A Book on Discipleship

Whom are we trying to kid? Ourselves, mostly, if we are not becoming disciplined. Yesterday, we pointed out that a genuine Christian will be a disciple and will be becoming disciplined. As also mentioned, one cannot be a Biblical disciple unless he or she has had a true Spiritual conversion. Once we have experienced that kind of conversion, discipleship is not optional. All right, assuming that we have been born again, what is to guide us and by what are we to be disciplined? Before I try to answer that question, a Christian must, with God’s help, exercise his or her will to settle for nothing less than a cast-iron determination to become disciplined. We will not let excuses or negative emotions stop us from an unrelenting development of discipline. Discipline in what ways? The military has training, instructors, movies, manuals and even a book of military discipline. We have a Book unlike any other book. It is a Book of instructions, commands, principles, guidance, explanations and even encouragement. It contains nothing untrue, it is the only Book in which nothing that we need, as Jesus’ disciples, is left out. It is also unlike any other book in that it is not just printed information. It is supernaturally used by the Holy Spirit. He makes all content come alive, Spiritually, with the very breath and voice of God. When we are Spiritually alive, the Life in us and in the Book connect, accomplishing Spiritual results in our lives. Paul, in II Timothy 3:16-17, was inspired to tell Timothy (and us) that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect (mature), throughly furnished (fully equipped) unto all good works.” You probably know this Book by the name on the cover: “The Holy Bible.” Selah! We would be in serious trouble without food and water for any length of time; we will be in far more serious trouble without the milk, meat and water of God’s Word regularly.  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com  

Biblical Discipleship

A person can be a disciple under various teachers and/or leaders. The person is under the discipline of whoever he or she studies under. That is to say that they will learn from that teacher/leader and put into practice what they have learned. That teacher/leader doesn’t own them but will likely exert great influence in their lives. (Some cult leaders have immense influence, not to mention manipulation and control). A Christian (Biblical) disciple is one who has received Jesus as Savior and Lord. This one has surrendered his or her life to Him. He owns them! “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). It is an ownership of love and gratitude. God loved us and sacrificed His Son to pay for our sins on the Cross of Calvary. None of this is forced upon anyone. God uses different means to reveal Himself and what He has done for us, and wins us to Himself. We open our hearts and lives to Him in love and thankfulness for what He has done.  God has made available the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings the Word of God to bear on and in our lives and we believe it and are taught to understand and apply it in our lives. This is a life-long process of being set apart to God and from the world. If we are genuinely converted, this kind of discipleship is not optional! A mere intellectual and/ or psychological conversion knows little of discipline and does not produce a valid conversion. Romans 10:9-10 teaches that if we acknowledge Christ as Lord of our lives and believe in our innermost being (our hearts) that He was raised from the dead by God, we will be truly saved. It goes on to let us know that “….with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession (acknowledging) is made unto salvation.Selah! Just believing the facts, without giving ourselves to Him creates a false assurance that we are born again, when we are not. Much of the church’s lack of teaching this truth has resulted in many tares among the wheat.   Ron  (P.S. We hope, Lord willing, to deal with some facets of discipleship for a few articles-Do stop by! R.)

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Don’t Stop Now!

A people stopped to thank God for His help and blessings, but what about the individual? How do individuals relate to this? Some don’t. They are thankful for little or nothing. Others are consistently grateful, when they happen to stop long enough and think. Thanksgiving Day calls the nation to express gratitude. That’s very worthwhile! It is, however, a scandal, if that is the only time that some who know Jesus as Savior and Lord stop and thank God. Do we, who are His, need a day to remind us to count our blessings and express our gratitude? Worse still, Is that the only time we thank God? Shouldn’t the redeemed heart be daily filled with thankfulness? in Ephesians 5:20, God inspired Paul to write that we are to be, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The heart that is filled with thanks and praise and gratitude, will be filled with joy and that joy will overflow, even amidst life’s trials. Give thanks every day. Thanksgiving Day is behind us this year. Keep right on thanking God; don’t stop now!  Selah! God doesn’t stop blessing; don’t stop thanking Him!  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Faces

What does the Bible have to say about our faces?

