For All to Hear

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)

The words above were spoken to the prophet Samuel, after he took one look at Jesse’s son, Eliab, and immediately assumed he would be the next king of Israel. God gently chided Samuel by telling him not to judge a man by his outward appearance and reminded him that He (God) sees the parts that truly matter. This weekend, as I was praying during one of our church’s worship and prayer services, I heard the following words spoken to my spirit: How dare we pick and choose who we will share the message of the gospel of Christ with! His spilt blood and broken body are far too precious for us to keep to ourselves.

Now, for most of us this may seem common sense and we’re thinking to ourselves, “I don’t judge anybody by their outward appearance!” But honestly…how do we usually decide who we share the gospel with? Do we only share the truth with those we think will be most receptive to hear it? Do we only share the message with strangers and overlook our friends because we’re afraid of changing the status of our relationship? Or perhaps we only share the gospel with our friends and ignore strangers or people who seem different from us? I know I’ve been guilty of all of these at one point or another.Until the Whole World Hears

Whatever the case may be, the truth remains the same. Christ died for all. And our responsibility as believers is to share the good news with everybody; not just those we believe might accept it, or just with our friends and family, or only with strangers. I hear you asking, “But what if they don’t accept it?” Our job is simply to share it, not to force people to believe. And here’s where we need to be reminded that no one has been, or ever will be, won over by the gospel of Christ if we’re rude, pushy, judgmental, or hateful. We’re called to speak in love and truth, to live what we believe, and plant the seed, whether or not we ever see any fruit firsthand.

How many people will miss out on the saving knowledge of Christ because we’re afraid of being rejected, mocked, or persecuted? How many people will miss out on the single most important relationship they’ll ever need or want—with Christ—because we’re afraid to modify the status of our relationship with that person?

You know, when Jesus said in Luke 14:26 that if we wanted to be His disciples we must hate everybody else, He didn’t mean that we actually were to hate them; He meant it in comparison to Him. The whole point is that we are to love God so passionately that everything else we love pales in comparison. He should be our everything and the only One we should be worried about displeasing. Therefore, when we put relationships with others before Him, we’re actually being disobedient. Furthermore, don’t we want the people we come into contact with every day to have that opportunity to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!? What’s more important, the relationship, or their eternal soul?

Lastly, since fear is the obstacle I face most often when it comes to sharing the gospel, I like to keep Hebrews 13:6 posted in my cubicle at work (and continually in the back of my mind) to constantly remind me that God is always with me, just as He’s always with you. Now…”go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” and remember He is with us always…”even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? (Hebrews 13:6, NLT)

So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6, AMP)

Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, “God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (Hebrews 13:6, The Message)

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Wednesday’s Worship – August 5, 2015

Today’s worship is in inspired by Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.



Faith by Hillsong Worship

I’m reaching for the prize/I’m giving everything/I give my life for this/It’s what I live for/Nothing will keep me from/All that You have for me/You hold my head up high/I live for You

Greater is He/That’s living in me/Than he that is in the world

Faith/I can move the mountain/I can do all things through Christ/I know/Faith/Standing and believing/I can do all things through Christ/Who strengthens me

I’m reaching for the prize/I’m giving everything/I give my life for this/It’s what I live for/Nothing will keep me from/All that You have for me/You hold my head up high/I live for You

Greater is He/That’s living in me/Than he that is in the world

Faith/I can move the mountain/I can do all things through Christ/I know/Faith/Standing and believing/I can do all things through Christ/Who strengthens me [repeat]


Counting on God

by Desperation Band

I’m in a fight not physical/I’m in a war but not with this world/You are the Light that’s beautiful/I want more/I want all that’s Yours

Joy unspeakable that won’t go away/Just enough strength to live for today/So I never have to worry what tomorrow will bring/’Cause my faith is on the solid rock/And I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God

I’m in a fight not physical/I’m in a war but not with this world/You are the Light that’s beautiful/I want more/I want all that’s Yours

Joy unspeakable that won’t go away/Just enough strength to live for today/So I never have to worry what tomorrow will bring/’Cause my faith is on the solid rock/And I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God

