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Archive for the ‘discipleship’ Category

Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,  and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’  But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’  Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ – Luke 14:16-20

The parable reveals how believers can make excuses about what they are not willing to do despite what the Lord is inviting them to participate in with Him.  You see, His “great feast” is by invitation only but of “those who were invited” they all made excuses.

The church resembles the world when we consider the work od the church.  We have more people sitting than serving.  He have more people taking in the Word than those taking action with the Word.  In fact, we don’t accept the world’s 80/20 principle.  In the church, we have adjusted the odds to 90/10, accepting it more as fact rather than a challenge for us to overcome with prayer, fasting, teaching, training, and mentoring.

Jesus spoke of the cost of becoming His disciple throughout this very chapter of Luke (vv. 10-11, 13, 26-27, 33).  He reminds us that our main aim in this life is to live a life of sacrifice for His sake.  We sacrifice by taking a servant’s position, seeking to satisfy others more than ourselves.  As His disciples (followers), we are to serve those who cannot pay us back just as we are debtors to the One who paid a price that we cannot pay back (Luke 14:14).  By doing so, we support others and serve the Lord by reflecting His example and meeting His expectation of us.

Since we have been called by Christ, let us not turn back or create excuses.  For every reason why we won’t or don’t do more, He hung, suffered, bled, endured and died to give us all the reason that we need not to quit or walk away from His calling on our lives.

Don’t dwell in a place of complacency or mediocrity.   Get back on track with the Lord.  Give Him all of you, all that you have to give Him since nothing was held back when He save you and I.

We have been called by the Master.  We have been called and we cannot turn back, not now and not ever.

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But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus – Ephesians 4:20-21 NKJV

Are you growing in Christ?

Would you say that you have deepened your relationship with Him as you increased your knowledge and understanding of Him?

Paul shares with believers that we can find the truth in Jesus.  He affirms that we can grow by learning through hearing and being taught “by Him.”

If we want to grow in Him, brothers and sisters, we need to learn from Him.  Our task is not simple as followers of Christ.  We are pressed, pressured and persecuted for our beliefs.  In order to withstand the devilish and wicked schemes of our day, let us continue growing our faith by following the lead of the teachings and sayings of the Master, the Rabbi and the Holy One of God- Jesus Christ.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”
-Romans 10:17-18 NKJV

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Feliz Navidad!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!

Previously, I wrote about the miracles of Jesus and shared some of the inspirational accounts from the Gospels.  The Gospels depict Jesus as a worker of miracles as well as a messenger of God’s redemption while remaining the Messiah who would serve as the Lamb of God.

But when the time had fully come, 
God sent his Son, 
born of a woman, 
born under law, 
to redeem those under law, 
that we might receive the full rights of sons.
– Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV)

However, the miracle of Christmas is more about God orchestrating everything beyond coincidence.  He set things in order long before they began to unfold in order to redeem mankind.  Christmas marks a celebration of things coming in order to fulfill God’s plan for redemption.

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And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Jesus was the ultimate master of the teachable moment.  We see that a lot in the Gospel of Mark.  Through encounter after encounter, we are given bits and pieces of what the Lord came to accomplish through his earthly ministry.  Yet, we also see how he handles the short-sighted thoughts of man.  He deals with the limited faith and other aspects of mankind throughout His ministry.
Have you do something to “offend one of these little ones?” I mean, let’s be honest.  You know that you can cover a wide range when it comes to how you might “offend” others.  Watch your ways with others with your feet (where you go) and with your eyes (what you see).  Watch it! You may lead someone else down the wrong path with you.
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FYI: Our Sunday S.I.C.L. class will resume in Room 210.  See you there!
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And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. – Mark 7:20

Imagine how it would be if everyone could what was inside of us.

They could see your thoughts.  Every one of your thoughts would play out like a movie scene before every person who came in contact with you.  You would be viewable by anyone and everyone.

People could see what you had in your system.  What you ate for breakfast would be in plain view.  What you put in your system would be apparent to every single person who approached you, both the good and the bad.

That doesn’t sound too good.
What about that time when I only had a few drinks? It was just something to do.


How about the time when I  held her close for only one night? Will those smudges of sex and lust still be apparent on my hands and the rest of my body?

Will everything that I laid my eyes be revealed when people look in my eyes? Magazines? Videos? Websites?

Uh-Oh!

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

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18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
-John 15:18-25 (NKJV)

The words of Jesus seem to have been spoken with both simplicity and significance.

What He said to His closest followers on that final night before His death seemed to come off as touching as Lou Gehrig’s farewell in Yankee Stadium delivered by Gary Cooper in “The Pride of the Yankees.” He spoke specifically of the things to come and how His disciples should face them with the inevitable assurance of the coming of the Helper.  He spoke directly, openly and candidly with these men about His departure.  Yet, He spoke plainly about what these men would face without Him physically present with them.

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

He kept it plain.  He said it with simplicity.  He said that they would be hated by the world since Jesus had been hated by the world.  He said it in real simple terms.  He did not want it misunderstood or misinterpreted by them.  He kept it simple, hoping them to take His words in and remember them when the time came.

If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. 

He said it with significance.  Persecution, in whatever form that it would show up, would surely come to the followers of Jesus.  Jesus said it to them while He was still with them.  That was significant.  He did not want them caught off guard by the ill treatment of the world.  He did not want them to be shocked or stunned by how cruel the world could be towards Him or His followers.

