Posts Tagged ‘disciple’

Moments in Time

July 15th, 2015

“You have been my God from the moment I was born.” Psalm 22:10 NLT.

God scheduled your life to enjoy unforgettable appointments with destiny.

My thoughts and comments today are about “moments in time.”

Your life is meant to be so much more than an accumulation of uneventful minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. If no more than that, you have not lived well. Though entering my seventh decade, my life is about more than the duration of years I have lived. My life has been about the grace of God I have been shown, the opportunities of ministry I have enjoyed, the interesting people with whom I’ve shared life, the diverse places I have visited, the sights I have seen, and the unique experiences I have enjoyed along my pilgrimage.

With awe and wonder, the Psalmist declared, “You have been my God from the moment I was born.” Psalm 22:10 NLT. For my purpose today, I will define a moment as “the marking of a significant occurrence rather than a measurement of its duration.” My usage is more akin to a related word, “momentous,” describing “an occurrence of consequence, significance, or gravity.” God’s presence and purpose are seen in such momentous occurrences.

Time can be counted in minutes, but life is measured in moments. Minutes construct the chronology of events in your life, but moments create the experiences, that enrich life with memories, values, and passions. Living only in the minute, you may miss the moment. Have you ever thought about the difference? Minutes are an exact measurement, 60 seconds or 1/60th of an hour, reliably the same every time. Moments, however, are unique and distinct, measured by your experience not their length.

Significant moments may vary individually but are things like: receiving a driver’s license, a first date, graduations, weddings, birth of a child, anniversaries, a new home, promotions, grandchildren, retirement, or any occurrence that marks achievements. And available to one and all is the sovereign moment your heart opens to Jesus and you become His disciple.

There was both brevity and destiny to Jesus’ life; His life and ministry were filled with eternally significant moments. Matthew related the story of a woman who suffered for twelve years, until she determined, “If I only touch the hem of His garment, I will be healed.” She did, and she was. Jesus said to her, “’Your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment.” Read Matthew 9:20-22 NIV. And a desperate, grieving father brought his son to Jesus. “’Lord, have mercy on my son’ . . Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.” Read Matthew 17:14-18 NIV. There are moments in time, often appearing natural but really divine, that can transform and shape your life forever.

God scheduled your life to enjoy unforgettable appointments with destiny. The Psalmist rejoiced, “Every moment You, [O Lord], know where I am . . You both precede and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head . . Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable!” Psalm 139:3-6/16-17 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to recognize and cherish moments that are irreplaceable.

Christian Communications, Allen Randolph

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Simple Choices

March 27th, 2015

“If anyone would come after Me, he must . . follow Me.” Mark 8:34 NIV.

Religion is complicated; spirituality is simple.

My thoughts and comments today are about “simple choices.”

A healthy, robust spiritual life is possible for you. Certainly, that requires intention, attention, and priority. Spiritual life is not for the casual soul; it is achieved purposefully. Spirituality is not as difficult as some people often make it out to be. Some assume, or have been wrongly taught, that spiritual life is about religious rules, regulations to learn, duties to perform, strict laws to obey, or religious protocols to be observed.

Religion is complicated; spirituality is simple. The prophet, Isaiah, described the simplicity of spirituality for the sincere seeker, “Whoever walks the road [called the Highway of Holiness], although a fool, shall not go astray.” Isaiah 35:8. It is not about your intelligence; it is about your obedience.

In the New Testament, people frequently asked to be Jesus’ disciple. On other occasions, Jesus invited people to be His disciples. Either way the choice remained theirs to make, just like your invitation to be His disciple is always yours to accept or decline. Following Jesus’ baptism by John, Jesus began calling for men to be His disciples. Some readily did so; others reluctantly declined.

Jesus’ invitation was simple; still is. “’Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said.” Read Mark 1:16-20 NIV. Their response to His invitation was immediate. “At once they left their nets and followed Him.” In Jesus’ company, less and less of your old life compares with the new life you receive. Read Psalm 16:11/2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. Godly choices aren’t simple to make; they are simple when made.

