Pointing the People to Christ

pointing to Christ

 

“… That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30 Continue reading

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The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P5

 

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:5-7

Obedience will override our feelings so that we will remain steadfast and secure. 

We are all called to put our faith into practice. We can now take the relationships, mentoring, and learning, and carry them out in daily life. This is often expressed in service projects and missions, but that is only a small, although necessary aspect of service. Service is how we daily live our lives, modeling His character to those around us. When we are in ministry, we need to realize, it is not what we do, but whom we can equip. As we practice by reciprocating what we have learned to others, we will also be built up. We are called to build a network of relationships so we can build one another up in the faith through friendship and mentoring.

The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being.

We cannot lead others to Him when we do not know the way, and, in order to know the way, we must have knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience, and experience comes from discipleship. The will of God is that we study His Word which will change our behavior.

A real impacted Christian, especially a leader in the church, must have the knowledge and experience to put into practice the work that needs to be done. The disciple will be studious so that the Word nourishes them. They must study and apply the Scriptures, not just read them occasionally, like a novel. The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms.

From the character of Christ comes the conduct of Christ-if we choose to follow Him.

Then, the values of our daily walk, those which drive our behaviors, will, in turn, influence others. You cannot lead where you have not been, or when you do not know the direction to go. This is why discipleship is so essential to the aspect of being a Christian, especially a witness.

We are called, not to just visualize faith and discipleship, but to do it, not to just read about it, but to do it, and not to just talk about it, but to do it. One cannot just think about dinner and satisfy hunger; the meal has to be gathered, prepared, and then eaten. The effective church will take Scripture and the call of our Lord seriously, gather, prepare, and then put it all into practice so we partake of His feast.

What do you consider to be the key to finding and developing faith?

A worship-centered heart will help create a church that grows because it is also poured out to Christ and effective in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care through prayer and action to the world. 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

False Prophet

False Prophet

Be aware of the False Prophets!

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15-16

Are you concerned about false prophets today? In what ways have you seen false prophets switch “gates” (Matthew 7:13-20) on you, claiming lies as truth? How do they make them seem attractive?

False prophets will switch the gates on you and claim lies as truth. They are denying who and what Christ has done for you and replacing the truth with lies! They seem attractive at first, until you realize you have been shamed, hopefully before it is to late.

The warning to the follower: Because even though you may have been misled, you are still responsible for your choices!

What did Jesus say about them? He called them “Wolves in Sheep’s clothing,” and where we get this phrase, as the phrase is quite true! It is saying and representing what is not really what you intend or mean to deliberately misreport truth, even though you may believe it as true.

What did the Jews feel about false prophets then? Most Jews did not accept any new prophets after the Maccabees (time after Daniel, 175-135 BC) period (Jer. 2:8; 5:30) and considered all who claimed to be a prophet as false. Josephus (first century Roman historian) lists many, during Jesus’ times, who attracted the crowds, but were soon flushed out as vicious wolves.

How do we know a False Prophet?

We can know them by their character, by how they live (Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 6:43-45), and if their words come to pass (Duet. 13; 18:21-22).

Do they live by faith, humility, Fruit of the Spirit or by pride, arrogance, extravagant living.

Do they point to themselves or to the Work of Christ?

They will have the spotlight, because humility prevents those who are godly from promoting themselves.

The only way you can tell is to know the truth from the Bible, watch them closely, and test them (Gal. 1:8-9; 1 John 4:1). In addition, know this: their lifestyle and character will soon give them away (2 Cor. 8:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:14-16; 3:13; 2 Pet. 2:1-3).

False Prophets are dangerous!

They will lead you astray and must be corrected. If they refuse to listen (Matt. 18), they must be silenced.

They are slick and tickle people’s years. False teachers will rarely come across as the evil type, with shifty eyes and whispers in the dark. They come with fancy suits, flashy cars and eloquent, emotional, and attractive speeches to captivate you. They will have large ministries because what is false is what is attractive. As people will give them money, thinking they will get a greater return which will never happen.

They will also cause divisions, strife, and lead people away from the True faith (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:18; 2 Pet. 2:1).

