Acts 20:22 “I am determined to go to Jerusalem now. I don’t know what will happen to me there.
Acts 20:23 However, the Holy Spirit warns me in every city that imprisonment and suffering are waiting for me.
Acts 20:24 But I don’t place any value on my own life. I want to finish the race I’m running. I want to carry out the mission I received from the Lord Jesus—the mission of testifying to the Good News of God’s kindness.
Convenience sells. It sells cars, food, clothes, toys, games, music, books, and unfortunately some churches. America is a land of convenience. The very definition of convenience reveals this truth. Convenience – Fitting in well with a person’s activities and plans, involving little trouble or effort. I am glad the apostle Paul was not a Christian of convenience. If he had been he would not have fulfilled what God had called him to do. Notice above in verse 24 Paul knowing that he was headed for suffering said that he did not place any value on his own life. Powerful! He wanted to finish the race he was running to carry out the mission of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is a reason the church in the days of Paul was revered by men. They were not Christians of convenience. They faced major persecution; Paul himself was beaten with rods, whipped, imprisoned, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked and left at sea. Yet none of these things moved him. It is predicted that the apostle Paul in his lifetime as a minister traveled some 10,282 miles to preach the gospel, most of which was on foot. Paul fasted often he said because he had no food to eat, went many nights without sleep as he traveled to get to the next town to share the life changing truths of the gospel. If you look at his life I would call it anything but convenient.
Why is this so important? Because God wants to do a work in our day in reaching a lost and hurting world around us, but that won’t happen if we are living our lives based on convenient Christianity. You change the lives of others when you have a genuine walk with God that is real, filled with the Word and the Holy Spirit, and you are able to go wherever God takes you and share the uncompromised Word of God even when it is not convenient. Jesus Christ paid a very dear price to set all men free, not to gives us a convenient Christianity. All through the Bible people who were obedient to God were called upon to do things that were quite inconvenient.
The body of Christ is truly the most powerful force on the earth, but yet not walking in much power. One of the reasons is because if Christians want convenient Christianity they won’t do what Paul knew to do to see that power manifest in and through his life. Paul knew that he could not place any value on his own life, what he wanted, but instead on what God wanted for him to do. Such a believer is one God can fully use for they are simply a vessel yielded to their Master through which He can flow through and manifest Himself to others. Paul did not care about what others thought of him, he did not care what it took for him to carry out his calling. Paul was only focused on one thing, to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.
Phil. 3:10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
Phil. 3:11 That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
If you are still with me and reading this article I am not saying that our Christian walk should be all hardship and struggle. What I am saying is that if we are only serving God based on convenience, we really are not serving God. We are serving ourselves, our own plans, and that which takes little effort on our part. This does not make for a church that is going to evangelize the world as we have been commissioned by the Lord to do so. Paul states above that his determined purpose in life was to know Jesus, and to know the power that comes from His resurrection, knowing this would also involve sharing in Christ’s sufferings. You don’t hear much preaching on this today.
Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1 that we should imitate him, as he was himself imitating Christ. Even Jesus did not live a life of convenience. In Jesus’ life He walked approximately 21,525 miles. During His three years of ministry He walked approximately 3,125 miles. Jesus was often separated from His earthly family. During His travels He had no home or bed to sleep in, spent nights awake in prayer. He faced the ultimate separation from His Father, enduring the cross and then going into hell itself to pay the price for our sins.
Rom. 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?
If we want to know as a believer like the apostle Paul we have finished our race and fulfilled our purpose in God on this planet we cannot live for us, placing a higher value on our life above the life of Christ. Paul knew the first key was in dealing with the body, which represents a major part of the old nature of man. When you serve your body you are going to give your body what it wants. When it is hungry you feed it, thirsty you give it something to drink. When it is tired you are going to rest, when it is hot you are going to try and cool off, or when it is cold you are going to try and get warm. There of course is nothing wrong with the above except when it comes to how we make our choices in life. Paul could not always eat when he was hungry, he could not always sleep when he was tired, nor could he comfort his body every time it was uncomfortable and fulfill what God wanted him to do.
When you think of all that Christ has done for us as Romans 12:1 states, should we live our lives based on what is convenient for us? Should we not present ourselves to God, setting our life apart to Him? You can do so and still enjoy all that God has for you to enjoy in this life. I can assure you that when we live for our flesh we will never find true fulfillment in life. When we develop our spirit man, who we really are, and like Paul no longer place any value on our own life, but instead on what God wants us, there is no greater fulfillment. The problem, it is not easy and thus for some they don’t want to put out the effort it takes to be all Christ wants them to be, fulfilling His purpose in their life.
Years ago at the age of 13 I got on the back of my first bull wanting to become a professional bull rider. As I began to pursue this career it was a burning passion in me. I went through 4 years of getting on bulls only making one qualified ride in four years, but I would not give up. After going to a bull riding school within a year I was the reserve champion of the Southwest Rodeo Association. Two years later I had my professional card. My life evolved around rodeo. I made sure if I took a job they would have to let me off for rodeos on the weekends. All my money and time was consumed with getting to the next rodeo.
In 1985 I got born again. I couldn’t believe God wanted to have a relationship with me. After giving my life to Him I would hear testimonies of others how God was using them in touching people’s lives. I told God I wanted to be used by Him in the same way to touch the lives of others because I was so grateful He had changed my life. The Lord in my spirit gave me a question one day. What if you were as passionate and devoted to Me as you have been about bull riding? How different would you life be? My passion began to change, because I wanted to know Him more than anything else in life just like the apostle Paul. Next thing I know the Lord began to use me. I began to see miracles happen, and spent many hours when it was not convenient obeying God to spend time sharing the gospel with others, at times going early into the morning when I had to get up early and go to work the next day. But I have never regretted any of it.
There is nothing like seeing God work through your life to help others. Today we become far to enveloped in our own little world, living by our own schedule, what is convenient for us and all the while at times missing the opportunity to be used by God and know that we are fulfilling His will. I have not read of any great man or woman of God in the Bible who served God based on what was convenient for them. It wasn’t convenient for Moses to go out into the desert for God to prepare Him to deliver His people. It wasn’t convenient for Esther to risk her life to save God’s people. It was convenient for Joseph to be imprisoned for fleeing from sexual impurity and then be imprisoned for doing so. It wasn’t convenient for Jesus to go to the cross in our place, but because He did we now have new life. Don’t be a Christian of convenience. Obey God and fulfill your calling as the body of Christ in reaching people with the gospel.
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May God’s Best Be Yours!
Pastor Darryl Baker