He had already shared the indication of the world’s past.  He had already spoken of Israel’s ill treatment of the prophets.  He had already shared words that had perplexed and confused in His famed Sermon on the Mount, referencing the prophets being treated to persecution prior to His coming

Why say it in such a way? Why keep it simple and plain?
Soon, after the meal had been shared and the wine had been sipped, they would see one of their own hand the Master over to His persecutors.  Once they had supped, they would be confused among themselves regarding much of what He had said.  They would question their own motives.  They would run and hide, doing no better than those disciples who “turned back and no longer followed him.” 
He said it simple and plain.  He said it with significance.  He said it so the disciples would recall it when they needed to remember it the most.  After all, we read it today and recognize that our own mistreatment is not without reason.  We follow Jesus.  We walk in His footsteps.  We get the hatred of the world that hates Him because we not of the world since He chose us out of the world and caused us to walk with Him.

Those who hate me without a cause


Are more than the hairs of my head;

They are mighty who would destroy me,

Being my enemies wrongfully;

Though I have stolen nothing,
I still must restore it.

-Psalm 69:4 (NKJV)

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“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so. . .” – Psalm 107:2

We who have been saved by the grace of the Lord need to say so.  We need to share about the Savior and the salvation that He offers us.  We owe Him at least that much for all that He has done for us.

As we move towards Easter and the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection, let us recall all that He has offered us through His saving grace.  He has not only risen.  He has bought us with a price through His precious blood.  He has brought us into a right relationship with God.

Say something about the Savior through the way you celebrate His resurrection this year.  Share your testimony with others.  Don’t let this year go by with you simply blending in with the world rather than standing out by saying something about the Savior.

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Bear ye one another’s burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ.
-Galatians 6:2 (KJV)

Christians are to bear one another’s burdens.  It is the way of Christ.  That’s what He did, right? Remember WWJD? Was that just a fad? Or, did you really take that to heart?

Bear ye one another’s burdens. . .

Wow! That’s heavy.  Literally, it is heavy due to what it really means.  We are to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters.  We are to feel their pain.  That means that we should empathize with others.  We are not called to simply stand off to the side and sympathize with them, feeling bad for them and going on. 

God wants us to live with the burdens of others as if they are our own.  If your brother suffers from addiction, you should live with it.  Even if you have never indulged, you are to suffer with your brother and sister as well as seek a remedy as if it were your own life in a shambles.  The same goes for homelessness, adultery, selfishness, greed and other things.  We need to share with our brothers and sisters.

Let’s be Christlike about it.  He went out of His way for us.  He suffered for our sakes.

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 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
  -Titus 2:1 (ESV)

There is nothing that comes naturally to us in this new life.  Our rebirth as children of God leads us to enter into a new life with a blank slate.  We are to put off the old man who has lived within us for so long, so that we may put on the new man who is to be developed and nurtured within us as new creations in Christ.

Sometimes it works.  At other times, it just doesn’t work.  We fail when we fail to rely upon the Holy Spirit.  We tend to not mature as steadily when we focus more on what we will get out of it or gain from it rather than simply submitting to the will of the Spirit.  We lose out when we lose sight of the unveiled mysteries that God has revealed to us through His Word and by His Holy Spirit.

Paul admonishes Titus to teach what is “sound doctrine.” In doing so, he shares with Titus how to lead multiple generations in ministry.  He offers a strategy for incorporating the people by empowering his people to teach one another in the Christian life.

Titus is to “exhort and rebuke with all authority”(Titus 2:15 ESV).  He, as the pastor and spiritual leader of the church, is to lead, guide, direct and provide the means for the older men to minister and mentor the younger men as well as the older women to do the same for the younger women.  In essence, according to Paul’s instructions to Titus, everyone has a role to play within the ministry of the church, ministering to each other in unity.

Read Titus 2 in its entirety.  Read through it, then study it.  See what God asks of us as believers when it comes to ministering to one another.  Pray over it.  Subject yourself to pastoral authority for the good of all concerned.  Do not simply go along to get along.  Give of yourself, sharing your experiences and lessons learned.  Let God use you to minister to your brothers and sisters so that the entire body of Christ will be strengthened in “sound doctrine.”

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Key question: Have you built a ministry that builds up people to be better servants of the Lord?

Take your time.  Think about all of the people who serve under you.  Let things play back in your mind. 

We need people experiencing edification.  We need people being built up within our midst.  We need to get busy building folks up.

Why?

Their responsibility is to equip God’s people
to do his work and build up the church,
the body of Christ.
– Ephesians 4:12 (NLT)

We are called to do so.  We have been commissioned to do so.  It is our calling.  Let us live up to it.

Give the people who come to you an extreme experience.  Offer an edifying experience.  Take people to the edge by standing on the cutting edge as opposed to the status quo.  Let people experience Christianity beyond the stuffy, Sunday morning sermonized Savior that seems so distant that He could not have possibly walked on earth.  Give them the real deal when you share about the Savior.  Show them the Jesus who saves.  Share the Jesus who sacrificed for the sinful.  Provide an opportunity to experience Jesus in spirit and in truth.
Look at some examples of radical Christianity. . .

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