Summary: The clock is ticking! Limited time! Limited days! What would you do if you knew that your time was about to be up?Description: It is personal. Sometimes it is guarded and sometimes it is shared. Everyone has one. Real people have real stories! Are you telling yours?
When you know the rest of the story it often makes you miss the importance of the beginning of the story. Knowing the end causes you to take for granted the steps it took to get there. Today’s real story is one of those stories. You most likely know the end but you may have overlooked the process.
He was highly intelligent. Passionate. Dedicated. On a mission. Some would even call it a God mission. He was so committed to this mission that he becomes the face of the movement. He arrives on the landscape of our consciousness first as a mob gathers and throws rocks at this crazy Jesus follower. While they throw rocks he holds their coats and looks on with approval. Acts 8 tells us that this man was in full agreement with this murder. Then a few verses later we are told that this man began to wreak havoc against the church! Finally, the rest of the story that causes us to forget the first part of his story. He has a face to face encounter with Jesus. He is blinded and confronted by Jesus. He is converted. He realizes that he has been fighting God. So, now he is ready to preach for Jesus and the Christians are rightfully suspicious. Barnabas has to vouch for him and Paul starts his ministry.
We would focus on the highlight of the fact that he wrote most of the New Testament. Was one of the most influential men of his generation. That his ministry was marked by miracles. But Paul constantly reminded us of his start. On more than one occasion he would restate this about himself . . .
Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17 (NIV)
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul seemed so willing to recount, revisit and retell his less than stellar past. He could have told only about his encounter with Jesus but instead he says he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. He goes on to say he was the chief among sinners. His willingness to tell his real story teaches us some things we need to know.
You either own your story or your story will own you!
Paul had a choice to make . . . He could either mask or master his story. His willingness to own his story resulted in that story of pain becoming a platform from which he could preach forgiveness and redemption. He never hid who he had been. Instead he owned his story.
The truth is we all have a bloody past. There are parts of our story that we don’t like. That we aren’t proud of. That we wished we could change. However, the difference between us and Paul is that too often, by our silence, we allow our story to become lethal rather than allowing it to become leverage.
Your story will either imprison you or position you.
We know from God’s track record that He can take what was meant to harm us and turn it for our good. However, to often the good that would turn others to God is overlooked or unknown because we refuse to own our story so they have no idea that we ever had anything bad that was turned!
Too many of us are owned by our story. We are constantly looking over our shoulder . . . Afraid that someone will find out our real story, afraid that our past will become our present and that fear forces us into hiding. Paul refused to hide from who he had been so that he could show off who he was now. He teaches us that if we don’t tell our story someone else will!
By owning his story he disarms the enemy! The enemy could not use Paul’s story against him as ammo because Paul had already told the story! Too many of us arm our enemy by our refusal to own our story! The enemy simply tells our story and it silences us. When we own our story God can redeem our story! How do we know we have owned our story? We tell it truthfully and with . . .