Thursday, September 17, 2020

Given a New Heart and Sweet Peace

I'd like to share with you the testimony of my daughter Hope, who is now nineteen years old. This is her own personal account of how she came to know the Lord, and how He gave her a new heart with sweet peace.  

Hope's Testimony
I grew up as the second oldest of five children in a strong Christian household, where we studied the Bible and prayed together and were brought up in the ways of the Lord from a very young age. We were also encouraged to pray and to have a personal relationship with the Lord. From a very young age it was evident that I had already come to know the Lord. When I was just barely two, I liked to pray for people. I also went around our house saying, "We don't worship idols.  We worship Jesus." When I was a tender three years of age, I said, "I love Jesus" and He put "a new heart inside my heart.” At this same age, my dad saw a lot of good things growing out of my heart. During the day, I talked about Jesus, expressing my love for him, and had a joyful spirit about me. One time when I was four, I said, "The blood of Jesus is on the door of our hearts." 

Not only did I have a personal knowledge of the Lord, but when I was almost five, I suddenly asked my mom without any prompting, "Mommy? Can we go tell the neighbors about God?  I'll tell the neighbors, 'You don't want to love the devil, because he wears black and there's fire in hell.'" I don’t think we actually went to talk to them, but there was that desire in me to evangelize to our neighbors. There were several times as a little girl when my father prayed with me to receive Jesus into my heart. One of those times was on August 3, 2006, when I was five years old. In addition to praying to receive Jesus, my dad laid his hands on me and prayed that I would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. When he did so, I told him that I felt happy. 

Almost a year later, on July 15, 2007, my family and I visited a church were my dad preached. During the message, he asked if there was anyone there who had not yet given his life to Jesus. Although I raised my hand, my dad I didn't see it. When my mom brought it up after we had returned home, I acknowledged that I had raised my hand.  My answer when my parents asked me the reason why was, "Because I wanted to give my life to Jesus." My parents then prayed with me to invite Jesus into my heart and give my life to Him. A week later, I was baptized in Jesus’ name in the presence of friends and family. That moment marked the most significant change that had happened up until that point in my life.

Faith (L) and Hope (R)
A couple months later, my sister already noticed a difference in me after our dad had taught us on praise, and I lifted my hands in worship. She related to my dad later, “I saw right through her hands and her arms that the Holy Spirit was all over her.  For the first time I saw that Hope had freedom to lift her hands and praise God that I had never seen before she knew the Lord.  But now she has that freedom.” The following year, my family and I watched a program which highlighted a revival in which young people were being set on fire for God. My sisters and I were inspired by this to hold our own revival meeting in our living room, which I led. As we played on drums we sang, “Baptize us in the Holy Spirit, baptize us in fire!" During this session, we also were praying for each other. 

Three and a half years later, when I was eleven, my family and I watched a video about two young ladies, one who had gone to hell and another who had seen Jesus.  This video brought conviction to us, and we all repented and asked the Lord for forgiveness for our sins. We also asked the Lord to fill us with His Holy Spirit, and He did so. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues. This experience was the beginning of the Lord burning away the dross in my life. A week later, on New Year’s Eve, my family and I listened to a book by a South Korean pastor called “Baptized by Blazing Fire.”  Through this book we all were encouraged to seek the Lord in prayer. My dad then prayed for me and both of my sisters. I repented of the darkness I had allowed in my heart and was set free. I also received the baptism with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. My family and I knelt down and prayed earnestly for quite some time. During this time that we spent seeking the Lord, I felt that God had set me free!  

After this time we spent in prayer, my family could all see the evidence of this new freedom on my face and in my eyes.  They could see a peace in my countenance, and there was a gentleness they could see on me that they had not seen before. My face was aglow with a light upon it.  It looked as though scales had been taken from my eyes, and they were now clear and glowing with light. In the period of my life leading up to that point, I had allowed a lot of demons into my life. I had a lot of self-hatred and even entertained suicidal thoughts. But the Lord had begun a work in my life to bring me out of that darkness into the Light. I was still far from perfect, but the Lord was working to purify me from the things in my life that were not of Him. One morning, six months later, my older sister heard me awaken speaking in tongues. I had no idea that just a while before, my younger sister had also awoken speaking in tongues.

