Today’s Reading: Acts 9:32-43
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, EVEN THOUGH I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. – 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Paul has a huge story to tell after his conversion. Paul describes himself as the worst sinner. His testimony is extreme and God used him in powerful ways EVEN THOUGH his past was full of regrets. But what about those of us who do not have a big story to share, whose transformation was still very real, yet less dramatic? This week we have looked at the stories of Stephen, Philip and Saul – all of whom had BIG transformation stories to tell. Now let’s listen to the story of Aeneas the Paralytic.
Meanwhile, Peter traveled from place to place, and he came down to visit the believers in the town of Lydda. There he met a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, roll up your sleeping mat!” And he was healed instantly. Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around, and they turned to the Lord. – Acts 9:32-35
His story was not about what a wicked man he was, but about how he had suffered. The same God of mercy who forgave Paul and then used his story also had mercy on this unfortunate man and used his healing to turn two towns to the Lord.
Consider Tabitha the Seamstress (also known as Dorcas). Tabitha was a good person. She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. She made clothing for others and cared deeply for them. Her life was a stark contrast to Paul’s history of making life miserable for others. Two people with two very different backgrounds, both in need of the mercy of God and the salvation available through faith in Jesus Christ.
About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”
So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them. But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.
The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord. – Acts 9:37-42
5 people, 5 different stories – all used by God in the lives of other people:
– Stephen gave his life and the result was the scattering of the believers, which brought about the widespread of the gospel.
– Philip obeyed the Lord and the Ethiopian eunuch was saved, possibly changing the lives of many people as the eunuch returned to Ethiopia with an understanding of the gospel.
– Paul changed his ways and began one of the strongest evangelistic ministries in history.
– Aeneas simply allowed God to take his story of suffering and use it for His glory and the salvation of others.
– Tabitha’s reputation as a good and selfless person caused people to care enough about her death that her resurrection ended up changing their lives forever.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your story isn’t powerful enough to make a difference in someone else’s life. Do not convince yourself that you don’t have a story or that God would never use you. In fact, He plans to use you today. Are you ready? Are you willing?