Lord, in the craziness of today (already at 8am), please give us a moment to simply bask in Your Word. To soak it in, because You have a message in it for each of us, and we don't want to miss it. Not a word. Amen. Today's Scripture Reading is from Acts 4:8-12:
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
And if you don't mind, I would like to add verse 13 as well --
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
I really like Peter. I like his "acting before he thinks" personality (sounds so very familiar to me....). I also like how, even among his screw ups and mess ups, he is able to give testimony to his faith in the Living God.
In our journey through Matthew, we have seen Peter confess that Jesus is the "Messiah, the Son of the Living God". By the time we hear his testimony in Acts 4, Peter has experience miracles, rejections, praise, denial, and commissioning. He didn't come to this moment in Acts in a single moment, but after an intense journey.
Which got me thinking about our own personal testimonies. We have a lot we can learn from Peter about how to give our own personal testimony.
Get Experience. Although it most likely gets easier the more you share about your faith in Christ, that isn't what I mean about experience. The experience I mean is the day to day happenings of "doing life" with Christ. Just like Peter experiencing the day -to -day teachings, miracles, conversations he had the chance to do first-hand, we need to experience Christ in all methods available to us now - prayer, worship, time in the Scriptures, relationship with others, listening for His guidance in our lives, and be observant in how He interacts in our life and the lives of those around us.
Keep It Real. Our testimony needs to be something we own. It is OURS, not something that has been scripted for us. In my "previous life" in Public Relations, my career consisted of speaking to the merits of various companies or products. One of the first things I needed to do was find something to make that product or company personal and real for me - I needed to believe in what I was saying about it. If I couldn't "see it" or if the words couldn't be mine, they felt hollow and didn't ring true as I wrote them or said them. I believe that we each really need to have an un-formulaic testimony, born out of our relationship we have forged and the experiences we have encountered as we journey with Christ ourselves. Be observant and "own" those experiences. They are yours.
Make It Personal. BE OBSERVANT in how Christ intersects in your life. (Are you seeing a trend here? Don't miss Christ's handiwork in your life!) It's there everyday, multiple times a day, I believe. It may take some practice to develop the ability to "see" it though. These personal interactions are the foundations for your testimony - how God has spoken to you through His word or in prayer, how your relationship has deepened through life experiences and pulling closer to God, how you can see His interaction in your life (even if it is a hind-sight view -- sometimes it isn't always clear in the midst of the moment) - I can't list all possibilities here because our God is BIGGER than I can even begin to imagine on how He interacts with each of us. He meets us there. That's a promise I stand on daily.
Practice. Again, telling others makes it easier and easier to share, but that isn't what I mean with this item. Our biggest obstacle in sharing our testimony is a lack of confidence in our own experiences with the Living God. Yes, we were there, we lived this, we KNOW this....yet, we doubt. We need to rehearse with ourselves our own story so we don't forget. How many times do we see this amazing sight of God in a prayer answered, or in Scripture, or in our own life or of someone around us, and then the next moment we despair that God has left us, or that we can't see Him or hear Him. We need to practice our testimony so that we are ready to give it because we remember that it is real for us. All the time.
Finally, as we see in Verse 13, Peter was known as a normal guy, and as one that walked with Jesus. He lived out his Christ relationship so that when he gave his testimony in the verses above, he had "street cred" - validation that he knew what he was talking about.
I have a challenge for you today - what is your personal testimony? If you were called upon to give it today - maybe a friend questions what is so different about you, or you are sharing with someone why you chose to stand on the side of Christ rather than the world on an issue - what would you say? Do you have "street cred" to back it up?
I pray that Christ blesses you today with the chance to reflect on all the experiences you have had with Him in your life, and how beautiful your testimony is!!!!