Faces can intimidate. Sin hardens faces. Preachers and teachers could, intentionally or not, “pull punches.” Hence, God told Jeremiah, “Be not thou afraid of their faces: for I am with thee.” (From Jeremiah 1:8). Give out the Word faithfully (and wisely). Use eye contact and speak with confidence, God uses His children and gives strength to speak with courage, even in the face of adversaries. 

There is the matter of discouragement and its effect. For example, in Job 16:16, Job speaks of his suffering, “My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death.” The opposite can be true! Proverbs 15:13 reads, “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance.” Remember that even in trials there can be joy. Peter, in I Peter 1:3-8 explains that even in suffering, for a season, there can be “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

As we behold His face (which we do when we devotionally study the Word), it has a transforming effect. “But we all, with open face  beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).

Selah! This is just a small sampling of what the Scriptures teach about our faces. The wonderful crowning moment comes when we see Him face to Face! The awful opposite is when the unsaved see His face as their judge. Rejoice, if you are born again; if you aren’t do something about it while you can. Read carefully Romans 10:9-10. Trust Him with your whole heart and life and yield to Him as your Saviour and Lord.  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Long Range Perspective

When it comes to the matter of God’s working in the world and in our lives, many of us have a very narrow, very limited perspective. Americans, especially, want things to happen now! God, meet my needs now. God, answer my prayer now. Jesus, come now or at least in my lifetime. God’s “delays” are always with a purpose of which we may be completely unaware. We hurt emotionally (and sometimes spiritually) when we don’t see instant responses to our prayers. That hurt could come under the heading of “tribulations” as the word is used in Romans 5:3-5, “….we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience (relaxing, in trust of God’s timing) and patience, experience (by experience, we come to understand that His timing and His “No’s” are always right); and experience, hope (anticipated certainty that the timing and answer will be right): and hope maketh not ashamed (or we will not be disappointed).” With this confidence in His love and wisdom, we look back much later and say, “I’m so thankful that He didn’t answer my prayers the way that I thought I wanted Him to answer.” (Yes, with regard to some delays, we may not understand until we arrive Home). We have a very tight perspective because we are time-conscious beings; God, in contrast, knows the end from the beginning and is not confined by our sense of time. He will not be one second early or late; but right on perfect time. Selah! If God always did exactly what we thought that we wanted, He would be our servant, not our Master! As our Master, He reminds us in Psalm 84:11, “….No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

It’s Our Own Fault!

Most of us know that those who do not come to Christ as Lord and Savior are lost forever. We know that God has placed the greatest roadblock ever, in their path. If they refuse to heed that roadblock, the Cross of Calvary and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on that cross, it’s their own fault. Rejecting His love and offer, they choose their own destiny. However, we need to keep in mind that if we have received the gift of Life, it will be our own fault if we miss out on God’s rich blessings and we will experience consequences. These are not to punish but are to correct. God initiates or allows various hard things to bring us to the place where He can bless us. We don’t need to go through all these painful experiences. God has given us a command (not an option) to “….grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (From II Peter 3:18). God doesn’t give commands without providing the means. If we don’t use those means, it’s our own responsibility. Someone might ask, “What means?” There are, for example, books, CDs, DVDs, sermons, Spiritual friends, fellowship, seminars, conferences, schools, Bible Study groups, etc. These are all (usually)  valuable and helpful and we should take advantage of them. Nevertheless, there are two things that far surpass them, that we must use. One is prayer and is extremely important. The other is even more important! It is God’s Holy Word! It is absolutely essential! It would be better to go without our daily food than to neglect our Spiritual food. Paul, under inspiration, admonished Timothy (and us) that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect (mature), throughly (sufficiently) furnished (equipped) unto ( and are enabled to do) all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17). Selah! If a person is truly born again, he or she will have a craving for God’s Spiritual food and water. Failure to satisfy these cravings leaves us Spiritually weak, dry and unable to function as a Christian is intended to do. Our Great Physician will give us the necessary doses of strong medicine, when needed.  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Moral Quality

Guest Article-From “The Divine Conquest” By A.W Tozer
Published by Baker/ Bethany

Moral Quality

If we had not first suffered a serious decline in our expectations, we should not have accepted this tame technical view of faith. The churches (even the gospel churches) are worldly in spirit, morally anemic, on the defensive, imitating instead of initiating and in a wretched state generally because for two full generations they have been told that justification is no more than a “not guilty” verdict pronounced by the Heavenly Father upon a sinner who can present the magic coin faith with the wondrous “open-sesame” engraved upon it. If it is not stated as bluntly as that, at least the message is so presented as to create such an impression. The whole business is the result of hearing the Word preached without power and receiving it in the same way.

