4 Building Blocks to Successful Discipleship- part 2

As you may know, I’m taking this month to share the bible study material I’ve written on biblical discipleship.  It’s a series titled Invest.  The first installment was simply titled Invest, the second was Invest- part 2, the third was 4 Building Blocks to Successful Discipleship- part 1- Be an Example.  This post will cover the second building block to successful discipleship, which is building the relationship.

Discipleship is all about investing the transforming truth of God’s word into another person, living life with them, and helping them to grow in their faith, character, and ministry. 

Women especially need this relational component.  We crave connection, companionship, and compassion. In the context of Titus 2 discipleship relationships, we need to be willing to help meet those needs of other women.

Think of it in terms of a mother-daughter relationship. Would a daughter grow and thrive with a mom who only gave principles, promises, and facts? No way! She’d be starved for affection and attention. She needs quality time.

The counsel, care, prayers, and pats on the back in addition to sound doctrine from her mom are essential to her becoming a virtuous woman of God. Daughters need the encouragement and support of their mothers.  Oftentimes they need their presence and prayers more than their preaching. It’s the same with spiritual mother-daughter relationships.

When building the relationship in discipleship, there are three things that are important to focus on:

 1.The Foundation

  • Salvation- In Matthew 7:24-29 Jesus describes the difference between wise and foolish builders. Wise builders (the obedient ones who hear and do), build upon the rock (Jesus), while the foolish (those who hear but don’t do), build upon the sand.  The storms of life come at both of the houses, but only the wise one will stand.

If we look at these verses in light of discipleship relationships, unless they’re built on Jesus Christ- they will fall apart. The foundation of our relationships must be our common salvation through Jesus Christ.

Share your testimony and have your disciple share hers. If she’s not born again, be intentional about sharing the gospel with her, and showing her in the scriptures how she can be saved.  Be prayerful and prepared for your time together, you never know when she’ll be ready to give her life to the Lord.

  • Study 1John together- This is a great book to start studying together to begin discipleship because it’s all about eternal security. 1John 5:13-These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. There are 12 proofs of salvation in this book. It really helps to alleviate or to validate any doubts of salvation.

Without securing the foundation of salvation, your relationship with your disciple will be unstable as you will be on uneven ground. She won’t think biblically, live righteously, or learn faithfully.  

2. Fellowship

  • Fellowship is community and communion, sharing intimately in the word and work of the Lord. This is a vital component to the discipleship relationship. In reading through the gospels, and looking specifically at how Jesus interacted with his disciples, we can learn how to be relational like he is.

Jesus made the first move and connected with the disciples, ate with them, prayed with them, taught them God’s word, ministered with them, and prepared them for his departure. All of the Lord’s fellowship with his disciples was to train them how to relate to others and do the work of the ministry to advance the Kingdom of God when he returned to heaven.

Our partnership with our disciples in ministry is to do the same.  We must spend time with them and minister to them like Jesus did, all the while training them to do the same for their disciple when we move on.  We need to encourage and equip our disciples like Jesus did through biblical fellowship.

This kind of fellowship doesn’t just happen, you have to be intentional and plan it.

  • Have them over for coffee, or for dinner to meet your family.
  • Go shopping or to the movies.
  • Have them over for a counseling and prayer session.
  • Spend time teaching her the basics of how to study her bible.
  • Do side studies with her.
  • Take her with you as you minister to others.
  • Send a bible verse or encouraging texts throughout the week, check on them, and for prayer requests.
  • Keep in contact via social media or email if you have too, just make sure they know that you’re thinking of them and they matter to you!

While you fellowship with your disciple in these ways, make sure you ask questions, and get to know them.  Find the common ground in physical and spiritual things, and build on that.  Every woman is different and will need different things from you, so remember to be sensitive to her unique situation and schedule, and be flexible.

  • Remember your source of strength, wisdom, compassion, and love, is Jesus Christ. (John 15:1-5) You can’t have true biblical fellowship with your disciple without your own personal fellowship with Christ. He fills you up with what you need to pour out to those you minister to. Abide in Christ, in the word and in prayer, seeking His presence and power to do all things for His glory. Partner with Jesus to minister to your disciple.  Apart from him you can do nothing, but with him you can do all things.

We must be intentional to secure the foundation, to invest time in fellowship, and to beware of the Foe who seeks to destroy this relationship.

3. The Foe

  • In John 10:10, Jesus says that “The thief cometh not, but for to steal and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  Satan wants to steal the glory from God, and kill our fruit by destroying our relationships.  He will use busyness, sickness, death, insecurities, and drama to distract us from intentionally investing in our disciples and to distract them from being available to meet with us.

