Focus on Our Father

I’ve been going through a series on  discipleship, but before I give you the last building block for successful discipleship among women, I wanted to share a tasty tidbit I found with you. I have been researching how Jesus discipled. One of the ways he built his relationship with his disciples was to teach them how to pray.

~Luke 11:1~ And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

Jesus’ answer is often dubbed “The Lord’s Prayer”.  Spoken by congregations around the world every Sunday, it’s become so familiar to most of us that we know it by heart.

~Luke 11:2-4~ And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

I’m not going to dig into the rest of the prayer, for this post I just want us to focus on “Our Father”. This is how Jesus instructed his disciples to begin their prayer. For believers today this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but for Jews in those times, this.was.HUGE.

While God was known as a father to his people Israel in the Old Testament, and there are a few verses that speak to his fatherhood, according to some scholars, Jesus was the very first Jew on record to address God as Father.  In fact, it was his favorite title to speak of God, saying almost 200 times in the gospels!

Calling God his Father showed the intimate knowledge and relationship he had. He was declaring himself to be the Son of God.  When Jesus instructs his disciples to pray to “Our Father”, he’s making God accessible, and revealing to them their role as children of God. He’s identifying with them as brothers and sisters and drawing them near into the throne room of the majesty on high.

~Galatians 4:4-6~ But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

When we believe the gospel we are adopted out of the devil’s family into the family of God.  He translates us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.  We become joint-heirs with Christ and enjoy all of the privileges and provision our new position as sons and daughters of God endows.

One of those privileges is a personal and intimate relationship with the God of all creation.  He is now our Father and we are his beloved child.  He loves to hear our prayers, petitions, and praises!

All of this was incomprehensible for the Jews of the time.  Their culture and traditions made God inaccessible. He was addressed as the Almighty, Jehovah, LORD, and more, but Father was not on their tongues. Hearing Jesus speak of God this way enraged them. They viewed it as disrespectful and blasphemy. In fact, it’s one of the reasons they wanted to kill him.

~John 5:18~ Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

One of the many things I love about Jesus is his boldness to speak truth.  He wasn’t politically correct, and he didn’t try to please the people to keep the peace.  He faithfully delivered the messages his Father gave him to share no matter the cost.

~John 8:28~ Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

The next time you recite the Lord’s prayer, take time to consider the wondrous fact that you are in a conversation with the Almighty.  His ear is attentive to your words.  He delights in you.  You are his child and he is your Father.

You may have been abandoned, ignored, or abused by your earthly father.  But you are chosen, accepted, adored, and adopted by your Heavenly Father through faith in his Son Jesus.  He loves you with an unconditional, inconceivable, eternal love.  Revel in that truth!

~John 1:12~ But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

As we pattern our discipleship after Jesus, let’s be mindful to teach our disciples about the phenomenal perks we enjoy as daughters of the One True King. One of those being that we are able to approach the throne of grace boldly and relentlessly.  Our Father in heaven is always available!

 

Ditch the Distractions and Delight in the Lord

Well it’s day two of the new year and I finally have my #oneword. Like several of you I’ve decided to forgo resolutions and focus on just one word for the year.  After much prayer, and several applicable and awesome words, I finally settled on the best word for me in this season of life, and that is delight.

I chose delight because it’s the one word that God kept bringing me back to over and over again.  More than anything else, I desire to bring God glory with my life. One way to ensure that I do that, is to delight in Him.

~Psalm 37:4~ Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

According to blueletterbible.org delight means to be happy about, and take exquisite delight in.  Merriam-Webster defines delight as a high degree of gratification or pleasure, joy, and extreme satisfaction.

The Lord wants us to find happiness, gratification, pleasure, joy, and extreme satisfaction in Him.  Not in food, family, or friends, but in fellowship with Him.

He wants us to go to the source, to be filled to overflowing so we have everything we need to pour out on those he’s entrusted us with ministering to.

The word delight is found in 50 verses in the KJV.  Some of my favorites are:

  • Psalm 94:19~ In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.  When we’re overcome with worry and have runaway thoughts, it’s helpful to talk it out with friends or family, but only the Lord and his word can bring true peace of mind and pleasure of soul.
  • Psalm 119:16~ I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. Instead of turning to my phone or to-do list, I need to remember to put time in reading and studying the word first. I just read a blog post by Gretchen Saffles from Well Watered Women about putting the #wordbeforeworld.  You can read it here: http://wellwateredwomen.com/blog/i-resolve-2018-wordbeforeworld
  • Song of Solomon 2:3~ As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.  I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.  Instead of looking for satisfaction elsewhere, I need to sit under the shadow of my Savior who satisfies my soul with his affection, shades me from the heat of affliction, and sweetens my heart with his attention.

Delight isn’t just for us, there are a few places that delight pertains to the Lord.  Here are a few:

  • Proverbs 11:1~ A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.  The Lord delights in fairness and justice, as he is a just Judge. He gets great pleasure from us doing the right thing, and maintaining a proper balance in life.
  • Proverbs 12:22~ Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.  I had my kids memorize this verse early on, as their natural sinful tendency is to lie to keep themselves out of trouble.  Instead of confessing their wrongdoing, they would hide it or blame their siblings.  It’s not just important for our kids to know this verse though.  We need to deal truly in life, and be honest with ourselves and others. Prov. 28:13, 1John 1:9.
  • 1Samuel 15:22-23~ And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.  The Lord, as a perfect Father, delights in obedience. Stubbornness is viewed by God as iniquity and idolatry because it exalts my will above the Lord’s.  I could sacrifice so much for him, but if I ignored his gentle prompting to give him preeminence, I’d be in rebellion.

Simply put, the Lord delights in integrity. He wants our life to line up with his word, for us to be women of character.  As we start a new year, it’s the perfect time to examine our walk and see where God wants us to improve to bring him greater glory.

If I had to sum up my walk with the Lord in the past few months, the one word that would characterize me lately would be distractedThat needs to change.

Social media, shopping, shows on Netflix… they’ve all stolen my attention from my Savior. And he wants it back. Hence delight.  

Despite my failures the Lord remains faithful, compassionate, and gracious, because that is who he is.  He is such a good God!

~Psalm 103:14~ For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

I’m going to delight in the Lord by being intentional to spend time in the word before anything else gets my attention.  I’ll delight in him by replacing worry with prayer, complaining with praise, and fear with faith.  I’ll choose to feed my Spirit with the scriptures, solid biblical teaching, and spiritual songs instead of catering to the lusts of my flesh.

I’m not always going to get it right, and neither are you.  We’ll make wrong choices and be inconsistent.  At times our #oneword will be forgotten.

No matter how many times we mess up, God’s mercy endures forever.  God restores us to right fellowship when we repent of our foolishness.

~Psalm 130:4~ But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

We don’t want to look back at the end of 2018 with regret. Let’s be diligent to seek his face, disciplined over our flesh, and determined to be killin’ it all year long!

Ditch the distractions and delight in the Lord. He is worthy!

~Psalm 119:35~ Make me go in the path of thy commandments, which I have loved.

Look Back- Remember the Goodness and Grace of God

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt

As this year comes to a close and a new one begins, I can’t help but wonder what adventures await us.  2017 has been a blur of busyness and blessings! Sometimes I get so caught up in the present, and excited about the future, that I forget to take the time to look back and remember the goodness and grace of God up to the present time.

It’s important to look back and praise God for his presence, power, provision, and people he’s placed in your life.  Look back at your prayer journal and see all of the answered prayers.  Look back at where you were last January, and where you are now.

How have you grown in your faith, character, and in ministry? What trials did the Lord bring you through? Who were you able to invest in and bring closer to Christ, or who helped you grow this year?

As you look back, remember to thank God for each and every answered prayer, and divinely appointed person who had an impact on your spiritual growth.  Praise him for his goodness and grace.

Psalm 107 is a song of remembrance of all God had done for the children of Israel.  It begins with: O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever, and closes with: Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD, with 41 verses in between recounting the story of God’s deliverance, chastening, provision, and character.

There are two sets of key verses that repeat themselves, and one key word, that I think we can learn from as we look back on 2017.

Four times we see:

  • Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. (v.6)
  • Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. (v.13)
  • Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. (v. 19)
  • Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. (v.28) (emphasis mine to show the slight difference in these very similar verses.)

and

  • Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (v.8, 15, 21, 31)

(These four verses imply that the people were lacking in the area of thankful and grateful hearts. They took advantage of God’s goodness and were forgetful of his works.)

The key word is: Mercy

While it only appears as this English word one time in this psalm, the Hebrew word checed appears 6 times as:

  • mercy (v.1)
  • goodness- 4 times (vs.8, 15, 21,31)
  • lovingkindness (v.43)

Checed is goodness, kindness, faithfulness, favor, and mercy.  This psalm perfectly combines God’s character and his conduct.

Even in his chastening for their disobedience and rebellion (and ours), he is at his core and in the very essence of his being, good, loving, and kind.  That’s evident in all he does.

This psalm also showcases God’s sovereignty.  Just highlight all of the verbs related to God in these verses!  Doing so you’ll see that he redeemed, gathered, delivered, led, satisfied, filled, humbled, healed, saved, brought, and blessed (and more).

What action words can you write down to recount how God has revealed himself to you this year?  Maybe you can write your own psalm of remembrance!

