Summary: God wants to use your story to give someone else’s story a happy ending.
Telling Your Story
Text: Acts 26:1ff
1. Illustration: In his book, Just Walk Across The Room, Bill Hybels says, "Our affinity for stories begins at an early age, as little kids begging weary parents, "read it again, read it again.!" As we become mature, contributing members of society, our childlike fascination with the powerful hero or the magical fairy morph's into a simple desire to enter into someone else's reality in hope of making sense of our own...Every person alive today has a story too. And possibly the greatest realization a person can make is this: "My story fits into God's greater story - and that's the greatest story ever told."
2. How about you? Does your story fit into the greatest story ever told? The answer to that question ought to be a resounding, "yes!" Your story fits into God's story because you fit into God's story, and God can use your story to make a difference in someone else's life.
3. Paul shows us how to tell our story. He shows us to start with...
A. Your Past
B. Your Personal Encounter
C. Your Challenge
4. Let's stand together as we read from Acts 26:1-32
Proposition: God wants to use your story to give someone else’s story a happy ending.
Transition: The place to start is by telling people about...
I. Your Past (1-11).
A. I Used To Believe
1. Like all of us, Paul had a story to tell. He starts out by saying he wasn't always the way he appears to be now. In other words, he was a man with a past.
2. Our chapter begins with "Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak in your defense.” So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense: 2 “I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, 3 for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!"
A. This is Paul's final hearing in Acts, and the third account of his conversion, giving new details.
B. With Agrippa's permission to speak for himself, Paul "gesturing with his hand" in the manner of a Roman orator) and proceeded to make his defense.
C. He counted himself fortunate to appear before Agrippa because he was "well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies."
D. (Being a Jew by religion, Agrippa could be expected to have a concern about these things.) Therefore Paul begged him to "listen... patiently" (Horton, 385).
3. Now Paul talks about his background. He says, “As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion."
A. Paul pointed out first that all the Jews had known him "for a long time," his manner of life in Tarsus as a child as well as in Jerusalem as an adult.
B. They knew he "lived as a Pharisee," publicly following the teachings of this strictest of Jewish sects (Horton, 385).
C. He affirms that his background as a strict Pharisee places him in continuity with his Jewish religious roots.