THOUGHTS ON BEING A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST

DEEP GRATITUDE

On the way to Jerusalem he (Jesus) was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.Luke 17:11-19

The only thing we can ever offer to God is Deep Gratitude for HIS amazing, undeserved Grace.  In the above account, it is interesting that nine of the healed lepers (who presumably were Jews) lacked such gratitude because they did not see themselves as being in need of such grace, while the Samaritan ‘foreigner’ did!

A salutary warning to those of us, like me at 84 years of age, who have benefitted over many years from the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit: we can be too prone to take for granted our spiritual growth, and to think this growth is somehow our contribution to God, rather than His gift to us for which I am eternally grateful.  I like the verse of the old hymn about the Holy Spirit’s work in us: “And every virtue we possess and every victory won, and every thought of holiness, are His alone.” 

THOUGHTS ON MINISTRY

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.  On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-3

What great comfort and instruction these verses provide for us as we labour in the work of the Gospel.  Once we have experienced for ourselves the rich and comprehensive blessing of God’s saving grace, we have an overwhelming desire to share this blessing with others, especially those close to us and those who are really struggling with the burdens of our troubled world.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of some very important truths to keep in mind as we struggle.

Firstly, our own salvation, and our taking hold of it, was never a result of our work/efforts, but is only ever brought about by God’s Sovereign Mercy!

Secondly, and because of this, we must never lose heart – If God managed to soften my proud, rebellious, self-centred, self-sufficient heart, he can do the same for anyone else as well!

Thirdly, we must never resort to using the world’s tactics/weapons, or to ‘watering down’ the claims of the Gospel, just to ‘get people in’.  As he wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Fourthly, although it might be twisted and deadened by SIN, Man-made-in-the-image-of-God still has a conscience that the Holy Spirit can use to convict of “sin and righteousness and Judgement” (John 16:8)!

Fifthly, it is not our job to change people – nor is it ever within our skill-set!  Only God can remove the ‘veil’ that prevents people from coming to repentance-and-faith and thus dissociating themselves from all those who are ’perishing’.  Our only job is to proclaim the Good News, Faithfully, Persistently and Prayerfully, whenever and wherever we can, and then to leave the outcome in God’s hands (1 Corinthians 3:6)! 

CONNECTING WITH GOD

Want to connect with God then pray as David did.

Five days ago I posted Getting in Step with God which was also based on David’s Psalm 25. I was extremely disappointed as I did not get one like or one comment and yet I thought it was a powerful message that needed to be reinforced. Hence this post, although this time, I am giving you almost the entire psalm. God’s word is more powerful that my words.

Teach Me Your Paths – Psalm of David (Psalm 25)

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will He instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and He makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”
Psalm 25:1-21

We know David was a sinner (Bathsheba and Uriah) but he understood repentance and God’s forgiveness. He was a man who feared the Lord. God even said He was a man after God’s own heart. What does this mean? I think it means David knew and trusted God and was doing His best to live that out.

What we need is humility in relation to ourselves and confidence in relation to God.

David understood the truth of God’s Word. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” Psalm 66:18-19, What about us? Do we know God has heard our prayers as David did?

(ebook) Love to Pray - Religion & Spirituality Christianity

If you want to improve your prayer life then I would recommend you get the book by Alvin Vandergriend Love to Pray. It will take you on a 40-day journey that will change your prayer life forever. Love to Pray is all about loving the one to whom you pray and learning to express that love in a continuing dialogue with God. This book will help you discover how to become “devoted” to prayer as a way of life rather than as a duty. This 40-day devotional will transform your prayer life. This book may be done individually, as a small group, or an entire congregation.

Dr. Alvin VanderGriend is the Prayer Evangelism Associate for Harvest Prayer Ministries in Terre Haute, IN. He holds degrees from Calvin College, Calvin Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary. He pastored Christian Reformed churches from 1963 to 1982 when he moved to serve that denomination as Minister of Evangelism Resources. In 1996 Alvin became director of HOPE Ministries (Houses of Prayer Everywhere) where he developed the Lighthouse strategy and provided prayer-evangelism training. More recently he served as the National Facilitator of Lighthouse Ministries for the Mission America Coalition.

OBEDIENCE AND LISTENING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

These interviews and testimonies will help you to acknowledge the necessary actions we need to take to disciple and make a difference in other peoples lives. There is 6 minutes of introductory music so you can do something else while you listen to the delightful music but the testimonies that follow are worth the wait. The TLR movement is being used by God mightily to bring many into God’s Kingdom. The healings and the miracles demonstrate that the power is back in the church as disciples move out into the marketplace totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit to do ministry. For me in Australia it was wonderful to learn what God is doing in Eastern Europe. It is wonderful to see how God was moving in wonderful ways so it was obvious God was doing the work. His children were just doing His will. The testimony of the couple Abraham and Annemarie Levy is powerful. You must listen to them on “love”, Abraham makes three important observations of being a disciple that stand out: “You cannot follow Jesus without sacrifice”, “You must deliberately bury your own life”, “The flesh will always war against the spirit”, tough but exciting when you learn what God has done and is doing with their lives. If you live in Poland make sure you connect with this couple.

