MAKING DISCIPLES IS THE MANDATE – CHURCH PLANTING IS THE OUTCOME

Where in the Bible are we commanded to plant churches? The simple and obvious response is, “it is not commanded.” Planting churches flows naturally out of making disciples. The heart of the church’s mission is to make disciples who make disciples.

In the New Testament, a disciple is more than someone who grows in their theological knowledge of God. A disciple fellowships with other believers, worships in a community, and prays like those assembled in a house in Acts 4.

And now, Lord, look upon their (the Worlds) threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.Acts 4:29-31

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, a disciple then boldly declares the word of God such that more and more people become followers of Jesus.

Missionaries have historically been the most vital source of a nation’s social development. These findings yield two important conclusions about the work of Protestant missionaries. Their message was good for the world and their focus was making disciples.

This understanding of a disciple is highlighted throughout the New Testament. Through a study of the early movement in Ephesus, we see at least thirteen characteristics common to them all.

  • Disciples are respectful of people and culture when they engage in God’s mission (Acts 19:7, 37).
  • Disciples surrender to God’s will and maintain the work of their first love in a theocentrically focused missiological theology (Eph 1; Eph 5:18-19; Rev 2:4).
  • Disciples declare the mystery of Christ to the nations (Eph 3:4-10, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples are equipped by movement leaders for ministry (Eph 4:12; 1 Timothy).
  • Disciples exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Eph 4-5).
  • Disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (Eph 5:18-19, 2 Tim 1:7).
  • Disciples are godly fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, employees and employers (Eph 5:22-6:9).
  • Disciples pray for opportunities to share the gospel because they know God is most glorified when more people are worshipping him (Eph 6:18-20, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples stand up for the marginalized (1 Tim 2:8-15, 5:3-16; Rev 2:6).
  • Disciples learn sound doctrine from movement leaders who can teach (1 Tim 4:7).
  • Disciples are willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (2 Tim 1:8).
  • Disciples are committed to multiplying more disciples (2 Tim 2:2).
  • Disciples defend the faith against false teaching (Rev 2:2).

Extracts from an article “Is Church Planting a Biblical Mandate?” October 28, 2020, by Jackson Wu

TIME TO TRUST GOD WITH YOUR LIFE

This is an important message from Torben Sondergaard (thelastreformation.com) and it will challenge many Christians as to what it means to be obedient to God’s call on our lives. He exposes the truth about much of the church in America. There is so much lukewarmness in the church – it is the church of Laodicea,

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.Revelation 3:15-22

Torben is right, he says it is time to be serious with God, time is short, so it ultimately comes down to, do we trust God for the next step. If you do, life will be exciting beyond belief but make no mistake it will also be challenging. Thank goodness we have people like Torben who are leading the way and giving us an example to follow.

OUR JOB AND KNOWING IT IS SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Jesus tells us that in the “last days” before He returns to rule and reign there will be false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. They are under the power of Satan and we know he disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise that his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11-15

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4::11-13

We need to recognise that the true battle is in the heavenly places and it is against the spiritual forces of evil which is why we are told to put on the full armour of God daily.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,Ephesians 6:14-18

Our job with the lost is preach the Good News as directed by the Holy Spirit knowing they cannot understand the word of God without the Spirit of God

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-8

We are also called to love them, pray for them and return good for evil but also to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit may be doing in their lives. The Holy Spirit may prompt you to use one of the nine Holy Spirit gifts that He expects us to operate in. He distributes them according to His will.

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:35-36

God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Hebrews 2:4

COVID MADNESS

AUSTRALIA

State governments continue to pursue a foolish Covid-zero policy – even as vaccination rates rapidly accelerate, and the lethality of the virus has markedly decreased. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is right – This isn’t a sustainable solution.”

“The virus is not going anywhere. We cannot do this forever. Indeed, the longer we delay the inevitable, the greater the cost will be.

We are incurring unthinkable additional costs for fear of what we must face… lives, livelihoods, children, the economy and democracy are all straining under the burden of Covid-zero.

Fear is making us foolish. 