When distractions start to pile up we have to recognize it as spiritual warfare, pray about it, and be even more purposed to engage in building the relationship.  When the warfare comes that’s how we know we’re on the right track, so we can’t give up!

  • He divides- Satan hates discipleship because it doesn’t just affect one person. It transforms entire families and that in turn inspires other people, and turns them to Christ. If we allow the distractions or drama to get between us, our relationship will surely fall apart, and that’s exactly what the enemy wants.

Satan will use all kinds of tactics to try to divide God honoring relationships. That’s why it’s so important to have that sober mindset.  Run everything through the filter of what you know to be true-about God, the person, yourself, that relationship, your purpose, your responsibility etc!!

Ecclesiastes 10:18 says By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.  Relationships take work.  They’re sometimes messy and complicated. But they can also be a great source of joy, and they’re necessary.

Let’s be intentional to invest time in building our discipleship relationships by securing the foundation of salvation, having sweet fellowship with Christ and our disciple, and being aware of our Foe’s agenda to destroy us.

~Proverbs 24:3-4~ Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

 

Invest- part 2

Invest.  It’s been the theme word of my life for over a year now.

After several years of being taught the word of God and trained by godly men and women how to be a faithful woman of the word, God pressed on my heart to focus on being intentional to invest all I had learned into other women.  I had been teaching in one-on-one discipleship for awhile, but God opened the door to be able to invest in the women at church via leading a women’s bible study.  I taught them a study out of Titus 2 that I wrote, called Invest.

That experience was like a long awaited dream come true! I’ve had a burning desire to teach the word of God since I got saved, but had to properly prepared to teach sound doctrine. It was a long, hard road, but it was well worth it.

I didn’t know it at the time, but getting to teach those women was just training for the next platform God would give me. I taught them for about a year when we were called out from our home church to plant a new church in the next county.  Giving up that ministry was so hard.  I was excited about being a pastor’s wife, and leading the women’s ministry for our new church, but leaving all of those sweet disciples behind was bittersweet.

I know that the word will not return void, and that the truth that was invested in them will continue to work on their hearts and minds, and be evident in their lives.  I hope and pray that those women grabbed hold of the desire to invest and are actively doing that today.

~Philippians 1:9-11~ And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

After a few months in our new field, I started this blog, and then began teaching the Invest study here with our new women’s ministry.  Since the material has been such a blessing to us, I wanted to put portions of it on Daily His Disciple to expand the reach of the word.

In the first installment of this series, I gave you the first couple of questions that we should ask when we study the bible.  You can read that post here.

The first question is: What does the text literally mean to the people it was written to?   

The second question is: How is God revealing himself, and what can I learn about Him in this passage?

Approaching bible study in this way helps us to put the scriptures into context, and to give us a deeper understanding of the character of God.  After we’ve asked these two questions, we can then move onto:

The third question is: What does this text mean to me personally and how does God want me to apply it to my life?  

So often we open our bibles asking this question and none other.  We read the scriptures to learn more about who we are, or to get our nugget for the day. For years I read the bible this way.  Until I read a book called Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.  This book revolutionized my bible study!  If you haven’t read it yet, you really should get it, read it, and begin applying the bible study tips she shares.  You’ll be glad you did!

The first section of the Invest study covers the context and lays the foundation for the rest of the study. It’s based on 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.  

In this passage of scripture, Paul gives the character that a woman of God should possess, and how to get it– by being taught by an older, more spiritually mature woman. God wants you to learn so you can teach.

It’s not enough for the pastor to teach sound doctrine from the pulpit. (Even though that’s wonderful!) If it were, we wouldn’t have these instructions. God knows that ladies need other ladies to teach them how to be godly and bring him glory. We need to see it lived out, we need the accountability, and we need the counseling that comes with discipleship.

An aged woman is spiritually mature and proven faithful.  This is a woman who has gained some wisdom and is able to teach other women because her character and conduct line up with the guidelines God gives for a godly woman. All of us are younger or older than someone else, both physically and spiritually, and should be learning and teaching no matter what our age.

Just like a succulent summer garden, diligent plowing, careful sowing, and daily watering, yields rewarding fruit.  We should each desire to be fruitful, and what I want to stress with this study is not the quantity of the fruit, but the quality.

We will reproduce what we are. So we have to be intentional about investing in our own spiritual growth so that we can produce Christ-like disciples.  

