Sharing the Hope that is Within You

"Then Agrippa said to Paul,'You are permitted to speak for yourself.'"  
Acts 26:1

What do you suppose was Paul's response to the above command?  Did Paul give a long oration on how Jesus was the fulfillment of the scriptures?  Or, did he give an account as to all of the good reasons to become a follower of Jesus?  No, Paul followed Agrippa's request by giving his testimony - his most powerful witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. But, did you know that your testimony as a follower of Jesus Christ, just like Paul, is the most powerful witness you have to share with others?  

Today I had the honor of sharing my testimony at church and I felt convicted to challenge the people in my church by asking if they too were ready to share their testimonies.  How about you?  If you continue on reading Acts 26, Paul gives a very simple 3 minute outline of his testimony and also a wonderful outline that any believer can follow in constructing his/her testimony.

The simple outline is this:  
  1. What was your life before you encountered Jesus Christ
  2. What was your encounter with Jesus Christ like
  3. How was your life after your encounter with Jesus Christ
Below is a copy of my testimony I wrote a while ago.  It is not the exact words I used this morning, but the story is the same.  I hope you take up the challenge I gave to my fellow church members this morning and take some time this week to write out your testimony.  You never know when God is going to call you to share the hope that is within you. Being ready to share the story you have been given is being obedient to your calling as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Growing up in a very strict religious home, I often questioned the faith of my parents and because of that felt like God was very distant and that I could never measure up to His standards. By the time I was in 4th grade I had mentally planned how I would carry out taking my own life due to the pressures I felt constantly bombarding me from my school, home, and church. That plan was never carried out though because I had also been wrongly taught by my parents that if I were to take my own life I would go to hell - so I put on a happy face and kept trying and failing to be the perfect person I thought I needed to be. 

By the time I was 20, all of that pretending had me feeling like the biggest hypocrite and I finally let God know that I had had enough of trying to please Him and find the happiness that I so desperately desired in my life - so I walked away from religion and God. This point in my life was the darkest I have ever experienced, but fortunately God brought my husband into my life and I found my way back to church and also to hearing a word I had never heard spoken in church before - GRACE! 

Oh, what a wonderful thing that over the next 10 years I spent trying to come to grips with the fact that this grace that God was willing to offer me was for free - it held no strings - it required no payment on my part - it was backed with a love that I could only start to comprehend. 

My striving over time came to a standstill and I came into the full realization that it was my bowing before the throne of grace that would give me the ultimate peace and fulfillment I had been searching for all of my life - not the futile striving that kept hissing into my face "You don't measure up enough to be worthy of anything! Why do you keep trying?" 

Because of Jesus, today I am completely free of any depression that used to hold me down (I am free of so many other strongholds that used to burden me also). I live my life grateful for the gift I have been given each day to say that I am a daughter of the King of Kings and that I have an eternity before me filled with joy and peace because of that relationship alone.


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