Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 30: Acts 26


The Gospel has a profound impact on people. Hopefully, you have experienced that impact in your life and God has transformed you. If so, then you understand that it is not something that can be pent up within you. It is something that urgently demands to be made known. The most common question becomes, "How? What do I say?" In this passage, Paul demonstrates the power of the Gospel and the best way to portray it.

Paul has been specifically called by God to do exactly that. The result is that he has been imprisoned due to the false accusations of the Jews. His defense has brought him before King Agrippa. Paul seizes the opportunity afforded him to present the truth of Jesus before the King and the Governor Festus.

The most powerful presentation of the truth of the Gospel is your own life. Paul understood this and that is the story that he tells these men. He is clear about what his life was like before he encountered Jesus. For Paul, it was one of futility; trying to earn God's approval through zealously trying to fulfill God's laws. As a result, he found himself opposing Jesus and anyone who sought to follow him. This occurred because the truth of Jesus does not make sense to those who are seperated from him by their sin. In fact, the Bible tells us that those who are seperated from God have their eyes blinded, they cannot see the truth; their minds are darkened so that they cannot understand it. That was where Paul found himself. Paul describes the frustration of trying to serve God enough to earn His favor but failing. He explains the guilt that resulted from trying to chart his own course. Your circumstances are different, but you can clearly remember what life is like without Jesus.

However, there comes a time when Jesus Christ is clearly presented to you. God tears away the veil that covers our eyes, removes the fog in our minds, and allows us to understand clearly who we are, who Jesus is, and what He has done on our behalf. This becomes a life-altering event when we believe these things and accept them by faith. What seems like insanity to some becomes a truth that we can no longer avoid. Something within us will not be satisfied until we proclaim it as true and accept it as the guide for our life. When we finally relent and turn from ourselves to God, our lives are forever changed.

Paul points to this in his life. When Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus, his life was forever changed. Now, life makes more sense. The missing pieces seem to fit. God has arranged his life and now it is complete. Paul understood that He had sinned against God by determining his own path and trusting in his own efforts and righteousness. When he understood that Jesus came to present the only way to God, Paul saw just how wicked he truly was. The seriousness of his condition is revealed through Jesus' suffering for him on the cross. This drives Paul to his knees and forever changes the course of his life.

There has to be a time when we forsake everything to follow God. Usually, we don't understand all that entails, but we understand that we cannot fight against Him any longer. We see that we have been stuggling to get away from Him, but we have to turn to him. Now, He controls our life and calls the shots.

When God is our guide, our lives look very different. For Paul, it meant forsaking everything that he had ever known. His life had been dedicated to following the teachings of the Pharisees. They vehemently opposed Jesus. Now Paul has completely switched teams and is now opposing the Pharisees on behalf of Jesus.

As we seek to follow God, He will show us things that must change in our lives. This is not always easy and is seldom comfortable. It is always necessary, however. As we change and follow God, the results are evident in our lives. Many times, these very changes are the things that give us credibility to speak about Jesus. They become the evidence of God's truth at work in our lives. This is a continual process, not a one-time event. The rest of our lives will involve seeing where we are wrong, repenting, and turning back to God. Life becomes a continual process of changing to become like Jesus.

The result? Some will think we are insane (like Festus). That's ok, God has not removed the veil from their eyes yet. Others will be moved but still not ready to bow their knee and surrender (like Agrippa). That's ok, too. Keep following Jesus, remain available, and pray for them. Pray that God will open their eyes to the truth, give them faith to believe, and that you will have another opportunity to speak to them for God.

God has saved you. You are now on display as a trophy of His grace and He wants to use you to convey that message to the world. You may not feel worthy or equipped, but trust in God, this is His work. You don't have to have all the answers; you have your story.

Tell your story. Testify.

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