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Friday
Jul312015

Discipleship, Defines You In What You Do!

As I recently described discipleship as a love relationship, I wanted to further that discussion about discipleship in a manner that might disturb some. Discipleship has been seen as a concentrated focus on knowing God, and following His commandments.  I had defined that process in light of love from 1 Corinthians 13. However, I there is another side of discipleship that I would like to addresses and that comes from Matthew 28:19-20

  19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

 This was the last thing the Lord told His disciples to do.  It is the working out of faith they had in Him, and the practical side of Christianity.  Now going into all the world basically means, whatever you find to do with your life make it your priority to live out the gospel.  So whether you are in business, education, entertainment, politics, or you are in full time ministry, be a witness to the teachings of Christ.

Discipleship must have a practical application, the kind of discipleship that makes a difference according to of 1 Corinthians 13.  The foundation of our discipleship is love, but the way it is lived out is seen in whatever you do everyday.  What it means is simple:

  1. In whatever you do, you have integrity
  2. In whatever you do, you have respect
  3. In whatever you do, you are not silent about what you believe
  4. In whatever you do, you don’t compromise on your values
  5. In whatever you do, you are first a disciple of Christ
  6. In whatever you do, you do not live in fear
  7. In whatever you do, those who oppose you, do not let them intimidate you.
  8. In whatever you do, you love, forgive, and restore relationships
  9. In whatever you do, you keep Christ first, ahead of your own dreams and aspirations
  10. In whatever you do, your discipleship is your number one pursuit.

It is not easy, nor can you do it by seer strength of will power.  God’s Holy Spirit must empower you to live your life as a disciple of Christ.  This is why Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide you into all truth and minister to you about sin, the righteousness of Christ, and the judgment of the world. (John 12:25-26  & 14:8-14)

 25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.


 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you

So when we consider all of what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit, He was indicating to us that the Holy Spirit is our partner in the discipleship process. That to me is a game changer, to know that God Himself is my partner in helping me to be a follower of Christ.  When discipleship is not founded in love, it is something we have created and it is not founded upon the Holy Spirit. No wonder non-Christians say they like Jesus, but not His Church.  As important as having a good Biblically based theology is, it is no substitute for love.  People will not know we are followers of Christ by how good our theology is, they will know we are Christians by our love.  I think the best way to live out discipleship is by Paul’s words in Ephesians 4. By loving people we don't compromise the truth, but truth and love work together to present the truth in love. 

Ephesians 4:15

 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

 

Wednesday
Jul292015

Discipleship Is Based In Love

John 13:35

 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I have been answering a lot of my own questions lately with a question. When I am faced with the dilemma of counseling people about issues in their spiritual life, I try to ask this question:  “how do you understand discipleship?”

Too often we specialize in areas of the Bible that bring personal satisfaction, but fail to grow as a disciple in sacrifice and in love for others.  One of the main changes I have witnessed in recent years is the lack of love among Christians.  This may sound harsh, but love is not an overt characteristic of many believers today.  They may be able to quote the scriptures, give a prophecy or two, and know how to preach an effective sermon, but lack a genuine love for people.

The Apostle Paul directly addressed this in the Corinthian Church in Chapter 13.

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love; I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Why is this missed in the discipleship process of believers?

If I have all spiritual gifts, all prophetic insights, understand all mysteries, have all knowledge, have mountain moving faith, give all I have away, and become a martyr for God, if I don’t have love, nothing of this really matters.

So Paul’s teaching says that our spiritual insights and ministry gifts don’t measure up to how we demonstrate love.  This is the bottom line to discipleship. I know people who will argue, yes but you have to have the right doctrine, and you have to have the right view of eschatology, and you have to be going to the right church in order for you to be spiritually right. I think these issues are important, and must also be a part of discipleship; but we cannot forget as people how we will be known as followers of Christ. We will not be known by our doctrine, or our theological worldview, we will be known by how we love one another.  Love has some specific definitions:  

  • Love is patient and kind;
  • Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
  • It does not insist on its own way;
  • It is not irritable or resentful;  
  • It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
  • Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
  • Love never ends 

These verses define discipleship better than any other verses in the Bible.  It is the kind of love God demonstrates to us, and as His disciples we are to emulate that kind of love to each other.

So when people ask me about the meaning of discipleship, this is where I start, the place God starts, His sacrificial love for us is the substance of the kind of love we are to display to one another.  That is discipleship 101. I personally believe that the reason we have such lousy relationships as believers is because we do not understand the foundation of discipleship. Remember, the way we love one another is reflective of how we love God. (1 John 4)

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  21And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 Perhaps the best way we demonstrate our discipleship and love for God is found in this verse.