Jesus wrapped profound and eternal truth in everyday stories, comparing one’s discovery of the Kingdom with a man finding buried treasure in a field and a merchant finding an incomparable pearl, and both selling all they had to possess what they once never imagined could be theirs. Read Matthew 13:44-46 NIV. When you follow Jesus, He gives you a life beyond all you could previously imagine or hope to obtain. See Romans 15:5-6 NIV. Jesus alone is the answer to every question and fulfillment of each desire.

If you are following Jesus, your life can be an example and encouragement to others who want to follow Him, as Paul encouraged the Christians at Corinth, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV. Seeing a practical model of someone who is faithfully following Jesus helps tremendously. I am thankful for every Godly friend and spiritual mentor – Kenny, Campbell, Des, Don, Andrew, Rick, too many more to name really – who provided me with living examples and personal encouragement of being a Christ-follower. I continue to learn how to follow Jesus by watching them follow Him.

Jesus wrapped profound and eternal truth in everyday stories, comparing one’s discovery of the Kingdom with a man finding buried treasure in a field and a merchant finding an incomparable pearl, and both selling all they had to possess what they once never imagined could be theirs. Read Matthew 13:44-46 NIV. When you follow Jesus, He gives you a life beyond all you could previously imagine or hope to obtain. Jesus alone is the answer to every question and the fulfillment of every desire.

Yes, there are sacrifices to make; there are things to abandon; there are new loyalties and a cross to embrace. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the Gospel will save it.” Read Mark 8:34-38 NIV.

If you are following Jesus with a whole heart, He has much more ahead for you than what you ever leave behind. At the heart of spiritual life is your response to Jesus’ simple invitation to follow Him. “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Read Matthew 6:31-33 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6 NIV.

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Disciplines of the Spirit

March 28th, 2014

“God’s discipline is always right and good for us.” Hebrews 12:11 NLT.

A lack of discipline results in a comparable lack of accomplishment.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “disciplines of the Spirit.”

I still have much to learn, but I am grateful for the discipline I received from my parents, teachers, life events, and the Word of God. See 2 Timothy 4:16-17 NKJV. There is no success without significant discipline. A lack of discipline results in a comparable lack of accomplishment. That is true in education, marriage, family, business, finances, or spiritual life.

Discipline is the lifestyle of a disciple. Jesus understood the rigorous requirements of discipline that being His disciple would involve. Jesus said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 NKJV. To be a follower of Christ, you must decide if you have both the desire and discipline to give the sustained effort necessary to succeed. If you want everything God has for you, you must learn to appreciate and welcome His loving discipline, which is conforming you into His likeness. See Romans 8:28-29 NIV.

Does the word, “discipline,” make you think of harshness or unfairness? Angry reprimands and harsh retribution are punishment, not discipline. Punishment is inflicted for past conduct; discipline is concerned with future behavior. Godly discipline is an act of loving correction. Discipline is not concerned with exacting a painful price for a past mistake. The application of discipline is for correction as prevention and preparation for the future. Discipline is administered within the context of relationship. See Romans 14:4 NIV. Biblically, discipline describes, “the whole realm of a father’s instruction and correction of a son.” Instruction apart from correction is inadequate. Only discipline frees one’s soul to soar.

The Bible teaches the proper, Godly response, “Don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you.” Hebrews 12:5 NLT. The Bible teaches the true heart of Godly discipline, “The Lord disciplines those He loves . . endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons . . for [your] profit, that you might be partakers of His holiness.” Hebrews 12:6-7 NIV/10 NKJV.

The Bible predicts your first, natural response to discipline, promises the benefits of discipline, and promotes the continuing submission necessary for best results: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. But later, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 NIV. Embrace Godly discipline as His expression of love.

The long term goal of God’s discipline is to develop self-discipline within your character, and yet even your best efforts will miserably fail unless you always have God at its source. “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-25 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you welcome the disciplines of life and the Spirit.

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March 6th, 2012

“Anyone who does not carry his own cross . . cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:27 NIV

“There is free grace for the penitent, but no free passes for a disciple!”

My thoughts and comments today are about “discipleship.”

