Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Story to Tell

{Galatians 1:11-24; NLT}

Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
  You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God's church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.
  But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him16 to reveal his Son to me* so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.
  When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.
  Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord's brother. I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.
  After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn't know me personally. All they knew was that people were saying, "The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!" And they praised God because of me.


Each one of us has a story to tell. Because of our different experiences our stories of faith are unique to us. Our reasons for following Jesus vary from Christ Follower to Christ Follower, as are the Burning Heart Moments we experience as God reveals Himself to us more and more.

When we find ourselves in a community of Faith it is important that we tell each other these stories. While our story may not seem that spectacular to us (after all it is what we experienced) it has the power to encourage other Christ Followers to hang on and continue to trust in Jesus. These stories also have the power to remind us of the subtle ways God is at work in the world; changing the lives of people.

In the first chapter of Galatians the Apostle Paul quickly tells his story. He does so in order to establish his credibility with his audience. Paul has some important things he wants to tell them and he wants to make sure that they will trust what he has to say. As we think about how we should tell our story we should try and include some of these very same elements that Paul used in his story.

CHRIST REVEALED

Verses 11-12
The Apostle Paul had a very dramatic introduction to Jesus. He was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Church when a bright light blinded him and a voice spoke to him (Acts 9). Paul states that from this encounter with the risen Lord that lead to him changing the way he lived.

Our encounters with Jesus will probably be less dramatic, but just as life changing. For many of us we have that one moment when the Gospel of Jesus Christ became the ultimate reality in our lives. For me it was a dream. For you it could have been a song, an agonizing experience, a special relationship, or joyful and fun filled event. Whatever it was you realized that Jesus was calling to you and that you accepted His invitation to follow Him. Why did you decide to follow Jesus.

THE PAST RENOUNCED

Verses 13-14
There was a change that took place in Paul’s life. He was a zealot of Judaism, a Pharisee of the highest degree. It was because of his zealous life that he sought to destroy this new faith of following Jesus Christ. When Paul encountered Jesus Paul realized that a change needed to take place in his life and so he started the process of change.

We too were zealous in our former way of life. We were perhaps zealous for money, food, drugs, or even ourselves. Whatever the cases was our passions were focused on the wrong thing and the result is that we were leading a life that was leading to our destruction. While we were all enslaved by different sins we still had the same problem and we are all trying to overcome those sins and follow Jesus. How has your life changed since you started to follow Jesus?

THE MIND RENEWED

Verses 15-17
Paul’s thinking changed as began to trust Jesus. Before his encounter with Jesus Paul believed he was doing God’s will by persecuting the Church, but now he realized that God had actually called him to encourage and build up the Church. As Paul devoted his life to following Jesus he received a special revelation of the Gospel. It was this revelation that shaped the message he preached.

As we begin to devote more and more time to God’s Word and trusting Jesus more and more with our lives our attitudes, thoughts, and passions are transformed. We see the light of truth in the darkness of lies, we love others in a world of self-love, and we give ourselves away rather than pushing others aside in our attempt to get to the top. Our minds and hearts have been renewed. What change has occurred in our heart and mind since following Jesus?

BELIEVERS REJOICED

Verses 18-24
When Paul went to Jerusalem it was after three years of changing and following Jesus. He met briefly with Peter and James before going out to fulfill the call God had placed on his heart. Because of Paul’s transformation the Believers in Jerusalem praised God for all that had happened. It was a dramatic change.

As we live our lives we influence others, either intentionally or unintentionally. Through this influence we become models of the Christian life for other people. We should expect that our lives are making a difference in the world around us, and it is okay to talk about what God is doing through our lives to impact other people. How has God used your life to influence this world?

What is your story? I hope that I have encouraged you to think about your life and the story you have to tell. While it may seem boring or plain to you it maybe exactly what another person needs to hear so their confidence and trust can be renewed as they try to follow Jesus. Our stories are small parts of God’s grand story of love, salvation, and redemption. For that reason no one’s story is insignificant. Don’t be afraid to talk about what God is doing in and through your life.

Outline Adapted from Sermon Seeds.

1 comment:

Joy in the Journey said...

I wish that I had a dime for every time YOU encouraged me through your written words.

In addition, I spoke with a friend last week, long-distance. She said the sentence at their house lately has been, "Turn your mess into a message." How poignant her words also were for me.

My story will be coming out via a blog--nothing held back. I'm hoping to reflect on the lessons I (should have) learned and using them to change the future for His service.

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