They usually will not teach, but just give off emotional rhetoric and grandstanding, pointing to themselves rather than glorifying God. Or, they will mix in truth and falsehoods to confuse you, as most Christians have not been discipled, and therefore cannot discern the difference!

Heresy is not about interruptions and opinions. It is about adding to the Bible what is not there, or taking away from what is there. This is very destructive, both personally and collectively, to a body of Believers (Rev. 22:18-19).

The only way you can expose a false prophet is to know the true Truth from the Bible, watch them closely, and test them.

Reflection
Do you believe that a lot of pastors, especially the ones on TV, need to be “set straight,” as we have so much false teaching in the church, adding what is not there and letting people far away? Concider this, when we take away essential truths of the faith, and believe what we want, how would this grow your faith and your church? Think about how does this neutralize the Majesty and holiness of Jesus, His teachings, how much we have been forgiven, and cheapen His Gospel?

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6)

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P4

How Important is discipleship in your church and teaching?

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:23

In Matthew 13:23, we see two key words that strike at the foundation of our complacency, Hears… and does. He calls us to wake up and do something with our faith, not to just sit in a pew and complain, or lay on a couch as life drifts by. A call is pronounced. An action must take place to secure that His precepts will cause an impact.

We cannot just hear; we have to obey. Obedience is not in words, but in deeds that demonstrate our words through practice and action.

This is not about our salvation; it is about our response of worth and our impact. Our salvation by faith alone may secure us, but what is the impact if we do nothing with it? As His elect, whenever we read and/or hear the Word of God, we will have the desire to heed the call and put it into action.

I have been in pastoral ministry as a profession since 1982, and was in lay-ministry for several years prior to that. I can tell you absolutely that the one thing that keeps most people from accepting Christ as their Savior and being born again is that they do not want to admit their need; they do not want to be convicted. They do not want to admit that there is something basically wrong with them. They still cling to the idea that there is some good thing about them that God should accept, and if they do more good than bad, He will have to let them into heaven.

I do not think anything has been more destructive in the whole realm of theology and what is preached in so many churches than the idea that we are O.K. as we are. No repentance is necessary.

Come one, come all! But, the Bible says we cannot come to Him; He comes to us.

Christ will save us if only we will acknowledge our need and accept Him as our Lord and Savior; yet, so few will. It is the same with Christians who lack the motivation to witness; they do not want to admit that others have a need. It is not an official Christian policy by any imagination; rather, it is a rationalization we make because of our fears, complacency, or indecision.

Despite our best efforts, we are not fulfilling God’s law. We are not able to do so.

People desperately need a Savior! So, carefully consider any barriers in your thinking that blocks you from this core truth and reality of life:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16.) What is the barrier that holds you back from giving this proclamation of love to others? We all need to find and remove it.
Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P2

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

 

Why does growing in your faith encompass more than just asking Christ into your life and heart?

Yes, there will be times we do not feel like it. Life is tough; it is full of setbacks and hurts that seem to cripple us. So, we go on permanent disability, unable to hurdle barriers that are really simple to climb, simple, when we are carried by Christ Himself. Did you know all it takes to tie down a horse is a simple leather strap? Did you know a horse could easily break it, like we could break a kite string? A horse does not try to do that because he does not think he is able to do so. You are able to cross any barrier to grow in deeper worship and faith in Christ, because He is there with His healing power.

When we ignore Christ as Lord over our lives and church, we just end up stagnate in life, continuing to hurt. Yes, we will struggle and hurt and we will need times to recover. However, we must make the determination to recover, not to remain disabled, preventing our abiding in Him.

Did you know that God does not ask us to seek converts. He simply asks us to disciple. 

Why? Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible, mainly prayer, doctrine, and Christian living, which means having an attitude and heart that worships Christ.

Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call. When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God.

This is an act of divine intervention and grace. He uses us as the tools, but He is the means. We are the display case of His life and work! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We are to obey and reach out, but we cannot lead people anywhere.

Christ is the One who leads! 

Our goal is to worship and model our worship to others-not just our service in the church, but the lifestyle of a heart surrendered and poured out to His.