The miracle of Christ in me/Is the mystery that sets me free/I’m nothing like I used to be/Just open up your eyes you’ll see [repeat]

Joy unspeakable that won’t go away/Just enough strength to live for today/So I never have to worry what tomorrow will bring/’Cause my faith is on the solid rock/And I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God/I’m counting on/I’m counting on God [repeat]


My Heart is Yours by Kristian Stanfill

I give You my life/I give You my trust/Jesus/You are my God/And You are enough/Jesus/Jesus

My heart is Yours/My heart is Yours/Take it all/Take it all/My life in Your hands [repeat]

I lay down my life/I take up my cross/Jesus/For You are my God/Whatever the cost/Jesus/Jesus

My heart is Yours/My heart is Yours/Take it all/Take it all/My life in Your hands [repeat]

All to Jesus/I surrender/All to You I freely give/I will ever love and trust You/In Your presence I will live [repeat]

My heart is Yours/My heart is Yours/Take it all/Take it all/My life in Your hands [repeat]


I Surrender All

sung by Vineyard Worship

All to Jesus/I surrender/All to Him I freely give/I will ever love and trust Him/In His presence daily live

I surrender all/I surrender all/All to thee my blessed Savior/I surrender all

All to Jesus/I surrender/Make me, Savior/Wholly thine/Let me feel the Holy Spirit/Truly know that Thou art mine

I surrender all/I surrender all/All to Thee my blessed Savior/I surrender all

All to Jesus/I surrender/Lord, I give myself to Thee/Fill me with Thy love and power/Let Thy blessing fall on me

I surrender all/I surrender all/All to Thee my blessed Savior/I surrender all

**Note: There are more verses to this hymn. You can find them all here.


It is Well

sung by Jimmy Needham

When peace like a river/Attendeth my way/When sorrows like sea billows roll/Whatever my lot/Thou has taught me to say/It is well/It is well with my soul

It is well/With my soul/It is well/It is well with my soul

My sin/Oh the joy/Of this glorious thought/My sin not in part, but the whole/Was nailed to the cross/And I bear it no more/Praise the Lord/Praise the Lord, oh my soul

It is well/With my soul/It is well/It is well with my soul

Lord haste the day/When my faith shall be sight/The clouds be rolled back as a scroll/The trump shall resound/And the Lord shall descend/Even so, it is well with my soul

It is well/With my soul/It is well/It is well with my soul

**Note: There are more verses to this hymn. You can find them all here.

Lead Me, I’ll Follow

On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. DSC00059When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses. (Numbers 9:15-23, NLT)

Friday morning as I read over the above scripture I thought about how this is such a perfect picture of being at the mercy of God’s leading. The Israelites were in a position where they couldn’t move forward unless God lead the way. I thought about how difficult it must have been to set up and tear down their camp. There were millions of Israelites, by this time, and each time God said to move, they had to tear down their tents, gather their families, and the numerous animals they had with them, as well as dismantle the Tabernacle. Then when God told them to stop, they had to set everything back up; without knowing whether they would be staying a day, a week, a month, or even a year. They couldn’t see the future, they just had to trust the God who was leading them.

As I read this, I noted how difficult this must have been, especially for control freaks (like me!). Yet, Israel’s obedience to the Lord’s direction is representative of how we ought to be! How often we’re ready to move—perhaps, even with a plan that God has already revealed to us—without the go-ahead from God. We can get so caught up in making something happen, that we can become overwhelmed and frustrated when doors remain shut to us, and ready to give up before God has even prepared the way for us. (I think I’ve said this before, but God loves to place us in impossible situations, so that when He produces a miracle, He receives the credit! For more on this, check out Perfection in Weakness) Moreover, more often than not, we’re not even ready for what God has planned for us; or He’s using us right where we are and just isn’t ready to move us yet. Most of the time there are still areas of our lives that need developing or strengthening before He can lead us on to the next part of His plan.Faith is

If we could see exactly every detail of what God has planned for our future, following Him wouldn’t be considered faith! Remember, Hebrews 11:1 says “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is remaining steadfast to our hope in Christ regardless of what we see or feel, or how hard things get. It’s about not knowing what’s going to happen, or how something will happen, but trusting that God will take care of us, even if it’s in His timing. The Bible never says things will be easy for the believer; in fact, we know that there will be difficult times (Daniel 11:35; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 21:12; 2 Timothy 3:12; Revelation 14:12). There will be (and has been) persecution, imprisonment, and even torture done to our brothers and sisters around the world. But we also know that God’s plan will not fail and there is a future of everlasting life that awaits those who allow Him to lead!

