Tag Archives: discipleship

1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3; 1 Timothy 1

We are half way through the Bible at the end of this week. This is a good passage to contemplate as we think about what our place is in the Christian community and in our relationship with Jesus.

1 Timothy begins with the purpose for the writing of these two letters Paul wrote to young Timothy. His purpose is found in the first two verses:

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Timothy 1:1-2 [ESV]).

The Christian life is all about relationships. Paul starts out with his in connection to Jesus. He’s an apostle by God’s command. There was no way out of it for Paul. He was destined even before he became a Christ follower to be an apostle of His.

And then he turns to Timothy. He views him to be his true child in the faith. Paul was the one that must have led Timothy to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Paul was discipling Timothy. There was a special relationship between the two. Paul was guiding Timothy as he grew in his Christian faith.

As we approach the midway point of the year these two verses beg the questions, “Who is my Timothy, who is my Paul?” As stated earlier we are meant to live in community. Relationships are critically important in the Christian life.

So who is your Paul? Are you growing through their input in your life? Have you asked them to? Who is your Timothy? Who’s life are you building into? Start this second half of 2018 intentionally growing through the influence of others and be a catalyst to those who need to grow in their spiritual lives.

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1 Samuel 24; 1 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 3; Psalm 39

There is something bigger at stake than removing a threat.

After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats. (1 Samuel 24:1, NLT)

Saul leaves one fight to pursue another. Could his heart ever be satisfied? Would the threats ever stop tormenting him? Is he the hunter or the hunted?

David’s in a cave with a force behind him. They encourage him–a deliverance of a sort that could be settled in that instant. I watch David from the shadows and hold my breath as he reaches forward and cuts a piece of Saul’s robe. David’s conscience speaks to him–because there is something bigger at stake than removing a threat.

War and gore weren’t new to these men; they were both fighters and leaders–whether for better or worse. What was it fueling Saul? What was it holding David back? While this story reads like a suspense, today, I look past opposing forces and see the heart.

***

A garden untended in a summer gone too fast, and weeds are up to my waist in some places. I climb over the rocky bases and grasp and pull at thorny mile-a-minute, weak-rooted Japanese stiltgrass, and other varieties I know by familiarity than by name–ones that reach, embed, choke out nearby azalea and lilac. This year, I get half through and don’t finish. I think about emotions in a grieving process. I look at the weeds and how quickly they’ve taken over a space. Some being light, but persistent. Others, painful to touch. Some, likely poisonous and tormenting. It is work to remove them. I know the longer I neglect the process, the worse it will become.

I said to myself, “I will watch what I do
    and not sin in what I say.
I will hold my tongue
    when the ungodly are around me.”
But as I stood there in silence—
    not even speaking of good things—
    the turmoil within me grew worse.
The more I thought about it,
    the hotter I got,
    igniting a fire of words:
Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
    Remind me that my days are numbered—
    how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
    My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
    at best, each of us is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:1-5, NLT)

At best, a breath.

I got the proof for my parents’ grave marker yesterday–names and dates.

We are merely moving shadows,
    and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
    not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
    My only hope is in you. (Psalm 39:6-7, NLT)

My only hope is in you.

***

The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. “Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. (Ezekiel 3:1-3, NLT)

Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7b-8, NLT)

Lord, I turn to your word. It fills me and instructs me. It is a feast, and I celebrate the new bread of sincerity and truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 4; Acts 8; Jeremiah 17; Mark 3

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve[a] that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus chose his first disciples and calls them to follow. That was over 2,000 years ago.  He is still calling disciples today.  That would include me.  What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus?

First, we need to accept he is who he says he is. Jesus is the Son of God, part of the Trinity.  He came to earth in human form “to save the lost”.  The disciples walked with him, watched him, learned from him.  They got to know him intimately as he freely shared himself with them.  Have you ever noticed the more you are around someone, you tend to pick up some of their habits?  As a disciple, we see Jesus’ love for others, his kindness, and his compassion. He modeled it daily as we read in the Bible.  When we choose to know him personally and follow his example, we are his disciples.  We are learning his ways, following his teaching.  Then we share what he’s taught us with others. And they share the Good News with others, and so it has gone for generations.  The disciples gave up everything, including their lives, to follow Jesus. We are expected to do nothing less.

While I was reading through Acts 8, it talked about Philip. This Philip was not the same man as the Apostle chosen by Christ.  He is known as “Philip the Evangelizer” as I read in one text note.  He was a disciple of Christ chosen by The Twelve along with Stephen and others to care for the widows (Acts 6).  After the stoning of Stephen, the believers scrambled and Philip went to Samaria.

