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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Discipling with Authority

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

"Go" requires movement. We are in His service to come or go at His direction. This is a command concerning obedience, not a call to foreign missions. Obedience is the key to discipling with authority.

Sermons urging believers to leave their present place of service for a distant mission field use this text. Yet today America needs missionaries! The discipling begins where we live and continues to where the Holy Spirit leads, as with the Apostle Paul.

The Holy Spirit directed Paul in his missionary calling to go into Macedonia. Peter was led to preach to Cornelius. It is central to discipleship and evangelism that we be in tune with the leadings of the Holy Spirit. He leads us in His own sovereign way and according to His timing, not ours.

In my experience, “Upon being lead...” is the way all missionary calls have materialized. The individual may feel a compulsion to “go” as a missionary, but the candidate cannot go unless "being lead" by the Spirit. This is the Shepherd Principal found in John 10:3–5, 26, 27 and Acts 16:6–10.

The Christian life is Christ’s life in which we are privileged to participate. Therefore, “upon being lead...” reflects our participation with Him, under His Lordship.

Related reading:  Making Disciples: What Christian Students Should Know; See What God Can Do!; The Great Commission

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Praying Through Hebrews: The Disciple’s Perfect Priest

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

Dear Holy God,

Ever since humanity became separated from You because of sin, we people have sought to bridge the gap between us. We have looked to priests, pastors, spiritual leaders of all kinds to stand in the chasm between us to help us understand you, know you, and make intercession for us. However, even Aaron, the first priest of Israel, and his sons, were only fallible sinners unable to hold us tightly in a faith relationship with you, and throughout the years even to the present, others spiritual leaders have become greedy for power and wealth, and prideful of their own opinions; as apostates they only widen the chasm between our sinfulness and your holiness. Yet You, Most Merciful Lord, have provided the Lord Jesus, Your Holy Incarnate Son, as our great high priest. His sacrifice for our sin; his victory over death; and his presence at the right hand of your very throne makes Him an infallible bridge over that chasm! He is forever truly Emmanuel---God with us!

I praise You, Most Holy Father, for this great and gracious mystery: That Christ sympathizes with our weaknesses. Because He lived as one of us, He can intercede passionately for us. Since He experience Satan’s urging to enjoy, do. and be beyond Your will for Him as a human, Jesus knows my tearing weakness. Thank You that He not only understands when I fail, but also pleads for my forgiveness, and provides ways for me to escape those same temptations when they become too much for me (I Corinthians 10:13).

Oh, help me through Your Spirit to continually visualize Him and His power and His unfailing access to You. Grant me the empowering grace in dealing with others that Jesus had in this world. Only then will my profession and practice be ever strong, faithful and honoring to You. Indeed, I trust in Who my High Priest is, and rest upon where He stands ever advocating for me.

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me: bless His Holy Name.” Psalm 103:1

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Gospel for Seekers

This is a Gospel presentation that can be adapted as you work with seekers.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Praying through Hebrews: The Design of Discipleship

Hebrews 4:12-13

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

Holy Father-God, when reading the Holy Bible, I am forced to face the real condition of my identity, my thinking, my emotions focus, and my lifestyle. It reveals whether I am resting in Holy Spirit’s ability to empower me to be more like Jesus Christ in all that I am, say or do, or if I am relying on my own self-centered, flesh oriented reasoning to determine what I should do and how I should do it. It is the Great Surgeon’s piercing knife that dissects the anatomy of who I am, how I think and feel, and how I live; your Word is a camera that projects my lifestyle on a screen for those around me to see, and always to the audience of the One who created me to view. Because You discern all, Lord, I must let your written Word judge, instruct, and adjust my ways; it must be the script, your design, by which I live now and through eternity.

I thank and praise you for “expressing Yourself” in a way that I can understand. First, by becoming one of us in your Son Jesus Christ who lived out your plan of salvation so that I could come to know you and make you known. Secondly. I thank and praise you for your written Word inspired by your Holy Spirit to give us all what we need for the practical living out of our faith relationship with you. Please enable me to intentionally allow your Word to become my the standard and guide, so that I might bring glory and honor to your name!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Living Word Transforms Lives

This is the story of one man's transformation after he picked up a Bible and began to read.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Discipleship: Profession or a Transformation?

By Edward F. Lundwall and Hope Ellen Rapson

Christ’s parable of the farmer sowing seed in four types of dirt found in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23 illustrates the four types of receptivity in persons who in some way are exposed to the Gospel (Good News) of salvation through grace by faith in Christ. The first illustration of the seed being thrown on hard packed ground indicates a person who initially rejoices over the experience of asking Christ to save them, but when life gets tough, and the first emotions of his experience fad, this person quits; he does not become a disciple, a growing learner. He does not continue or endure when troubles come into his life (represented by the birds) because he does not allow the Word of God give him strength and character and guidance to face them. They give up and are often heard to say, “I tried religion, but it did not work for me.”

The second illustration of the seed thrown in soil that also grows weeds and thorns, shows a person who is so focused on the activities and things of this word, that they do not abide in relationship with Christ (John 15:1-16) and so do not develop the Christ-like character or the actions that reveal it. This distracted disciple, the case of a majority of Christians who can be described as simply having their ears pleasantly tickled by God’s Word, but choose to do things their own way or the way of nonbelievers. They profess a faith, but do not live by it. When challenged, they are often heard to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

The third illustration of the seed sown in fertile productive soil reveals the person who intentionally obeys and allows the Word of God to produces much fruit in character and service. They spend time alone and with others to search out God’s Will and seek to wholeheartedly to love and honor Him, and others. They profess a faith that is backed up by faithful character and actions. They are willing to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2) through the power of the Holy Spirit. They are often heard to say, “I want to know God and make Him known.” 

The last illustration of seed sown on “stony ground,” demonstrates the person who initially rejoices in the good idea of forgiveness offered through Christ, but does not own it. He does not make an intentional decision to make it the foundation of his life’s journey. He does not “take it,” and thereby, “leaves it.” He does as he sees fit in his own eyes living independent of God, and is often heard to sing, “I’ll did it my way!”

The Good News of salvation through Christ as explained by Jesus Himself in John 3, requires “being born again.” True spiritual rebirth brings a permanent radical change even “…does (practices) the will of My Father who is in heaven…” (Matthew 7:21). The Lord Jesus requires a true disciple to “…deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23-25). This is not just a one-time profession or Sunday-statement of what one thinks, it is a basic transformation from one thing to another, from an independent unforgiven sinner, to a newly born forgiven dependent child of God. It is not mental assent; it is radical change of character and life-style that is strongly rooted in the good and fertile soil of a person one who is completely committed.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day of the United States, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new sovereign nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.

George Washington's Prayer for the New Nation

Almighty GOD; we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States of America at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of The Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech thee, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Friday, July 1, 2016

Psalm 48: The Disciple’s Stronghold

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Key Verses:

God in her palaces, has made Himself known as a stronghold. Psalm 48:3

We have thought on Your lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Your temple...  Psalm 48:9

For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death. Psalm 48:14

Our Father-God, the city of Jerusalem has been and still is the historic and geographic heart of our faith, but although You have done, are doing, and will do mighty things in that place, in itself, it is not holy. It is You who is Holy. You are our Fortified City, our Stronghold, because unlike the physical city, its politics, and its culture, your lovingkindness and sovereign wisdom is not subject to change or error. I can come to You and know that You love me; You know the answers to all my questions; I can trust You; and I can know that You will direct my life’s journey until You take me to be with you throughout eternity. All my thanks and praise are yours.