It’s one of the most difficult things, to follow Christ. To truly trust, rely on, and cling to Him, believing that He has our best interest at heart, but that’s exactly what He asks of us: that we let Him take the lead.

Lead me by Your truth and teach me,

for You are the God who saves me.

All day long I put my hope in You.

Psalm 25:5

Recalling Our Example: Christ

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve observed a number of people express their feelings towards others, in a way that can only be described as un-Christ-like. The funny thing is that every one of these individuals claims to be a Christian. Therefore, I decided to remind us all what being a Christian ought to look like.

I’ve been reading the epistles of Paul to the churches at Rome, Corinth, and Galatia, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m really fascinated by Paul, and I really I love reading his letters. He was such a wonderful writer, and I see so much of my style in the way he wrote. Usually his words have me praising God in agreement and/or laughing because I just get a kick out of his use of sarcasm.

Paul intrigues me because he was a man that grew up in the church. He was incredibly knowledgeable of the Word, and practiced what he preached. He was so firm in his beliefs that when the first Christian believers began sharing the news that Jesus was the Messiah and had raised from the dead, he whole-heartedly believe they were blaspheming and attempted to snuff them out. He thought he was doing the right thing. But on the road to Damascus, his whole world was changed. He came face-to-face with Jesus Himself! The very person whom he had denied! (You can read more of his transformation, beginning in Acts 9.)thCA0DHMHN

His combined knowledge of the Word and his relationship with Christ could have made Paul prideful. However, it had just the opposite effect. Paul recognized that it wasn’t his knowledge of the Word or his actions that saved him, but the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins.

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. (Romans 3:25-27)

Now, Paul wasn’t saying that our faith in Christ trumped the law that God established in the creation of the 10 Commandments, but was making the point that we can’t do anything to save ourselves. Jesus did all the Work!

Therefore, it angers me to see certain individuals (I’ll call them P1) believe that because they’ve lived the “right way” their entire lives (or so they think), look down on those who’ve sinned in the past (I’ll call them P2), even after P2 has accepted Christ as their Lord and savior has been allowing God to transform them day by day! The truth is, as Paul said, we have nothing to boast about, because we didn’t save ourselves! Even if we never broke any of the commandments—which only ONE individual could ever honestly claim—we were still born into sin, because sin is passed on through our father’s bloodline (Romans 5:12)!

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24) [emphasis added]

How dare we believe that we are any better than any other individual, when Christ died for us all!

Okay, so that was just part one, of what I have say (lol). Here’s part number two…Just because we are saved by faith and not by works, does NOT give us the excuse to not follow the law. Jesus Himself said that He didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17)—and He actually had even higher standards (Don’t believe me? Read Matthew 5:21-48)!  And Paul states in Romans that the law is not nullified by our faith, as well (Romans 3:31).

The purpose of the law is to show us our sin, the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross is to save us from that sin, but we’re not supposed to go back to wallowing in our filth one once we’ve been redeemed of it (Romans 6:2)!

    • For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:6-7)
    • Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
    • But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23)

Furthermore, Jesus and Paul, both explained to us, very clearly, that while we can (attempt to) uphold the law and have an established relationship with God, the greatest commandments aren’t actually explicitly written in the law. And ‘what is that?’ you might ask. L-O-V-E.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

This request that we love, doesn’t nullify our faith or obedience, it enhances it. The fact that God loved us in our sin enough to send His Son to die for us, reveals just how great His love is for us. Our natural response, once we come into the knowledge of Christ and establish a relationship with Him, should be to lavish upon Him with a grateful heart full of love, and obedience.  And the stronger our relationship with Him grows, the more our hearts are transformed by the love of God, then the more our love ought to overflow into the lives of the people around us! (For more on this topic you may want to check out some of my other posts: Multiply: Week 3, Burning One, and All-Embracing Love)

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

A mistake that we often make, is believing that we can have faith in, and love God, without allowing God to penetrate our hearts and make any sort of change in us. Then we go around telling the world that we’re a believer, even though James explicitly states that faith without deeds is dead!

