Today is August 18, 2018 and I have this weird thing about numbers which is why I waited until 8:18 pm to hit post because I love the symmetry of this timestamp…Anyhow that has no bearing on this post, just a random tangent…hahaha! In a recent post called ★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Plug or a Conduit? ★, we unpacked how as Christ Followers, we are doing one of two things when it comes to our faith…we are either a “plug” or a “conduit” for God’s grace, love and forgiveness to flow, or not flow out to those around us. We looked at this through the lens of Acts 20:24 (NIV) which if you recall the Apostle Paul said:
I was reading the context of Act 20:24 and its interesting how this power verse is book-ended in Acts 20:22-23 (NIV)…
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”
And in than verse 25…
“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”
Paul was obeying the Holy Spirit’s leading even though he knew it would lead to pain and suffering; and even prophesied that the people would not see him again! Now that is a convicting example! It’s a funny thing about adversity, it has one of two effects on people…it either causes people to run from God or towards Him. Christians around the world are persecuted, imprisoned and martyred for their faith, and yet in America the statistics show something very troubling. Here is a great article from the Barna Research Group called “State of the Bible 2017: Top Findings“:
When you review these statistics, it begs the question, why is Bible engagement so low? I pray that this post will change your viewpoint if you find yourself either hostile, skeptical or neutral towards the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote more books of the New Testament in the Bible and is one of the chief evangelist for Christianity. I have always looked up to Paul and his audacious faith, how he was ready to lay down his life for the Kingdom of God! Any yet I too have failed to be consistent in reading my Bible from time to time whether because I was too tired or rather wanted to Netflix a show instead. How about you? If you honestly evaluated your reading trends, where do you fall?
Another startling statistic that the Barna Group discovered was that:
That is a sad, sad state of affairs. And that saddest part is that they are easy pickens for the enemy to pick them off without the covering of God’s Word to reveal the His plan for our lives and to understand the war we are in. I love this quote from the ‘The Devotional to End All Devotionals‘ by Angela Sanders:
“We read the Bible to expose ourselves to truth and get familiar with it. We study the Bible to take truth in, absorb it, and draw strength from it.
The Bible says that God’s Word is food to Christians. A person without nourishment grows weak, confused, vulnerable, and prone to wander; a Christian who doesn’t study God’s Word does the same.”
That is the whole point of why I have this blog! To open a conversation and invite you to chew on God’s word and let it penetrate our heart and minds! There are so many malnourished people in this world because they won’t just open the book!! I love how The Message translates Matthew 5:6 which says:
Reading the Bible is the best meal we will ever have and the best use of our time!! If you call yourself a Christian I want to encourage you to follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul who, after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus (See Acts 22:6-11) spent his life to spread the Gospel of Jesus. Paul fully embraced what Jesus commanded His disciples that must happen if they wanted to follow Him. Matthew 16:24-25 says:
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
We must take up our cross, whatever that may be and be willing to bear the weight of whatever may result in our profession of faith in Jesus Christ! It may not be that you are called to be martyred for your faith as the disciples were, but perhaps you will lose friends, or influence or even clients because your integrity will prevent you from being a part of something unethical or immoral. But whatever that may be, will you will to adapt yourself like Paul? In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NLT) Paul gave made a bold statement!
“Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ.
When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.
When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ.
Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”
Wow! That is incredible! You have heard the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” right? According to Dictionary.com it’s a…
“phrase used when one is agreeing to do what is customary or typical in a particular place or setting.”
Does that not sound like what Paul? Regardless of who Paul ministered to, he would adjust his approach to be as effective as possible. We would do well to follow his example and apply it to our lives today. It’s not easy though is it? To find common ground with everyone, doing everything you can to reach those around you. Paul certainly did just that, there are numerous references in scripture from 1 Thessalonians 2:9 to Acts 20:33-35 and finally in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 but I wanted to highlight two verses in particular…In Acts 18:1-3 we learn that Paul was a tentmaker, and so he had means to earn money on his own and in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 (NLT) Paul told the church of Thessalonica:
“For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.”
We see that Paul and his companions did indeed do everything to spread the Good News to the point that he did not even take any food or pay for their ministry work. Paul sacrificed everything and did everything possible adapt to those around him to make a difference!
I love what Joyce Meyer once said,
“The trademark of a true Christian is the ability to adapt to others. Will you unselfishly adapt to someone else today?”
That is indeed is the true Trademark of a Christian! I will close with a final thought from Paul in Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT)
“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
My prayer for everyone reading this post is for you to understand what your gifts are, and then see how you can put those gifts to practice. Let’s be mission minded like Paul, be willing to adapt ourselves to reach the lost people in our lives and look for opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus! So will you unselfishly adapt to someone else today? Remember when in Rome do as the Romans do.
If you want to dig deeper, check out:
I also want to recommend this “Spiritual Gifts Test” to help you discover what your gifts are.
It’s a quick test…PROMISE! Perhaps you are already tuned in to what you have been gifted with, or maybe not so much…this simple little questionnaire will give you some insight to help understand how you can better connect with those around you.