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said.

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

God had an assignment for Philip in Samaria. He directed him to a coach where a eunuch was reading a text from Isaiah about Jesus death.  Philip was able to explain about the prophecy of Jesus in the bible and share the good news of saving grace to him.  He was then able to baptize him and witness the Holy Spirit being given to this man.  The eunuch then went off rejoicing over what had happened to him.  It reminded me of a certain woman from Samaria who had an encounter with Jesus that changed her life and she couldn’t stop herself from sharing the good news.

As disciples we are given the opportunity to see changed lives because of Jesus. Just as our own lives have been changed by Him, we can share our testimony with others.  I have no doubt the eunuch did just that because of one disciple—Philip—who obeyed an angel of the Lord. When we are called, will we go?  Oh, I don’t want to miss what God has in store for me!

Lord, I am so very glad you said to me “come” and I did. You changed my life.  I am grateful for the opportunities you give me to share who you are with others.  Let us rejoice just as the eunuch in Acts did and just as I did the day I believed. May we be covered in your dust from following so closely.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Joshua 1; Psalms 120-122; Isaiah 61; Matthew 9

We just finished up the last of extracurricular activities last Sunday, and Monday–what felt like the first official day of summer vacation–I got my first back-to-school sale ad by email. Tuesday, the curriculum I ordered recently for the next school year arrived.

My couch has three pens, a blanket, at least five books at any given time, a notebook or two, and a pair of reading glasses strewn up on it when I’m not expecting company. One book I’m reading is Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie (no affiliate link or paid endorsement, but definitely a good, short, rich read before the school year, and an encouragement in the middle). She reminds the reader that “rest is not ease” and that “peace comes from recognizing that our real task is to wake up each day and get our marching orders from God. It comes from diligence to the work He hands us, but diligence infused with faith, with resting in God’s promises to guide us and bless us” (Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching From Rest, Classical Academic Press, 2015, page 4).

Reading in Joshua, the Lord tells him:

“I will not fail you or abandon you.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5b-9, NLT)

Joshua tells the tribes:

13 “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’ 14 Your wives, children, and livestock may remain here in the land Moses assigned to you on the east side of the Jordan River. But your strong warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has given you rest, and until they, too, possess the land the Lord your God is giving them. (Joshua 1:13-15, NLT)

I’m not physically conquering lands, but I am getting marching orders each day. Some days it has felt like a hustle, and I think on the words that rest is not ease. I find comfort, strength and encouragement in God’s word–of his presence and faithfulness, his trustworthiness and power.

The psalms:

I took my troubles to the Lord;
    I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer. (Psalm 120:1, NLT)

And,

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever. (Psalm 121:1-8, NLT)

The Lord, who comforts, who brings good out of bad, who restores and provides (Isaiah 61). My overwhelm turns from task to joy in the Lord my God.

Matthew 9:2b, NLT, Jesus speaks to the paralyzed man: “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” The man gets up from his mat and walks.

He calls to Matthew in Matthew 9:9b, NLT, “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

The woman who suffered twelve years: 22 Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:22, NLT)

Lord, your word is full of examples of your presence and power. Even when the day is full, I can find rest in you–that you are with me, you are sovereign, and you love me as your child.

Courtney (66books365)

 

Listening to Elevation Worship’s Here as in Heaven

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1 Kings 13-14, 2 Chronicles 12, Psalm 47, Titus 2

Just as every passage in the bible relates to our current day and time, so does this particular scripture here in Titus. In fact, this exact passage has been on my heart for some time now. Recently, a thread on Facebook in a ladies group from church showed just how important, relevant and needed this scripture is right now in our homes, communities and churches. A friend’s posted request seemed innocent and humble; “I need a mentor. Is anyone interested?” That post stirred up 147 responses and lead to an almost immediate response and call to action for ladies of all ages from college girls to new mamas all the way up to the churches most seasoned gals. Teaching, training and mentoring in this day and age is lost but the Holy Spirit is stirring hearts like never before and calling people to action.

As I read Paul’s words in Titus it’s as if he is speaking directly to us. Our culture and society is so turned around that even in our Christian communities it’s easy to get confused and off track. It is easy to stray from sound doctrine because it’s harder and harder to find, understand and discern. As I break down this passage, I look at who he’s speaking to, what  and where, why and how it will be accomplished.

The Who

The call is for everyone- “older” men and women. We are all older than someone! At all ages and stages of our lives we should be mentored and mentoring.

The What

Paul is calling on mentors to live godly, self-controlled lives as an example to others, teach sound doctrine and teach the younger generations to do the same.