However, with that said, when we are real and authentic in our Christian living, then we are actually doing effective evangelizing and bringing others to Christ even more powerfully and frequently.

How does our focus on Him and not evangelism help us be evangelistic? Because, when the focus is on evangelism, it tends to be about gathering the numbers for numbers sake, and this mindset is pretentious and ineffective. Out of a real, worship-centered heart will come a church that is also poured out in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care to the world. It will model Christ-like character to the community, encouraging others to surrender themselves to Jesus Christ. However, this is only the beginning. When we are worshiping Christ with our hearts and minds, we are focused on Him and motivated to be His witnesses. Christ’s work in us is what is contagious to others who are seeking Him.

 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

 

Truth is Divinely Commanded PII

Read Matthew 5: 33-37

Truth is divinely commanded! 

We have no excuse to skirt around truth, play games, or manipulate justice with creative legal games in our judicial courts or in His Church! Nor, can we manipulate our agenda over and against God’s Truth and Word (Ex. 20:16; Lev. 19:11; Psalm 5:9; 12:1-4; 15:1-3; 52:2-5; Jer. 9:3-6; Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9; Rev. 22:15)!

 When we do engage in deceit and lies, we are following in the footsteps of Satan, not Christ. This includes political mongering in the church, like power plays, strife, fighting against godly leadership and the glory of God (Psalm 15; John 8:44)!

Character in leadership must be taken seriously. As God requires us to take our word and deeds seriously, as this is a reflection of our relationship to Him. Like in a ‘vow,’ we must never claim to do anything that is contrary to what is in Scripture, in Christ’s character, or cause someone else to violate God’s Word (Duet. 21:23; Ecc. 5:4-6)!

May these words of our Lord remind us that our speech reflects upon the God we serve! Because, everything we do as a child of God must be in integrity, truthfulness, and honesty, as we are not only representing Him, He is living in us!

Consider this for motivation: As a Christian, you have the Spirit of God living in you. Thus, when you make a statement, either false, or true, gossip, spread rumors, play games with peoples call and God’s plan, Christ is implicitly represented in it. So, you are using His name, as you are His representative. Thus, it is imperative that we behave with consistent truthfulness (1 Cor. 5:20)!

What can your church leadership do to make sure that their words and deeds are a reflection of their relationship to Christ? If they did this, how would it change your church? Why is it sad that we have to even ask such a question?

Truth is Divinely Commanded PI

Read Matthew 5: 33-37

Do you keep your word as a leader?  

Why would consistent integrity be essential for the person who claims Christ as Lord of his/her life? What about the pastor and church leader? 

Oaths in the ancient world were extremely important. They were so important, they were almost acknowledged as currency. The Jews during Jesus time swore to all kinds of things, from serious matters to the trivial. They were a statement of the person’s truthfulness and ability to meet a commitment anywhere, from the paying of debts to the promise of marriage.

Most of the Jews would make elaborate oaths to testify to the truth of their words and their commitment by claiming the importance of the Temple, or their house and goods–anything except God and His standards. In so doing they elevated the importance of material things over spiritual things; they measured their word and integrity by others, not to the standards of God.

The Law forbids irreverent oaths, especially the misuse of God’s name! If the Lord’s name was used in a transaction, the depth had to be paid also to the Lord. Thus, Jesus cuts through the complex additions the Pharisees have made to the law, right to the heart of the matter, and simply states, we are to tell the truth- period!

They had a good reason, so they thought, because, if they broke their word, God’s name was not in vain. But, this became epidemic as the oaths became more and more elaborate, the integrity became worse and worse, and those oaths quickly became broken and worthless. So, the Pharisees and various Rabbis would judge what oaths were binding and what ones were not. As long as God’s name was not in it, the oath could be broken, and people were free of responsibility to their word and commitment.

 Jesus calls us to be true to our word as a testimony to our Faith in Him. We are not to be worldly with our words or integrity or drag His good name and defile it with feeble, easily retracted words.

There is nothing complex about truth. If you seek to make it complex, you have no regard to truth or to the God of truth!

So, why do we seek to make it complex, seeking loopholes to escape responsibility and righteousness?