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.

 

Clean Hands

Our home church recently put together bibles to be shipped to Africa and distributed here in the U.S.  It’s always such a blessing to lay hands on the very words of God that will be used to bring salvation and sanctification to people around the world.  One of the things that is super important while building the bibles is to have clean hands so we don’t smudge the writing.  The signs stating this that they put up around the church prompts my husband to sing that “Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts” song as he works.

It makes me smile just thinking of it.  It also reminds me of the Psalm I read this Sunday, the 24th. I read a Psalm and Proverb for whatever day of the month it is, and right now I’m reading through the Old Testament on top of that.  So if you want to be consistent in your bible reading but you don’t know where to start, or you’re crunched on time, try that approach!  You’ll be encouraged by the Psalms, and grow in wisdom from the Proverbs.

~Psalm 24:3-5 says Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 

That means we can’t dwell in the presence of the Lord unless we’re clean.  Our hearts and hands have to be empty of anything and everything that could come between us and Jesus.  Whether that’s bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, envy, or lust, it’s all sin that blackens our heart, blocks the flow of worship, hinders our prayers, and halts our praise.

To receive the blessing and righteousness from God, we have to release the sin in our lives.  We turn from that sin to Jesus as Lord and Savior, trusting that his perfect sacrifice was enough to cleanse us and reconcile us to God the Father.  It’s called repentance.

Repentance is a change of mind and heart, that leads to a change in direction, and results in a changed life.

Just as refreshing as a cool shower on a steamy day, God’s forgiveness washes over us as we repent of each and every sin, renewing us to a right relationship with himself.  There is no better feeling than the confidence that comes with knowing you are right with the Almighty.  Unencumbered.  Undefiled.  Forgiven.  Free.

Job says in 17:9 ~The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

You want to be a strong woman, right?  The more you confess and forsake, and rely on God’s mercy and grace, the stronger you become.  So examine your heart and life.  Have you ever come to God confessing your sin and professing belief in the gospel as the only way to righteousness?  Or are you trusting in your good works or moral behavior to get you into heaven? There is no other way to be right with God other than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, through repentance and faith!

If you’re a believer, what sin are you overlooking and allowing to separate you from close fellowship with Christ? Pray about it.  Ask the Lord to reveal to you any area of uncleanness in your life.  Even if it’s hard, you have to let it go.  I promise you won’t regret it.  There is joy and peace abounding to those with clean hands and pure hearts.

~James 4:8~Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Faithful in the Fearful

Like a warm fuzzy blanket on a cold and dreary day, or a tight hug from an old familiar friend, our pastor spoke these words over us this past Sunday:

1Thessalonians 5:24~Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Comforting and confirming, that verse has been a spiritual booster shot of confidence, reminding me once again that God is faithful to do what he has called us to.

After almost seventeen years in our first house, where our babies were raised, in the town we’d called home for most of our married life, and out of the church we had been born-again and trained up in, the Lord called my husband to pastor a new church plant in the next county, forty minutes away.  We’ve been here for about three months now, and we’re getting settled in, meeting people, and doing ministry.

It’s been relatively easy.  It feels like home, and everyone is adjusting well.  God has consistently been answering prayer after prayer for grace and peace during this transition time and has confirmed time and again that this is exactly where he wants us to be.

As I was unpacking our office recently, I came across a prayer journal from the first year of our walk with Jesus.  We were both fresh out of the world, neither one of us raised in Christian homes, or knowing anything about the bible.  Everything was fresh and new and we were like sponges soaking it all up.  It was such a blessing to look back on where God has brought us from, and to be reminded of all the prayers that God has answered along the way.  Early on in my relationship with Christ I started praying that God would use our family in a mighty way for his name’s sake.  That we would all be sold-out servants, surrendered to his word and will, and walking in his ways.

He is faithful indeed!