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Basically, James says “we have a group of people, who say they have faith and believe, but where is the proof of their faith”?! He goes on to talk about Abraham who had so much faith in the promises of God that he circumcised  himself and all the male members of his household (he took action!), before he even had evidence that God would accomplish all that He said He would (James 2:21-24; Genesis 17). We must ask ourselves, what do our actions and lifestyle say about what we believe?

Of course, we are also reminded in 1 Corinthians 13, that we can do all sorts of goods things in this life, but if our actions don’t stem from love, then it’s all meaningless. This is why we have to humble ourselves and allow God to change us from the inside out. Because, if we try to do things out of a desire to earn God’s grace, rather than out of love for God and people, then our faith and works are useless.

And lastly, although, He loved all, Jesus really made it a point to reach out to those in the most desperate of circumstances. He reached out to those others ignored: women, children, tax collectors, the sick, the poor, and even those who openly lived in sin. Jesus lived during a time when it was taught by the teachers of the law that those who struggled in lowly circumstances suffered because of sin in either their lives, or the lives of their parents. (Which is funny if you think about it, since practically all of Israel worshiped idols at some point or another.) But, there He was, God-in-the-flesh, meeting sinners right where they were. And what was His response when the Pharisees asked Him about His actions…”It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).

Mercy. What is mercy? Mercy is showing compassion, kindness, and understanding towards others.

Many believers have fallen into the trap of surrounding themselves with nothing but other believers, much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. This is not completely wrong. Our closest friends, those we go to for advice, to whom we turn when we’re in need of accountability, prayer, and encouragement should be fellow believers. However, those who need to hear God’s truth don’t ever get to experience the goodness of God’s love unless we tell them and show them! We cannot completely separate ourselves from them. God calls us to shower them with love, compassion, kindness, and to show understanding as we speak Truth into their lives (**Note, that we cannot leave this last part out**).truth_in_love[1]

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:12-15)

Jesus told us to go into ALL the world and preach the gospel; a command that was issued not to just a few isolated believers, but to all who believe; so that we might reach men and women from every nation, every background, and from every circumstance, showing no partiality (Mark 16:15; James 2:1-9).

Walking by Faith

I’m going to be completely honest with you right now and say that the last few months have been really trying my faith. Mostly, because I’m a single woman in my late 20s, surrounded by friends who are married, getting married, and beginning families of their own. I’m not jealous of them–I’m actually very happy for them–yet, the sadness that comes over me…is indescribable…like an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

Yet, I know I’m not alone…Faith is

Well, today, as I was studying Romans chapter 4–regarding Abraham’s faith– verses 17-21 really spoke to me:

As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”. He was appointed our father in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the non-existent things that He has foretold and promised as if they already existed. For Abraham, human reason for hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, “So numberless shall your descendents be”. He did not weaken in faith when he considered the utter impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s deadened womb. No unbelief or distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God. Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised. (amplified version)

In Genesis 15, God reveals a plan to Abraham; a plan involving Abraham’s children to the fourth generation. Yet, Abraham had not one child…and he still believed. He had faith that whatever God said, would be. Then in Genesis 17 we see that God reminds Abraham of this promise again, and circumcision becomes the evidence of Abraham’s faith and God’s covenant (promise). And in chapter 21, Abraham at 100 years of age and Sarah at 90, become parents to Isaac; although, they were well past their child-bearing years!

So, what did I get out of all this? God keeps His promises.

