Summary: In our text, Paul rehearses his background, conversion and future. 1- I was 2- I did 3- I will
INTRO.- I was, I did, I will. I’d call those: past, present and future. Everyone has these.
ILL.- One man said to his friend: "Say, you look depressed. What are you thinking about?" "My future," was the quick answer. "What makes it look so hopeless?" "My past."
What’s the application or moral of the story? Some people just can’t seem to overcome their past no matter how hard they try. And without the Lord, no one can overcome their past: good, bad or otherwise! And a person has to overcome any kind of negative past in order to make progress in the future.
ILL.- Preacher Warren Wiersbe said, "Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past."
But what do we learn from our past? Hopefully, we learn what to do and what not to do.
ILL.- Harry S. Truman said in 1948, "Men who live in the past remind me of a toy I’m sure all of you have seen. The toy is a small wooden bird called the ’Floogie Bird.’ Around the Floogie Bird’s neck is a label reading, "I fly backwards, I don’t care where I’m going. I just want to see where I’ve been."
I’ve never heard of a Floogie Bird and I sure don’t want to dwell or stay in the past. I’ve had some good days but I’ve also had some bad days and I don’t want to stay there. I want to look to the future and do better, go higher, do more, and seek the Lord as never before.
THE SONG SAYS IT WELL. SAYS IT BEST.
I’m pressing on the upward way
New heights I’m gaining every day
Still praying as I’m onward bound
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground
Lord, lift me up and let me stand
by faith on Heaven’s table land
A higher plain than I have found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground
My heart has no desire to stay
where doubts arise and fears dismay
Though some may dwell where these abound
my prayer, my aim, is higher ground
Higher ground in Christ should be our prayer, our aim in life!
PROP.- In our text, Paul rehearses his background, conversion and future. 1- I was 2- I did 3- I will
I. I WAS
3"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison.
ILL.- Someone said, “People who live in the past are doomed to failure in the future.” Living in the past (even a good past) can taint your future if you’re not careful.
Paul said, "I was a Jew, born in Tarsus. I was trained in the law. I was zealous for God."
Paul looked back. Paul had both a good and a negative past. The good was the fact that he was zealous for God even though he didn’t truly know God. He basically only knew the law.
And we need to remember that people can know ’about’ God but still not know Him personally. We come to know Him through our relationship to Jesus.
John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Paul also had a negative past and that was persecuting Christians, although he thought he was doing right. This is not much different from many people today. They think they are blessing the world by persecuting those who follow Christ.
It’s inevitable that we will look back a times. That’s not bad, as long as we don’t stay there. Looking back can either depress you or excite you, depending on what you did. But we can’t let past failures drag us down nor can we rest on our laurels if we’ve had a good past or did some good things.
ILL.- Recently, Tim Russert of "Meet the Press" died suddenly from a heart attack at the age 58, in spite of taking blood pressure medication, cholesterol lowing medication. You just never know, do you? Seemingly healthy but overweight. Apparently, he was a devout Catholic and very devoted to his wife, son, and elderly father. And he was very good at what he did but he’s gone. LIFE CAN END SUDDENLY FOR ANYONE.
Here is something about his wife and family that I read on the internet: Leaving their hotel room in Italy ahead of his wife and son to go back to Washington, D.C., so he could tape that Sunday’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert was grabbed by his wife.