Knowing where we have been and who we were before salvation, it’s sort of surreal honestly, that God is using us in this way.  It’s been about ten years since the Lord called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.  A darkness that consisted of addiction, selfishness, pride, and lies. His grace truly is amazing. He saved us and has been sanctifying us for his service ever since.  We’re not perfect, or a model of holiness, but we’re partners in this ministry, purposed to teach the word of God, share the gospel, and bring God the glory he so rightfully deserves.

Let that be an encouragement to you ladies.  No matter where you’ve been, what you have done, or what your situation looks like now, God can use you if you ask him to.  He is in the miracle-working business, and he specializes in transforming even the messiest of us into masterpieces for his glory.

That includes your husband!  He may not be the man of your dreams right now, but that doesn’t mean anything.  Just because he may not be walking with the Lord right now, he may not even be a believer, that doesn’t mean he’s hopeless.  There are no lost causes with God.  Pray without ceasing!  Enlist trusted prayer warriors to join you in the battle for his soul.  Go to war with the enemy on your knees, and even when it looks like all hope is gone, pray through it, believing that God’s word is true and that God can do the seemingly impossible.

1Corinthians 1:9~God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  

When I can’t see what lies ahead, God is faithful and we are called. When I don’t have any answers, God is faithful and we are called.  Even if no one else is there but Jesus, God is faithful and we are called.

Called to salvation, sanctification, and service, and he is faithful to answer prayers and supply our every need every step of the way.   In those hard moments and trying times ahead, when it’s not so easy, and fear and doubt threaten to drown me, I know those words will come flooding my mind again.  I can be confident in that, because I know my God, and he has been, and always will be faithful.  And the same goes for you!

  • What do you need to trust him for today?
  • Has the Lord called you to something weighty or fearful?
  • Do you have a verse like a familiar friend?

Feel free to leave a comment below, I would love to hear your answers!

~Isaiah 25:1~O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

Beguiled to Believing part 3

In my post titled Beguiled to Believing part 2 we covered Genesis 3:7-19  and “The Captive”-Eve.  We saw that Satan baited Eve into thinking God’s word wasn’t true, his character couldn’t be trusted, that she had the right to decide what was right and wrong and she didn’t need God’s restrictions.

She chose to forfeit her fellowship with God, Adam does the same, and they take the entire human race down with them. We are all born in bondage, enslaved to sin, spiritually dead, and destined to an eternal home in hell.

But on that dark day of rebellion, hope was on the horizon. God made a way for us to be forgiven and free through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We see some references to Jesus even though he’s not named, in Genesis 3:15 and in 21. 

There are two things to notice here:The Prophecy of a Savior, and the Pattern of a Sacrifice.  

Prophecy of a SaviorGenesis 3:15~And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.  This is the prophecy of the virgin-born Savior of the world.  You can read Luke 1:26-38 to get the story of the angel coming to the virgin Mary to announce her future conception and birth of the Messiah.

Jesus is the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin to save his people from their sins.  He lived a perfectly sinless life because he was also God in the flesh.  1Timothy 4:16 says “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”  Only God could crush the serpent, so God became a man.  Jesus is the God-man.

Pattern of a SacrificeGenesis 3:21~ Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God made coats of skins, and clothed them. Hebrews 9:22 says that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.  A sacrifice had to be made to provide the skins to properly cover Adam and Eve.  This is the first of many animals killed to cover the sins of the people.

The example God started continues throughout the OT with animal sacrifices that foreshadowed the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Read Hebrews 9:12-14.  By his blood he obtained eternal redemption for us. His blood had to be shed to make atonement for the sins of mankind.  A perfect and just God can’t sweep sin under the rug, he must deal with the injustice of sin or he is no longer a just Judge.  My sin put Jesus on that cross and so did yours.  His blood had to be shed so we could be forgiven of our sins, and reconciled to God.

