Discipleship follows a pattern in the New Testament;
People are attracted to Jesus; often because of miracles that authenticate His position as the Son of God.
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested; He left Judea and returned to Galilee. He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
“In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.” From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.
Jesus preaching was the proclamation of the Good News that the way home to God that had been sealed because of sin and death was being re-opened through the Son of God. This is radical preaching because prior to this point the only means of forgiveness was through perfect keeping of the law and endless sacrifices that could never completely fulfill the standards of God. This revealing of God was taking place where God had told His people, in the time frame He told His people, To His people first and then to the whole world. People who had lived their lives in darkness would now see light in a way they had never seen before. A miraculous light, God’s light shining in darkness – where death has cast its shadow. Not so much different than today. Our land is inhabited by people who live in the shadow of death. When you or I watch the news we see death daily, we see the horrors that are driven by sin. We see the shame and the destruction of broken lives and homes. For many the impossibility of the Kingdom of Heaven being near is their reality. But for us who have seen the light we know who He is. We have been drawn to the light by the Master Himself. Jesus is the light that shines into the darkest places. Jesus is the transformer of lives. Jesus is the light of the world. His preaching is simple and clear. Repent – in the Hebrew language- Shuv- in my mind sounds like shove – sometimes I need a shove to repent. To change directions; to alter my path, to stop from going the wrong way, and come back to my real home. I need the light to shine on my stuff, and expose the yuk – (my word not Hebrew) so that I can see it for what it is not precious stuff I must have. What attracts me to Jesus is relationship. He wants me to come home and is willing to walk with me the whole way home. Shining a light on the traps I don’t see or even the ones I see and want to fall into. I need help in repenting and that is the first draw I have towards Jesus- HE is attractive because of who He is, not what He will do for me, and he will do everything I cannot do. The people in the first century saw Jesus heal the blind, feed the hungry, raise the dead- Jesus in my life has opened my eyes to the wonder of God. He has fed my soul in ways that food never could. HE has given me new life in places I never imagined, doing what I never planned and hope for a future that is beyond my dreams. Jesus has got my attention and now we who are followers need to point the way for others to get their attention as well.
Being a disciple means being a learner, a follower, someone who seeks to be like the person they are following. So being a disciple of Jesus Christ means we get our identity and purpose from following Him.
Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
Love is doing whatever you need to do to help people see and savor the Glory of God in Christ forever and ever. Love keeps God central. Because the soul was made for God. – John Piper
Love is the key thought we would like to keep at the forefront of our minds. We love to think about love because that is what the world tells us is the most important idea. If we would just love each other more there would be no wars, or problems anywhere because everyone would have the others best interest at heart. Sounds Biblical until you come down to who gets to cook because everyone wants to cook for everyone else and no one wants to hurt anybody else’s feeling and say “no I do it better than you” because that is not loving. No one could ever choose a movie, no one could ever teach a class because then someone else would have to listen and one would have superior knowledge to another and the cycle gets wilder. Because we have the wrong view of what Love is. Read more >>
John 10:27-30 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
We know that Jesus is our example and the one who provides us with our way home to God the Father. There are a few things we need to do:
Hear- So many have been told that they have ears but cannot hear. We don’t want to be like that stubborn and obstinate; but we also don’t want to fall for just anything and be deceived. We have to hear the right voice and follow. To my understanding of Scripture, God will reveal Himself to His followers and they will follow willingly. They hear and know the voice of God.
Be known –We are known by God; not just our appearance, or our words or even tone of voice. We are known at the heart level. God knows us and cares for us individually just like He knows David or Abraham or any of the Prophets or disciples. You can take His Word personally.
Psalm 139:1-4 O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Follow – I can be fooled just like you can and we may follow the wrong voice once in a while. Wouldn’t it be great to know God’s voice so well we follow only His Voice? We can only follow God’s voice when we know His character, His story and His relationship to us. Following is a choice, an action of obedience. Follow the right voice.