Ways to invest in our spiritual growth:

  • Read and study the bible 
  • Pray faithfully
  • Listen to sermons
  • Attend church regularly
  • Have fellowship with mature believers
  • Get discipled
  • Attend Bible studies
  • Read books by solid Christian authors (Recommended Resources post coming soon!)
  • Be involved in ministry
  • Listen to wise counsel

To be intentional in these things means that we’re going to have to be:

  • Disciplined over our flesh
  • Diligent to prioritize our time
  • Determined to choose to invest in the spiritual rather than the physical
  • Discerning of what is the best use of our time, talent and treasures.

If your days look anything like mine, we all too often find ourselves:

  • Distracted by worldly pursuits
  • Daunted by daily plans
  • Defeated by guilty pleasures

Don’t you know that that’s exactly where the enemy wants to keep us?  Because when we are lost in the fog of our flesh, or deafened by the noise of this world, we’re ineffective for the kingdom.  We can’t invest in someone else what we don’t possess ourselves.

~Romans 13:14~ But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Teaching the younger women good things was not an option for these mature women, it was expected.  It was their role within the body of Christ, to help establish sound doctrine in the church.  This was how they contributed to making the body of Christ stand out above the wickedness and perversion of the world around them.

As believers and members of his body, we are also responsible for bringing him glory through the teaching of his word to other women in life-on-life discipleship.  It’s effective.  Women teaching women works, if we do it well.

Take stock of your life right now.  Do you have the character of the aged woman in Titus 2:3?  Then find someone to invest in!  If you’re in the younger woman stage, where you need a more mature woman to invest in you, then find one!  Pray for God to send you a ministry-minded, mission-focused, virtuous woman who will faithfully invest the truth of God’s word into you and help you to grow in faith, character, and ministry as well.

~2Timothy 2:2~ And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  

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.

Proper Perspective

~Psalm 101:2~ I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

David, the king of Israel, a man after God’s own heart, a lover of the word, and a passionate pursuer of God’s glory, wrote those words. He was concerned about his behavior and his heart as he walked within his house.

That prompts me to examine my own heart and behavior in the home.

As a homeschooling, babysitting, blogging, writing, cleaning, cooking, shopping, chauffeuring, praying, stay at home mom- I die daily.

I have to.

I can’t chase after my own plan and dreams and forsake the needs of those that God has entrusted me with caring for.

When the day goes opposite of my agenda, and I feel so very unproductive, I can respond with peace and joy, or in frustration and anger. I don’t always get it right. The difference is where my mind and will is at.

I have to surrender my day to the Lord and pray for the right heart attitude to serve these precious people with humility. And I have to be intentional to put my mind on  three things:

1) It’s worth it! Whatever you have to give up, or put on hold, to minister to the souls God puts in your life, it’s totally worth it. Jesus is worthy, and the eternal rewards for a faithful and fruitful woman definitely outweigh the temporal sacrifices.

~Colossians 3:24~ Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

2) Your labor is not in vain! You may not see the fruit of your time, talent, treasures, or truth, this side of heaven, but God’s word doesn’t return void, it accomplishes what He wills it to. What you’re doing today matters!

~1Corinthians 15:58~ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

3) This is just for a season! Before you know it your kids will be grown and gone, your house will be quiet and clean, and you’ll ache for those babies to be back in your arms. Enjoy the season you’re in!

~Ecclesiastes 3:1~ To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

So when it feels like they’re pushing you to the brink of exhaustion or insanity, and your to-do list gets buried under homeschool or homework, be intentional to think on those three things- It’s worth it, It’s not in vain, and It’s just for a season! 

Even if you’re not in the exact same situation as me, I know you can relate. Dying to self is something we all are called to do.

~Luke 9:23~ And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Dying to self daily is painful, but necessary in the sanctification process as God conforms us to the image of Christ.

Praise the Lord we don’t have to try to do it on our own. God supplies the grace, peace, joy, and strength that we need to lay aside our will to follow his.  His Spirit within us provides the power to obey his word and glorify him in every area of our lives.  We just have to rely on the Spirit, rest in the Lord, and remain in his word.

Here’s a great prayer to help us on those trying days:

~Psalm 143:7-8~ Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

Practical tips for proper perspective:

1)Proper perspective comes from prayer. Ask God for help!

2)Proper perspective comes from the word. Take a few minutes to read or listen to the Bible!

3) Proper perspective comes from remembering why you do what you do. Be purposed to turn your thoughts from yourself to your tribe!

4) Proper perspective comes from praising the Lord. Recount your blessings and list them back to the Lord. Turn on the praise music and rejoice in the Lord!

5) Proper perspective comes from lifting your eyes up from yourself and your problems to Jesus as Lord, Savior, Redeemer, and Friend!

6) Proper perspective comes from being filled with the Spirit. Repent of any sin, do the things above, and let the Spirit rule your heart and home!

