Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
— PHILIPPIANS 3:16
Decades ago, before I had abandoned my cultural Christianity and decided to truly follow Jesus, a pastor challenged me to 30 days of self-examination. He challenged me to read the 28 chapters of Luke, over the next month; a chapter a day (with a few days thrown in to miss a few readings.) “Then let’s get together in a month and tell me what you’ve discovered, “ he suggested.
BUT! (And here was his spiritual, secret sauce.)
“Clare, before you begin reading each day, here’s the prayer I want you to pray sincerely; God teach me everything you want me to learn and give me the courage to live it out!”
God used that prayer to change everything! Everything.
I wasn’t to read the Bible for information. I was to read it as an instruction manual. I had been born and raised in the church, so I knew I had what the Bible “said” I just didn’t trust God enough to live it out. What was missing? Obedience. I had knowledge, but not faith.
My definition of faith is, “courageous obedience to the teachings of Jesus.” Prior to that, I thought faith was believing the correct doctrines, going to church, praying, being generous and keeping a lid on my public sins. But faith is believing Jesus with enough conviction to live it out reasonably consistent. “Faith without works is dead.”
Over the last four decades of my life, I’ve presented the 30-day challenge to thousands of people, many of them cultural Christians like I was. And God has used that 30 days to open many people’s eyes to what Jesus actually meant when he said, “If anyone wants to be my disciple (a true Christian) they must deny themselves, take up their cross, (pay whatever the price for obedience) and follow me.” Matt. 16:24
Perhaps there’s a person you’ve been meeting with who is not yet a Christian. Why not let the Holy Spirit speak directly to them, through the Bible? And offer to do the same yourself. I encourage people during this 30 days to write down any questions they might have, or things they discover that is totally new. I then offer to meet weekly to answer their questions and hear what the Holy Spirit is teaching them.
Think and Pray
Buckle your seat belt. The Holy Spirit is about to change one, or both of you!
Lord, give me the courage and discipline to put into practice what I already know about You and your will for me. Put men in my life who will challenge and encourage me, men I can learn from and who will hold me accountable. And show me whom I am to come alongside for that same purpose. Amen.
Clare De Graaf is an author, teacher, and for more than 35 years a full-time spiritual mentor of men. He is the author of The 10 Second Rule: Following Jesus Made Simple and served for years on staff with CBMC in Grand Rapids, MI. Clare is also the founding chairman of DOOR International, a ministry committed to translating the Bible into sign language for the deaf of the world. Read Clare’s blog and learn more about his ministry at ClareDeGraaf.com.