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.

 

“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.

 

Miriam- A devilish diva!

There’s an interesting story of Miriam, Moses’ sister, in Numbers chapter 12.  As women who desire to be wise disciples of Christ, we would do well to learn from her poor example.  I assume envy took hold of her and prompted her slander, making her a devilish diva.

Go ahead and read the chapter on your own, but I’ll give you the lowdown- Miriam and Aaron slandered Moses, she got leprosy, and was shut outside the camp for seven days.  The entire group was forced to stay in Hazeroth  as she suffered the chastisement from the Lord.

You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? The children of Israel murmured and complained all the time, why was God so harsh with Miriam?”

Miriam was a prophetess, a leader, and an example among the women of Israel.  She had the responsibility of sharing the word of the Lord and being a representative of God.  She was required to reverence authority, exercise self-control, and use discretion with her tongue.

The spiritually mature women in the New Testament church have this requirement as well:

~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;

~1Timothy 3:11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things

“Accuser” comes from the Greek word “diabolos” meaning Satan or traducer.  This word is also used as “slanderer” and “devil” in the New Testament.  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. They malign the character of others as Miriam did to Moses.

This would be like the women’s ministry leader spouting off criticism and assuming the motives of the pastor, or his wife.  Maybe they don’t come right out and lie about something, but insinuate wrongdoing based on their own evaluating of their life.  I’m sure you’ve heard lies about those in leadership at one time or another.

Maybe you’ve been the one to speak slander.  If that’s you, please repent!  That behavior is toxic to the health of the body!

Think about your daughters and disciples. What bad habits are they picking up from you? Do they hear you tearing down your husband, other women, or the leadership in your church?  Or do they see you building up and edifying others?

~Proverbs 14:1~ Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

We all need to guard our hearts, submit to the Lord’s standard of holiness, and speak the truth in love. Ladies, your whole ministry could be jeopardized by being a slanderer, Not only did she hinder the forward progress of her people, but nothing else was written about Miriam’s life until she died, and that was just that she died & was buried. You want your legacy to be different than hers, so be intentional to watch your tongue.

An interesting fact about Miriam, her name means rebellion. We see her live up to that name in Numbers 12. Rebellion to authority is rooted in the heart of a slanderer. Along with envy, bitterness, pride, and discontentment, their mouths reveal their heart condition and personal immaturity.

~Philippians 2:3~ Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves.

Miriam and Aaron were making their own personal assumption and judgment against Moses.  Leading into this incident the people had experienced some of God’s wrath coming down for their complaining and lusting, so it was a really carnal atmosphere and these guys just play right into Satan’s hand.

We can learn a few biblical truths illustrated by this devilish diva:

Proverbs 11:2 – with pride cometh shame

James 3:5-10 – the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity

Matthew 7:1-5 – judge not, that ye be not judged

Romans 12:3 –  not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think

Luke 12:47-48 –  to whom much is given, much is required

 Let’s choose to be an example of honesty and honoring others, speaking praise and peace.

Don’t be a devilish diva like Miriam. Be intentional to live out Proverbs 31:26~ She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

 ~Proverbs 10:18~ He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

Slander is a sign of a foolish woman.  Who wants to wear that label?  You may already have it on!  But that’s a post for another day, so be on the lookout for “I’m a Fool!”, coming soon!

Here’s a tip for you younger women out there, looking for an older woman to mentor you: Flee false accusers and follow truth tellers!  You are looking for a mature and wise woman to follow, not someone who doesn’t apply biblical principles.

~Ephesians 4:29~ Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Learn it and live it ladies!