Category Archives: Discipleship

Hope of Glory

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly.
(Romans 5:1-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Affliction produces endurance. Endurance produces proven character. Proven character produces hope. Hope won’t disappoint us. To find the path to satisfied hope in the glory of God, stop avoiding afflictions and press through them instead.

Getting Ready

When David faced Goliath, he was not trained as a warrior, or even as a soldier. He was simply skilled at keeping sheep safe. He had been prepared for the encounter with Goliath, though. He recognized when he stood before Goliath the two courses he had been enrolled in that made him ready: one day, he had been empowered by Yahweh to kill a lion, and on another, to kill a bear. This day, it would be Goliath!

He did not seem to have the same strength for dealing with the power of Bathsheba’s beauty. Since the revelation of his errors regarding his relationship with her came to him through the prophet Nathan’s story about a sheep, I expect that Yahweh had given him the instruction that should have been preparation, but he didn’t apply the lesson to the temptation. Nathan’s story prompted David to see the sin in the parable, but not in his life. David responded by condemning the behavior of the sheep thief. Nathan then pointed out that David was the thief. Suddenly it all became clear to him and he repented of his sin (2 Samuel 12:1-15).

Difficult situations that seem to promise our destruction or loss are frequently (usually?) courses of instruction in which we learn the ways or power of Yahweh. They are frequently (usually?) not even really about the potential loss at hand, but a future victory that we could be using them to prepare for.

Expect every difficulty to be a promise of some future challenge that is much greater, with a prize behind it that is also much greater. Be awesome.

Does Jesus Need You?

Yes.

On the night that He was betrayed, after the meal and the hymn, Jesus led His congregation out of the city, across the valley to a garden. There, He asked them to pray. The inner circle of James, John, and Peter, He called closer to where He was going to pray, and asked them to pray.

When they went to sleep, He woke them up, and again asked them to pray. No human in the earth offered Him comfort or encouragement or love or blessing when He asked for it. His Father therefore sent spirits from Heaven to strengthen Him.

You won’t guess what He would like to have from you today. You can know it though. Ask Him. Listen. Obey.

Confirming Wisdom

We must learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, because we have no other means of verifying the wisdom and power of our God from a counterfeit.

Your eyes will see your Teacher, and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.”
(Isaiah30:20b-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

For to those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power. 19 For it is written:

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.

Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
(1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Offense of Revelation

When Naaman was instructed by Elisha that he could be healed of leprosy by washing his body 7 times in the Jordan River, he was offended (2 Kings 5:1-14). He thought that he was being told that the Jordan River water could heal him. He was actually being informed that the word of the Lord, once obeyed, would heal him.

Our God gives grace to the humble. He sometimes sends us to receive blessing or revelation through people who offend us or who have wronged us. Being unoffendable, and forgiving anyone who sins against us will improve the likelihood that we will be able to receive blessing in any place the Spirit sends us.

Do not misunderstand or ignore offensive instructions that come from the Spirit. The blessing is in obedience to His word. The place or the person or any other means is just the envelope He chose to send His love letter in.

Be Good

Protect me, Lord,
from the clutches of the wicked.
Keep me safe from violent men
who plan to make me stumble.

Surely the righteous will praise Your name;
the upright will live in Your presence.
(Psalm 140:4,13 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Your character is more valuable than your reputation.

Offending and Defending

Fencing is a sport using swords. The words defense and offense are related to the same type of activities: fending off a foe or being fended off by a foe.

Every sin is against Jesus on the cross, because He paid for all of it there. Mine against Him, and mine against you. To allow my failures to offend you is inappropriate, because He paid for the offense.

All of the liberty that I enjoy was purchased by Jesus on the cross, because my sin and failure provoked condemnation over my life and my future, but He set me free by suffering that condemnation for me. To enjoy my freedom without consideration for others He suffered for is inappropriate, because He paid for the liberty.

All of us are servants of the Living God. The advice Paul gave the servants in the congregations in Corinth is good advice for us:

“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.

Eat everything that is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake, for the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it. If one of the unbelievers invites you over and you want to go, eat everything that is set before you, without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This is food offered to an idol,” do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake. I do not mean your own conscience, but the other person’s. For why is my freedom judged by another person’s conscience? If I partake with thanks, why am I slandered because of something for which I give thanks?

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. Give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God, just as I also try to please all people in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Known

One thing that slows the process of growing in the knowledge of our God is the resistance we offer to the process of allowing Him to come to know us. We hide our feelings and our failures like Adam and Eve hid in the garden after becoming aware of good and evil. Our shame and fear of failure make us want to stay insulated from the probing and provoking and the loving of His Spirit.

Surrender! Give Him all of your keys. Give Him your past and your future and everything in between.

But in the past, when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods. But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and bankrupt elemental forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? You observe special days, months, seasons, and years. I am fearful for you, that perhaps my labor for you has been wasted.
(Galatians 4:8-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Love Perfected

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for we are as He is in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.
(1 John 4:7-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Living the Life

In chapter 12 of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome, Paul gave much good advice on what it is like to live the life of a believer. In verse 12, he wrote, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (English Standard Version)

Joy, patience, faith. Let your joy be fastened to what you are hoping for; don’t let the absence of the hoped for developments be what you are focusing on. Be patient when circumstances are not just the absence of pleasantries, but the presence of difficulties. Focus on the presence of the Lord. Never stop praying for the solutions you need. Expect to be answered.

Trust His love above everything else.