The Word for today:
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
Today Stand in the Rain concludes our long look at various aspects of believers’ 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!
What does a well-told personal testimony look like? In Psalm 23, God (through David) shows us. Psalm 23 is the model, the prototype, for our own stories of faith.
Yesterday, we identified some elements of Psalm 23 that should be applied to testimonies of our own. Today, we’ll find some more…
Psalm 23 outlines the pattern for every believer’s story:
You’ll surely want to relate how you were born again:
He restores my soul.
You’ll want to relate how he has declared you to be as righteous as Jesus!
He leads me in paths of righteousness…(1)
And how the basis of his goodness toward you is found not within you but within him:
…for his name’s sake.
You’ll want to relate how he anointed you with His own Spirit:
You anoint my head with oil… (2)
You’ll want to relate that your Father is faithful to discipline and direct:
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You’ll want to relate that you’re not alone anymore:
For you are with me…
Surely you’ll want to relate that the longer you know him, the closer and closer he gets. (Note the shift from indirect address (“he“) to direct address (“you“) as the poem proceeds.)
“Surely you’ll want to relate…”
We relate a story. We relate the story of our relationship to Jesus. We hope that we relate the story of our relationship to Jesus in such a way that other people can relate to it.
Because if they relate to it, they might start their own relationship with Jesus–and then, someday, relate their story of faith to someone else, who might…
I apologize for too many relate / relationship references, but I wanted to emphasize that a testimony is about your relationship, not your reformation.
A testimony, as modeled for us in Psalm 23, is not about how we stopped drinkin’ or druggin’ or chasin’ skirts. There might be some of that, but only to serve as before and after pictures of a redemption wrought, bought and paid for at the cross of Jesus Christ. (The only way we know David knew want is that he acknowledged he knew it no more.)
A testimony is a love story; nothing more nor less. It’s about how you met and how he proposed and whether there was a honeymoon. (I’m still waiting for mine.) It’s about your favorite song and it’s about the time he said just the right thing.
A testimony is a true story, so it might not be all sweet and light. Your testimony might recall some rocky days, if you’ve had them. I sure have; Jesus and I are close to “the rocks” right now. But he’ll come in and save the day, ’cause that’s what he does.
A testimony is about a soul in want on a path to nowhere…until he paid the price for your soul with the wine of his own blood, empowering your new life with the oil of his own Spirit:
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead…
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine…”
He anoints my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely he can do the same for you.
(1) see 2 Corinthians 5:21
(2) oil is the most prevalent symbol of the Holy Spirit in Scripture