I need to confess to a couple of things. First, I am not a world changer. I mean, I want to make a difference. I want to help people where I can. But I never imagine myself having a very big impact.
Now here’s the 2nd confession. I was raised in a pretty legalistic church and I have a little of that left in me. Now I am learning about grace. I recognize that all good things come from the Father. But there is still a part of me that says trying to be and do better is not a bad thing.
With those 2 confessions in mind I want to talk to you about some works that I believe we can and should put in place in our lives, in our church, to significantly affect the world around us this year. In fact, from the life of Paul (you do the reading) here are 7 actions that will help us change the world this year, at least our small part of the world.
Action # 1: Have an encounter with God. It all begins here. Luke describes what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus this way in Acts 9. I don’t know exactly what that looks like for you. It’s different for all of us. But I do know that you will never reach your full potential until you have a face to face, personal, intimate encounter with God. Let me give you 6 steps from Paul’s Damascus story to help with that.
Acts 9:3-9 “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”
•STOP—take some time
•ASK—ask God to speak
•LISTEN—respond to the Spirit
•LET GOD—just let God do whatever He chooses to do in you!
Action # 2: Focus on getting ready! In Galatians 1:17 Paul tells us that he went away to Arabia before he started his ministry. Most Bible historians believe that he was gone between 8 and 14 years. At the very least we should take a little time every day to get away and think about changing our world. Jesus got away early in the morning. Join a small group. I meet with a group of men every Thursday at 6am. They help me get ready to change me if not to change the world. Plan, prepare, participate. Take the time to get ready to change the world.
Action # 3: Learn to Pray. Paul prayed. One of the best stories of his praying is in Acts 16:25. Paul was in jail in Philippi for preaching the Gospel. The Bible says “about midnight he and Silas were praying and singing songs to God.” (If you want to know how that worked out you need to read the story yourself but can you say JAILBREAK!)
One of my favorite prayer outlines is the Lord’s Prayer.
•Hallowed be Thy Name—PRAISE
•Thy Kingdom come—SURRENDER
•Give us this day—PROVISION
•Forgive our debts—CONFESSION
•Lead us not—PROTECTION
•Deliver us from evil—PURITY
•For Thine is the Kingdom—PRAISE
Action # 4: Study God’s Word. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
Action # 5: Become a disciple. There’s an interesting story in Paul’s life. He comes to faith in Christ. He tries to join the church but frankly they are afraid of him. Well, he has been going around killing Christians. It would be like Osama Bin Laden all of a sudden showing up and wanting to sing in the choir. But 1 guy, Barnabas steps up to Paul and takes him under his wing and begins to disciple him. Acts 16:26-27 “6 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.”
Find someone that you respect this year and ask them to meet with you once a month. When you meet ask them 3 questions: What should I be reading?
How should I be praying?
Where Should I be changing?
Action # 6: Become a discipler! Paul took all of the lessons he learned from Barnabas and began pouring them into other people. Silas, John Mark, Philemon, maybe the best known is Timothy. I challenge you to make a new friend this year and begin meeting with them once or twice a month for coffee or lunch. Give them a Bible verse to read and then ask these 3 simple questions:
What does this verse say? (have them say it in their own words)
What does this verse mean??
How will you live it out this week?
Listen, if you were going to change the world this year, where would you begin? Family, friends, people you work with or go to school with? Start there.
Which leads to the last action of a world changer: Share your faith!
Here is a simple little plan based on the anagram SALT.
TURN the talk to Christ.
Now remember how we started this thing. I am not world changer. I have a pretty small circle of influence and don’t imagine that what I do counts for a whole lot. But you know what, it matters to somebody. And it might even matter to Jesus. So I can choose today to do some things different this year, to start to take action in some areas of my life and maybe, just maybe going down that road will make all the difference. I like the poem by Robert Frost that I learned in junior high school, The Road Not Taken.
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.