“I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews…” Acts 26
“I think myself happy.” As we talked about last week, Paul has found his happy place, and it is in his heart where the Holy Spirit of his Savior dwells.
Now, Paul is happy because he gets to once again tell the story of how he met his Savior and gained eternity, the assurance of resurrection and a passion and a purpose to share that news with all.
His persecutors think him mad. Those who dare to listen with their eyes and their hearts open think him wise. His Lord thinks him loved and Paul thinks himself happy, or fortunate, as other translations read. And Paul is never happier, or feels more fortunate, than when he gets to tell someone about his Jesus, when he gets to tell his story. Because his story is now Jesus’ story.
We all, anyone who has met and received Jesus Christ as Lord has a story, a Jesus story, that ties your heart to his and makes you bullet proof against the lies of the enemy who would kill your spirit with accusations and slanders. The enemy cannot touch our spirits if we keep reminding him and ourselves of where our hope lies, of the life that cannot die and the Father that loves us so that he would give his Son for us.
What is Paul’s story? He stands before King, leaders and governors and tells of his Jesus encounter. The blinding light experiance on the road to Damascus. In part:
“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. Acts 26:15
These words from Jesus, the resurrected Jesus, jumped out at me. Who was Paul actually going after? The church. He was seizing men and women who were suspected of believing that Jesus was a resurrected Messiah and bringing them before the powers that be in the temple to be excommunicated or stoned to death.
So Jesus is telling Paul, you mess with my people, you mess with me. I find that encouraging actually. The Lord takes the persecution of his people personally. And no one will get away with it indefinitely. There will be a day of reckoning. Fortunately for Paul, his day led him to believe in and receive the Lord whom he had mocked and rejected.
Grace truly is amazing, and Paul lives to share the story.
Paul recognizes that his testimony, his own personal experience, is powerful. The other apostles had the personal stories of having walked with Jesus, of having seen him crucified and then resurrected. That is their testimony, the good news that saves us all if we accept the truth of it.
But Paul, although he knew and told the story himself, as all who hear it should, it was not his personal experience and thus didn’t have the power of a firsthand account.
Paul’s own conversion story did. And combined with the Holy Spirit’s testifying to the hearts of those who hear as Paul speaks, it was powerful.
The thing is, we all have those stories. We all know the gospel— the amazing story of how Jesus came from heaven, lived as one of us, laid down his life and was resurrected and returned to glory. And if we have been born again, filled with the life giving, healing and loving Spirit of our God, taking us from hopelessness to hope, light to dark, death to life, then we have that story, we have that testimony that is irrefutable—because we lived it.
And there is power in that because the same Holy Spirit that gave Paul and the other apostle’s stories credence, goes before us and touches the hearts of those who hear. We plant the seeds, the Lord sends the rain that waters those seeds.
The fertility of the soil that receives those seeds, well we cannot control that, but we must keep planting, we must keep looking for opportunity to tell the stories and consider ourselves fortunate for each and every chance no matter how unexpected, or what type of duress we might be facing.
Whether it’s being dragged out before Kings, governors and rulers as Paul is here, or just a chance encounter at work. We have to be ready, looking for opportunity and trusting the Holy Spirit to guide our stories.
I think often of Peter’s words in his letter to the church.
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 1 Peter 3:14—25
Keep telling your stories my friends.