When and Where

IN THIS PRESENT AGE! That meant in Titus’ time and in ours.

The Why

Don’t miss this: “That the word of God may not be reviled” “So that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”

The How

How will we accomplish this? By the grace of God!

“11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

 

Father, help us to “declare this things, exhort and rebuke with all authority those things in our culture that are not true. Help us with our actions, attitude and behavior that in everything, your word is not reviled. Give us teachers and mentors that will speak into our lives and hearts training us in your truth and help us to seek out the younger generation to come alongside and train, encourage and love. Let no one disregard you! Amen.

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1 Chronicles 6-7; John 8:21-36

I sat next to a man at a conference once, and I noticed he wasn’t taking notes.

“You’re not taking notes?” I asked. I was scribbling wisdom all over the margins as fast as I could.

“No,” he said. “I never read my notes. If whatever is said doesn’t make enough of an impact for me to remember it, there’s no point in writing it down.”

Hmm. I still took notes, but I got his point.

I’ve taken a few Bible studies with groups of women. The studies were amazing. Some studies shook my world so hard, I cried. Some were healing. Some gave me a lot to think about, even when it was over. But honestly, I never went back to the books to look at my notes. Workbooks began to grow on shelf space, until one day I recycled them.

I don’t buy books as much as I used to. I go to the library. If I dog-ear enough memorable passages in a book, I’ll buy a copy of it (but even still, with the reading time I have available, I’m usually consuming new material than revisiting books I’ve already read.). Life is too short to read everything I want to read, and then read it again. But maybe that’s because I’m a slow reader.

Right now I’m reading Multiply by Francis Chan. I renewed the book three times before I even started it because I was knee-deep in several other books. I’m halfway through it now, and doing it all wrong since I’m not watching the videos online or discussing it with a group. Even still, there’s impact.

This morning I got on my knees before the Lord and prayed about a lot of things. But mostly, that I would be aware of the opportunities to put his word in action. Sometimes I’m too rushed to notice. Sometimes I forget about the right thing in the moment. Sometimes I don’t make the connection that blessing an enemy is as close as the person across from me at a get together.

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32, NLT.

The Bible is a book I never want to put down. I hope that I will spend my whole life searching scripture, praying and clinging to the Lord. He is at work changing this heart of mine.

Lord, I’m grateful for the teachings in so many books and studies, even more grateful for your very words in my own hands. You are truth. You are freedom. You are life. Thank you for meeting me where I am, for your love and patience, and for your faithfulness. I’m even thankful that I have yet to read the whole Bible in a year.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Judges 10, Acts 14, Jeremiah 23, Mark 9

Judges 10:6 “Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord…”

Acts14:15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God…”

Jeremiah 23:22 “But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people.”

Mark 9:19 “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?”

 We all can get off track; chasing after idols, playing around with the forbidden, participating in gossip or slander with a neighbor or against a co-worker.  We are also prone to following after charismatic spiritual leaders, becoming comfortable in relying on the weekly inserts in church bulletins to inform our lazy minds what God is saying (at least to the televangelist or pastor).  Why is it so easy and dangerous to run with the crowd? I think it is complacency.  Complacency is a lack of effort, a slipping away from spiritual vigilance over our soul.  We let day after day go by without so much as a glance at the Word of God or a heartfelt, intercessory prayer for others.  It may be difficult to identify how our morals, beliefs, and intentions have been compromised.  We cannot see it happening.  Yet, our testimony, (not the one that brought us to Christ, but the one that we speak every day with our words and actions) points to this falling away.  Over time, we will have to admit we have been compromised when our omniscient God pulls us up abruptly with the words, “…cut it off; it is better for you to enter [eternal] life…than to be cast into hell.”  Strong words, I know.  Yet I have seen the devastation when a believer falls into the death grip of denial and immorality.  Years of wasting away a life once devoted to the things of God, now self-serving.  The collateral damage will require the faith of saints and the mercy of God to repair.

I once heard that most Americans are but a paycheck away from homelessness.  In the same way, our spiritual bank can become low in reserves of truth, belief, faith, utter dependence on, and gratitude to God.  We will find ourselves homeless, holding onto the transitory thoughts and mores of our world and our own darker imaginings.  Our good deeds will not save us; avoiding the reckoning will not delay the inevitable; minimizing the consequences will not justify us.  We can tough it out and hope the saints are wrong, or we can repent and return to diligently seeking the Master’s face, asking for His mercy, putting away the things that interfere with discipleship, then serving Him with our whole heart. My own conscious tells me this is so – have mercy on me, oh Lord.

Janet

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