DISCIPLESHIP – AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST

Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?” It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13

Disciples today would do well to remember that they run the risk of uselessness in the Lord’s mission if they relegate themselves to the shelf and not, in appropriate ways, apply themselves in the very contexts in need of their salty presence (that is, salty as defined here in Matthew’s gospel).

The disciple’s presence is required throughout the earth, especially in those areas running the risk of spoiling or in the bland corners in need of life-giving flavor. In fact, it is precisely in the unsavory and/or rotting contexts where salt is most necessary.

Following this salty comment, Jesus introduces another word picture:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Notice that both here and in the instruction given about salt earlier that the entire world is in view. Jesus tells his disciples they are the “salt of the earth” and here he says that they “are the light of the world” With this big picture in mind Jesus continues by suggesting that the light given off by a city set on a hill is fairly conspicuous to the surrounding areas that are more in the dark. Light from such a city is an especially powerful presence amid darkness, providing illumination, perspective, and, perhaps, guidance to those in the darkness. Disciples have not been given the light of Christ (John 1:4; 8:12) to keep for themselves or to only turn on in the safety of their carefully insulated spheres of influence. Instead, Jesus demands:

Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Those who need to see this will not happen upon life and truth-giving light by accident. Light must shine where it can be seen (in the shadows) so that those in the dark might be directed to the Father in heaven and potentially bring him glory. Unfortunately, many are choosing to shine their light only in well-lit and more comfortable areas, neglecting, as Jesus encourages here, to shine what they have been given where it is most needed—in the darkness.

Peter provides a good summary for us: we are ambassadors that need to proclaim His excellencies, His Gospel. Our conduct must be above reproach and we do good deeds so that God is glorified.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:9-12

POPE FRANCIS ON THE GOSPEL

Pope Francis has certainly said a lot of controversial things over the years, but what he just told a group of Christian high school students is the most controversial of all. I know that may be hard to believe, because some of the statements that Pope Francis has made in recent years have definitely been extremely bizarre. For example, he has said that “Muslim terrorism does not exist,” he told a gay man that “God made you that way” and he has referred to Christian fundamentalists as “a scourge.” But what he has just said tops all of those previous statements. According to Breitbart, Pope Francis told a group of high school students he was visiting with that they should never try to convert others to Christianity:

Pope Francis

Pope Francis told Christian high school students this weekend they should respect people of other faiths and not attempt to convert them to Christianity, insisting “we are not living in the times of the crusades.”

Asked by one of the students Friday how a Christian should treat people of other faiths or no faith, the pope said that “we are all the same, all children of God” and that true disciples of Jesus do not proselytize.

In fact, the Pope went on to say that if someone comes to you and is trying to share the gospel, that individual “is not a disciple of Jesus”:

“But listen, the gospel is never, ever advanced through proselytism,” he continued. “If someone says he is a disciple of Jesus and comes to you with proselytism, he is not a disciple of Jesus. Proselytism is not the way; the Church does not grow by proselytism.”

And in case there were some students who were confused about what he had just said, Pope Francis made the exact same point one more time:

Football teams proselytize, this can be done. Political parties, can be done there. But with faith there is no proselytism.

So there you have it, according to Pope Francis, Christians are never supposed to try to convert anyone.

But this would seem to directly contradict the words of Jesus. The following are just a few examples.

Matthew 28:18-20

Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Mark 16:15-16

He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he who does not believe will be condemned.”

Acts 1:8

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Of all the things that Pope Francis has ever said, this has to be the most damning of all. He is at least demonstrating an antichrist spirit.

Does he really want billions of people to have no hope?

Without Jesus, there is no hope and no future for anyone.

TIME TO BECOME DISCIPLES OF CHRIST

Jesus has promised us:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.John 14:12 

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Mark 16:15-18

  1. Do you believe it is your Father’s will for you and the people around you to be healed? Seek His will and put your will in His hands. Luke 5:12-1
  2. In the light of John 14:12, do you question the availability of the power of Jesus and that He now commissions us to do likewise?

Need more Scriptures?

“And He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” Luke 9:1-2, 6

Image result for pictures of Torben Sondergaard healing the sick

Next Jesus sent out the seventy-two. “Go! I am sending you… Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” Luke 10:3, 9

“And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.” Matthew 9:20-22. 

“But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him,” ‘If you can!’ All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” …most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” Mark 9:22-24,26-27. 

Be blessed as you look to Jesus the Son of God –

  • Pray by faith for God’s healing power for you and those around you.
  • Discern God’s will and pray according to His will.
  • Pray for those the Spirit leads you to – those who need healing as a demonstration of God’s personal love for them – so they know the kingdom of heaven is real and near.

In these last days only disciples of Christ will bring His Kingdom to impact this increasingly dark world. Find a church that is raising up disciples who will then make more disciples.