In the years that followed, I still had sins in my life that I needed to deal with, and there were times when I wondered if I was even saved. During this time, one of my sisters went through a process of thinking for herself about God, and recommitting her life to Him. When she was going through that experience, my dad had told us that sometimes it is a good idea for young people, even if they have already given their lives to Jesus when they were little children, to renew that commitment to Him when they are older and have gone through a process where they have really thought for themselves about God, and independently made that decision to serve Him. Sometime after that, when I was almost fifteen years old, I decided that now was the time for me to recommit my life to the Lord. On October 10, 2015, I surrendered my life anew to Christ during my personal prayer time. 

Just a few weeks later, on November first, my mother had a word of prophecy for me during our family church meeting, which she spoke over me with tears. The word was, “This coming year of your life, the Lord wants to open your mind to greater understanding, greater revelation, greater knowledge of God, greater love for God, and for others. He wants to unfold your spirit like a flower bud opening up to the light of God.” She then prayed for these words to be fulfilled in my life. 

In the weeks that followed, I forgot about this word for me that the Lord had given through my mother. However, just months later, early the following year, the Lord began to bring these words to pass. I believe it started with the Lord bringing to my remembrance past sins in my life that I had not repented for. As I repented of those sins, the Lord kept bringing more to the surface. I also began to take even the small sins I committed in my everyday life seriously, crying and repenting for them. I was so aware of my sin that, there were times that I spent basically my entire personal prayer time repenting, sometimes crying from the depths of my heart over my sin. However, I needed to learn to accept God’s forgiveness and grace and not keep on beating myself up even after I had repented. During this time of refining, my dad told me that he had been noticing a change in me, which He believed the Lord was bringing me through so that I could have a breakthrough in the end. 

However, even though the Lord was bringing about this work in my life, the devil was also working to bring doubts into my mind. I started to wonder if God really existed and if Jesus had really come to earth and died for me on the Cross and risen again. There also were times when I didn’t feel that God heard me when I prayed. I went through days where I felt down, and didn’t feel like praying at times because of these doubts in my heart. I wanted to believe, and I kept on repenting of my unbelief. There were moments when I was alone when I cried my heart out in total despair because of these thoughts.

During this time, my parents encouraged and counseled me. I remember one particular night where I had been praying alone, and I started to enter into this despair and to cry uncontrollably because of these doubts. My mom heard me, and came into the room where I was. Among other things she told me something like, as the hymn “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” says, darkness sometimes hides the Lord’s face, but we just need to trust that He is still there, even when we don’t feel His nearness. My dad came in at some point, and they told me to go lie down and rest, and just “be still and know that He is God.” As I was lying there and resting in the fact that He is God, I felt the Lord’s peace, and I believe it felt as if there was literally a supernatural peace in my chest.

During this period of struggling with doubt, there was one time when I was listening to a replay of a Christian radio program, which had been from the previous Resurrection Sunday weekend. The focus of the program was about Thomas doubting when Jesus rose again from the dead. One of the passages quoted during the program was John 20:27 where Jesus said “Stop doubting and believe.” I felt that God was speaking to me through this to stop doubting. 

A little over a week later, during my personal prayer time I asked God to strengthen me and my family’s feeble hands and to strengthen our feeble knees that give way. After I had finished my regular Bible reading, I felt led to read an extra chapter in the Bible. I ended up reading Isaiah 35. Unbeknownst to me before I started reading, verse three of that passage says, “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way.” I had “coincidentally” stumbled upon the very verse I had just prayed! I don’t believe I had ever prayed this verse before so it was definitely the Lord’s doing that I chose to read this passage. I felt that through this divine coincidence that God may have been trying to show me that He hears my prayers, since I had been having doubts that He did. 