In everyday life, it seems there are always some who get a break not available to others – sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not. It often depends on who you know, not what you do or who you are. It seems there are privileges and upgrades if you know the right people. It always amazes me that often the people who have the most and need the least receive more and pay less than the folk who most need assistance. The surrounding world may be like that, but life in the Kingdom of God is not.

Everyone has available the same grace and mercy; everyone is responsible for sacrifice and service. The entry fee to the Kingdom is the same for all, paid in full for each of us by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross; the cost of following Jesus as His disciple is individual. Jesus’ words to Peter when he questioned the discipleship requirements for John are enlightening on this matter, “What is that to you? You follow Me!” Read John 21:18-22 NLT. In the Kingdom of God, the requirement for each disciple will be fair and equitable, though not always at first appearing equal in its price. Jesus said, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:27 NIV. There is free grace for the penitent, but no free passes for the disciple!

Then Jesus told two stories about the wisdom of “counting the cost” before engaging in a costly project or conflict. Read Luke 14:28-32 NKJV. He concludes His stories with this crystal clear statement, “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.” Vs 33. Some have more; some have little; all must give their all for His sake and service.

The Gospel narratives tell various stories of disciples who started out to follow Jesus, but found the journey more costly than they anticipated. Among the sadder reports is this: “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Jesus no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’” John 6:66-67 NKJV. Can you hear the disappointment and loneliness in Jesus’ voice? Did not His humanity feel the awful pain of people’s desertion?

In Jesus’ time, a cross was an unmistakable indication that a man was being taken to die; there was no confusion, no uncertainty as to his fate. “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?” Luke 9:23-25 NLT. What cross marks your discipleship journey? What cost are you are asked to give to follow Jesus? Whatever your sacrifice, it pales in comparison with the cost of your salvation.

Tom Landry, revered former coach of the Dallas Cowboys said, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.” I think that’s a correct description of discipleship. Jesus asks you to sacrifice what you are to be what you can become – to surrender what encumbers to obtain what releases – to release what is temporary and you cannot keep to gain what is eternal and can never be taken from you.  Nothing you have, nothing you do will be as important.

My prayer for you today is that you count the cost but make the sacrifice without regret.

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Get It Straight

November 18th, 2010

“Promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching.” Titus 2:1 NLT

What you know to be true must plainly impact how you live.”

My thoughts today are to “get it straight.”

Most Bible translations use the word “doctrine” to describe teaching that is true to Scripture. There is a sad lack of “the kind of living that reflects right teaching” on the part of too many who claim relationship with Jesus Christ. That seems the product of an individual’s too little attention to the authority and substance of the Bible. The word itself, doctrine, may sound and seem a bit stuffy, something old and maybe boring, even though believed to be true.

More often, that has been a better description of its messengers and their uninspiring and unimaginative, matter-of-fact methods than of the Message of eternal Truth. It is a shame that someone can take the Word of God – “powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword . . discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12-13 NKJV) – and make it lifeless and unexciting when shared.

Translations often use the phrase “sound doctrine,” to express the Apostle Paul’s concerned instruction to the young pastor, Titus, that he know and adhere to the Word of God steadfastly. This small book of the New Testament is only three chapters long, but every verse is filled with Paul’s concerned instruction that what you know to be true must plainly impact how you live.

Paul’s message is this: “. . live wisely in all you do. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Let your teaching be so correct that it can’t be criticized.” Titus 2:6-8 NLT.

Paul was clear. For the Christ-follower, what you say and do must be consistent – always one and the same! Can that be said of you? Your life reflects profoundly what you believe to be true, not what you profess to believe but what you believe strongly enough to obey. The Word of god has not gripped your heart in truth until it has shaped your character and conduct undeniably. I have heard it said, Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear a word you are saying!”

For popularity and crowds, there are churches that have settled for bits of truth, pleasant platitudes for easy listening that demand little of the hearer, informing without inspiring and entertaining without transforming. Do not be part of that audience. Require of a church what feeds your spirit, stirs your soul, and establishes clear convictions.

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. They will reject the truth and follow strange myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT. I fear that time has come as Paul warned. I urge you; be a student of God’s Word and disciple of its truth. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT.

My prayer for you today is to love the Word and live it faithfully.

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