As I look back on all of the answered prayers, the miracles, the faithfulness, the love, and the fruit that has come in this year, I can’t help but praise God for his checed.

Did we have some tough times? Of course.  Were there trials and tribulations? Absolutely. Have I made mistakes and missed the mark?  You betcha!  But through it all, God’s mercy endures forever.

Pause to ponder the goodness of the Lord this past year. Look back on the Lord. Even in the heartbreak and hard times, he has been faithful.

He is good and is working all things out for good.

Believe it and move forward by faith, trusting that whatever lies ahead, the same Lord who was with you this year, will be with you in the next, and the year after that until he comes again or calls you home.

~Psalm 107:9~ For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

 

4 Building Blocks to Successful Discipleship- part 1

Here’s the next installment of my biblical discipleship series titled Invest- 4 Building Blocks to Successful Discipleship, part 1- Be an Example.  You can read the two previous posts here and here.

~Titus 2:3~ The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

God is infinitely more concerned with us being godly women than with us doing anything for him. That is why his exhortation to godly character precedes his instruction to teach younger women.

The more mature women in the body are to be an example of:

Sanctified Behavior– “in behavior as becometh holiness”

  • Stand Out from the Crowd!   This church plant in Crete was in the midst of a pagan, idolatrous, wicked environment. The world we live in is no different. The world our girls are growing up in is a crooked and perverse place.  The ladies that come in fresh from the world with no benefit of a godly upbringing carry the baggage of their carnal mindset, just like I did, and need to know what is expected of them as a new believer.  They’re going to need women to look to. They are looking for women like this!

If you read my blog post titled “I’m a Fool!”, you know that when I got saved I was really foolish.  I wanted to be wise and godly so the Lord taught me his word, and gave me a spiritual mentor, a living example to learn from.  I got to see a sober, submissive, Spirit-filled, servant in action.

He didn’t do all that for me just for my sake or the sanity of my husband and children, he sanctified me (and continues to) so that I can be an example to other women.  So that I can disciple and teach from a place of humility, understanding, experience, and God-given authority. And he wants to do the same for you!

Fast Fact: Holiness means uniqueness, set-apartness, or sanctified.

The aged women in the body should stand out from the immature, and the lost, they should be unique.  They should make holiness look good for the younger women, as something they should aspire to.  Psalm 29:2 says to “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”  Holiness is beautiful to the Lord, and it should be to us as well.

Our holiness is dependent on our walk with Jesus, our worship of Jesus, putting in the words of Jesus, and following the ways of Jesus. Ladies should be able to see from our attitudes and actions that there is something very different about us, something they desperately want themselves. The good things listed here that the mature women are to teach the younger women, she needs to be living out in her own life.  Not perfectly obviously, but making progress through her sin issues, always pursuing Christ-likeness. This is sanctified behavior.

The younger women should see that we don’t just read and teach these things, but we actually believe them enough to obey them!  Proverbs 31:10 says “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”  Is it not the same in this world today? Virtuous women are so rare, and so hard to find.  I think it’s time to change that!

  • Stop the Carnality! At salvation the Lord starts conforming us to the image of Christ by pointing out areas in our lives that aren’t holy.  He brings us from carnality to Christ-likeness the more we repent at his conviction of sin, and submit to walk in his ways instead of our own.

~1Peter 1:15-16~ But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Speaking Truth – “not false accusers”

  • Stop Slandering! “Accuser” comes from the Greek word “diabolos” meaning Satan or traducer.  This word is also used as “slanderer” and “devil” in the New Testament.  Proverbs 10:18 says “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”

Slanderers seek self-elevation and start division.  A false accuser is a pawn of Satan who is being used to sow discord within the body, by spreading lies.

For a biblical illustration of this, read Numbers 12, and checkout my blog post on Miriam- A devilish diva!

The bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof (Proverbs 18:21).  You have in your words, the ability to speak truth that brings life, or lies that bring death. Slander is deadly to relationships, and kills the unity within the body.

~Proverbs 31:26~ She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 

We are to be the example of sanctified behavior, speaking truth, and of a:

Sober Mindset– “not given to much wine”

  • Stay out of slavery to sin! “Given” means to be enslaved to, to be in bondage to, or become a servant of.  Not given to much wine means not a slave to alcohol.  This is the same instruction given to pastors in 1Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7, and for deacons in 1Timothy 3:8. So the aged women are held to the same standard as the pastors and deacons of the church.

The bible forbids us from being drunk on alcohol.  Ephesians 5:17-18 says “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is, and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”

While the bible specifically mentions being drunk on wine, we know that in our world today there are so many more things we can ingest to dull our senses and change our mood and mindset that ultimately bring us into bondage.  We become enslaved to them, and we turn those things instead of to the Lord to help us in time of need. We as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not to be controlled by anything other than the Holy Spirit inside of us, and we are not to put anything in the place of God.

