Have you given your life to Christ? I mean fully... Does Jesus have your full allegiance? Discipleship, in the way of Jesus, means he must have your full attention. Do you still adhere to the false shepherds of this world or have you postured and positioned yourself within the flock of the Good Shepherd to be disciplined and guided in a path for your good and His glory?
A person that has been positioned in the flock of the Good Shepherd will be corrected in their thinking by the staff and defended by the rod. (Psalm 23:4) This should bring us comfort. Discipleship can sting a bit at times, but it is for our benefit. Think about the words of Proverbs 27:6; "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy."
A friend will faithfully warn you of wayward actions. This will sting our pride a bit, but it is a faithful thing to experience. Now think of the kisses of an enemy. The enemy will also see something about you that is a detriment to your relationship with God. They will do nothing and say nothing to see that your actions are changed. Rather, they will flatter you to the point that you will be encouraged to live this way. Why is it that we so often look to our own devices and our own righteousness to save us or give us hope? Why do we settle for these false and failing miniature glories rather than look to the faithful glory of God? How can we see this way of living turned upside down? The faithful will not allow us to settle for these things. They will encourage us and correct us with loving rebuke for the sake of our soul.
We must also allow ourselves to realize that discipleship will not happen simply from church attendance and hearing the Word of God preached from the pulpit. It happens when a trusted leader with a solid Biblical worldview pours into the lives of others, equipping them for every good work. Discipleship happens in an open discussion small group setting or a one on one setting with other committed believers praying for one another, sharing their testimony and experience, and raising one another up to become leaders of others that desperately need this model in their lives. Christ bids us to care for the welfare of our brothers and sisters.
- What are your feelings when you think of Christ asking you to follow him?
- What do you think about following his ways?
- Do you seek to be reconciled to your brothers and sisters in faith?
- Are you seeking reconciliation with a spouse or children?
- Are you seeking reconciliation with the Lord?
Each and every opportunity for reconciliation requires confession and grace. We need only look to the Father for our example of how to live this out. It is grace that we have been convicted of our sinful nature. It is grace that we can admit to ourselves and others that we have sinned against them. It is by grace we are saved. It is grace that must be extended to others. Christ speaks into this immediately after The Lord's Prayer. "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15 Can you genuinely humble yourself to ask for forgiveness? Can you genuinely humble yourself to forgive?
Discipleship means caring for another and raising them up to do the same. Can you die to yourself and live for Christ? Can you take off the old and put on the new? Can you be clothed in the righteousness that God has imputed to you for the sake of your salvation and the health of the Bride of Christ (the Church)? Discipleship is not the act of debating theology and doctrine, but rather, the fellowship of rejoicing and exploring what it means that God has made dead people alive. A holy God has made it possible for unholy people to be in his presence eternally because of Christ's payment for sin on the cross. This is the foundation of our faith. This should be celebrated in our circles and communities. Then, through the process of the Lord continuing sanctification in us, we walk with one another until that day when we are in full communion with the Creator.
How can you be more aware of how The Good Shepherd is leading you?
What do you need to let go of to follow him?
Pray to the Lord to help you truly see him as your shepherd and that you would firmly believe in his love for you.
Set a time this week to really evaluate your spiritual life. Invite the Lord into whatever it is you struggle with and ask him to lovingly lead you out of a sin that keeps you from experiencing the fullness of his love.
Lastly: GET INTO A SMALL GROUP AND ACCEPT THE COUNSEL OF MATURE BELIEVERS.
What do you hear?
I was recently reading "God Is More Than Enough" by author, Jim Berg. His chapter entitled Unmasking the Source Of Your Noise had some great ideas about what it is that stirs inside of you. What makes noise inside of your heart and mind? He references 2 Peter 1:2-3. Here, Peter explains to us that increased and multiplied peace has something to do with the knowledge of God and the truth of God. This means that in some way, our noise problem is related to the absence of this knowledge and the absence of what is true about God in our belief system.
(paraphrased from Jim Berg's "God Is More Than Enough")
What can we do?
As believers in Christ, we have a unique relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. We can worship the Lord through prayer, singing, study of the Bible, and through the service to others. David Platt explained at a recent worship conference that our worship is a response to a strong God that loves us. Our worship fuels our witness and fuels our drive to share the Gospel all around the world; In our living rooms, prisons, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and remote villages. There are people that have never heard the noise of Jesus' name or the noise of the words of the Gospel. We can hear the noise of truth of our God, but what good is that if we don't share the noise. We do this to build God's kingdom, not to merely entertain our emotions and feelings. What do you accept to be true? What is your belief? What have you encountered in life that makes a noise in you heart and mind? Are your beliefs rooted in fantasy, hatred, or divisiveness? Or, instead, are your beliefs in love, service, and kindness to all people that are made in the image of God?
I'd love to hear your answers to these questions!
Email me if you feel led to share.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. Romans 14:19
The Christian faith should help model the change that is possible in the lives of the people around us. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we become an example of what it means to live a holy life. Instead, we have recently seen people identifying with the Christian faith, but they are divisive and militant. We have to learn what it really means to love our neighbors in this current culture. We have to be aware that in order for this to happen, God needs to truly touch the hearts of people that are filled with hate, deceit, addiction, etc...
Certain world crisis issues are complicated and difficult to wrap our heads around. Other world crisis issues are not as complicated. There is a difference between compassion and justice; between grace and tolerance. Grace and compassion are simple. This is a conversation we should dig into in the church during our small group discussions. We need help from our pastors and elders to share with one another on how to make a positive impact in our communities.
Here are a few questions to ask to yourself, your spouse, your family, your church leaders:
What if we believed and lived like we do when we sing songs of praise in our churches?
What if we prayed to live life the way we proclaim that we do in our churches?
What if we prayed for a life of being brave and bold enough to set a better example for humanity?
What would it look like if we realized that our actions could have an impact on God's kingdom here and now?
How much could we influence the presence of peace if we lived a life like Christ?
Jesus modeled what it looked like to be dependent on God. He modeled what it looked like to depend on God's will and desire for us. He prayed to God and showed the need for prayer in our relationship with Him. We have the opportunity to experience this through prayer and our daily walk when influenced by the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to take some time to pray. Pray for eyes to be opened and hearts to be softened for the sake of learning what it means to be human. We have so much potential. Let's meet that full redemptive potential that is available to us. There is so much grace to be had. All we have to do is ask for it with a sincere heart.
I also urge you to be hyper-aware of your own attitude. As 1 Peter 3:9 says, "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."
Wisdom from Above - James 3:13-18
"Who is wise and understanding among you?
By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast and be false to the truth.
This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual,
demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will
be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits,
impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown
in peace by those who make peace."