A road has a beginning. When we receive Jesus' gift of salvation, we have entered that road. This road has not only a beginning but it is also a road to travel. It is a road with a destination, as well. That road represents the entire life of the Christian Disciple. As with any trip, there are issues to consider. Have I gotten off the road? How do I get back on? How can I keep on track? How can I make the most of the trip? Of what dangers must I beware? What preparations must be made to enjoy the trip? What if I run into a heavy storm? Do I have a map and guidebook? All of these questions are related to discipleship. As we develop in discipleship, we find answers to these questions and others. A journey with Jesus, through life, is educational, enjoyable, exciting, informative, and rewarding. It can also be difficult, but challenging. When we reach our destination, all that has happened has made it the best trip anyone could ever take. There is another road that goes in the opposite direction and leads to a "dead end" for all eternity! Be sure that you are on the right road! Selah! What a shock, to end life and wind up forever in hell. There are only two roads. If you are on the wrong one, turn around quickly while you still have time! Ron
"Enter in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14).
Is a Christian a disciple or does he or she decide if they want to be a disciple? This is a very important question. Is discipleship optional or does becoming a born again Christian make one a disciple? I see the new birth as the starting point for discipleship. I do not see discipleship as being optional. Discipleship may begin to develop slowly and will suffer setbacks, as we learn and obey. To suggest that discipleship is optional leaves the door open to the idea that we can decide to obey or not to obey. That would mean that we might come to know Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. Nowhere does Scripture give us any license for such a distinction. He is both Savior and Lord and when we receive Him, we receive Him as both. What about areas in our lives that we haven't yielded to Him? There are, obviously, times when we choose to disobey. However, as a disciple and a Christian, there is God's response to our choosing to disobey. This is where conviction and chastisement comes into play. This is God's way of teaching us that there are consequences for disobedience on the part of the Christian disciple. This is part of the development of discipleship. Sanctification and increasing discipleship are closely related. God has paid an infinite price to save a person and it is inconceivable that He would omit the discipline that is needed to shape us into the image of His Son. Selah! The enemy of our souls will go to great lengths to suggest anything that will interfere with our being serious about growth and discipleship, if we are, in fact, born again. Ron
"….If a man love Me, He will keep my Words; and My father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (From John 14:23).
One can do all that we have talked about in the last two articles and yet be ineffective. How can that be? If the disciple lacks credibility, any hope of being effective is severely undermined. People are quick to notice when our "walk" doesn't match our "talk." Truth is validated by seeing it impact our lives. Only as we apply Biblical Truth to our daily lives can we expect that others will believe that we have "the Truth." If it doesn't work for us, if we don't live it out, how can we think that they will accept what we claim to be true? We are living advertisements of His Truth, when we are growing in discipleship. A Sunday only experience simply won't cut it. God, in His mercy, occasionally gets through to some, in spite of our failures, but these are exceptions that only prove the rule. Don't allow yourself to be false advertising to others. Learn the Truth, guard the Truth, defend the Truth, and live the Truth. Selah! People are watching you. If you are living His Truth, it will motivate some to listen to you defend it. Ron
"…but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in (conduct), in (love), in spirit, in faith, in purity…." (From I Timothy 4:12).
Yesterday we made a case for the need to develop into able defenders of Truth. This is a basic responsibility of all genuine Christians to one degree or another. We can begin to do our part by supporting, to the best of our ability, those who are on the "front lines" in the battle for Truth. While this is the beginning, it is not the end of our responsibility. Above all, we need to learn to discipline ourselves to daily reading of the Word of God. We need to intensify our study of Scripture. We need to make use of books and tapes that will "prime the pump" of our thinking and understanding. We need to learn and understand basic Christian Doctrine. We should have some exposure to Theology. We need to hone the skill of discernment. Something isn't necessarily true simply because it is able to excite us or because it sounds right. We need to question, to critically examine and analyze all input. We need to match claims up against our increasing awareness of Scriptural principles. We must work at this until we become more and more proficient at defending and applying Truth. There is no excuse for slothfulness. Selah! No Christian is exempt from this responsibility. Ron
"And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be…apt to teach…in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves…." (In other words, oppose those who are defending Truth). (From II Timothy 3:24-25).
There are unprecedented subtle and overt attacks on true Biblical Christianity. These are clever and they are increasing. It seems as if those able to counter these attacks are decreasing in number. If ever, in the history of Christianity, there was a need for people to stand for the Truth, there is an even greater need today. To stand for the Truth is to be labeled intolerant. This new buzzword (tolerance) is explained as meaning never to question the validity of what others believe. Don't try to change anyone. Respect their views. One person's beliefs is as good as anyone else's. Let everyone do their own thing. This has been a much too effective Satanic strategy to silence any who would stand for Truth. How we confront error is important. We do not need to disparage or insult anyone. Courtesy is still a Biblical character quality. We need to be firm but not rude. We must be able to advance sound reasons for something being true. We must not let emotions (such as anger) become a substitute for sound reasoning. We must not be intimidated when accused of intolerance but calmly and confidently make our case. One plus one still equals two, no matter if someone insists that defending that is being intolerant. Selah! Don't leave it to others to defend the Faith. Start developing your discipleship (if you are born again) to include doing your part in standing for Truth. Ron
"…earnestly contend for the Faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (From Jude Verse 3).
We have looked at a lot of areas that need to be given over to God's control. I hope that we have taken inventory of what we control and are ready to place "all" under His control. He alone is able to manage our lives properly and bring about eternal results. As we discover areas that we are in charge of, it may seem overwhelming for us to let go of them all. Keep in mind that God gives us time to grow. More and more give over control to Him. When you start to take back control, take it back to Him and let go. It takes time, but a true disciple, one who is truly born again, will keep yielding and will be blessed in his or her discipline. He is Lord of all. Let Him exercise that Lordship in all details of our lives. What may appear for a time to be a sacrifice, will prove to be a blessed experience of abundant living. Think over what the results have been under your management and compare the results with the results of what He has managed. Selah! Is your life "under new management?" If so, has the previous manager given up control?
"For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (I Corinthians 6:20).
After yesterday, this one is a little easier. Today, let's talk about our schedules. Having a schedule is very important to many of us. Having one would be a great help to those who do not plan. When we do use a schedule, we don't like interruptions. True, we are to be disciplined in keeping a schedule and we are responsible to make good use of our time. There are steps that we can take to protect our schedules and we must employ those steps wisely. Nevertheless, sometimes God allows someone to get our attention. We need to be sensitive to why this was allowed. Perhaps God has cancelled what we have planned and replaced it with an appointment that He has arranged. Even here, be careful to handle the appointment wisely. The point is this: If God changes our plans, yield control of your schedule to Him. Selah! Use discretion. Be discerning. Is this God's appointment or the devil's distraction? Ron
We are to be "….redeeming the time…." (From Ephesians 5:16). Guard it carefully, use it wisely and let God direct it.