The gospel I preached is not something that man made up…. I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. – Galatians 1:11-12
The other day, I found myself imagining what I’d say to the Apostle Paul if I had a time machine. If I could go back to A.D. 33 and speak to Paul right after his baptism, what would I say to him? I’d probably start out like this: “God has a GREAT plan for your life! You have no idea how big an impact you’re going to make in this world!” So far, so good, right?
But since the Bible gives us a written account of Paul’s life and ministry, we know that he was martyred for his Christian faith just over 30 years after his conversion. Think about that. Paul had just over 30 years to plant dozens of churches on two continents … to write half the books of the New Testament … and to become the most influential Christian leader of the past 2,000 years. So, knowing that he only had about 30 years to accomplish all that, I’d be tempted to add: “Hurry! The clock is ticking! You don’t have any time to lose! Start preaching! Start writing Scripture! Go! Go! Go!!”
that’s one of the many reasons God hasn’t given me a time machine. My plan for
Paul stinks! MY plan for Paul wasn’t GOD’S plan for Paul. Get this: Paul didn’t
set out on his three missionary journeys through northwest Asia and southeast
Paul had so
much potential, and he had so little time. So, why didn’t God send him to
God had something much more important for Paul to do first. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But God shows us once again that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways are higher that our ways, and His methods for shaping world-changing Christians are different than our methods. For example, let’s take a close look at Paul’s first three years as a Christian. What was he doing, and why?
During his first three years as a Christian, Paul definitely
spent some time preaching the word of God. But it seems clear that, more
than anything else, he was living alone in the
met Paul on the Road to
Paul was in the Arabian desert for the better part of three years, one-on-one with Jesus: meeting with Him, asking Him questions, listening intently to Him, and receiving the greatest revelation in the history of the world: The revelation of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, Paul writes, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time.” Where did Paul learn that? He learned it from Jesus Christ.
You and I tend to look at Paul’s three years in the desert as a waste of precious time. But the truth is: It was the BEST use of Paul’s time. Paul could not have planted dozens of churches on two continents, had he not first spent so much one-on-one time with Jesus. Paul could not have written Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians or his other 10 books of the Bible, had he not first spent so much time at Jesus’ feet. Paul could not have become the most influential Christian leader of the past 2,000 years had he not spent so much time doing the most strategic thing ANY Christian could EVER do who hopes to make a lasting impact in this world: Get alone with Jesus and let Him prepare you for battle.
More times than not, eternal impact isn’t attained by speeding up, but by slowing down. Not by talking to people more, but by listening to Jesus more. So, if we desire to reach further for Jesus, we must first go deeper with Jesus. And when we do that—making church a weekly priority AND making time with Jesus a daily priority, listening to Him and going deeper with Him—you will be in a much better place to make a greater impact in this world for Jesus Christ.
Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.