He has the best intentions for us, even if it’s difficult for us to see. We  need to hold onto our faith and know that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20); and that in everything God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

If you’re anything like me, as you read about Abraham’s faith, you began to think about his failures, as well. I thought about Hagar, Ishmael, and the birth of Islam, as the results of Abraham and Sarah’s impatience. They tried to help God along by “getting pregnant,” but it didn’t work out as they’d expected. This too, reminded me that we need to be patient with God; His timing is perfect. If we try to do anything on our own, because we think God is moving too slowly or that He’s forgotten about us…it’s not going to work and we could have our own Ishmael on our hands.

In conclusion, just stay focused on God and the purpose for which He’s called you. One of the greatest lies out there, is that believers need to stop being God-focused and driven, and that we shouldn’t expect our partners to be godly men and women. The world says it will be easier for you to “find someone” if you lay God [and your values] aside. But the truth is…we don’t want to “find someone.” We want our relationships to be God-ordained, our spouse to be God-focused and led, and our families and marriages to be God-centered. Don’t settle for someone, when God will provide THE one.

Take care, and God bless!

Perfect Storm

While finishing up the book of Acts today–chapters 27-28–I read about Paul being sent to Rome as a prisoner. Paul’s entire story amazes me and once I find the time, I really want to study more about his life; but in these two, final chapters of Acts, that which impresses me most, is Paul’s ability to remain calm while sailing through a hurricane.

After reading it, I sat here wondering to myself, “If God wanted Paul to go to Rome (which He did, according to Acts 23:11), then why did He allow a hurricane to delay his arrival and put 276 passengers at risk?” A few different answers came to mind…

First, just because God calls us to do something or go somewhere, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy to do. Sometimes there are obstacles and/or battles that we must face before we can move forward. And storms, such as these, prepare us for even bigger storms/obstacles that we might face in the future. Therefore, we must persevere and allow the storms of life to strengthen and mature us; otherwise we’ll never be strong/mature enough to handle the greater things God throws our way!

Second, sometimes we go through storms as a test of faith. Paul passed this test with flying colors! He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to bring him through this storm safely, so he didn’t let it freak him out! He was actually the one trying to calm down the rest of the crew and forcing them to eat, since they’d been so worried about their predicament that they hadn’t really eaten in two weeks (Acts 27: 33-34).

Third, sometimes we go through storms for the sake of the people around us. Paul’s reaction to this storm greatly impressed the people around him. They saw that Paul had great faith in God, that he could foretell things that would happen next, and they were encouraged by him. They were taking Paul’s advice by the end of their journey!

I wish I had Paul’s faith! Even though I know that God is in control, I know I’d be anxious if I were facing Paul’s storm. Facing the storms of life are no easy task. Most of the time, the people around you can’t see what you’re facing, and you feel alone, scared, lost, ashamed, or sad. I faced my own reoccurring storm recently (that’s why there was such a gap between my posts) and the winds continue to blow harder and the waves keep getting bigger, with each storm; but I keep moving forward; I keep persevering. I KNOW what God’s word says, even though I feel differently during these times; but, I know that feelings can be deceiving, so I stay grounded in His promises. Lastly, I know that because the storms keep getting bigger and meaner, I’m growing and maturing in the way God intends; which, can only mean that He has something big planned for me. So please keep me in your prayers and I’ll keep you in mine.

Take care and God bless!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Multiply

I love to learn and I love to share with others the things I learn; and one of the reasons I began this blog is so that I could do just that: share the things I learn. This week I began reading Multiply by Francis Chan (with Mark Beuving) and as I read the introduction, I realized the book is really meant to be a Bible study. Therefore, I decided to read/work through it with my blog friends 😉

If you don’t know anything about the book, it’s all about teaching disciples of Christ to do just what God called us to do…make disciples of Christ. Yes, you read that right, it’s about teaching disciples of Christ to make more disciples of Christ. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll understand why I really wanted to read this book.

Part I: Living as a Disciple Maker

1: What is a disciple?multiply_square_black1[1]

We’ve talked about what it means to be a true follower of Christ in previous posts, such as Justified By Faith, Burning One, and Watchful Eyes, but Francis Chan describes it this way:

The Word disciple refers to a student or apprentice. Disciples in Jesus’s day would follow their rabbi (which means teacher) wherever he went, learning from the rabbis teaching and being trained to do as the rabbi did. Basically, a disciple is a follower, but only if we take the term follower literally. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is as simple as obeying His call to follow…

It’s impossible to be a disciple or follower of someone and not end up like that person. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process.

