. Through my life, Lord, let your will be done." When we do the work that you've been teaching us in Life's Healing Choices, God does amazing things in our hearts, and we find freedom. God loves to do that. And so, it depends on your perspective. Some people will focus on that side, and some people will focus on the other side, which is the other amazing thing that happens when we do this work. So

So, when we do this work, we gain freedom for ourselves, but we also gain a capacity to be used by the Lord. And God's heart is for both of those things. That's what he's been emphasizing to me lately, that God is for the lost and God is for his people. It's both.

Amen. Awesome. Thank you, Rachelle, for coming up and sharing.

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