Monday, June 4, 2012
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When St. Patrick's Day rolled around, I realized I'd lost my shamrock tie, and I was bummed. Of course, everybody else was thrilled. Oh, yeah, yeah I always used to love wearing it for St. Patrick's Day every year to celebrate the part of me that's Irish. In spite of the fact that people insensitively described the color of that tie as "barf green." It just doesn't seem that anyone is missing it but me.
I'm not sure what old St. Pat would have made of the holiday named for him anyway. I mean, pouring green dye into the Chicago River and parades full of green-dressed celebrants. I do know that Patrick, who's pretty much obscured by the festivities, was quite a guy with quite a story.
His first trip to Ireland wasn't his choice. He was 14 and he got kidnapped and carried off to Ireland where he became a sheep-tendin', pig-sloppin' slave. But while he was there, he finally realized that Jesus died to forgive his sins, and he put his trust in Him to do just that. Well, Patrick finally escaped and got back home to Britain where he presumably, swore he'd never wear anything green!
But his second trip was his choice; a choice that should give a lot of us something to think about.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "More Than Shamrocks."
You know, as Patrick told it, he was asleep one night when he saw Victor, his former Irish captor, in a vision. He said, "He appeared to have come from Ireland with an unlimited number of letters." And Patrick said that the letters seemed to shout with one voice: "We ask you, holy boy, come and walk once more among us." He said he "was cut to the heart and could read no more."
Patrick did walk among them, spreading the Good News about Jesus that had changed his life. He introduced thousands of Irishmen to Jesus. Patrick reflected on the legacy of his life this way: "I am greatly a debtor to God who hath vouchsafed me such great grace that many people by my means should be born again to God."
People in heaven. That's St. Patrick's ultimate legacy. It's like the Apostle Paul said about some folks he'd introduced to Jesus in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Thessalonians 2, verses 19 and 20. "What is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of the Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." Which raises the question all of us Jesus-followers should be asking: "Who will be in heaven because of me?"
God let Patrick know He was counting on him to bring Jesus to people that he had "walked among." Which raises another question: "Who are my ‘walk among them' people?" They're the folks who are part of the daily network and experiences of my life. We've all got them - the ones who God is counting on us to rescue. He says if "you do not speak out...I will hold you accountable for his blood" (Ezekiel 33:8). Why? Because I knew what that person needed to know to get to heaven and I never told them. We don't need a vision. We've got orders. Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses, telling people about Me" (Acts 1:8).
See, Patrick was biographically credentialed to tell the Irish about Jesus. His life had apparently been crafted by God to make him a man who understood them, who they would listen to because of what he had experienced. But that's not just true of the "shamrock saint." Because every Jesus-follower has been biographically credentialed to share Jesus with folks. Including you, because of what you've experienced. Your personal story is your point of entry to ultimately tell them how His story changed your story forever and could change theirs. So you may be able to celebrate "that many people by my means (as Patrick said) were 'born again to God.'"
Patrick was in a very hard place when he made the greatest discovery of his life - a personal relationship with Jesus. By giving his life to Jesus, he stepped into a greatness that he could have never imagined any other way. Now, it may be that the hard place you're in right now is where you will finally find what you've spent your whole life looking for - that love relationship with Jesus Christ, who loved you enough to die for you and was powerful enough to walk out of His grave.
He's ready to walk into your life today. If you want to know how to get started with Him, I encourage you to go to our website, YoursForLife.net. Step into God's great plan for your life.