I have spoken of this old tradition at our home church before and I bring it up again because of our passage today. Paul’s testimony was on target for that particular time and place and told the story of Jesus eloquently. Has your church ever had a testimony part of the service or maybe it became ALL of the service that evening?
A “testimony time” begins with one leader sharing their own sentence or two about what Jesus has done to change their lives. Then, one by one, others in the congregation stand up to share Jesus’ love for them. This type of worship takes a down turn when people stand up to boast of themselves and digress from giving God the glory and praise.
Not so, with Paul! I love his way of beginning his testimony of what God did for the Jews in the past, starting where people are at the time in their thinking, and then bringing them forward with new information to help them see Jesus as Savior and Lord. Paul was a zealous Jew, knew the law well, and could express what they all knew well, too. “Don’t take this lightly”, says Paul. The prophets said it would happen, you read it every Sabbath, so now believe it!
Acts 13, The Message
(Read the whole story, this is just the wrap up, and be blessed!)
32-35 “And we’re here today bringing you good news: the Message that what God promised the fathers has come true for the children—for us! He raised Jesus, exactly as described in the second Psalm:
My Son! My very own Son!
Today I celebrate you!
“When he raised him from the dead, he did it for good—no going back to that rot and decay for him. That’s why Isaiah said, ‘I’ll give to all of you David’s guaranteed blessings.’ So also the psalmist’s prayer: ‘You’ll never let your Holy One see death’s rot and decay.’
36-39 “David, of course, having completed the work God set out for him, has been in the grave, dust and ashes, a long time now. But the One God raised up—no dust and ashes for him! I want you to know, my very dear friends, that it is on account of this resurrected Jesus that the forgiveness of your sins can be promised. He accomplishes, in those who believe, everything that the Law of Moses could never make good on. But everyone who believes in this raised-up Jesus is declared good and right and whole before God.
40-41 “Don’t take this lightly. You don’t want the prophet’s sermon to describe you:
Watch out, cynics;
Look hard—watch your world fall to pieces.
I’m doing something right before your eyes
That you won’t believe, though it’s staring you in the face.”
42-43 When the service was over, Paul and Barnabas were invited back to preach again the next Sabbath. As the meeting broke up, a good many Jews and converts to Judaism went along with Paul and Barnabas, who urged them in long conversations to stick with what they’d started, this living in and by God’s grace.
What do we learn?
–Begin testimony of Jesus with what people already know.
–Move toward what Jesus did for all people.
–Know Jesus yourself. You can only take people as far as you have gone in knowing Him.
–It’s His Story. Stick to the Truth of the story of Jesus and why He came.
–When given the opportunity…stand up for Jesus! “Friends, do you have anything you want to say?” “Paul stood up, paused and took a deep breath, then said…”
–Know Jesus, Know Your Audience, Know Yourself, Know Your Message. Lives will change for Jesus!
Do I know the Message of Jesus well enough to present it to others? Do I know Jesus as Friend, Savior and Lord enough to show a reflection of Him in my life? Do I know the people around me well enough by listening to where they are in their search for Jesus? Am I ready when given the opportunity…”do you have anything you want to say?”
Dear Heavenly Father, Paul prayed many times for opportunity, passion, boldness to tell Your story and You gave it to him. May we pray similar prayers and obey your leading to help others know you more and believe. Begin with me. Change me. Then use me to help others. Opportunities abound! We know that, Lord. Give us boldness and the right words at the right time and in the right Spirit. In Jesus Name, Amen