Three Foundational Principles of Discipleship

Colossians 1:16-17 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:  all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

There is nothing that was created without God’s hand.  When you study the origin of all things; all of it dates back to God.  God is the origin of everything.  The key to believing the Bible is believing the first verse in the Bible – “In the beginning God…”  Matter of fact, if you want a great understanding of the word “origin” then it could be just as well that we use “God” in its place.

The reason many of our young people are falling out of Church today is because they are not getting their facts straight.  We have built an educational system that emphasizes evolution as more “fact” than “theory”.  While at the same time we have created a spiritual system that emphasizes Biblical “history”, Biblical “accounts” as nothing more than a “story”.  Bottom line…We go to school to hear the “facts” about our origin and we go to church to hear “fairy tales” about our origin.  There are three foundational principles that Christians must begin to bring back into the structure of its discipleship in order to see a radical change in our future.

  1.  God Created All Things:  The things in heaven, earth, visible, invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities and powers were all created by God.  God created us and everything around us.  It is not just a fairy tale; it is a God given fact found throughout the Bible that God created everything.
  2.  God Claims All Things:  All things were created by God, but at the same time, all things were created for God.  This principle helps us remove the selfish mindset that many of us have toward our possessions.  While God has allowed us the authority to rule over these things, He still reminds us that these things were created for His good pleasure.  If it is not for His glory then it is all in vain.
  3.  God Controls All Things:  We quote it often, but I am afraid we rarely believe it.  Everything is in God’s control.  Sure, man has a free will but the things created by God are the things controlled by God.  The movement of the earth, the storms, the stars in their sockets, the sun and its orbit, and everything else though of is under the control of God.  So before we go giving Satan more credit than He deserves we must remember that God is ultimately in control. Personally, I would rather give God the glory than give Satan the credit. 

Today’s Challenge:  This is more of a life-long challenge than a “today-only” challenge.  We must begin to lay these three foundational principles in the backdrop of all our discipleship if we are to save this next generation.

Striving Together

Philippians 1:27 “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:  that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”

Much can be drawn from the contents of this verse.  The key phrase to this text is the words “striving together”.  This reminds me today of the value of unity.  The Lord values unity and harmony between his people.  It is essential that Christians quit battling one another and start working together.  I have come to the conclusion that much of American Christianity is lost in its own selfishness.  We find Christians calling out other Christians over Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets of social media.  They are gossiping, complaining, and belittling fellow believers rather than loving, understanding, and building them up. Someone the other day asked what I thought about the methodology of another Church and my first question was – “Are folks getting Saved?”  Really, is that not the general objective?  My heart breaks this morning over the fact that more congregations are battling and bickering over the minors, when we should be worried about the majors.  Just for a reminder, I would like to discuss some essential steps that would help all of us strive together.

  • Assess Your Conversation – When you assess your conversation, is it one that would promote the gospel or harm the gospel.  Listen closely…when we talk poorly of other Christian Leaders, we could be directly effecting the salvation of others.  Regardless of whether we like them, agree with them, or even believe if they are truly Christian we must guard our conversation because it could have a direct influence on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Avoid Badgering, Battling, and Bickering with other Christians – I feel as though the reason most of our battles are being lost is because we are so focused on the methods and actions of other Christians instead of concentrating on reaching the lost.  I encourage you to ask yourself some questions – Is the Gospel Being Preached?  Are People Getting Saved? If so, shout about it rather than scoff about it.
  • Act Like A Christian – Lost people have a standard that they actually expect from the Christian world and they know when we are not acting like we should.  You guessed it….it is called hypocrisy!  Don’t be “that” in front of a lost world.

Today’s Challenge – Look at the actions, attitude, and conversation and decide whether you are the causing harmony or discord.  Remember that we are to be battle together and not against each other.  Don’t be the one that destroys the unity of God’s people or hinders the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Spirit of Wisdom

Ephesians 1:16-17 “Cease not to give thanks for you making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:”

 

Two of the most important things Christians need today lies within confines of this text.  Paul prayed that the Church at Ephesus operate with two vital attributes:

  1. The Spirit of Wisdom
  2. The Knowledge of God

 

Those that follow Christ are in constant pursuit of the “spirit of wisdom” and the “knowledge of God”.   This also narrows down the ones that are truly following the Lord.  I am very afraid that we live a world that truly has very little knowledge of God.  The more I learn about God the more I tremble in His presence.  The key to gaining wisdom is to consume ourselves in God’s Word.  Some would say that wisdom comes with experience.  I would have to say that much wisdom comes from experience, but also wisdom comes through knowledge.  The more God reveals about Himself to us the wiser we become.  The depths of God’s character are endless.  I pray that the presence and the pursuit of God drive us to our knees requesting the spirit of wisdom.  I can’t help but think of the old hymn “I want to know more about my Lord.” We must ask God to reveal himself to us.

 

Today’s Challenge:  Ask God to reveal something about himself that you never knew before.  Pursue the spirit of wisdom and the knowledge of God.

Another Gospel

Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”

I, like Paul, find it amazing how Christians have been swayed by the message of other gospels.  It is important that we realize that if we can get a lot of things wrong and still be okay.  However; if we get the Gospel of Jesus Christ wrong it ruins everything.  The Gospel is the most important message in the entire Bible.  If we preach the wrong gospel then, according to verse nine we are preaching a curse upon ourselves.  We must be very mindful of how we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want to look for a moment at some of the gospels that we normally encounter.  That way when we hear them we can mark them and then avoid them.

  • There is the Wrong Gospel:  Any message that avoids the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the wrong message.  Anyone that teaches that there is another way to Heaven outside of Jesus Christ is teaching the wrong gospel.  An example would be if you hear someone that says “It does not matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.”  Danger!  Sincere people will end up in the Lake of Fire.
  • There is the Water Downed Gospel:  It is the message that accepts Jesus Christ, but does not stress it.  The watered down gospel is the idea of easy believism that is being preached from many American pulpits.  It is a message that avoids teaching on changed lives, repentance, and other controversial events that are suppose to take place at the moment a person is saved.  It avoids the controversial issues involved in salvation and never reveals a person’s sinful condition.
  • There is the Works-based Gospel:  This gospel emphasizes works over faith.  It believes that as long as you are performing your religious duties such as attending church, tithing, and serving then you are automatically destined for Heaven.  Nothing could farther from the truth.  Works never produce faith, but faith will always produce a work.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches a person places their faith and trust into the Lord Jesus Christ by Repenting of their Sins, and turning their lives over to the Lord.  Salvation involves repentance, and faith.  Without either of these, we are living by the wrong message.

Today’s Challenge:  Examine the message that you are preaching and the message that you have received.  Have you been removed from the real Gospel message?

When Weakness Becomes Strength

2 Corinthians 12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

This, to me, is one of those verses that confirm the fact that man was truly inspired by God when writing Scriptures.  The natural man would not ever write such things.  I have often wondered what caused the Lord to instill such qualities into those that follow Him.  I am at the same reminded that God placed us here on earth to give Him glory.  The greatest display of God’s strength is discovered in our greatest moments of weakness.  The reason we can take pleasure in such difficult circumstances is because it gives God the opportunity to display His greatness.  God wants to take us to the place of “I can’t” to the place of “He can”.  It is at the moment where we say “I can’t” that God says “He can”.  This verse teaches a great principle that when we are at weakest, God is at His strongest.  The reason we can call are times of weakness our greatest moments of strength is because those are the moments that God gets to display His sovereign power.  When we make statements like…

“I don’t know what else to do.”

“I have done everything I know to do.”

It is during the times of making these statements that we must realize that God has got us in the exact place He desires us to be.  We must learn to quit operating in our own strength and start relying on God’s strength.

Today’s Challenge:  Realize that your greatest moments of weakness, gives God His greatest opportunity to display His power and strength through you.

The Law of Reaping and Sowing

2 Corinthians 9:6 “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” 

This world is filled with laws.  These laws include things such as the laws of Physics, the laws of Mathematics, and the laws of the Land.  It is good to note that while our world has laws which keep it spinning; our Bible also is filled with laws.  In this text we see a Biblical law called the Law of Reaping and Sowing.  I am amazed at how many Christians expect such a great harvest with such little investments.  The American Church is consumed with the mentality that God should bless us with much on the grounds that we give Him very little.  A farmer will expect little fruit if he only sows small amounts of seeds.  Likewise, the Christian should not wander why the blessings of God are so sparse when they have not planted much into the Kingdom of God.  We must remember that if we want the blessing of God then we must be will to sow bountifully.  It will require sacrifice, it will require service, but the end result will be far greater than you would ever expect.  Please don’t be so foolish to think that God is supposed to bless your life when you have invested so little into His Kingdom.  It is not just about money, but it is about your entire life.