The blood of Christ on the Cross:

  • Pays the penalty for our sins-This is called Justification. At the moment we believe the gospel, we are made right with God, we are saved from the penalty of sin. When God looks down on us, he’s sees the shed blood of his Son covering all of our sins.  He completely forgives us for every single sin we have ever committed and wipes our slate clean.  An easy way to remember Justification is-Just as if I’d never sinned.
  • Provides peace with God– Read Romans 5:8-10, 2Corinthians 5:18-21, Colossians 1:20-22.  If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you’re an enemy of God.  No matter how sweet you are, if you aren’t saved, you’re at enmity with God.  When you repent of your sin and put your faith in Christ alone to save you, you have peace with God.
  • Purchased our freedom-Read 1Peter 1:18-21. The word “redeemed” means to free from captivity by payment of a ransom.  When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the ransom so we could be set free from our bondage to sin.  If we have accepted Christ, sin is no longer our slave-master. At salvation, that bondage we’re born into is broken. We are free, but that doesn’t mean we are free to run off and do what we want, we’re free from sin to serve our new Master.

    1Corinthians 6:20~For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s

So Christ has paid the penalty for our sins, provides peace for us with God, and purchased our freedom with his death on the cross. But the good news doesn’t end there!  Read 1Corinthians 15:1-8. On the third day after he was laid in the tomb, breath came back into his lungs, his heart started to beat again pumping blood throughout his body, and Jesus came back to life.

Some of you may find this hard to believe, or you may run into people who want to try to tell you it didn’t happen so you’ll want to read my next post titled 6 Proofs of Christ’s Resurrection.

The resurrection signifies that the debt had been paid in full, that God fully accepted the sacrifice of his Son to make full payment for the sins of the entire world. With the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all of those who are in bondage are set free to serve the living God. This is the good news of the gospel, freedom and forgiveness through the finished work of Christ.

Jesus is the real deal, and he is the only way to a right relationship with God the Father.  In John 14:6 Jesus himself says that he is “the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father but by him.”

He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the resurrected Lord.  In Revelation 1:8 he says he is “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

If you haven’t put your faith in Christ yet I pray that the good news of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ will penetrate your heart right now. Be free from the chains of bondage! Go from beguiled to believing today.  Confess your sins and profess your faith. Repent and believe the gospel to be saved!

~Acts 4:12~Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 

 

 

 

The Fog

My family and I have a weird tradition when we’re trying to find the ever-elusive close parking spot on our many shopping adventures.  We’ll all be on the lookout for “the fog”.  It’s a phrase I coined as an acronym for the favor of God.  Every time we get a spot near the entrance, (which is almost every time), we’ll say “thank you Jesus for the fog”!

The kids love it and are blown away by how God answers our prayers over and over again.  They’ll even start scoping out “the fog” as soon as we pull in the lot.

I love doing this for two reasons:

  1. It makes me intentional in all areas of my life to look for the undeserved favor (grace) of God.
  2. I’m training my children and my own heart to automatically give God the glory he so rightfully deserves for the blessings he provides for us.

It’s so easy to take small and large things for granted every day.  Pausing to thank God for anticipating and meeting our needs (and our wants as well), cultivates in us a heart of gratitude.

“The fog” can be a parking spot, a good deal, a surprise check, or any number of things that pop out as a gift from God.  Finding a great house, making new friends, and several divine appointments in our new town are all because we are living in the favor of God.

We pray diligently for that favor in every area of our lives. Not just for our own sake, but for our children, and the lost world to see the goodness of God as he actively moves on our behalf.

The most phenomenal “fog” I ever received was when Jesus forgave all my sin. He just wiped my slate completely clean and made me a new creature for his glory.  I didn’t deserve it then, or now, but that’s the beauty of grace.  He saved me based on his character and sacrifice, not of my own merit.  He is so good!

I’ll go to my grave eternally grateful for the salvation of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  I’m going to keep praising him for all the other “fog” as well.

~Psalm 100:4~ Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.