Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Acts 29, part 3: "understudy to the Star"

The Word for today:
Acts 23:11-35
The book of Acts stops at chapter 28, verse 31. But the reader is left hanging in mid-air, with the definite impression that Acts may have stopped there, but it doesn't end there:
"The book of Acts is still being written. Like the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts is yet another record of the things Jesus ‘began both to do and to teach.’ Jesus isn’t finished yet. He began His ministry in His human body, as recorded in the Gospels. He continued in His body, the church, through the book of Acts. He continues His ministry today through you and me and every other believer on the planet. The book of Acts will be completed someday. And when it is completed, you and I will have a chance to read it in glory, in eternity, when the plan of God has been fulfilled. When we read it, what will my part be in that great story? And what will yours be?"
– Ray Stedman, Adventuring Through the Bible
Stand in the Rain is going to take a long look at various aspects of believer's testimonies -- the stories, in-the-making right now, that will someday appear in "Acts 29."
As we speak of these stories in general, we encourage you to think, in particular, about the tale your own life is telling--and to "edit" (where necessary) before publication!
Acts records Paul's conversion story three times. Luke, the author of Acts, gives us his account of Paul's dramatic conversion in chapter 9. Paul then tells the story (in self-defense!) to a mob in chapter 22. Finally, Paul includes his story in formal testimony before Herod Agrippa in chapter 26.
Each time, we are given new details to add to our understanding of what really happened to Paul that day on the road to Damascus. One central truth, however, remains the same with each retelling: It was Jesus himself who intervened in Paul's life.
Whenever Paul found an opportunity to explain the change he had undergone, his sole focus was on the one who planned and executed that conversion--Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of his faith. (1)
We learn from scripture that life isn't about us.  And we learn from Paul that even "our" stories aren't about us!  If we appear in the script at all, it is only as understudies to the Star. (2)
The Bible may be filled with names like Abel and Isaac and David and Paul, but it's not about them at all.  Acts chapter 29, when published, will be filled with names like Shelley and Franklyn and Charlie and (your name here) -- but only as stand-ins for the one who stood, at the cross, for us all.
(1) Hebrews 12:2; (2) see Numbers 24:17; Revelation 22:16

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