COMMITTED TO TELL THE JESUS STORY!
“For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” —Acts 21:13
.“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.“ And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” —Act 21:8-22
While Paul was staying at Philip the evangelist’s house in Caesarea the prophet, Agabus, warned him that he would be handed over to the Gentiles in Jerusalem. When the believers heard this, they sought to discourage Paul from going up to Jerusalem. (Acts 21:10-12). Paul’s response was “For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Wow… do we have that type of commitment to our Lord?
Sure enough, when Paul was in the temple at Jerusalem a false accusation was made that Paul had brought Gentiles into the temple. The city was stirred up. The Jews dragged him out of the city and sought to kill him, but was rescued by a cohort of Roman soldiers and arrested (Acts 21:30-33). But even in this situation Paul was able to share his testimony once the crowd simmered down. He had the opportunity to share his testimony of how Jesus impacted him.
Brother and sister, fellow follower of Jesus, when was the last time you shared your story with someone. Paul did so in the midst of being arrested and after he was almost killed. That did not stop him from sharing his story. What is keeping you from sharing your story? Dear Father, please give us the boldness to share what Jesus has done for us. May this be so by the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Your Son Jesus. So may it be! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lixLxSQ7VRM
A LIFE IS CHANGED
By Ted White
I was a junior in High School when my grandfather died. It was the first funeral that I had ever been to and it shook me to the core. My Grandfather was a mason, working with stone and brick. I worked with him when I was a teen. He was a hard, rough man. He drank hard and smoked much. Unfortunately, he got me started drinking at a young age. He had been warned by doctors to stop drinking and smoking or he would not live very long because of his emphysema. He told the doctors he would live like he wanted to. He did live the lifestyle he chose, but he also ended up dying as the doctors told him he would. The last picture I have of him was at the old Hitchcock Hospital when it was in Hanover, NH, tubes running out of his body and a tracheotomy having been established so he could breathe and be attended to. Tears flooded my eyes when I saw him in that state. A week later he died.
The reality of the finality of death hit me hard at the funeral. People began filing out after the funeral, but instead of going out the door, they turned to pass the open casket. As I passed the casket and looked in, there was my lifeless Grandfather’s body and great emotion welled up inside me. The end of life was not pleasant.
This experience of my grandfather’s death caused me to start asking questions. Did God really exist? Was there really a heaven, a hell? What was death like? Nobody I knew around me could help me with those questions. It would be another seven years before I found the answers to those questions.
Even though I had started asking questions about life and death after my grandfather died, my lifestyle did not change. I really had the same philosophy of how to live life as my grandfather had. “I’ll live like I lifestyle and nobody will tell me any different.” I drank much and often trying to find some reality in life… or to escape it. But, this behavior drove me from reality into an escapism that could have easily led to my death. There are many things I have done that would shame me to repeat and there were more than a few close calls with death. There was this emptiness inside that I just could not fill regardless of what I tried to fill it with. It was always there, a deadness inside. Once I thought suicide was the answer, but the attempt failed and nobody knew about it.
Living a lifestyle that I knew could have easily ended in death. I decided to enter the military, just to get away from the place and people where I had been living. So I went into the Seabees of the Navy for a four-year hitch, thinking that I would know what I wanted to do with my life by the time I finished the four year commitment. I went in as a heavy equipment operator, something I thought I would enjoy. Trouble is I brought myself with me. People and places can change, but if the person fleeing doesn’t change, things remain essentially the same, but just in a different location.
The military did help me in the area of discipline and to acquire some valuable skills, but my life-style did not change. My four-year enlistment passed with much more partying and there were situations that could have led to my death or the death of others. Then my roommate, Andy, made a decision to follow the Lord. Well, that was good for him, but I didn’t need that stuff. Although, when he wasn’t in the room I would pick up his New Testament that he left on our desk and read it.
Andy had invited me to a church picnic on a Saturday at 7pm and I accepted the invitation. When that Saturday came around I went to the beach in the morning and partied with some friends, but I planned to keep my word and attend the picnic. I went back to the barracks, took a nap and got up in time to shower and get ready. I was at my metal door locker and reached in for a shirt. I hung it back up saying to myself, “No, I really don’t want to go to this thing.” A second time I reached for the shirt only to hang it up again and say the same thing. Then I reached for it a third time, hung it up and sighed. At that very moment I remembered what I had said before I enlisted, “When I get out I will know what I will want to do with my life.” I would be getting out in less than a month and I did not have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. Immediately after that thought came this impression which I would have told you at the time it was an audible voice which said, “Turn from your evil ways or be condemned forever… and become a priest.”
This shook me to the core. I went over, sat on my bed and was literally shaking… Andy came into the room at that very moment and said he had forgotten something. From his locker twenty feet away he said, “Ted, what is wrong with you! You’re white as a ghost!” (We had been in the Bahamas for 8 months and I spent most of the time operating an asphalt paver and was black from the sun.) He sat next to my bed and I told him what happened and that I was not going anywhere. This really shook me up.
Two days later I talked with a pastor that led services on the base. He shared the gospel with me and revealed a piece to me that I never understood before. It was about what was really happening at the cross and how it affected me today. When Jesus died on the cross He was taking the penalty for my sin as well as the sin of the whole world. He was dying in my place so I could be forgiven of my sin, come into a relationship with God through Him and become the person the Lord desires me to be. I trusted the Lord in a back side room of the church while it was getting dark. The shadows may have hid the tears that streamed down my face, but they were tears of gratitude and relief.
A short time after I had trusted Jesus my roommate said, “Ted, God could call you into a public speaking ministry.” I laughed and laughed. “No way, not me,” I told him. But, that is exactly what the Lord did. See God is in the transformation business. He can take a person like me who dropped a class in high school because of having to talk in small groups of people I didn’t know and change him to desire to lead and speak to groups of any size. That is what He has done. I have had the great joy to share His love in prisons, nursing homes, at campgrounds, in children’s & Teen groups, at high school graduations, in adult groups, in the U.S., Russia, India, Australia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Guatemala, on tv, on radio and through writing in various venues as well as pastoring a local church. Who would have thought… when I was in high school… that I would be doing what I am doing today. Surely, I would not have thought it would be so. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYZw0dfLmLk