Tag Archives: discipleship

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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Ex. 18; Luke 21; Job 36; 2 Cor. 6

Job’s friend wants to paint a rosy picture for God followers–if you aren’t prosperous and your life isn’t pleasant, you must be doing it wrong. But today’s readings all point out that following God is no cake walk. Moses had a long, hard journey leading people out of slavery. Job, who was titled as God fearing and blameless, experienced heartache and loss magnified. Paul lists his hardships one after the other. And Jesus tells this,

“But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers.” Luke 21:12-17 NLT, emphasis mine.

Job’s friend credits himself as knowledgeable. His observations reach for truth, but fall short. And this is something everyone is capable of. Well-meaning friends, however smart and sincere, can mix the truth into false concoctions. Who hasn’t thought their own advice sounded good and true?

I turn to the Bible.

I sit around the table with Moses’ father-in-law, Paul and Jesus. I write down what they say.

  • Lead by example: teach God’s decrees, give His instructions, show (them) how to conduct (their) lives.
  • We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NLT, emphasis mine.
  • 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” … 34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:28, 34-36 NLT, emphasis mine.

Thank you, God, for words I can trust. I pray for grace and strength “to live in such a way”, “in everything (I) do”, to serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Job, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

Ex.11,12:21; Luke 14; Job 29; I Cor. 15

I see death in every chapter. Death in Exodus to those without the mark of blood upon their doorway. Death to self in Luke for those who would be a disciple of Christ. Death in Job of everything he knew, his words a reminiscent and sorrowful, “I thought, surely …” And death itself in 1 Corinthians 15.

But there is also life: life for God’s chosen; life at the feast for the poor, crippled, blind and lame; new life beyond what we know now; and resurrection through Christ.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NLT.

I think hard on the cost of discipleship, of the things I hold onto, even to the excuses I might give to decline God’s call: am I so busy that I do not attend the banquet he has prepared? This feast woven through chapters: of passover, the parable of the banquet–do I hold onto the comfortable and the dear like Job (even to things past?), or do I reach out and forward to earth and soil–a yes to transformation?

God speaks into my life and says, “Go!” and what is my reply? Am I making excuses? Am I waiting for someone else to do it? Has the salt lost its flavor? Lord, I want to make the days count–to be marked by you and your grace. Help me to work enthusiastically for you.

Paul says: But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT.

Lord, I don’t want my life to be marked by complacency. I don’t want to look back and see your invitation buried underneath a list of excuse. Help me to align my thoughts and my days to your will. (I know you will! I know you are!)

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT.

Courtney (66books365)

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Gen. 7; Matthew 7; Ezra 7; Acts 7

Matthew 7v15-20  “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.”

When I read the analogy of the tree bearing good or bad fruit in Matthew 7, it stood out to me as the strand that runs right through all the other passages.  What characterizes Ezra, Noah, and Stephen? Simply put, according to Matthew 7 it is their fruit.  In Genesis 7 Noah is following the Lord’s command to every last detail as he loads the ark.

Genesis 7v5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

In fact all over the Old Testament that refrain is echoed about various leaders, did they do al that the Lord commanded them or not? Which makes me ask the question of myself, do I do all the Lord commands me? If Jesus were to follow me around for a day, would he say that I bear good fruit, or bad?

Ezra 7:10 Now Ezra had dedicated himself to the study of the law of the Lord, to its observance, and to teaching its statutes and judgments in Israel.

When I look at Ezra I ask myself, am I really dedicated to studying the word? Or sometimes is it just something I do out of some false sense of obligation.  Do I delight in the law of the Lord? Meditate on it day and night as the Psalmist says in Psalm 1?

Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.

In Acts 7 Stephen stands up against the Jewish leaders (whom Jesus was referring to as wolves in sheep’s clothing) and calls them out for never listening to the prophets of the Lord.  Stephen is described a chapter before as ‘full of grace and power.’

Would someone ever describe me that way? I doubt it.

Men and women of God in the scriptures and today that I look up to humble me. I aspire to live a life full of God’s grace and power, but am I taking the small daily steps towards God that they did? The tree that bears good fruit grows slowly, am I patient?

Sam (gueston66books)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezra, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament