And there they continued to preach the Gospel.
-- Acts 14:7
Acts 14 records the last stops on the first missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. It covers the highs and lows, the friends and enemies, and the comforts and pains that come with being a full-time witness for Christ. Paul's life was one missionary journey after another, and he stayed at it until the day he died.
It is not just the Apostles and career missionaries, but every Christian is on a missionary journey for Christ. You're either doing it well, or performing poorly. We should all take a close look at some of the tools Paul put in his chest as he traveled. You will want to grab them and take them along on your missionary journey, too.
The first tool you'll need is courage. Of all the reasons we give for not sharing the Gospel with others and inviting them to Christ's church, number one on the list is, "I'm afraid." We're afraid of being too public or being perceived as too pushy with our faith. We're afraid of saying the wrong things at the wrong time. We're afraid we're not good enough to share the good news. We're afraid of the resentments or rejections that might reciprocate. Fear silences us, and when it does, the Gospel does not go out, people do not attend Gospel church services, and souls are not saved.
Courage is not the absence of fear, it is conquering your fears for a greater person and purpose. A man who is afraid of fire will summon the courage to save someone he loves from a burning building. For Christians, the person, or persons, we love is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the people we would like to see saved.
The second item to take along is sacrifice. Paul became quite popular early in his missionary journey. He used his apostolic powers to perform a miracle, and the people put him on a pedestal, even calling him a god. This could really go to a guy's head.
Paul had a decision to make. Would he accept worldly (and false religious) fame and fortune, live on a pedestal, or tell the truth and the true Gospel and risk rejection and retribution. Paul made many sacrifices for Christ in his life, and this was one of them. Things went south for Paul. The ones who wanted to stone him eventually hit their mark.
Are we willing to sacrifice fortune and fame to make the Gospel greater in our lives? Do others know Jesus means more to us than any other person or thing on earth? Would you rather win the lottery, or a lot of people to Christ?
No missionary tool chest is complete without perseverance. This is because all of our journeys will eventually take a trip down tribulation lane. In spite of being stoned nearly to death, Paul persevered in preaching the Gospel, and perseverance is the key to influencing others with the Gospel.
Most surveys indicate people will respond to an invitation to attend a church service when they are asked at least 20 times! I heard the Gospel at least a hundred times before I was converted to Christianity. I prayed and witnesses to one person for 20 years before they accepted Jesus as Lord. I'm praying for someone I love right now who has hardly darkened the door of a church in years, and I'm not going to give up.
Finally, make sure you have a bag full of joy. Trust Christ and find your place in His church, and you will find joy. Help others find the Lord, get baptized, and added to the church and your joy will increase.
Robert Zimmerman said music changed his life. He changed his name, to Bob Dylan, and started a never-ending tour that continues to this day. Saul of Tarsus said Jesus changed his life, on the Damascus Road. He changed his name to Paul, and started a series of missionary journeys, which never ended until his life on earth was done.
You and I have been changed by Jesus, too, if we are Christians. We are sinners who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. We'll get new names in Heaven, but let us use the ones we have now to be ambassadors for Christ, witnesses of the Gospel, growers of God's church. Let us pick up these tools Paul used, and be on our own missionary journeys for Christ.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]