 

 

“I’m a Fool!” Wisdom from Proverbs

Wisdom from the Proverbs

I distinctly remember the shame I felt when the realization struck me, and I had to honestly and humbly admit- I’m a fool. To spill the beans on this is contrary to my natural tendency to conceal and deal privately with the Lord on the issues of my heart.  But in order to help women to walk in the wisdom of God’s word daily, I have to divulge how I obtained wisdom in various areas of my life.

It was early on in my walk with Jesus.  By my standards I was a great wife. I cooked, cleaned, and cared for my family.  Yet I was harboring bitterness and unforgiveness. Carrying the baggage of the past around like a ton of bricks, constantly pointing out my husband’s flaws, and nagging him to be a Christ-like husband and father.  

Without a sober mind or a submissive will, I dug in my heels and set myself in array against my husband as public enemy number one.

I was so self-deceived.

Painful as it was, allowing the Lord to reveal my true character according to his word was necessary to my spiritual maturity, and the strength of my marriage.  

The Lord had placed a deep desire within me to be a godly woman, but I had no idea what that meant, so I began to study it out.  Popping off the page were the role and responsibilities of a wife in Ephesians 5 and Titus 2, and the character and conduct of the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31.  God started to highlight key verses contrasting the wise and the foolish, unveiling a godly woman as a wise woman.

~Proverbs 2:6~ For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

The result of that time mining the scriptures was a broken and contrite heart, and my pride was crushed to the point of repentance.

The Wise Woman:

Virtuous~ Proverbs 31:10-31.  Her virtue originates from her fear of the Lord, and it’s the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7) It’s her relationship with God that fills her up and gives her the strength, honor, and ability to minister so well.  The verses that really convicted me were 11-12~ The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.  Consumed with myself, I was definitely not loving my husband well, or doing him good. How about you?

  • Can you say that you do your husband good and not evil? 
  • Would your husband agree?

EdifyingProverbs 14:1~ Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.  Piece by piece my marriage and family was being further destroyed by my foolish behavior. Instead of pointing out the things my husband was doing well, and being thankful, I focused on the things that he didn’t do.  I wasn’t shy about voicing my discontentment.  My thinking was that if I didn’t tell him, how would he know, and how would anything change? 

What the Lord taught me was that all I really needed to do was pray, and leave my husband in God’s hands.  I started reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O’Martian, and my mindset toward him began to change.  The more you pray for someone the more you love them, and this book definitely helped me to love my husband better and build my house.  It’s a must read!

  • Do you regularly pray for your husband?

The Foolish Woman:

Clamorous~ Proverbs 9:13~ A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.  Ouch.  I had to admit that I was a trying and tumultuous woman, and I didn’t know it all.  That one hurt because I like to know what I’m talking about.  I like to be right, and honestly, before I studied this all out I was oblivious to my foolishness and thought I was right.  I justified my attitude and actions based on my husband’s behavior.  

  • Does drama seem to follow you wherever you go?
  • Are you the kind of woman who’s always in an uproar about one thing or another?
  • Have you decided that you’ll be a virtuous wife when he starts being a godly husband?

Contentious~ Proverbs 21:9~ It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. 19~It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.  Proverbs 25:24~ It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.  Lack of trust in his leadership, and my need for control made me an angry and argumentative woman. The Lord showed me that I was really lacking faith in His ability to lead our family, take care of our every need, and mold both of us into Christ-like servants.  It was a heart problem and a faith issue.

Continual DroppingProverbs 19:13~ A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.  Proverbs 27:15-16~ A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.  Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.   The incessant nagging grated on my husband’s nerves like a leaky roof dripping into a bucket below. It never accomplished a thing.  It just provoked his pride and made him defiant to do anything I asked.  

  • Do you have a control problem?
  • Are you angry and argumentative?
  • Do you nag your husband? 

~Proverbs 16:32~ He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

Faced with the reality of my sinful condition I confessed, repented, and purposed to love my husband biblically- with a sober mind and submissive spirit, allowing him to lead our family, and cultivating love and peace in his heart and our home.

My husband is now a godly man who loves Jesus, and preaching God’s word.  He’s faithful, he’s a family man, he’s a really hard worker, and he loves me like Jesus does.  He’s got his role and responsibilities down, and has for several years.  He wasn’t changed by my nagging.

It was the power of the Holy Spirit, through the word of God, spending time with godly men, and going to marriage retreats together that transformed him.  I have the husband I prayed for.  And all glory goes to God alone!

While I don’t see “I’m a fool!” on the bios of any women these days, and I doubt it’ll make it on a t-shirt, the truth is written on their heart, and worn in their attitude and actions.

~Proverbs 12:4~ A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

A crown or a cancer… you choose.