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"Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you…to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26:16,18).

For my birthday, my wife Renee gave me this new health book entitled, "Fit for Life." In this book, they have an entire picture section of people that have been through the program this book offers.

You see all the "before and after" pictures of all these people. I love looking at before and after pictures of people that have purposed to change. It is so inspiring! In three to six months these people look completely different and so much better.

In the past, I've talked about the newness of life that God offers us. He empowers us by His Holy Spirit to live it out. His Word says we are to be transformed. As I was looking at the before and after pictures of these people, I had this thought…every one of us is working toward one of those two pictures.

We are either creating a before picture or an after picture of our current life. Have you ever thought which picture you are presently creating?

Paul's Pictures
In the book of the Acts of the Apostle in chapter 26, the Apostle Paul is giving his testimony while on trial. He is verbally painting the before picture of his life and then the after picture once Jesus got a hold of him. It became his testimony.

Everyone who changes from a "before" to an "after" has a testimony. How powerful it is when our testimony is about what the Lord has done in us!

In some ways, I am living in my after picture. I say that because if anyone saw me now compared to twenty-five years ago before I knew the Lord, they'd tell you I was a completely different person. I am happy for that.

At the same time, internally I feel like I am in a before picture compared to what I believe the Lord still wants to do within me and through my life. I realize that's good. Otherwise I would be sitting in pride of how great I think I am and probably look like a Pharisee.

The after picture is our on-going goal that we see in our hearts that God helps us paint. It is the shaping of our thoughts and desires to conform to His Word, His will, and His purpose for our lives. It's a path and a process in which we will continue to be changed as we pray and seek Him and purpose to live according to what He speaks to us through His Word.

Acts 26 is the central focus for all of us as we walk out what God wants for our lives. Like Paul, we should become as a servant and witness of what has been seen and of what the Lord will show us..."to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (v. 18).

An aimless and purposeless life outside of the Lord will always result in a "before" picture. Pressing toward God's will for your life will help create "after" pictures. An after picture is not the end. It is actually only a step to the next after picture.

What does your next after picture look like?

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:4-6).

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All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Tim Burt
Web site: Todays Fresh Manna
Timothy Burt is a pastor, author, and writer. He is best known as the author of Fresh Manna, a daily devotional and online Bible study.

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