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

It is easy to talk the talk of a Christian, but God defines your discipleship in how you live out love, first to God, and then to each other.  Discipleship is more than just knowing the Bible; it is living out the Bible in love. Tomorrow I want to talk about discipleship in terms of taking risks, the kind of risks that require faith, and a heart that does not live in fear, but in hope. 

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

 

 

Tuesday
Jul282015

God’s Checkmate

I have often thought that America in her rise to becoming a world power has become so self absorbed with herself that she is persistently pushing the envelope to become her own god.  She has not done so without help from a very influential source. When Satan fell from heaven, he was the most beautiful and successful of all the created angels.  His influence convinced one third of the angelic beings to follow him in rebelling against God, only to suffer the judgment of God and the rebellion were thrown out of heaven.  Ever since that time, it has been like Satan and God have been playing chess with human history.  Over the centuries we have seen how Satan has influenced the human race to do some of the most diabolical deeds to other human beings, while at the same time we have seen God bring about miracles of transformation both in individuals and in countries. America was one of those miracle countries that God birthed from the early settlers who had a love for religious freedom, and a faith in God. Those early settlers built a foundation for a country that was built upon the idea of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but somewhere in that pursuit we lost our way.

 America lost its heart to pursue God.

  1. We worship the seats of power in government.  People will do anything to maintain their positions in government, including lying, and misleading the American people. 
     
  2. We worship the rights of the individual superseding the rights of others, such as the unborn.  We have no shame or remorse that 57 million babies have been legally killed since 1973. Now we are discovering how parts of these unborn children are being sold. You cannot participate in evil deeds and expect good outcomes.
     
  3. We worship love, without any rules as to how love should be lived out.  We have opened the floodgates of immoral behavior that is now seen as normal love. This abhorrent behavior will continue to influence society to redefine relationships to be anything you want them to be.
     
  4. We worship tolerance paving the way to accept all manner of evil behavior.
     
  5. We worship narcissism, giving credibility to arrogance and the greed for more.
     
  6. We worship people in powerful places, because they are the ones that make things happen, regardless of their tactics.
     
  7. We worship our entertainment, and give Hollywood a free pass on desecrating the wholesome, and portraying the excitement of evil.
     
  8. We worship sex and teach our young that virginity is like losing your baby teeth; it is just the right of passage into adulthood.
     
  9. We worship this present world, never thinking about a godless eternity.
     
  10. We worship the politically correct, and allow others to do our thinking for us. 

All of the above are the result of Americans losing their desire to pursue God, and His kingdom. God’s Kingdom rejects all of this idol worship.  We are worshipping the wrong things, and it is destroying America. How can a nation ignore Gods laws and principles and yet not see the wrath of God?  How can we place all these gods before the God of the Bible and think there will be no ramifications for our behavior?

Somehow, the platform for how we define our faith needs to be revisited. Our faith is all about Jesus Christ, and His Kingdom that is to come.  We are not about fear, nor are we about doom, yet the world will not get better until Christ returns.  Recently someone asked me about how I maintain hope with all the bad news all the time, and my response was, “the bad news is a sign that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes.”  God knows about ISIS, He knows about the Iran Nuclear Agreement, He knows about the agenda of the left in changing America, He knows about all the bad news we hear everyday, yet He is playing it like a grand master chess player, setting up His moves to eventually say “checkmate.” This is not a time to be fearful, it is a time to be reassured we are moving toward God’s checkmate.  Be encouraged, God is still in control.  

 John 14:3

 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also…… Checkmate!

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Sunday
Jul262015

When Standing Is All We Can Do

One of my favorite talks show hosts is Mark Levin; I listen to him regularly because he doesn’t mess with the truth.  His target is not only the Democratic Party, but he equally targets the Republican Party. In fact, I think Mark’s disgust for the Republican Party surpasses his distaste for the Democratic Party.  Here is why.

The Republicans tells their constituents that they are going to do certain things, and when they get elected, they fulfill nothing of what they promised on the campaign trail.  Mark sees the Republican Party as deceptive and often lies about their intentions in Washington.  I would agree with him.  Jesus told us a similar story that illustrates the kind of deception of saying one thing and doing another in Matthew 21.