Let’s take a glimpse at the state of our nation…

  • 3,345 suicidal people called LifeLine on a single day this week – yet another record.
  • Our children simply won’t be able to pay back the debt levels.
  • Many small businesses are finished.  
  • We are not living (or even leaving the house) for fear of dying.
  • We are giving up total authoritarian power to people who despise what we believe.
  • Compassion is dead, with callous disregard for those torn apart or mourning.

And yet our State Premiers are telling us all this and more will continue – despite decent levels of vaccination.

It seems we’re too afraid to accept the brutal reality that, with half-decent levels of vaccination, a tiny proportion of Delta cases will die. Moreover, we will spend anything to delay it. 

Fearfulness and fearmongering are winning the day. This will change only when public opinion changes, and when Premiers stop getting the approval ratings they crave.” 

Christians – that’s you and me – should lead the way. We do not fear death, Jesus has secured eternal life for us and He will ensure you live to complete the work He has assigned for you to do.

Contact your Premier and set him/her straight on the need to get people vaccinated but then to start living normal lives accepting the risks associated with Covid 19 as we do with any other virus, bacteria or other pathogen. Let Scott Morrison and your local member know what you are doing.

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb 2:14-15) 

GREAT TESTIMONIES FROM THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Fiji Rugby Sevens thank God with prayer and a hymn after winning Olympic Gold.

Fiji’s rugby sevens team wrote another chapter in one of the great Olympic stories at the Tokyo Stadium, when they won the country’s second gold medal by beating New Zealand 27-12 in the final.
They gathered in a circle and filled the empty Tokyo Stadium with a beautiful rendition of their team hymn. “We always start with our prayers and songs, and we always end with our prayers and songs,” Tuwai said, “and that song says that our God is a loving God, and that while we always tend to go stray from what he expects from us, he still loves us, and gives us good things.”
 

Fiji’s players pray and celebrate after their win against New Zealand at the Tokyo Stadium. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Sydney McLaughlin ‘giving the glory to God’ after earning Olympic gold, another world record

“All the glory to God,” McLaughlin told NBC following the victory. “Honestly, this season just working with my new coach and my new support system, it’s truly just faith and trusting the process. I couldn’t ask for anything more and truly it is all a gift from God.”

“I think the biggest difference this year is my faith, trusting God and trusting that process, and knowing that He’s in control of everything. As long as I put the hard work in, He’s going to carry me through. And I really cannot do anything more but give the glory to Him at this point.”2

McLaughlin often uses social media as tool by which she expresses her faith and shares the Gospel with fans. As depicted by an Instagram post from February, McLaughlin has actively chosen to hand her future over to God.

“We can laugh at whatever lies ahead because we know HE has already won,” McLaughlin wrote. “We can sleep easier at night knowing HE has a plan for whatever may normally trouble us. We can laugh at anything that doesn’t fit the purpose for our lives, because we know God’s plan is greater.”

Through social media, she has revealed that her relationship with God is more than just a matter of believing in God, it is a friendship with Him.

“The peace of knowing I will always have a friend, always have His support, and always have His LOVE; makes even the loneliest of moments feel full,” McLaughlin wrote in May. “My soul finds rest in knowing He is not like us. He doesn’t change, and He will never leave me. Giving the ability to be completely content, no matter the situation. Simply because, I don’t have to face it alone. That. Is. Love.”

Circled on Nicolla’s wrist: “Jesus Makes All things New” and  her book to record and improve her jumps along with encouraging scriptures. 

These three testimonies were stand outs but I have been impressed by the number of Christian athletes that have recognised the importance of acknowledging God when they have achieved victory or even a personal best. There have been many that have given a verbal witness like Thomas Green joint winner of the K2 1000m Canoe Sprint. When asked if he would like to thank anyone, he immediately responded by saying, “I am a man of faith and above all I would like to thank my Lord for all that I have achieved and then went on to thank his parents, coach and support team. Many have gone to their knees in prayer immediately at the conclusion of their race or shown some other physical manifestation such as looking up to heaven and raising their arms in thanksgiving.

It has been inspiring me to me and I am sure challenging to many people that have witnessed these expressions of faith and thanksgiving to God. May God bless abundantly all of these faithful Christian athletes and may we see many more.

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.