Telling Your Story
Lord God, I come before You now in awe and worship. You are my God and I praise You.
Read Acts 22:3-29
 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.  I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison,  as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.  “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.  I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’  “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. ” ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.  My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.  “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked. ” ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’  My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.  “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.  He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.  “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.  You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.  And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’  “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance  and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’  “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you.  And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’  “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”  The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”  As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,  the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.  As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”  When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”  The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” “Yes, I am,” he answered.  Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.” “But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.  Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was the essence of Paul’s defense before the crowd?
What would you say if you were given a couple of minutes to address an angry crowd that wants your blood? Paul knew he couldn’t hold their attention for long. He knew there was no point giving them a theological treatise on the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. He knew they would stone him instantly if he started by talking about Jesus. So he speaks about himself, telling them how he was once like them, and praising their zeal for the Law (3). Once they are listening, Paul tells them how Jesus met him, and how he was baptized and cleansed of his sin. So Paul gets the basics of the gospel message across before he comes to the part he knows will be contentious: how God sent him to the Gentiles. Paul tells his story a number of times. Each time he gives a slightly different emphasis depending on his audience and on how much time he has. Paul’s faith–and the Gospel he preached–was based on theological convictions, but also on personal experience. Often it is this personal aspect that convinces people of the reality of what we believe.
Are you ready to tell your story, if given the opportunity? Pray for an opportunity to share your story.
Lord, I know I do have a story to tell of what You mean to me and have done for me. May I be ready to tell it.
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