 28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’  29And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.  30And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.  31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.  32For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Whether you are a politician, in business, or in the ministry, God places a high priority on the truth.  It seems like much of what we get out of Washington these days, on both sides of the aisle, is half truths, and out right lies. The Bible tells us that the truth will set you free, and lies will only bring you deeper into bondage.  I am deeply concerned about our country, and the inability of the people to govern.  It seems the people don’t matter anymore, and that the politicians do what they want to do, and the people suffer.  A former Home Depot employee told me recently that Obama Care forced the company to utilize more part time help in order to save on having to provide Obama Care.  Yet, we have a health care system we didn’t want, but are stuck with it. We have borders that are allowing illegal people to enter our country without documentation, and we are stuck with it.  Many of these people are criminals, and we have seen the statistics on how these illegal people are negatively affecting our communities. Yet, we the people are helpless, because our Washington representatives are dishonest about why they aren’t protecting America from the people coming across our borders.  It should be common sense for our political parties to be on the same side of this issue to protect the citizenry of the United States. I don’t feel like we have a republic anymore, it feels as if we the people don’t matter, even when we elect good people; they all seem to cave to the Washington machinery.  Ted Cruz is one who is standing up against the dishonesty in the Republican Party. His interview with Mark Levin last Friday night is outstanding; you will be shocked by what Senator Cruz shares about his own party. 

http://www.marklevinshow.com/2013/01/28/podcasts/

Listen to the 7/24 broadcast, the first segment is with Ted Cruz.  You won’t believe your ears.

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised as to our loss of power as the people.  The Bible predicts we will be surrounded by confusion and lawlessness in the last days.  Today people are capitulating to the times, and giving up without standing up.  They are surrendering their freedom for the empty promises for a better tomorrow.  It is becoming more apparent to me, there are few people today who aren’t affected by the corruption of this world.  The only way we can escape it’s influence is to stand up for the truth, based upon eternal values and principles of the scriptures. Jesus told us to build upon Him, and His word, and we would stand.

 Matthew 7:24-25

  24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

 The rain is falling, the floods are rising and the wind is blowing from all directions today, but the question is, “will you remain standing for Christ?”  Truth is missing from so many areas of life today, and the only people who have any chance of standing up for what is right is His Church. 

 “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.

The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”

                                                                                                ― Leonard Ravenhill

 Take a stand for the things that matter most.

 Keeping it honest and truthful….K

Thursday
Jul232015

How Then Shall We Live?

One of the myths of modern Christianity is that God wants you to be happy and prosperous and if you are living for Him, you won’t see adversity. That is just not true.  I love what Oswald Chambers says about adversity.

“The strain of life is what builds our strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength. God never gives us strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment.”

We do live in days of great strain.  Everyday I hear people talk about how bad our times are, but these trials are meant to help us gain the strength we need to face a world that is more focused on evil than it does good.

The flip side of this issue is that God does test the heart and mind of those who follow Him.

 Exodus 20:20

 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”

 Judges 3:4

 4They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.  

Has God put a test before us?  Will we lose some when it is no longer politically correct to be a Christian?  Christianity has already been taking the heat for standing against the moral victories of the left.  But is God testing His church to see what we will do when all the odds are against our faith?  Will we be able to voice our opposition without the fear of retaliation?

Here is a young lady who demonstrates a fearless behavior while defending the truth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8Q0MMHwx4k

I firmly believe that the reason so many Christians don’t vote is because of ignorance.  They just can’t make the connection between religious liberty, and the threat of it being removed.  We are so close to losing what we now have, and it is because Christians don’t vote. It is amazing to me that in the last election so many Christians stayed home, and chose not to vote.

Think about this: 

Only about 50 percent of Christians in America are registered to vote

Of those, only 50 percent show up at the polls, meaning 75 percent of all Christians are not taking advantage of the one their greatest privileges.

If every Christian would register to vote and then do so, candidates who share their beliefs and values would win the presidency in a landslide. 

This is just one area where Christians need to find some courage. The other even more important is to be the salt and light as the Bible teaches.

Recently, I heard Dr Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas say that he blames the church for the Supreme Courts decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide. He simply said that the church did not do its job in standing up against this movement.  Pulpits are silent, and preachers are not willing to risk being persecuted for a moral issue.  Again it is the ignorance of the seminaries that are training people to lead religious organizations, but not to be revolutionaries to bring revival. We don’t need more preachers who say nothing, and who aren’t willing to address the spiritual war that is in process in every arena in America. We don’t need preachers who want to argue theology, when the church is on life support. We also don’t need congregations who pressure the pastor into being a benign man of God. There is no such thing as a benign man of God.  We have benign religious leaders, but men of God thunder the truth without fear of the politically correct.  I believe that is why Donald Trump is catching on in America, we want some fire and some thunder to push back the insanity the left has projected on us.

How Then Shall We Live? 

3Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.  5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.  6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.   -2 Timothy 2:3-6

 We need to maintain that our God has the last say, and has the victory over all evil.  We do not bow down to the false gods of Baal in our land, but as believers in Christ, we represent the world that is to come, and nothing can separate us from His promises to us.  Let us pass the test of godly courage, and trust that our fight belongs to the Lord.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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