Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’

  

“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.'” (Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭21‬ NKJV)

In the early 1930’s, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was so appalled at how many in the church capitulated to Hitler, blessing his evil doctrines that were “shaded” with religious tones, that he wrote a response, his manifesto entitled, The Cost of Discipleship. In it, he warned of “cheap grace”, the teaching that stresses that grace is free, so it really doesn’t matter how we live. There is no cost for holiness. 

As Jesus encountered one who had both riches and a hungry heart, Jesus made him choose. Was that cruel? Not really. But there can only be one Master, one passion, and it must be Him. It says Jesus loved him enough to offer discipleship, but the man didn’t love enough in return to sacrifice whatever it took to follow. 

Grace is freely given, but it isn’t freely kept. There is a cost to be a disciple. But the unsaid is that there is a GREATER cost for disobedience, one we pay later and with both present and eternal consequences. If everything has a cost, then choose the one that leads to life! You will find the price not so bad and the dividends out of this world! You are loved today!

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“They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” (1 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭7‬ NIV)

In 2011,the Baltimore Sun ran a syndicated piece about atheists in the military that desired to become Athiest Chaplains. According to the writer, Captain Ryan Jean was “one of about a dozen military atheists that see the recognition of lay leaders as a step toward the appointment of ‘nonbelieving chaplains’, who would be responsible — like the priests, ministers, rabbis and imams now in uniform — for responding to the spiritual needs of service members.” Huh?!

As Paul wrote this verse, he was dealing with “religious leaders” who had no clue what they were talking about. Simply put, just because we have religious opinions does not mean we are scholars on the subject. Yet, many are fooled into false beliefs on the basis that someone makes a good argument. The Bible proves itself to be an authority because it’s been tested for years against the authenticity of history, doctrine, and practice. Yet many fall because of a desire for slick packaging over time-tested truth. 

One day there probably will be Athiest Chaplains and Athiest Churches, a misnomer that would leave us torn between despair and humor. People will get for themselves what they want, no matter how ridiculous it may sound. Come to church today and find out what God desires: The Truth that will set you free! You are loved today! Believe that!

  

…For the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah‬ ‭8‬:‭10‬ NKJV)

“Susan” was an incredible woman. She had already outlived two husbands and one of her children. She had every reason to give up in her late season of life. Yet, every Sunday, she was in my church, worshipping with a smile and participating in what activities she could.  The joy she found in Christ gave her daily strength. 

In Nehemiah’s day, he was having to teach Israel the very lesson we need to achieve today: Move beyond fleeting happiness to a grounded joy! Israel had been on an emotional rollercoaster of emotions, up one minute and down the next. The high of returning from captivity to the low of tedious rebuilding; the up from having a Deliverer come to rebuild to the down of being threatened with terroristic violence. As they hit another low by hearing how they had failed God through sin, Nehemiah had to help them get past unstable emotions to a place of stability found only through a consistent walk with God. 

If you are living to find happiness, then you’ll find life to be one continual frustration after another. Susan got it when she found her joy in God and not in emotion. And as God blessed her with another loving man, she found an unexpected 11th hour blessing from the God of her joy! You are loved today! Live on it! 

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But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth.” (John‬ ‭16‬:‭6-7‬ NKJV)

In times of crisis, the Bible has given me hope. When I have grieved a loss, it’s words have brought me comfort. As a pastor, I also have the privilege of dispensing these same words of life to others that are going through similar circumstances. But could God also bring tough words into our lives? You bet!

When the Lord speaks words of conviction into guilty ears, our heart breaks because we know we’ve done wrong. When the Holy Spirit wisely reveals to us that tough times are a’coming, we cringe at the unseen. To understand these tough words of God, you must understand the context from which He speaks to us: Out of the great love of His heart. He doesn’t aim to hurt us but to draw us to Himself, so that nothing, including sin, can separate us from intimacy with Him.

True love will speak the tough truths to you. I love, but I’m not great at it. That’s why I’m grateful for a loving Savior who can correct all of us the right way. Don’t be discouraged, just correctable. It always leads to blessed places! You are loved today!

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Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew‬ ‭13‬:‭45-46‬ NLT)

As I stood in line at the pharmacy to get my kids’ flu medicine (yep, we got it), I wasn’t prepared for the “sticker shock” of good health. To get 2 prescriptions for 2 kids, the cost was almost $600! After much hyperventilating and head-scratching, I asked about my kids’ insurance; wasn’t it supposed to cover it?! After finding insurance proof, the total cost of childhood health was reduced to $20. Hmmmm, that makes for an interesting discussion for another day.

My kids are worth whatever price I have to pay. What’s $600 compared to life and death? The same must be argued about God, forgiveness, a home in Heaven, and blessings down here below. Is all of that worth the price of discipleship and right living? Can’t I be holy and have my cake too?!

There is no shortcut to being right with God. Priorities say that certain things are worth any price to us. Make sure that God fits into that category. A “generic” Jesus served only at convenient moments will leave you empty-handed when life lands on your head! Pay the price, it’s worth it! You are loved today!

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For the word of God is…a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬ NKJV)

**WARNING: This Could Offend!**

The Bible is the most revered, most misunderstood, and the most underused book we have in our possession. A Pew Research poll in 2010 found that most Christians ranked only SLIGHTLY higher than Athiests in familiarity with New Testament scriptures and Jesus’ teachings! “Americans revere the Bible but, by and large, they don’t read it,” wrote George Gallup Jr. and Jim Castelli, whose poll research was focused on religion in America.

While the Bible does reveal who God is, it also reveals who we are, something we really don’t like. We shout about faith, comfort, and provision, but then shrug at forgiveness, tithing, and even church attendance! I’ve even seen people use scripture to viciously attack tattoos (Lev. 19:28), while ignoring the prohibition against an all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet (Lev. 11:9-12 & Prov. 23:20-21)! If we are a people of God’s word, we must read, accept, and live all of it, even the parts that hit us where we live.

Let the Bible do what is was made to do, bringing comfort and conviction that leads to godliness. It’s your best guide for a better life! You are loved!

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Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭10‬ NLT)

Back in 2012, the R&B star, Usher, claimed a delusional woman was stalking him and constantly showing up uninvited to his Georgia home. Usher eventually had to obtain a restraining order against 26-year-old Darshelle Jones-Rakestraw who claimed she was married to the singer. She assumed her attentions would stir his heart, only to find his lawyer stirred up instead!

We run into trouble when we try to please God by what we THINK God approves or condones. The only guide we have for pleasing the Lord is the Bible; anything else is simply presumptuous. Just because you do something “in Jesus name” or claim that He “knows your heart” doesn’t mean He approves! Our devotion isn’t shown by actions but by a true, daily, vibrant personal relationship.

Do as the Bible says, carefully determine what pleases God’s heart and leave opinion out. By searching God’s words, you’ll easily find the way to His heart and secure His blessings. Ms. Jones-Rakestraw got a rude awakening by operating in belief instead of facts. Don’t be like that! Know your God! You are loved by Him!