Testimonies

A testimony is a story—a true story.
In court we have to swear that the testimony we are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To tell a lie after such an oath is a crime called perjury.

A testimony is also a witness—a faithful witness.
The same oaths and principles apply to the words of witness as to the details of the narrative.

The Psalmists say things like this:

  • “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! (Ps 119:2 NKJV) and,
  • “Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever.” (Ps 93:5 NKJV)

In this season of the year we tell and tell again the story of a death that gives life—the Jesus Story.

All year we celebrate the thrilling parts of the story:

  • the trio of songs from angels, shepherds, and wise men as they praised Jesus as a child,
  • the new wine at the wedding that moments before was just water,
  • the healings and deliverances,
  • the debates with the Pharisees when they never had a chance against Jesus,
  • the incredible personal moments He shared with individuals—Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, the adulterous woman, Mary of Bethany,
  • the crowds that followed Him, hungering for every word of life and getting a miraculous lunch in the bargain,
  • the amazing impenetrable words falling to the foot of the mountain about a new way of living, a way peace and love that deals with turning cheeks, burdens carried the extra mile, and love and prayers for our enemies,
  • the transfiguring moment on another mountain when the veil of flesh that hid His glory fell for a few minutes as He spoke with Moses and Elijah,
  • His resurrection power at the tomb of Lazarus, and on and on the testimonies from the witnesses go.

These days it is time to speak of other scenes in the story:

  • His last meal with friends before His passion,
  • the passion with all its pain and promise,
  • the cross, the cruel crown, the nails, the spear, the storm, the shaking earth, and the silence,
  • the weeping women, and the faithful men, and
  • the borrowed tomb.

We will never know such rejection, such pain, but we seek in these weeks to identify with Jesus.

How can we do this?

We tell the story again and again because it is true. It is our sworn testimony. Even all these centuries later we, too, are faithful witnesses to its truth.

Scripture:
Psalm 119:121-144 NKJV
I have done justice and righteousness; Do not leave me to my oppressors. Be surety for Your servant for good; Do not let the proud oppress me. My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation And Your righteous word. Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy, And teach me Your statutes. I am Your servant; Give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies. It is time for You to act, O Lord, For they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way. Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul keeps them. The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. I opened my mouth and panted For I longed for Your commandments. Look upon me and be merciful to me ,As Your custom is toward those who love Your name. Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts. Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes. Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law. Righteous are You, O Lord, And upright are Your judgments. Your testimonies, which You have commanded, Are righteous and very faithful. My zeal has consumed me, Because my enemies have forgotten Your words. Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it. I am small and despised, Yet I do not forget Your precepts. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth. Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights. The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding, and I shall live

Prayer of Confession:
The Apostles’ Creed
The Book of Common Prayer
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy universal Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Song:
I Love to Tell the Story
Words: Kate Hankey; Music: William G. Fischer

1. I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
it satisfies my longings as nothing else could do.

Refrain:
I love to tell the story; ’twill be my theme in glory
to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

2. I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
what seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
the message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

Refrain

3. I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting to hear it, like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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