The truth of the matter is, when you encounter Christ, you will never be the same.
Take the apostle Peter, for instance. Before he put his faith in Jesus, his track record was not one to be advertised: unstable, unschooled, and a liar- he denied his relationship with the Lord not once, but three times. What shame he must have felt when he saw the man he loved yet also betrayed hanging on the cross.
But then, after spending time with his resurrected Lord, his life was drastically transformed. He saw everything prophesied to be true; it was just as Jesus had said! Being confident in the facts he witnessed firsthand enthused his faith to spread the news of God’s kingdom through the same power that rose Jesus from the dead.
From then on, Peter’s track record takes a dramatic turn for the better. His character became one of dynamic courage, boldness and humility, insight, ability, and authority- all in the name of Jesus. He was a changed man. Forgiven, restored, and baptized with the Spirit.
Peter’s life transformation can be read about by anyone who opens the Bible’s pages. His bold proclamations early into his ministry stand to encourage and strengthen followers today to receive the power promised by God to witness what He has done.
Need more encouragement?
The other day I was having coffee with a woman who has been seeking refuge in T**key for a little over a year. As we were chatting, she told me she was a Christian. One of her most prized possessions is a Bible she received as a gift for her 1 year anniversary of being here. With tears in her eyes, she recalls this memory, and how blessed she is for how Lord keeps providing for her, always giving her more than she asks for.
Her 365th day started like the 364 days before it. Uncertain. Lonely. Hard. And then she was given a bible- a love letter from God- it was gold to her.
I was left speechless by her story, so she continued sharing… she continued encouraging.
Her speech moved me.
“It’s not always easy. But I daily put my life in God’s hands. When looking for places to live in the city [a nearly impossible feat] a landlord said he’d knock down the rent by half if I denied my faith in Jesus. You know what I told him? I cannot do that. I cannot hide the light in me. You see, Jesus tells me to my light shine before men, that they may see my good deeds and praise my Father in heaven.”
In that instant, bearing the lowest respected traits to middle eastern society– an African refugee, a woman, and a Christian– she quoted scripture to a complete stranger, and a man at that. Simple as pie.
It’s because she knew that ‘greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world’ (1Jn 4:4). It’s because like Peter, she had encountered Christ’s redeeming love, received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and has testimony of Him actively alive in her own life.
I don’t know her full story or what her life was like before Christ, but it’s evident that He rules her life, giving her ability to be a beacon of light, boldly spewing truth when given the window to do so.
We can’t read about her in the Bible, although I’m sure that if she had lived back then, her story would be found in Hebrew’s hall of fame…
“And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”