During this time of struggling with unbelief, my dad also gave me articles of his to read to help strengthen my faith, such as one about Muslims who had been saved after Jesus appeared to them. Those were indeed faith-building. God eventually gave me victory and helped me to overcome these doubts. I give God all the glory for what He has brought about in me. Even though I am still far from perfect, I’m not the same person I used to be, and I believe that He Who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 

Each and every one of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, no matter how good we may consider ourselves, even if we were raised in a Christian family and never went the way of the world. We all deserve eternal hellfire and torment. However, God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ into this dark world to die on the cross and take the punishment we deserve. Jesus rose again from the grave, victorious over death, and now reigns at God’s right hand. Jesus is longing for you to forsake your sins, and come follow Him for the rest of your days. If you have never made this decision, I invite you to do so today. Now is the time of God’s favor; now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). No matter how young you may be, none of us is promised tomorrow, so this may be your last chance. 

Repent of every sin you’ve ever committed, and ask Jesus to forgive you and cleanse your heart as white as snow with His blood. Believe in your heart that Jesus took the penalty for your sins on the cross, and that He rose again. Surrender your whole life to Him, and make Him your Lord and Savior. If you are having doubts about God, I challenge you to cry out sincerely to Him and ask Him to reveal himself to you and help you overcome your unbelief, and He will surely do just that. He will bring you from darkness in his glorious light. I pray I will one day meet you at the throne of God when we reach heaven someday. 

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to read The Truth Set Me FreeMy Overflowing Joy in Knowing Jesus, and Lifted Out of a Slimy Pit, which are the testimonies of myself and two of my other children. Also see the Home page of this blog for more testimonies. You are invited to view my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe. 

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

My Overflowing Joy in Knowing Jesus

I'd like to share with you the testimony of my youngest daughter Faith, who is now eighteen years old. This is her own personal account of how she came to know the Lord, based on her memory, as well as her own journal and the journal I have kept for all my children since they were born. This will bless your heart!

Faith's Testimony
I was very blessed to be born as the third oldest child into a family with a father and mother who were Christians. They loved me and my siblings, taught us from the Bible, and prayed with us.

Four years old
When I was three, my parents could see that I had faith in God when I thanked him for answering my prayers as though it had already happened. I would also sometimes sing along with the songs at church while clapping or lifting my hands in worship.

At the age of four, I once prayed and heard the Lord telling me, “Be kind to your neighbors and bring peace.”

A few months prior to my praying to receive Jesus, I already knew that He was the one true God, and this was shown when at one time I called over to our unsaved next-door neighbor, and said things like, “Love Jesus and serve Him”, and, “Love the Lord!  He's the only true God that will answer your prayers! You will praise Him and He will love you and you will adore Him.”

Then, one night when I was four years old, on August 3, 2006, we as a family were preparing to have our evening devotional. My father prayed and asked the Lord what passage to read from and was shown John 3. Just as that happened and before he said so, I announced, "The Lord said we're gonna read from John." Afterward I prayed to receive Jesus and be born again.  Then my father laid hands on me and prayed for me to be filled with the Holy Spirit. God divinely orchestrated this event so that we read John 3 which is the passage that has the verses, “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again,’” (John 3:3) and, “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’” (John 3:5)

About a month after this incident, I was outside and I yelled across the street to some of our neighbors saying, “Love Jesus! And love your neighbor as yourself!” In response, they closed their window.

Sometime after this, my father got a word for me which was that I would move in the gifts of faith, miracles, and powerful healing. I would be a fisher of men and lead people to Jesus. I would get words of knowledge for people and speak into their lives and break the power of darkness off of them.

On another occasion, I asked my aunt if she knew that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. I would even ask strangers if they knew and loved Jesus. And when I found out from some of them that they did, I got very excited. When I was five years old, I declared to my father that when I grew up I wanted to “go everywhere and tell people about Jesus” and that I would “go all over the planet and look for people who want to love Jesus”.