Today’s Challenge:  Plant a lot of seeds today, and watch the blessing of God bloom.

Walking By Faith

2 Corinthians 5:7 “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”

Our walk with God must be a walk by faith.  Faith is very broad Biblical subject.  However; the Christian’s spiritual journey must be one that is conducted completely by faith.  Faith is the ability to see something that cannot be seen.  Faith believes God to the extent that it sees what God sees.  In order to walk by faith we must first begin to trust God eyesight better than ours.

There are times when we pull up to a busy parking lot that I tell my son to hold my hand and follow me.  He grabs my hands and begins to follow me.  He can’t see what Daddy can see because of size, maturity level, and inability to see.  He must trust the sight of his daddy to lead him safely through the obstacles in the parking lot.

The same thing is true for the Christian.  Life is full of obstacles, and dangers that can’t be seen.  By faith we hold on to our Heavenly Father’s hand and trust Him to lead us safely to our destination.  There are things we can’t see.  In order to walk by faith, we must trust God to see for us.  After all, His eyesight is much better than ours.

Today’s Challenge:  Learn to walk by faith.  Trust God to see for you today!

If Our Gospel Be Hid

2 Corinthians 4:3 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:”

God did not design the His Gospel to be hid.  He created us in order to expose the Gospel.  When we fail to present the Gospel we are hindering the spreading of the Gospel.  We allow fear, pride, and rejection to prevent our Gospel message from being presented.  There is a great need for Christians to share their faith.  Sharing our faith seems to be the most difficult thing Christians try do.  As Christians, we possess the cure.  We did to look at what we hid when we hid the Gospel.

  • We are Hiding Hope:  When we fail to share our faith we are failing to share the message of hope.
  • We are Hiding Heaven:  Can you imagine knowing the directions to Heaven and never giving a lost person the map.
  • We are Hiding Help:  We possess a one size fits all solution to people’s problems.  It is not that Christ is a solution, He is the only solution.

Today’s Challenge:  Don’t hide the Gospel!

Church Member vs. Club Member

1 Corinthians 12:27 “No ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

There seems to be a mix up between what it mean to be a “Church Member”.  I want to come and say it…

Church Membership is totally different from Club Membership!

We have developed this mentality that we can treat the local Church like an everyday organization.  Over the years I have encountered a mentality that because the dues are being paid then there is a sense of entitlement.  The mindset on American Christianity is “What can you do for me.

Today we are reminded that the Church is a body not a business.  It is an organism and not an organization.  We are the Body of Christ and each of us has a particular function.  Just because we make financial contributions to our local church does not mean we are performing the work of the ministry.

I seriously tremble at the thought of what is going to happen at the Judgment Seat to the majority of American Christians.  We are to do the work of Christ.  We have all been given a specific task and a designated duty.  Do It!  Do it because you just love the Lord!  Don’t do it because it will bring you more perks in the next business meeting.

Today’s Challenge:  Remind yourself that you are not a part of a social club.  You are a member of the Body of Christ!

For The Glory Of God

1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

The Lord made us in such a way as to glorify Him.  We are to give God glory in every part of our lives.  As I think about this today, I have to assess the vanity within my own life.  How much of what we do has nothing to do with the glory of God?  So much of what we try to accomplish and try to achieve is pure emptiness.  God takes us to the smallest of practices.  God tells us that something as simple as eating and drinking should be to His Glory.

We must remember that we were made to glorify God.  In whatever we do it is to be so that God can get maximum glory.  I am afraid that the majority of life’s activity is spent giving more glory to our self than to the Lord.

I am of the opinion that there is plenty of liberty within the Christian’s life.  Religion is constricting, but a relationship with Jesus Christ is liberating.  God gives us the liberty to do what we want, but reminds us that we better be doing it for His Glory!

Today’s Challenge:  Assess your life’s activity.  Go through your daily routines and see just how much of it is done with the mindset of giving God glory.