  • Start thinking soberly!To change our actions, we must change our thinking. Romans 12:1-2 says “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  Our minds are renewed and we are transformed by putting the word of God in.

A sober mind is a controlled, disciplined, sound mind that filters everything through God’s word.  The only way to have a sober mind is to fill our minds with divine truth.  When trial or temptation comes, we need to cast down imaginations (2Corinthians 10:3-6), and think on things that are true (Philippians 4:8). 

In that moment of decision, stop and ask yourself “what is true?” and apply God’s word to it.  Walk in the Spirit and choose to believe God’s word over how you feel. Contrary to popular belief, you can help it, you do have a choice, and it is possible to be free of emotional instability and bondage to habitual sin.

Pray for the Lord’s help to remember truth, resist temptation, and remain triumphant.  Be intentional to invest in your spiritual growth, be an example to other women by being sober, speaking truth, and having sanctified behavior.  Give them something they will want to follow and learn from!

Biblical discipleship the way Jesus did it is intentional, personal, radical, and fruitful. Stay tuned for the next installment of the Invest Series for building block number 2-Building the Relationship!

Invest

A call to invest…

Psalm 145:3-5~ Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.  I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.  

There are ladies in each one of our generations who don’t know the unsearchable greatness of our God.  There are those in the next generation who haven’t heard of his mighty acts or the glorious honor of his majesty.  If we don’t tell them, who will?

No matter your age or stage of life, your purpose is the same- to glorify God by carrying the truth to the next generation. Investing truth is my passion!

The purpose of Daily His Disciple, and my ministry to other women as a whole, is to encourage women to know the word, exhort them to live the word, and equip them to invest the word.  It’s also the goal of our entire women’s ministry at New Life Baptist Church, where my husband is the pastor.  I recently started teaching a bible study I wrote based on Titus 2, simply titled Invest.  

I thought I would tie in some Saturday Study Snippets from the Daily His Disciple Facebook page, with the lessons from the Invest study, while I work on new content for the blog.

The first Saturday Study Snippet was this bible study tip: When we study the scriptures we need to ask ourselves three questions. (I’ll give you question one and two today, and the third on Saturday, so stay tuned!)

The first question is: What does the text literally mean to the people it was written to?  Basically, establish the historical context.(Here’s the entire post.)

Reading the scriptures this way, thinking about the original audience, will help you to properly interpret and apply the bible. Some great resources for determining the historical context of the scriptures are: Study Bibles, Halley’s Bible Handbook, Blue Letter Bible, or your favorite bible app.

Context of Titus:  The book of Titus is a Pastoral epistle, written by the Apostle Paul around 65 a.d. to one of his Gentile converts and fellow laborers-Titus.  Paul had left Titus in Crete to set up this local New Testament church.  He instructs him on how to select the leadership, warns him of false teachers in the area, gives the character and conduct guidelines of the people within the church, and exhorts them all to maintain good works as they eagerly await the Lord’s return.  The apostle Paul is instructing Titus to establish sound doctrine and sanctify disciples in this church in Crete.

Paul is stressing the importance of investing sound doctrine into every believer so that they are set apart from the wickedness they were in the midst of.

It’s sound doctrine that was needed to counter the false teaching.  It’s sound doctrine that corrects wrong thinking and promotes right living.  It’s sound doctrine that saves the sinner and sanctifies the saint.  It’s sound doctrine that establishes and grows a local New Testament church. 

The second study question is: How is God revealing himself, and what can I learn about God in this passage? Be intentional to look for the Lord!  Write down his attributes and actions, instead of just the principles and promises that pertain to you and your situation. (Here’s the entire post.)

God gave us his word so we can know him intimately and love him intensely.  But if we only read it to see how it applies to our lives or to get some comfort or peace for ourselves, without really seeking his presence, we’re missing out on a deeper relationship with the Author of our salvation.

 

~Titus 2:3-5~ The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Using our study snippet on this passage, we can learn so much about God:

  • He cares about the needs of women
  • He knows the areas we struggle with the most
  • He has a divine design for women
  • He knows we need relationships with other women
  • He is holy
  • He has a holy standard for his daughters 
  • He cares about our husbands and children
  • He is serious about his word

In three short verses we have a better understanding of our caring, holy, omniscient God!  Imagine how well we would know him if we were intentional about investigating the scriptures instead of merely reading them.  I’ll have the next question and more from the Invest study coming at ya later. In the meantime, start utilizing these two study snippets, and see how your knowledge and understanding of not only the scriptures, but also of the Savior matures.

~2Timothy 2:15~ Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.