Rise up, walk by faith

 

By Faith – Keith & Kristyn Getty

 

Ever since the promise to Abram in Genesis 12 that he would be a blessing to all the families of the earth, God had provided more encouragement to ensure that in waiting Abram would not be found to be hopeless. So it is that we find such an encouragement in Genesis 17 with another promise and this time in regards to Isaac’s birth. It is with this promise that God opened up the vision for family discipleship.

For I have chosen[a] him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” – Genesis 18:19  ESV

Family discipleship is a hard concept especially when we view it in the lives of those called by Jesus. He addresses wealth and possessions and by that I mean – family, income, social status, business interests – throughout His teachings and parables. What I do know is that the call to follow Jesus was a transformational call. When I think of Peter’s call, I think before the call took place, Peter had already met Jesus.  So in Luke’s gospel, when Jesus calls Peter, it was a call to radical discipleship. So much so that He had to say — “Don’t be afraid.” 

… and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”[a]  And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. – Luke 5:10-11  ESV

It is true then, when identifying the marks of a disciple, that a disciple is definitely one who is called. Jesus does not need recruiters. We are called not because we are worthy, but because of His grace.

Luke’s reason for including this incident may be not only to portray the
confrontation of human sinfulness with Jesus but also to show that to receive the
saving grace of Christ a ‘sinful’ man must repent. Long before Luke speaks of the Gentiles with their gross sins and their being included in saving grace, we are faced with the realization that even Peter . . . must take his place as a sinner. – Liefeld

Interesting for me to note that in the calling of Simon, who would eventually be one of the twelve chosen from a larger group, left everything to join Jesus.  Yet in the very same chapter is the story of Levi. Like Simon, Levi leaves everything to follow Jesus. However, he will not be among those listed as the twelve.

To be a disciple one needs two things—a master and a teachable spirit.

When I was preaching a sermon on Noah, I mentioned to the congregation that Noah gave up everything to build the ark. For 100 years he was ridiculed, verbally abused, and lost all sense of status in his community. I mentioned that just as everything we own today is not ours, but God’s, and how Noah was a great example of that. The looks I got back were not very friendly. But Jesus says it very clearly:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:33  ESV

Maybe I need to introduce Psalm 3 at this point as a great prayer to pray when we are talking about God’s salvation. I hope you can pray it with as much conviction as David did – it is a real prayer, not such a nice one. May our cry for God’s help be our prayer today so that we can rise up and walk by faith.

 

 

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Walk in the yoke

His Yoke Is Easy – Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr.

 

I will have the easiest, happiest, and the strongest life if I walk in the yoke with Christ. Only when I do this can I draw the strength and direction that straightens out everything that is going wrong. It does sometimes lead to a battle with my world around me, but that world needs me to stand steady in the easy yoke with Christ.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus makes a very gracious invitation to all who would want to experience the relief, joy, and the blessings of His life through a grace/faith relationship with Him. This is an invitation aimed at all, at the curious and at the convinced to bring them to a place of a deeper level of commitment in which they are to take His yoke and learn from Him as committed disciples.

Think of the world of discipleship before Jesus came. There were the disciples of Moses and the disciples of the Pharisees. They both offered terms that crushed individuals beneath the weight of the Law. Neither could provide relief from the burden and oppressive load that came with it. Jesus came and offered that rest and peace through Him. He came to invite people out of their old discipleship to a new one.

That means something for me as I follow Him and it might mean something different for you. As followers of Jesus we each have a calling that is probably different from one another. My task is to live out my calling by actively partnering with Jesus and following His teaching.

The word “yoke” is the same word that is translated “disciple” later on in Matthew in the Great Commission. When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples,” He is literally saying, learn what it means to be my disciple and you will find rest for you soul in Me. I will help you walk with God.

While discipleship brings relief from the burden of the Law, it is not lawlessness. His discipleship is easy because His teachings equips us to live out God’s will in the way life was designed to be lived. Jesus does not release His disciples from burdens, He promises to help us.

In fact, if you are like me, the challenge of following Jesus is more demanding than following the Law because I am called to fulfill the Law from the obedience of my heart and not through my actions alone. In fact, I am called to do that with perfection. His Spirit provides the same strength to me as He did for Jesus.

So here is my final lesson. I have to learn from Jesus how to live in God’s truth. I have seen others turn their yokes into an unbearable burden. My calling is not a religious obligation. Rather, my calling is an intimate relationship with the One who calls me. As complicated as my life may become, discipleship is at heart simply walking with Jesus in the real world and having Him teach me moment by moment how to live life His way.

 

 

 

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Lack of knowledge

The Crossing – “Ecstasy”

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
    because you have rejected knowledge,
    I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
    I also will forget your children. – Hosea 4:6  ESV

Notice that Hosea does not say that my people are destroyed for lack of faith. Knowledge and faith are different kind of things and while they are both vital, they are different.

