06/11/18 - Acts 26

June 11, 2018

The Lord replied: 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and witness..' Acts 26:15, 16

Jesus doesn't disqualify us because of our past, He calls us to a new purpose.

Often the greatest hindrance to our future is not skillsets, education, or opportunity … it’s our past failures.

That’s where Paul found himself after being confronted with the glory of Jesus.  Paul instantly came to the realization that he had failed terribly at the stoning of Steven and the arrest of Christians.  He found himself fully guilty of persecution, pride and murder.  But Jesus didn’t condemn Paul … instead Jesus Called Paul to a new purpose.  Now the ones Paul was persecuting would become the ones Paul would encourage during their persecution.  The past didn’t eliminate Paul, it prepared Paul for his ultimate purpose.

Everyone has a ‘past’.  Some have stories that are far more fascinating than others, and many have a testimony that is more traumatic than others, but we all have a past that would disqualify us from the Kingdom of God.  In fact, God often uses our ‘past’ to help reach similar people in our ‘future’.  It’s the lessons of mercy, grace, compassion, love, conviction, and much more that comes OUT of our past, which Jesus uses to minister to people locked IN their past.  Your greatest ministry often comes from the lessons of your past.  Don’t run from it, learn from it.

That doesn’t mean you won’t be judged for your past.  There will always be judgmental people who pride themselves on not committing the sins you did.  We all have faced that … and sometimes imagine it when it was not intended that way.  Accepting or reacting to judgment just takes us back to the past we already went through.  Don’t react to judgmental people, respond with love and move forward in the ministry God has given you.  For every person that judges you, there will be dozens who need your message of mercy, grace & hope.  See the judgment for what really is happening – Satan trying to discourage you from the purpose God intended.
Jesus saw the importance of forgiving people AND calling them to a new purpose.  He forgave the crippled man AND healed him to go serve his family.  Jesus forgave the adulterous woman AND sent her away to ‘sin no more’.  He forgave Peter AND called him to shepherd the new church.  And in this passage, Paul tells everyone that Jesus forgave him, and sent him to the Gentiles.  Our past need not stop our future, but it will definitely change it.  Let God remove the sting of the past from your life, and use it for His Glory in your future.  Start today becoming the new person God is calling you to be.

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