Now faith is indeed the open-sesame to eternal blessedness. Without faith it is impossible to please God, neither can any man be saved apart from faith in the risen Savior. But the true quality of faith is almost universally missed—its moral quality. It is more than mere confidence in the veracity of a statement made in Holy Writ. It is a highly moral thing and of a spiritual essence. It invariably effects radical transformation in the life of the one who exercises it. It shifts the inward gaze from self to God. It introduces its possessor into the life of heaven upon earth.

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Behavior Reveals—-What?

People can’t see our hearts. They can see our conduct. How we behave is an index to our character. A truly saved person’s conduct should reveal the work of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. The difference in behavior now, from what it was before a genuine conversion took place in our hearts, can and should be a powerful advertisement of how God can change a person. The nine-fold fruit of the Spirit that is produced in our lives, “….love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (See Galatians 5:22-23) is foreign to those who do not know Christ. While they may manage some of these character qualities in some measure, they cannot consistently gain in all nine. This kind of life comes with the internalizing of Scripture in our hearts and minds, in the power of the Holy Spirit. They are character qualities of our wonderful Lord. When we fail to absorb and apply God’s Word, our behavior will show it. Loving our Lord, listening to Him, learning from Him, relying on Him will let others see Him as One Who can make a wonderful difference in their lives. Conversely, when we neglect the Word we may present a distorted view of Christianity and cause others to not take us seriously. Let’s so live that He will be glorified in our conduct. Spending much time with Him in the Word and prayer, letting Him do His work in us, will point others to Him. Paul’s inspired admonition to the Philippian church is an admonition to us. He wrote, in Philippians 1:27, “Only let your conversation (conduct, manner of life, the way you live) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ….” Selah! Jesus poured out His Life for us; now we must let Him pour His Life into us and then be clean channels for His Life to overflow into others’ lives.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Pew Observers

There seems to be, in our churches today, those who might be considered observers. They somewhat listen, learn Truth, think about it, decide if they agree, etc. They usually join in the singing, read the text and rise for the prayer and Scripture reading, often giving it little thought. They hear (hopefully) about Jesus. They find Him interesting; even fascinating, and ordinarily He is admired and respected. Yet, a serious question begs for an answer: Do they really know Him personally? How tragic to be engaged with Him, only as an interested observer of Him; so close to the reality of Him and still be so far removed from enjoying that reality. Where is the heart for God? Where is the craving for His Living Presence? How can we stand to confine Him to an hour or so on Sunday, and give Him little time or attention the rest of the week? Where is the devotion and discipline to make Him the center of our lives and activities each day? This isn’t written to generate guilt. That would only compound the problem. It is to inspire a passion for Him that would motivate us to give Him first place in our lives. That should define all who know Him as Savior and Lord! Along with Paul, let us so relate to Jesus that our own hearts will resonate with the apostle’s inspired prayer in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” Selah! If you are not already doing so, begin to build your life with Him as the foundation and center of it.  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Page or Person?

People like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, etc. are interesting to read about and, if the accounts are accurate, are informative. It helps us to understand them and we sometimes come to feel like we know them. Of course we’ve never met them, talked with them, enjoyed their friendship, had them help us, been fascinated by them or come to love and enjoy them. If they were alive today, we could then experience these blessings. However they are long gone. I fear that many only know Jesus in the same way that they know other historical people; biographical only, not personally. We know things about Jesus but do we know Him? Unlike other historical individuals, He is alive and present in our world today and waits to show Himself alive to all who will open themselves to Him as their Savior and Lord. He is revealed in Scripture so that we can know Him in personal experience, moment by moment. We should have the heart cry, so eloquently expressed in Mary A. Lathbury’s hymn, “Break Thou the Bread of Life.” She wrote, “Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord. My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word.” Knowledge of Jesus from the Word was never intended as a stopping point; information to be stored in our memory banks. As the Holy Spirit activates the printed page, it is to bring us into a Spiritual relationship with the Living Jesus. No wonder Paul wrote, in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ and to die (see Him face to Face) is gain.” Selah! We start at the Page but if we stop there, we’ll never really know the Person!  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com