Receive eternal life and be secure – We can read the scriptures and listen to them; we can be led by great people we look up to; but until we believe and receive the gift of life it doesn’t belong to us. To those who don’t believe It may seem like the same song and verse all the time. However, until you receive eternal life it doesn’t seem real and can seem repetitive. But once you receive the gift you never grow tired of hearing it. It is the words “I love you” forever ringing in your ears. It is care beyond understanding. It is security and rest. It is the Shalom of the Old Testament – peace, prosperity and rest as we trust in Him.
Being a sheep doesn’t sound so bad.
Sometimes I need a reminder about listening, following and being known; they work together you know.
Eternal life and security they work together too, reminders aren’t bad. May God give you great Hope today in His Grace and Peace
Photo By: Ian Britton
John13:1-4 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
Jesus’ Love is translated a couple different ways by different translations and paraphrases.
New American Standard-having loved His own, who were in the world, He loved them to the end
New international Version –Having loved his own who were in the world, He showed them the full extent of His Love
New Century Version – He had always loved those who were his own in the world, and he loved them all the way to the end.
The notes at the bottom of my page say: To the uttermost or eternally
Jesus always knew the end. Jesus always loves. Jesus loves us in the same way- in the fullness of His Love. He loves us completely, utterly, absolutely, unconditionally, entirely, eternally with all of His being.
Jesus loves with His very life. He Loves more than the agony of sin, separation and death. Knowing the pain of separation from The Father He laid down His life; willingly and lovingly for all who follow Him. On the very day in which He would ultimately be betrayed He loved even those; who would question, who would wonder, who would wander, who would start out unsure, even those who wouldn’t finish well.
He Loves us from before creation to the cross and the grave and beyond. The gospel is the Good News of freedom to return God’s Love. The Gospel is the key to Worship.
Come and follow – Go and tell!
I have been thinking for a time about how I can find the will of God. God’s will for me and my family seem to be hiding sometimes. I expect to find God’s will on billboards or flying behind a Bi-plane in a grand announcement. I think Biblical-ly when I can – it’s my job you know. And as I think about all the places I’d like to be and the problems I’d like to avoid; thinking Biblically would seem to be important.
But I recognize that putting the Bible as the first of many places to look may cause issues – some people may be able to take the Word of God and, manipulate it to lead me astray. I recognize that some people may not have my best interest at heart and may want to manipulate me. I recognize that I may be able to fool myself; wanting my own way and make the assumption that my way must be God’s way because we are on the same level. So how do I find the will of God? And more importantly for you, how do you find the will of God? – Follow Jesus. Read more >>
How do I feed my soul? This is something I’ve considered a lot lately. Because of illness and injury, I have had time on my hands. Downtime, or rest time, is good — for a while. I stayed home in the recliner, and rested. I found after a while rest, doesn’t feel like rest. My mind can wander just like everybody else. So I thought it was good that I examine my own life – heart, before I write this article. The questions that follow serve as a beginning. . .
Does it matter what I listen to? I believe the answer is yes. Profanity – swearing, cursing, foul speech, and cussing, is a show of disrespect, a desecration or debasement of someone or something, or just the act of expressing intense emotions. The original meaning of the adjective profane (Latin: “in front of”, or “outside the temple”) referred to items not belonging to the church. Profane – outside the church is common ordinary stuff – not polite, not church like – when I listen to profanity my mind is not focused on God. When my mind is not focused on God, I worship something other than Him. Those words seem kind of harsh. But I know from experience what I dwell on becomes what I am.
Does it matter what I watch? Profanity applies to what I watch as well. If it doesn’t lift up; it tears down. It’s easy to believe that it just doesn’t matter what I watch. However, my mind will recall (all on its own, I don’t even have to consciously imagine) images that either build up or tear down. So it does matter what I watch.
Does it matter what I touch? Yes, It does matter what I touch. For me to touch something I have to get close. Sometimes it’s tempting to get close to the fire – just to feel the warmth. The closer to the fire I get the easier it is to get burned. I find it impossible to live in two worlds – not that I haven’t tried. I find it better to stay out of arms reach of temptation. My understanding of temptation is this: temptation is never isolated to just the individual; it always involves the people you love the most. Temptation seems to take these forms; to meet a legitimate need, in any illegitimate way. To use God to meet my needs, and wants; not His. To do the right thing, at the wrong time, or in the wrong way. To take a shortcut; to the place I believe God wants me to go, without the experience of learning the lesson along the way.