At this age, I even dictated to my older sister the following declaration that I wanted her to record in my journal: “I love Jesus more than anyone else. And I want to serve Him for the rest of my life.  And also I want to follow Him even when I am playing. God will comfort everyone in this family. And I will read the Bible every day. I want to praise Him in church. And I want to help other people when they are sad. I love Jesus, and I want to help my family. And I want Jesus to heal me.”

There was one period of time in my fifth year where every night I would have night terrors and would scream in fright. When I woke up, I would not even remember what I had dreamt. My father finally cast out the spirit of fear that he discerned was causing these terrors. And when I rejected the evil spirits and prohibited them from returning to me, they didn’t come back. Praise the Lord!

At the age of six, I told my father, "Daddy, I think part of what God wants me to do in life is to share Jesus with people."

Nine years old
When I was nine, my family and I watched a video about two girls—one who saw Jesus and another one who went to hell and came back to tell of her experience. Afterward, we all repented to the Lord of our sins. After asking the Lord to fill me with His Holy Spirit, I received this with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

A few weeks later, we were again listening to testimonies, and we were all encouraged to seek the Lord. This was another point at which I was filled with the Holy Spirit, and at this time, I prayed fervently to the Lord for about an hour, repenting and confessing my sins to the Lord, dedicating myself to him, praising Him, and breaking any curses off of our family that the devil would try to put on us. (For more about this wonderful experience, please see Outpouring of the Spirit.)

There were other times later on when I received the Holy Fire and felt it on my body or in my hands as balls of fire. As the Scripture says, “He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

One night, following these experiences, I dreamt that I was standing in a room with angels walking around. Whenever they would walk in front of or beside me, this wonderful weight would come upon me, and I would fall backwards because of it.

A few days later, while I was in prayer, I asked the Lord to speak to me. So I waited and then heard, “Go out and minister.” I asked, “How, Lord?” And he impressed upon me Psalm 82. I didn’t know what this passage said, so in my Bible reading time, I looked it up. The verses that I believe God was answering my question with were verses 3 and 4. They say, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” I was amazed at how clearly God had spoken to me.

Fifteen years old
In May of 2018, at the age of fifteen, in my time with the Lord, I recommitted and surrendered my life to the Lord. I cried out for love, joy and peace, and as I told the Lord, “Thy loving-kindness is better than life,” I felt joy surging up within me.

I praise the Lord for all that He has done in my life, and I know that God still has great things in store for me.


My Invitation to You
But now it is your turn to make a decision. Maybe you, like me, were born into a Christian family, and you’ve gone to church all your life; maybe you even believe you’re a “good” person. But that is not enough. You must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. You need to recognize your sinfulness and repent, asking the Lord to forgive you and make you clean. He is waiting and more than willing, if you will ask Him to come into your heart and be the Lord of your life.

Or maybe you’ve never heard the gospel before; let me tell you, Jesus is the only way to heaven. He doesn’t want you to perish in Hell. He loved you so much that He came to earth and took your sin upon Himself and died on the cross for you. He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God. He is knocking at the door of your heart wanting to come in and give you life, love, joy, and peace like you’ve never known before. Will you accept Him and the gift He has to offer you?

Do it now; the time is short. No matter what you’ve done, God will receive you. Repent of your sins, ask Him for forgiveness, invite Him into your heart, take Him as your Lord and Savior, and surrender your life to Him to serve Him whole-heartedly. The Bible says, “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’” (Ro 10:9-11)

I hope that my testimony has been an encouragement to you, and that it has touched your life in some way, whether you were saved already, or not, and you have just now started your heavenward journey. I look forward to seeing you some day at those pearly gates in glory.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotation taken from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. 

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to read The Truth Set Me Free, Given a New Heart and Sweet Peace, and Lifted Out of a Slimy Pit, which are the testimonies of myself and two of my other children. Also see the Home page of this blog for more testimonies. You are invited to view my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.