They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” – John 4:42  ESV

Biblical faith is a conviction based on evidence and not mere credence. Even though the statement – leap of faith – is a common expression, I am not too sure the Bible recognizes this as either evidence or knowledge-based.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, – 1 Peter 3:15  ESV

I remember this verse so well and it applies here perfectly —

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:17  ESV

I found this quote from another expression – blind faith —

Genuine faith derives from facts presented to the mind and from which proper and correct deductions are then drawn (John 20:30,31)…. There is no such thing as “blind” faith. Faith itself is possible only when reason recognizes the trustworthiness of the testimony which produces it. – Guy N. Woods

So I looked at the resurrection story again. Mary Magdalene saw the Lord. She immediately goes and tell the other disciples and they – disbelieved. Jesus appears to two men walking. They too returned to tell the disciples – neither believed them. So the questions have to be asked – Were these disciples justified in rejecting the report of the resurrection of Jesus because they were not eyewitnesses themselves? Was their disbelief evidence of some intellectual integrity on their part? Were they to be commended for their rejection that came from two trustworthy witnesses?

No, they were not justified in their disbelief.

Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. – Mark 16:14  ESV

Facts must be reported before they can be believed.

Read how those in Corinth responded —

And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue.  Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. – Acts 18:7-8  ESV

What did they hear that caused them to believe? It was the testimony given by Paul. Faith is seen as the acceptance of knowledge based upon credible testimony.

Today I have faith without sight, because of credible testimony from those who were eyewitnesses.

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Disciple lessons

Carry Mine ft Tedashii

 

Initial lessons from the story of Abraham and Lot —

  1. I can trust God to take care of my needs, even though others seem to help themselves.
  2. I am to assist my family — and others — when I are able, when I see them in trouble.
  3. I see in Abraham an example of courage and boldness to emulate.
  4. I am to worship God with my material wealth, as an indication that He brings the victory.
  5. I am to be careful not to ally myself with those who have decided not to follow Jesus any more than is necessary.

The last lesson really comes from Lot. Lot chose to live in Sodom, a place where evil ran rampant. He may have been considered righteous, but when war broke out, he and his family were captured along with the rest of the inhabitants. Regardless of our own spiritual walk with God, when we walk with those who do not walk with God we will face the same consequences as they do. It is wisdom to either separate or at least, to distinguish ourselves. As a family member of Abram, he should have chosen to be a companion and disciple of Abram.  When I go out of my way from what God has called me to be, I remove myself from under God’s protection. We cannot expect that the choice made by our lusts, should end in our comfort.

The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward – Genesis 13:14 

I cannot imagine what was going on in Abram’s heart and how he felt to receive such attention from God. This testimony reflects the call of each follower of Christ and it is no smaller than what was given to Abram. The call of God puts us all as participants in some part of His massive plan for the redemption of humanity and of the whole world. In every generation there is a need for God’s people to realize that the call He places upon them is no smaller than that which He gave Abram.

Lesson on temptation – temptation is not sin. Sometimes being tempted makes us feel dirty. The spontaneous thoughts of hatred or lust or envy or theft shock us. I’ve always appreciated a saying attributed to Martin Luther: “You can’t help it if a bird flies over your head, but you don’t need to let him make a nest in your hair.” 

When Jesus was going through temptation, He drew on God’s Word and used it to declare in the midst of it all that only God was to be worshipped.

and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.  If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” – Luke 4:6-8  ESV

From here Jesus springboarded into ministry and established his authority. From this position He was ready to move from gaining believers, to turning those believers into disciples. More specifically, He goes from hundreds of believers, down to focusing on being with twelve.

but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” – Luke 4:43

Final lessons from Jesus —

● The intentionality of Jesus. The things He did were with purpose and with an end goal: To restore the relationship with us and our Heavenly Father….the good news, the gospel!
● Everything Jesus was, the wholeness of Him, was to reveal the Father and make a way for us to spend eternity with Him. It permeated everything He did, where He went, what He said. It was deeper than a thing He did, it was His very being.

 

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The global dimensions of discipleship

Are Ye Able Said The Master by Burl Ives

The gospel is not for a culture or class of people. It is a gospel for all and it comes to us today as a fulfillment of God’s original call and promise to Abraham.

I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”- Genesis 12:3  ESV 

John the Baptist had disciples.  However he understood that his own work was, in part, a preparation for the coming of Jesus’ ministry. He saw Jesus as someone much greater than himself.

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. – Luke 3:16  ESV

So as soon as Jesus arrives on the scene, John points his own disciples to Him. In many ways, John portrays himself as the one who attends the needs of the bridegroom at a wedding and is so pleased to see attention given to that bridegroom.

 

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Seeking

 

P.O.D.- Seeking the wise

When we decided to go our own way, we were introduced to pain and suffering. The Genesis story describes how we have wandered away from God even though He gave some clear guidelines on how that relationship could be one of pure joy. It was our pride that made us choose to deviate from God’s plan and it introduced an entire set of consequences — illness, death, emotional upheaval that included shame, fear, guilt, insecurity, and relational issues at home and at work.  It is sad to say, but the world that we live in is broken because we broke it. Not sure why everyone blames God.

Introduced into this broken world is Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Mary is the first disciple. Mary became a living channel of grace for the world. God became flesh and lived among us through Mary. What motivates her response to God? What is my response as a disciple when God asks something difficult of me? I want to learn more about Mary as a disciple of Jesus and a woman of faith.  How does Mary offer me an example of discipleship in the Gospels?

 

 

 

 

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