Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Are You Telling the Story

In this day and age of bullet points and PowerPoint presentations, the art of storytelling has almost gone the way of the dodo bird. We rely too much on reading points on a slide rather than engaging with the audience to tell a story. Being able to tell a coherent and engaging story is an art and skill that comes by practice. 

Remember going on camping trips or having a sleepover in the backyard? Someone would start a campfire or add logs to a firepit. All would sit around the fire and talk while making s’mores. Then, someone would ask another to tell a story. The person being asked to tell the story would straighten up a bit and clear his or her throat. That was the signal to all to stop their conversations and listen intently to the storyteller.

That person would hold everyone’s attention and add sound effects and commentary to the story to add to the color and excitement of the story. The others around the storyteller would lean in and listen to every word. It was more entertaining than watching a television program and definitely more personal. 

At the end of the story, everyone would clap and thank the individual for telling such a great story. If it is early in the evening, others would share their exciting and fun stories. Everyone around the fire will remember the stories and, over time, will tell others around another fire to another generation of listeners. 

This used to be the way we passed our heritage to other generations. Stories of bravery and sacrifice were happily told to those who would listen. I remember my own father doing that very thing. He would tell about his time in the military or growing up. It was wonderful listening to his memories of the Great Depression and how he and his family made it through some very tough times.

Those stories and memories that my dad shared provided me with the strength to get through the tough times I faced. Without his words, I probably wouldn’t have gotten far and would have just given up like so many have. But, those stories kept my spirits up and gave me the strength to take the next step.

There were times when I just felt that I couldn’t take the next step. We’ve all experienced those moments. The key to surviving is to remember the stories and use them as a source of inspiration. 

When I was the chaplain at the retirement community in Cedar Park, I drew on the stories and memories of all those around me. Some lived through the Great Depression and the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. Some served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. All had a story to tell and advice to give. Their stories will always be a part of me and the wisdom that they imparted to me will also guide my footsteps.

Of all of the stories, the stories of faith were and are the most important to me. They give me the strength to move forward when I find my faith and energy waning. Their stories of victory through their faith continue to inspire me daily as I face my challenges. 

I have shared my stories and my family’s stories with others in order to provide wisdom in their journey with the Lord. It is through the sharing of our stories that we are able to give each other that precious gift of wisdom and inspiration.

In Psalm 145, the psalmist writes, “Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

As I watch more and more of our younger generation give up on their faith, it is more important than ever to share your faith with the younger generation. It is time for us to praise the name of the Lord and proclaim His power to all those who will listen. His story must be told to all or they will forget about God and put Him quietly on a shelf like an old book gathering dust.

Even as I write this message, I am sure that there are people who scoff at those who believe in some spirit in the sky that has power over the universe. In my opinion, they have lost their way and need to be reminded of the love of the Lord and how He sent His son, Jesus, to die a criminal’s death on a cross to pay our debt of sin once and for all. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead to give us the gift of eternal life and salvation. 

We need to be sharing our testimonies with all and giving them the opportunity to experience the love of the Father. We should be singing His praises daily so that others can hear of His great and mighty deeds.

Isaiah, in chapter thirty-eight of his book, writes, “Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.

Are you sharing His story today with others? If you aren’t, you should be. Do you want the next generation to walk in darkness and wallow in sin? You have such a great story to share with others. Your testimony may lead to a life-changing moment for someone. 

We all have a story to tell and need to share it. When you look around and see all of the things that are going on in our world, those who walk in darkness need your testimony more than ever. All you have to do is stand up and share your story with those who desperately need a change in their lives. 

In this world of instant gratification and fulfillment, people become easily disappointed and seek something that will fill the void in their lives. Do something great for those who need words of encouragement and need to hear the words of praise from your mouth and soul.

Moses, in chapter eleven of the Book of Deuteronomy, records these words of God, “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.

In 1866, Kate Hankey penned the words to a very inspiring hymn. That hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story”, perfectly captures the essence of this message and should be the source of your daily inspiration.

Tell your story to those around you and share “the old, old story of Jesus and his love”. When you do, you will not only be blessed but you will also stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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