UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, which was first posted on May 18, 2016, is provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who serves as AMI Teaching Pastor.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“When Talking About Yourself Repeatedly Glories the Lord”
I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
Since I hadn’t spoken at my old church in Los Angeles for three decades, it was very emotional for me as I preached there recently. The sermon was mainly testimonial—about how God used the senior Pastor John to save and then train me. I began with a story of how Pastor John shared the gospel with me within minutes after we first met in 1981. Being surprised by how well this Korean man in his late 40s spoke English (very rare then), I asked, “How do you speak English so well?” Unbeknownst to me, Pastor John used that opportunity to share the gospel by way of sharing his testimony, beginning with being adopted by an American family after being orphaned.
Paul, then a prisoner, does the same. After being told by his interrogator, “You have permission to speak for yourself,” (26:1), he uses that opportunity to share the gospel through sharing his testimony. In the above passage alone, which is a small portion of Paul’s full presentation recorded from vv. 4-23, the apostle uses the first-person pronoun “I” nine times—27 times in total. There is a lot of “I” in a first person-narrative about “how the gospel became real in [one’s] life,” as Alister McGrath notes. He adds, “Telling your personal story of faith is one of the best ways of declaring the transformative power of the gospel.” This, then, is just about the only situation in which talking about yourself repeatedly can glorify the Lord since you are telling the world what Christ did to save you from the pit of hell.
Now, finding a good entry point isn’t as easy as what Pastor John and the apostle Paul experienced since they were simply asked to respond. In fact, Paul himself says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Col. 4:5). Wisdom is needed because the opening for an effective sharing may not be as obvious, unless we are led by the wisdom from above (James 3:17).
Before becoming Christian, I used profane language; so whenever I meet a person who cusses a lot, I say, “I used to speak good French like you, but I don’t anymore.” And then, I would explain why Jesus took away my reasons for using foul language to express my frustrations and disdain for people. So, what is your entry point to share the story of Jesus’ transformative power?
Prayer: Lord, I am so thankful that I have had a personal encounter with the God of this universe who so profoundly transformed me. As I see many people in need of the same change, help me to be both wise and bold to share my story of Your amazing love. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 17
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Timothy 1:15-17: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Questions to Consider
- Based on Paul’s sharing of his former life prior to his change, what should our story include?
- Ultimately, what is the purpose of sharing our story to an unbelieving world? In light of that, what is one mistake often made when sharing our testimony?
- The story of our former life doesn’t need to be dramatic or full of outward sins. But we do need to share particular symptoms (which are not same for everyone) that accompanied our former state of having been separated from God. What was yours?
1. It ought to include, first, how hopeless and confusing our life was before being changed by God; second, sharing affirmative changes in us as a result of having God at the center of our lives. It can be comparable to an ad for a household product: It needs to show how it is more effective than its competitors. Naturally, it shows how dirty the floor looked before, and how much cleaner it got after its application.
2. The purpose is to give all the glory to God by showing that He has the power and willingness to change us. One mistake made by those who have a graphic testimony is that they spend most of their time describing how bad they used to be, and then make God’s involvement a footnote.
3. If you ask my wife, who grew up in a pastor’s home, what her symptoms were before meeting the Lord in her teen years, she would say, “lack of belonging.” On the other hand, I would answer, “getting tired of trying to prove myself (through heavy partying) to merit people’s acceptance of me.” On that day when I met my old pastor, he suddenly said, “I know what you need—you need the unconditional love of God.” And he was right on.
Looking back to today, even if you didn’t actually share the gospel, was there at least one situation in which you could have shared your story. What could you have done differently? Pray for an opportunity. Paul says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6).