Yet somehow many have come to believe that a person can be a “Christian” without being like Christ. A “follower” who doesn’t follow. How does that make any sense? Many people in the church have decided to take on the name of Christ and nothing else. This would be like Jesus walking up to those first disciples and saying, “Hey would you guys mind identifying yourselves with Me in some way? Don’t worry, I don’t actually care if you do anything I do or change your lifestyle at all. I’m just looking for people who are willing to say they believe in Me and call themselves Christians.” Seriously? (Chan, 2012, pp.16-17)

(Lol, I love the fact that Francis Chan is so straightforward when he writes!) The big question we must ask ourselves before we continue this study is, of course, are we really a follower of Christ? Or have we just taken on the name?

If you’ve found that you’ve only taken on the name of a  “Christian” but aren’t serving Christ in your lifestyle, then you need to realize that you’re still living in sin and that repentance is required.

Jesus says we need to repent. This implies that we all need to turn from the way we are current thinking and living. Romans 3:23 explains that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Every person reading this sentence has done things that are evil and offensive to this King [God]. Romans later explains that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because of our sin, which is an offense to God we should expect death. But then comes an amazing truth.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The death penalty we should have faced from this King was actually paid for by someone else. The King’s Son, Jesus Christ!”

The Scriptures then say, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is all about who Jesus is and what He has done. Part of our repentance is to turn from believing that there’s anything we can do to save ourselves–for everything was accomplished by Jesus Christ. (Chan, 2012, pp. 18-19)

What an amazing God we serve! A God who loves us so much that He offered His one and only Son to suffer and die on a cross for our sins! I know I don’t deserve it; but that’s what’s so incredible…He did it, even though we don’t merit it! And all we have to do is believe! However, with that being said…

Faith in Jesus Christ means believing that He is Lord (according to Romans 10:9). Have you ever thought about what that word Lord means? We sometimes think of it as another name for God, but it’s actually a title. It refers to a master, owner, or a person who is in a position of authority. So take a minute to think this through: Do you really believe that Jesus is your master? Do you believe that He is your owner–that you actually belong to Him?

Paul is so bold as to tell us: “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The same Lord who by His grace set us free from sin and death now owns us. We belong to Him, and He calls us to live in obedience to His rule.

The problem is, many in the church want to “confess that Jesus is Lord,” yet they don’t believe that He is their master. Do you see the obvious contradiction in this? The call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is open to everyone, but we don’t get to write our own job description. If Jesus is Lord, then He sets the agenda. If Jesus is Lord, then your life belongs to Him. He has a plan, agenda, and calling for you. You don’t get to tell Him what you’ll be doing today or for the rest of your life. (Chan, 2012, pp. 20-21)

Woo!! This part of the book really speaks to me, for a number of reasons. 1) Because I lived this way before I re-dedicated my life to Christ; I “believed,” but I wasn’t living in obedience to His word. 2) Even after re-dedicating my life to Christ I had (and, sometimes, still have) trouble relinquishing full control over my life to Him. There are certain “callings” on my life that I’ve been fighting for a long time, because I wanted to be like everybody else and I wanted to be liked by everybody else; but as much as I tried, I’ve realized that I’m not like everybody else and I will never be liked by all, simply because of the calling on my life, which I can no longer deny.

Francis Chan ends this chapter describing how we obey God out of our love for Him, not because we have a need to earn His love; but because we know that the greatest commandment is to love God and love people (Matthew 22:37-40), and because the way we show that we love God is by obeying His commands (John 14:15).

Most of this is not new; if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll notice we’ve discussed much of this before, but it’s always nice to read another’s words in order to gain new perspective, and to confirm things perviously written. I tried not to copy the entire text here, but there was just so much truth in Chan’s words that I think I got a little carried away 😉 Stay tuned for next week’s continuance of Multiply.