4 Building Blocks for Successful Discipleship-part 4-Bring the Word

We have finally arrived at our final of four building blocks to successful discipleship among women- Bring the Word. If you want to get caught up on the entire discipleship series, here it is:

  1. Invest
  2. Invest-part 2
  3. 4 Building Blocks to Successful Discipleship-part 1-Be an Example
  4. Part 2-Build the Relationship
  5. Part 3-Bearing the Burdens

Our call to invest in other women is found in 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; By being an example of godliness, building a solid relationship, and bearing their burdens through prayer, your presence, and pointing them to Christ, we create a framework for reproducing disciples who will be disciple-makers themselves. But there is one crucial piece that must be in place for our discipleship to be like Jesus’.

We must teach them the word!

Women of all ages need to know the word of God.  The more we know the word of God, the more we know God himself. The more we know God, the more we love him.  The more we love him, the more glory we bring to his name, and that is our sole purpose in life.

A teacher of good things instructs her disciples in sound doctrine.  To teach it you must know it, so that means you’ll have to study!  Bible study can be intimidating so this post is to equip you to study your bible and confidently teach the younger women in your sphere of influence.

Bible study can be simplified down to three key components:

  1. Comprehension– which answers the question “What does the text say?”
  2. Interpretation– which answers the question “What does it mean?”
  3. Applicationwhich answers the question “How should this truth change my life?”.

When I go through this process in my bible study time, I break it down, build it back up, and then I’m ready to bring the word.

Break it Down- If bible study seems like an overwhelming task and you don’t know where to start, just follow these tips:

  1. Pray over the passage- Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth and for sweet fellowship with the Lord as you study his word. James 1:5- If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. Pray all the way through to the teaching of the findings of your study.
  2. Ponder on the passage- Joshua 1:8-This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Read the passage several times. Be thinking on it, mulling it over, letting the word of God saturate your mind. Familiarize yourself with the passage.
  3. Pick apart the passage- To help with comprehension, you need to write down the details. (You could use these worksheets.)
  • Make general observations
  • Ask questions-who is the author, who are they writing to, what is the thrust, what can I learn about God, what did this mean in the time it was written, when was it written, where does it take place, why is this book/chapter/passage/verse important? How does this fit into the theme of the bible as a whole?
  • What biblical principles are clearly evident?
  • What is the context of the passage?
  • What are the keys in the passage-key people, places, words, phrases, or doctrines?
  • What is the passage literally saying?
  • Are there any words to define?
  • Do word studies.

So after you have prayed about and pondered on the passage, you pick it apart, do your research, and then you need to:

Build it Back Up- 

  1. Compare scripture with scripture, and write out the cross references. The bible defines itself, so use a concordance or a bible app to find every reference and read them to get a better understanding of the text.
  2. Consult commentaries, authors, preachers, and teachers for their interpretation. They are helpful to bring understanding. But, they should come after you have done all of your own work with the text. Just because it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s better. You have the Holy Spirit inside you, he is your Teacher, let him teach you!  The more time you spend personally laboring over the scriptures, the more you will understand them, the more you will glean from them, and the more you will appreciate them.

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

3. Compile all of your research into an outline. You’re basically just synthesizing and organizing your notes. You pull all your material together and then you need to:

  • Personally apply the truth you discovered- Don’t teach what you don’t live. Jesus gives a scathing sermon about the scribes and the Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-33. Jesus warned his disciples and the multitude not to pattern their lives after them because they were all talk with no action.  He said they did all their works to be seen of men. They loved their titles and privilege, and looked down on the rest of the people in their pride and arrogance.  He calls them hypocrites 7 times in this passage alone.

It’s a warning for us as much as it was for them.  Live what you teach.  Don’t be a hypocrite. That’s an actor, or a pretender, just playing a part.  Before you impart to another person the truth you have studied out, make sure you ask the Lord to show you how you can apply that truth to your own life.

After you have pulled it all back together and you have personally applied it, you are ready to bring the word.

Bring the Word

  1. Present it prayerfully- Always be prayed up and in the Spirit before you meet with a disciple. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and let him guide you to the truth she needs to hear.
  2. Present it pleasantly- No matter what issue your disciple has, the word of God addresses it.  Aged women must instruct with wisdom, and understanding, and speak pleasantly. When teaching good things that are controversial like submission, or uncomfortable like purity, delivery is everything! To bring the word without offending or alienating your disciple, use discretion and discernment, and balance truth with grace like Jesus did.
  3. Present it purposefully- Don’t teach to unload all you know about a subject or to elevate yourself as wiser than her, or for your own glory. The purpose for teaching other women the bible is to help them grow in their faith, wisdom, character, and ministry, and to bring God glory.

As ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation, it is our responsibility to give out the life giving truths of the bible. To be a teacher of good things, you have to know the good things you are to teach.  Those things are the beautiful, precious treasures of the bible, brought out to you by the Holy Spirit as you diligently study.

Break it down, build it back up, and bring the word prayerfully, pleasantly, and purposefully, to train up the next generation of women’s ministry leaders, godly wives and mothers, and teachers of good things.

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!

 

From Worry to Worship~ Shifting your focus from the “What ifs” to “What is”

Worry= a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.  

I was in this state of anxiety this week.

With the holiday,  battling writer’s block, and a tight schedule, I’ve gotten so behind on the blog. I also need to work on the first e-book I’ve started, and revamp my bible study material to teach the ladies at church. Along with that is a nagging sense of pressure to produce transparent pieces that minister to women on a practical level.  Writing is hard y’all!

As I brooded over all I needed to get done, the “what ifs” started popping in.  Things like “what if I get weeks behind on the blog, what if I lose my inspiration completely, what if I never get to finish that e-book, and what if I’m not prepared when it comes time to teach?”

Through some prayer partners, fellow writers, and in my daily time with Jesus, the Lord brought it to my attention that this was all self-inflicted worry.  I placed all these expectations on myself.  Standards without flexibility, giving myself no grace. (Have I mentioned I’m a recovering perfectionist?)

I had to go back and re-read my post on Proper Perspective, and re-apply the truth I had just taught. I needed to be reminded to rest in the Lord, remain in his word, and rely on his Spirit.

God has given me this platform to proclaim the word and help women to know, live, and invest the truth.  He gives me every post, I just have to make sure I’m tuned into his leading through my quality time with him every day.  My job is to put the time in studying, praying, and living out the things I teach.  His job is everything else.

His timing is perfect, and so is his track record. I just need to trust him.

Maybe you’re as forgetful as I am, and you’ve had a similar experience lately.  Times where you find yourself wandering down the rabbit trail of “what ifs” when God desires you to stand firm on the path of “what is“.

Worry is a common stronghold for women.  We crave control, we’re problem solvers, we like to get things done.  So in the unknown that characterizes our walk of faith, it’s easy to fall into the snare of the “what ifs”. If you’re a:

  • Mom– What if my kids don’t get saved; live a life of sin; get cancer; die before me…
  • Wife– What if my husband cheats on me; leaves me; doesn’t get that job; doesn’t walk with Jesus…
  • Daughter– What if my parents get sick; I’m the only one to take care of them; I can’t afford their medicine…
  • Friend– What if they gossip about me; find a new friend; they like someone else more than me…
  • Worker– What if I don’t get enough hours; lose that promotion; get fired; can’t pay my bills…

We could sit and dwell for days on all the different scenarios that could happen.  But where’s the profit in that?  We don’t gain anything other than a few more wrinkles and alot of irritability.

What the Lord wants us to do is to think soberly about the circumstances of life, to discipline our thinking, so that we can worship him freely, without the restraints of unnecessary fears.

Jesus addressed worry in Matthew 6:25-34.  You should read it.  He starts and ends this passage with “take no thought”– basically don’t worry about the things of this life.  God is a perfect provider and will meet all your needs,  you can count on it.

~Matthew 6:33~ But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

Don’t panic over your problems, put time in with Jesus.  Pray over it all, praise him for who he is and what he has done.  Proclaim the promises of what he will do.

Walk by faith and not by sight.

The apostle Paul also gave us instructions for winning the war with worry:

~1Corinthians 10:5~ Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Instead of stewing over situations outside of your control, and imagining things that may never happen, arrest those thoughts and apply the truth. Put your mind in submission to the word of God.

~Philippians 4:8~ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Shifting our focus from the “what ifs” to “what is” true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue, and praise, will naturally turn our hearts from worry to worship as we recount all the ways God is present, powerful, and perfect.

Even if you’re facing great uncertainty, a scary diagnosis, a wayward child, marital problems, or are buried under the weight of a busy schedule, no matter what- God is faithful. 

The Lord is willing and able to provide you with everything you need to extinguish worry before it engulfs you.  You have to be intentional to be sober minded and turn your thoughts toward him. Go from worry to worship today!

~Philippians 4:6-7~ Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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.