Sunday, June 03, 2007

I've A Story To Tell
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I've A Story To Tell

Intro.: I tend to be a story teller.

  1. You certainly have heard it in my sermons.

  2. Even when I would teach my CS courses, I would include appropriate stories to cement the point I was trying to make.

  3. As believers we all have a story to tell – it is the story of how Christ has touched our lives.

  4. Once we have thought about our testimony, we will be prepared to tell others about our faith.

  5. Shortly after returning to the public view after spending some time alone, he began to tell his testimony.

Read: Galatians 1:11-24


Trans: During the next few weeks we will be looking at the book of Galatians.

  1. We will not look at every paragraph – but I have chosen those passages that are listed as part of the Lectionary for the next few weeks.

  2. The lectionary has its roots in the very earliest start of the church. The early church leaders wanted to insure that believers (who did not have personal copies of the Bible to read) were exposed to all of scripture.

  3. With the invention of the printing press and the publication of Bible translations that others could read, denominations and local churches chose other patterns to get their people through the scripture.

  4. During the next few weeks we will be reading through the lectionary readings as they take us through the book of Galatians.

T.S. The first reading takes us through Paul's model testimony.

  1. The past is always there. Galatians 1:13 - “For you have heard of my previous life in Judaism...

    1. As Paul writes to the Galatian church, it has been five years since that moment that Christ met him on the road to Damascus.

    2. One would think that with that amount of time, Paul would put his past behind him. One would think that those around him could forget his past.

    3. But it was not going to happen – at least not very fast. But Paul does not want to hide his past. As he discusses what Christ has done, it only makes sense if we know about his past:

      1. Paul persecuted the church – that's only quite true, he tried to destroy the church.

(Appl.) It is amazing, now 2000 years later, we still live in a world that wants to stand in opposition to the church. Whether it is in our schools or on the job or in our communities, there are those that would stop the church from reaching out and offering God's grace to a broken world. And like Paul, there are those in the church who spent time fighting the church before coming to Christ.

      1. Paul was also monitoring his growth in Judaism. More than one writer has stated that Paul was the greatest thinker of his time and perhaps of all time. For the first part of his life, Paul had taken his great mind and applied it to his faith in Judaism. He was mentally ahead of the Jewish leaders of his time and he was proud of it. Now, five years later, Paul is on the verge of using that same brain to tell the world about Christianity.

(Appl.) God took Paul's natural talent and used it for His purposes. God does the same for us – the talents that you have are just as valuable to the church as they are to the world. You know what you are good at, you know where your skills are strong. God is able to use those same skills in the church.

(Ill.) On Thursday night Sandra and I downloaded a movie from the internet. I had heard of “Fight The Giants” before, but had never seen it. It is the story of a high school football team that has had six loosing seasons. At one point the coach asks a student to do the impossible task of crawling the entire length of a football field with another 170 pound player on his back.. At any time the player could have stopped, all the coach wanted was everything the player had and when he had no more, he could stop. That is all God asks. Everything, all we have. God can use it. Paul took what he had and let God use it. We must let God use our talents as well.

      1. Paul not only persecuted the church and was ahead a great many other Jewish scholars, he committed himself to following the traditions of his faith. Traditions are not a bad thing, except when they get in the way of our serving God. Enjoy the traditions of the church – only do not let them define your faith. Your faith must be defined in scripture – and then let tradition inform your faith.

    1. Paul begins his testimony by discussing his past

  1. Conversion is a starting point.

    1. Most people, when they tell their testimony, begin with their life before God became an important part of it.

    2. They spend a few minutes discussing how they came to the point of understanding their faith.

    3. And this is what Paul does. He spends very little time talking about his conversion, but he does make one very important point: Everything that has happened to him was not the result of anything a man had done – it was God at work. The importance of this is seen in that he says it three times -

      1. I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

      2. But when God, who set me apart from birth[1] and called me by his grace,

      3. I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia

    4. Spiritual growth does not occur because of something we do, spiritual growth does not occur because of what church we attend, church growth does not occur because of what we do, but because of God does. Oh, we need to be involved (Paul left Damascus, went to Arabia), but unless God is involved, none of the other stuff makes a difference.

(Ill.) I try to take care of my car. When a problem arises, I take it to my mechanic. I get the oil changed regularly, I wash the car. But you know what, regardless of what I do, regardless of how much time I spend caring for my car, if I keep gas out of the tank, it will eventually stop running. It can look shiny on the outside, but without gas, it will go nowhere.

    1. Paul recognized that God was intimately involved in what had happened to him. Without God, everything he went through would be worth nothing.

  1. And change comes along slowly.

    1. A testimony most often will start with a statement about our life before faith, then a brief statement of how we came to faith. It will then end with some details of God has done since coming to faith.

    2. Paul tells us that he went from Damascus to Arabia back to Damascus and finally to Jerusalem. He had been a believer for three years before he met any of the disciples – and then only Peter and James.

    3. Even as Paul writes, the majority of the church does not know him other than as the one who persecuted the church. They have also heard rumors that something has happened – the one they feared is now preaching the gospel.

(Ill.) In fact, in verse 11 Paul makes a statement that clarifies his present role: the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. Do you hear those two words “gospel” and “preached.” In Greek they are almost the same word. An easy way to remember the connection between these two words is to paraphrase Paul's comment as “the gospel I gospelized the gospel “. Paul was called to preach the good news – and he had to do it because it not a human call, but a God's call upon his life.

    1. Paul's impact on the church was yet to occur – but God has prepared him for the work ahead.

Conclusion: Let me conclude by asking you this

  1. What would your testimony be like?
  2. How would you describe your life before Christ?
  3. How would you describe your conversion?
  4. How would you describe the impact that Christ has had on your life?


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