The original question is how do I feed my soul? I believe it is the same way we take care of our mind. It really isn’t “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s more than what I hear and say, more than what I see and touch, it’s more than just my senses. My heart and my mind need focus. The culture of America today tells me it doesn’t matter. There is freedom. But I wonder if I’m free to hurt someone I love with my words, my actions, or my emotions? Freedom isn’t free. Freedom comes at a great cost. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34 Luke 6:45) My mind, my heart, and my soul, need to be fed and nourished by good and not evil or profane things. The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” is true. What goes into my mind matters. My soul desires to be fed good things so that it can grow closer to the creator. I find it has been important to memorize these verses.
Philippians 4: 8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
What you focus on, you begin to resemble.
I get to write down my thoughts; I don’t have to write them down. Some I am sure would rather I keep them to myself. Reading helps a person to broaden their perspective. Seeing things can be entertaining, and sometimes, can prompt believing – at least that is what the proverbial saying suggests. Thomas said he would not believe unless he touched the hands and side of his LORD. So touch is a viable sense. Writing things down brings clarity to my thoughts at least for me.
Listening for God has been on my mind lately. I have come to the conclusion rightly or wrongly that how I hear God is more a matter of my preconceived ideas than God’s character or nature. I believe this is true for our other senses as well but listening and hearing seem to have an emotional connection for me.
When you or I listen for God what do we hear? Read more >>
Mile stones are ancient markers of where you are in life. In recent years they have been replaced by mile markers on the side of the road and more recently by GPS triangulation. In days past you could tell someone where you were if you could find a milestone. Milestones were originally stone obelisks – made from granite, marble, or whatever local stone was available – and later concrete posts. They were widely used by Roman Empire road builders and were an important part of any Roman road network: the distance travelled per day was only a few miles in some cases. A mile-marker monument, the Milion, was erected in the early 4th century AD in Constantinople. It served as the starting point for measurement of distances for all the roads leading to the cities of the Byzantine Empire, and had the same function as the Milliarium Aureum of Ancient Rome. In these ways a person would always know how faraway they were from home because all roads lead to Rome, or for us home. Read more >>
Good Morning !!! When my wife texts she uses lots of exclamation points to express her feelings of excitement . So Good Morning !!! It is a good morning for many when they wake-up. So many have told me any day above the dirt is a good day. I understand that philosophy — some times.
When we look at the alternative; not waking up.
For some it is to eternal life and a closer walk with Jesus than we ever could have imagined. The stuff they write songs about, pearly gates and wonderful light, the Glory of God. No more mourning, no more tears, no more sin, no more sadness, no need for comforting of friends, no more wishing I would have, or sadness over what should have been said or done. The Glory of God encompassing, surrounding, enveloping, caring, and supporting . That is a good morning!!!! Read more >>
I’ve been studying the keys to an effective church as part of my ongoing studies and decided to try to evaluate our position in the community God has provided for us both here within the walls of the church and in our community of Shafter.
The first area to be looked at is: do we as a church have a specific concrete missional objective that can be understood by all members and attenders?
I hope that everyone who knows about our church knows that we are guided by God’s Word in this area, and that the mission of the church is guided by these verses.
Matthew 22:36-40 starts with a question:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Read more >>
Bridge to Life
Engage (Jr. High)
Starts: 05/22/2013, 6:15 pm
Ends: 05/22/2013, 8:00 pm
Starts: 05/26/2013, 12:30 pm
Ends: 05/26/2013, 1:30 pm
Awesome (Sr. High)
Starts: 05/26/2013, 5:00 pm
Ends: 05/26/2013, 7:00 pm
Men's Bible Study
Starts: 05/27/2013, 7:00 pm
Ends: 05/27/2013, 8:00 pm