How God Uses Your Past
Find two spots – Acts 26:12 and Isaiah 53 [Notes are under the video]
Acts 25 – Paul appeals to Caesar then stands before King Agrippa. He was in jail for at least two years.
1. God can use what we call “wasted time” – Prison time can be an opportune time; time on the backside of the desert is not wasted time.
Education, or a lack thereof – affluent, or no influence.
Isaiah 64:8 “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.”
Lies We Are Fed: Younger people say, “But I don’t have a past.” The Middle group says, “God can’t use me now!” The Older group says, “My whole life is behind me.”
Upcoming Gracefest event –
Acts 26 – Paul Recounts His Conversion
12…as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
Kicking against the goads is painful – the goad is met to direct.
When we kick against God’s prodding it hurts: “Hard is the way of the transgressor.”
2. God can use our kicking [rebellion] if we learn from it –
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
3. God will answer if you ask – “Who are you? What do you want me to do?”
4. God uses our pain and brokenness to humble us.
Psalm 25:9, “…He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.”
A.W. Tozer — ‘It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.’
16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
4. Your past is about helping others. This removes a great deal of anxiety, fear, and confusion. GET UP! GO!
BIG issue for Christians: how can i get ahead…how can i market myself?
19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
5. God directs based on obedience rather than “good” intentions.
For unbelievers, “They should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” – befitting: “that doesn’t fit.”
Matthew 3:8 paraphrased – Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
21 For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
6. Ask for God’s help – “I got this” doesn’t fly.”
7. Know your Bible – the more you know, the more He can use you.
Paul Was Saying No Other Thing Than What Was Written:
Isaiah 53 (NKJV) Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Many do not believe – Jesus came as a humble servant just like Isaiah said He would – 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe. WE REJECTED HIM – we did not respect Him [esteem Him].
4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Borne [carried or transported] our sorrows: “But I still feel them.” Yes, but now you have someone to take them to.
Wounded and bruised – there was punishment in addition to the stripes that healed us [physically and spiritually].
A Response to Paul’s Challenge
ACTS 26:24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”
Those who are convicted often try to explain it away.
You can tell when someone is unrepentant – they make excuses; they shift the blame; they attack you.
25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”
Don’t you believe?
The #1 lie: “This life of misery is better than God’s offer of hope and salvation.”
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” 29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.” 30 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; 31 and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” 32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
“But Shane, my life is a shipwreck!” Paul was shipwrecked on Malta
Philippians 3:8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him…
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The Bible was written by murderers and adulterers
How God Uses Your Past – he takes the pain; the disappointments; the shame; the regret; and the hurt and reshapes your life on the potter’s wheel.
Though the road ahead may be uncertain at times, the solid ground beneath will never shift. It’s all about Who you know.
“God doesn’t answer prayer – He answers desperate prayer” (Leonard Ravenhill).