Happy New Year!

As is my custom, I end each year by starting a new blog.

I have enjoyed my walk learning what a disciple looks like and have found new meaning to what making disciples requires from me.

In doing so, I have found that prayer matters. There is so much to learn and I have called out 2020 as my year of engaging with prayer. I am excited to make prayer a real part of what it means to walk in the kingdom of God.

I hope you will join me at evanlaar2020.home.blog

Many thanks for one amazing year.

Erwin

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Growing, telling, belonging

 

My response to Psalm 117 is a familiar response to one who wants to be a disciple of Jesus. It is simply to tell the world the Good News. I need to look for those who cannot come to church, do not come to church or will not come to church. That is a challenge for 2020.

    Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord! – Psalm 117:1-2 ESV

I can do this because I have a sense of belonging – I have security in God’s care.  

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be moved, but abides forever. – Psalm 125:1 ESV

I heard so many teachings as a teenager and young adult about the danger of being a lukewarm Christian. I did have a sense of fear that I might be one. It helped in the sense that I found myself getting “saved” all over again quite a few times. Doubt and confusion was replacing faith.

This Psalm has the discipleship message that shouts that I am secure, my faith is secure and that I had no need to be anxious, for I was safe. And like a good discipleship Psalm, it points not to me but to who God is.

However, there is a message here to those who wilfully and purposely go against God.

But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the Lordwill lead away with evildoers! – Psalm 125:5a ESV

It means that if I cast my lot with those who did not seek God, my desire would be fulfilled to my ruin. It may even be that I may not recognize that I am wilful and if so, I may find myself lukewarm. As a wavering, unsteadfast, half-hearted disciple I might seem more of a hypocrite and rebel.

 

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Teach me

 

Savior, teach me day by day

 

It is a humbling statement from the pen of the writer of Psalm 119. Along with a desire for God’s Word and for purity, there is also a need for instruction by God. I think I sense that he did not only want to read God’s Word, he pleaded with God to teach him.

“The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” – Dwight L. Moody

What an honour to have God as my teacher and how boldly I am invited to ask God to teach me.

Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes! – Psalm 119:12 ESV

This Psalm is really all about being a disciple of God. There is a desire to live a life pleasing to God and that means to seek Him first for direction and to allow the Holy Spirit to change us. As I am transformed I can share my story with others.

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.[f]
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared.
Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life! – Psalm 119:33-40 ESV

God’s word is what shapes a disciple. Therein lies the truth.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
    and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105 ESV

The Bible transcends cultures, generations socio-economic realities and it is relevant because it is timeless – truth is timeless. It guides and protects by being a light to my path. It answers all the big questions of life. Truth never changes.

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Disciple and Discipline

 

Discipline

 

So when I ask, “what is a disciple”, I must first admit that all of us, that every person is, a disciple of someone or something.

“The disciple who perfectly understands the rules and sees the example of his master, will think it his business to tread exactly in his steps, to do and suffer upon like occasions, as his master did: and so he will be like his master.” Whitby

Jesus wants me to become like Him, to see things as He sees them and to look like Him in character, attitudes and behaviours.

Training is absolutely necessary to become like Jesus. Discipleship is…

 “The intentional training of disciples, with accountability, on the basis of loving relationships.” – Bill Hull

I am personally responsible for my growth even though there is a collective obligation among believers as well. It does take time, effort, energy and study. It does not happen by accident, or in a haphazard way. In fact, it is only accomplished when I set my mind, and plan my purpose, with intentionality.

Here are some signs I have seen in my own life that would indicate that my training is coming together. I am learning, I am following Jesus, I am serving others (hopefully I am doing this with humility), I love others, my single focused commitment is to Jesus, I see results and change, and I am walking with others.

I want to be Jesus’ disciple. I will allow Him to mentor me, mold me and make me what He wants me to be. As that is happening, I will pass it on to others.

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Rejoicing

 

Crowder – Great Rejoicing 

 

 

When I think of the sound of angels rejoicing at Jesus’ birth I would have loved to hear the actually words of their song.  Reading in Revelation chapter nineteen today there are a few songs and lyrics are provided 🙂

“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” – Revelation 19:1-2 ESV

 

“Hallelujah!
The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” – Revelation 19:3 ESV

 

“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
small and great.” – Revelation 19:5 ESV

 

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure” – Revelation 19:6-8 ESV

Each one starts with a Hallelujah – Praise God. It has to be one of my favourite expressions when I am in worship. One thing is certain – there is a call for rejoicing in each of the lyrics. As I disciple, I look to see if there is joy – joy in me and joy in the one I am walking alongside. It is a sure sign of having a heart prepared to worship.

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The harlot

 

I am reading about the harlot in Revelation chapter 17. It is quite a description.

The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. – Revelations 17:4 ESV

How hard will it be to fight these great spiritual battles in the end times? If the battle is not in the church, it is definitely carried out in the lives of individuals. Are we conquering, are we reigning in truth and purity?

I know that without the help of the Holy Spirit, this is an impossibility. No one person could will themselves into such a position of strength against the world and what it has planned against those who follow Jesus. I pray that I will always have Him by my side and never reject His calling.

 

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No opportunity to be discipled

 

It is something I rarely think about but today I have. I am imagining the thief on the cross, those who have had deathbed conversions, small children taken away from this world so early in their lives and others in countries where there is no freedom to allow for them to come together in their faith.

In particular, I am thinking of the end times, where there is an Antichrist, and there is tribulation. How will the new believer find the opportunity to be discipled?

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. – Revelation 14:9-10 ESV

The pressure to be part of the Antichrist is so great during this time. We know there will be those who have chosen not to take the mark. I pray that those who are fighting to be found faithful during this time will be faithful at the Lord’s coming.

For this reason, I too pray to be found faithful, and fully commit to being a disciple with all of the resources given to me to do so.

 

 

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