Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 133 - The Power of Your Story
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #133 – The Power of Your Story
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to seek, find, and follow Jesus together as we live with purposed eternal perspective.
When I was a new Christian I was absolutely terrified that I’d have to give testimony of my walk with Jesus. I had no idea what I would say.
Have you ever been afraid to talk to someone about Christ?
My problem wasn’t that I was ashamed of Jesus, but that I wouldn’t be good enough to talk about Him. I was afraid I wouldn’t know enough. I was scared I’d need to memorize a lot of Scripture or I wouldn’t know the right verses to share. I was afraid someone would ask me a question I wouldn’t know how to answer. I was scared I would tell someone the wrong thing. I didn’t want to mislead anyone.
As I’ve walked with Jesus longer, my heart has discovered the joy of sharing truth. The power of living truth. I understand that I am not the one who will change the heart of another person. All I should focus on is growing and maturing my walk with Jesus and letting Him seep from me in all I am and do.
Sharing is an outpouring of the overflow of Christ in me.
Offering my testimony is now a lifestyle. I don’t think about having the perfect words or verses to share, although I have many underlined in my Bible and have stepped through them with people. I admit, I’m still not the best at memorizing the Word, but I’m acquainted with my Bible and know God’s Word well enough to recognize His truths and allow them to flow through my daily language. His Word naturally comes to me when I share with others, advise others, and pray for others.
Sharing my testimony and the truth of the gospel is no longer a fear, but a joy.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
I believe I should pray for God to reveal opportunities for me to share the gospel. I also believe I should intentionally walk so closely with the Lord that it causes people to notice a difference in my life. When they ask what makes me so happy, or whatever word they use, I should make the most of the opportunity to share the hope of Christ, the fruits of the Spirit, or whatever pertains to the situation or compliment.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
Your Christian testimony is your personal story, but it is also the autobiography of what you have seen, experienced, read, and heard through or about Christ in your lifetime.
The nearer one draws to God through personal relationship with Jesus, the more they have to share and the more they want to share.
When we communicate what God has done in our life, He draws others to Him to experience His glory.
Your testimony, the story of your life because of the sacrifice and influence of Christ is important and impactful to others seeking hope and light.
Through your story, you can share:
1. Your life before Christ
2. How you came to know Jesus as your personal Savior
3. Your life now (the power of Christ in you)
4. How others can know Jesus
Your story may help keep another person’s faith from being “cold”, from becoming “lukewarm,” or it may encourage or empower them to lead a “hot” life for Christ.
Everyone has a testimony. Some testimonies are dramatic; some are quiet. Each is a miracle. Just as each of us is uniquely made by God, no testimony is the same, yet each story is a gift of grace and mercy extended from Heaven and meant to be shared.
I believe Paul’s testimony from Acts 26 is a wonderful example we can learn from. His testimony can be read and examined as an encouraging model of how we can also share our story. I’m going to read it now so we can study how Paul shared with King Agrippa and Festus in Acts 26:1-29. It’s important to note the way Paul presented his testimony and what we can learn from it. As I read, I’m going to break these verses into sections, then I’ll add my thoughts after reading each portion. I encourage you to read this yourself and prayerfully search the Scripture for what God reveals to you.
We’ll begin with Acts 26:1-5, which says, “So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense: “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently. My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.”
In this passage we see that Paul is showing respect to King Agrippa and recognizing his qualifications. Paul made it evident that he was not trying to offend Jewish citizens with his intentions, words, or actions. Paul also reminded Agrippa of his own personal character and background, and the truth that he was not a disobedient or rebellious man, but a Jew who had been raised as a supporter and an educator of the law. Paul began where his audience was and could understand without offending them.
Acts 26:6-8 says, “And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?”
Here, we see Paul address the fact that he is being accused of believing in doctrine that was actually central in Judaism. Paul continues to connect with his audience by showing that he has done nothing offensive.
Acts 26:9-11 says, “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.”
In these verses, we notice that Paul desires Agrippa to recognize that Paul was a devoted Jew, who fought against and persecuted Christians. Paul begins his personal story with background his audience should remember.
Acts 26:12-18 says, “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me, and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”
Paul, passionately appealing to the King so he could understand his words, gained Agrippa’s attention. Paul clearly revealed his personal story of meeting the Lord. During this astonishing testimony, Paul exposed every detail with truth, hope, and courage. He was a changed man whose perspective had suddenly been altered by miraculous methods. Paul continues his personal testimony with glory to God.
Acts 26:19-23 says, “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
Paul exposed his understanding of the purpose of his vision and transformation. God was causing and calling him to deliver his testimony with personal authority granted by Him and to take the message of Christ to Judea and to the Gentiles. Paul confessed that he had been imprisoned for believing and sharing what the prophets and Moses declared would happen regarding Israel’s Messiah.
Acts 26:24-26 says, “And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.”
After Paul finished speaking, Festus spoke no opposition; He knew nothing of Moses or the prophets. Agrippa was not an Old Testament academic, however he was acquainted with Jewish Messianic traditions. Yet, he spoke no challenges to Paul’s testimony, revealing the conviction most likely pricking his heart. Paul shares the truth of God’s miraculous work in his life, giving God glory and letting Him move and work as He desires.
Acts 26:27-28 says, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe. And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”
Because Paul shared with boldness, the truth and evidence were clearly presented. He couldn’t force anyone to accept the truth of the gospel, but Christ had clearly been shown. Agrippa saw the truth, seemed to be impressed in some way by it, but did carry a personal hesitation or unwillingness to profess Christ as King.
Acts 26:29 says, “And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
Paul clearly and bravely professed Christ, allowing those who heard him to declare their belief and fate for themselves. Paul knew his duty was not to change hearts; only God could do the transforming work in a willing heart.
Important facts to remember:
1. Your story isn’t about you. It isn’t for you. Your story is about what Jesus sacrificed for you. It is a personal testimony of how He lifted you out of death and established new life within you.
2. The power of story has the same holy, sovereign thread woven throughout each person. The cord that ties us together is the wondrous sacrifice and loving grace of Christ.
Here’s a quick recap of the top facts we’ve learned:
1. Respect your audience.
2. Connect personally with them.
3. Profess your story.
4. Pray for your listeners.
Sharing our story or testimony does not have to be something to be afraid of. As we simply move nearer to Christ daily and allow Him to work through us, we obediently respond to His promptings. The good work He completes within us spreads to those around us or those we come into contact with if we show and tell the truth of the gospel and the work of Christ. Every day brings new work and transformation to share if we are willing to humbly submit and cling to Him.
I want to share five short verses that I believe help us carry gratitude for the sacrifice and work of Christ and remind us to share with joy, hope, and truth.
Hebrews 2:1 says, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
Psalm 107:1-2 says, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble.”
Psalm 71:5 says, “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.”
Psalm 71:23 says, “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to You; my soul also, which you have redeemed.”
1 Chronicles 16:8 says, “Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!”
Dear Heavenly Father, Your love for us is astounding! How could we ever understand the depth and heights to which it extends? Yet You still purpose to prove Your great love, grace, and mercy through the gift of Your Son, Jesus. Thank you for Your pursuit of us and patience extended to us. Father, may we cling more tightly to You each day. May Your love be made known in intimate ways only You can extend and our love extend intentionally toward You. May You be the first thought on our mind each day and the last thought as we lay down to rest. May our mind and heart dictate a driven desire to devour Your Word and may we allow You to flow through us to share Your great mysteries and truths. Give us Your courage, Your boldness to obey You and allow You to shine from within us every moment, with those we love and even those we don’t. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
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