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.

Six Things That Make Us Better Thinkers

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, thing on these things.”

The mind is a powerful tool.  Honestly, we must realize that the things that we think upon are the things that control our actions as well as our relationships.  Our thought-life is the mechanism that builds or breaks our relationship with Christ as well as with others.  The Lord gives us a great picture of what should be going through our minds.  I would like to identify the things we are to think upon.

  • Things That are True – Don’t focus on error when you can hold truth in the backdrop.
  • Things That are Honest – There is nothing that brings us more frustrations than a lie.  Remember that Satan is the most dishonest being ever to live.  Don’t think about the author of lies.
  • Things That are Just – God is fair and just. Life is unfair and if we get focused on the unfairness of life we will neglect the fairness of God.
  • Things That are Pure – This may take changing a channel, even if it is something as simple as a news broadcast.
  • Things That are Lovely – There is nobody more lovely than the Lord.  There is nothing uglier than sin.
  • Things That are Good Report – The glass can be half-full if you look at through these eyes.

Notice that these things have virtue and at the same time offer praise.  They take our minds off the problem and help us to focus on the solution.

Today’s Challenge – Think on these things!

How To Make Right Decisions

Philippians 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

 Many times we approach God with a very…well…”whatever” type mentality.  The attitude that we are deserving of God’s presence must be removed immediately.  So much of our ideas, beliefs, and decisions are made without God’s view or heart.  Fear and trembling should be the way we approach God.

  •  We Must Make Our Decisions With Fear And Trembling – We would be way better off approaching God with reverence and respect.  Each decision must be made with the judgment of God in the backdrop.
  • We Must Establish Our Beliefs With Fear and Trembling – We should be willing to overlook what everyone else believes in order to establish a Bible based faith.  Just because our Grandparents and Parents believed it, does not make it the right belief
  • We Must Create Our Ideas With Fear and Trembling – If not careful our sinful imaginations will create ideas that our false.

Today’s Challenge:  Keep God’s Judgment in the backdrop of every belief, decision and idea.  It will help keep us all in check!

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.

Be Angry And Sin Not

Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:  Neither give place to the devil.”

I had to ask the Lord if this was really possible.  If we were all honest, we would come to the conclusion that the majority of our anger is because of sin.  The reason the majority of our anger is sinful is because we become angry out of selfishness.  The Lord desires that we remain under control.  God is not looking for self control, but he is looking for sovereign control.  We must desire to remain under the control of the Lord.  The basic rule is that we steer clear of sin when we become angry.  Honestly, the majority of our anger usually ends in repentance.  Then we see a principle about anger.  Even in anger we must be sure not to go to bed with it.  How many times have we to bed with anger in our hearts?  God specifically says to make sure we not allow the sun to go down on our wrath.  When we go to sleep angry it gives room for the devil to do a work in our lives.  We must realize that anger is a tool of the devil.  God can only use the anger that is not tainted with sin.  The devil will use all anger in our hearts to cause severe devastation and destruction in our lives.

Today’s Challenge:  Assess your anger.  Determine if it is tainted with sin or if you have lived in it for an extended period of time.  If so, then please repent and seek reconciliation.

God’s Ability

Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”

It is so important that we never over look or underestimate the power of God.  I think it is important that we realize God is able to some great and mighty things with our lives.  We get so caught up operating within our own strength that we forget about the ability of God’s power.

  • God is Able – Nothing handicaps God.  The question of “can God…?” should always be answered by “Yes God Can!”
  • God’s Ability Reaches Further than our Imagination – The fact that this verse says that God can “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” absolutely blows my mind.  This basically means that our vast imaginations of great things actually places limits on God’s ability.  Think about it like this – If you can imagine it, then God can actually do it bigger and better!  WOW!!!
  • God Desires to Do Work Through Us – Notice where God wants to demonstrate and display His greatness.  God desires to demonstrate this ability through our lives.  A life that is submissive and surrendered to the work of God can only see these kinds of things happen.  God can do exceeding abundantly above all only on the grounds that we allow Him to do it.

Today’s Challenge:  Don’t limit God’s ability in our lives.  It is good to have dreams and set goals, but it is also important to remember that God can far exceed those things we dream about happening.

We Are His Masterpiece

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

This is one of those verses that is exciting but at the same time humbling.  In order to understand this verse we need to gain an understanding of the word “workmanship”.  The word simply means “masterpiece”.  Now let that soak in real good… We are God’s Masterpiece!  That just absolutely blows my mind.  The reason it is so mind blowing is because I know me well enough to know that I could not be anyone’s masterpiece.  If God called me His “Mess” then that would be understandable.  We must understand that we are a work of God that has been created to serve God.  We are truly saved, so that we can serve.  I think we often forget the Psalmist’s words when he said “we are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  There are three things we must embrace pertaining to being God’s Masterpiece:

  • We Have A Special Design:  We are designed in such a way that as individuals we can bring God glory.  God did not make a mistake when He made you!
  • We Have A Specific Destiny:  God not only designed us special, but He has a special plan for each of us.  God designed used in order to fulfill a specific destiny.
  • We Have A Sovereign Duty:  We are created to serve.  We are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works…”

Today’s Challenge:  Don’t quit because of what you are not, serve because of the way you have been made.

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.

LOVE!

Galatians 5:14 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

When we think of “The Law” we could consider the 10 Commandments, the 613 Mosaic Laws, or the entire Bible.  That is a lot to obey.  If we were honest with ourselves we would openly admit that obeying all these individually would be overwhelming impossible.  However; the Lord decided that He could take all these laws and simplify it down to one simple, yet powerful word – LOVE!  When the Bible defines God, we find that God is defined in this one simple word called “Love”.  God has given us the one commandment that not only covers the entire law, but it encompasses the essence of who He really is.  We are to love God, as well as love others.  If you and I would were to study all these laws addressed in scripture we would realize that if we simply loved God and others then it would totally keep us from breaking God’s laws.  For example:

  • When you love God and People then you don’t have to worry about putting anything before Him.
  • When you love God and People then you don’t have to worry about using His name in vain.
  • When you love God and People you don’t have to worry about other graven images
  • When you love God and People you will keep the Sabbath Day holy by attending Church
  • When you love God and People you don’t have to worry about murdering them.
  • When you love God and People you don’t have to worry about honoring your father and mothe
  • When you love God and People you don’t steal from them. 
  • When you love God and People you won’t commit adultery.
  • When you love God and People you won’t lie against them.
  • When you Love God and People you will not find yourself coveting. 

You see?  All we must do is operate in love and it handles all the rest.  No wander it is called the Great Commandment!

Today’s Challenge:  LOVE!!!!

There Is Only One Way To Live

Galatians 3:11 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”

If we are to really live, we must live out our lives by faith.  It is evident that God emphasizes the importance of walking by faith.  I think it is good to highlight the fact that faith is not walking day by day, but it is walking step by step.  The evidence of those that have been justified (those that have been declared righteous by God) are to walk by faith.  Faith is the one thing that honors God.  Faith is the thing that gains God’s attention.  Faith is the foundation by which everything in Christianity rest upon.  Without faith we will never be able to please God.  Now the purpose of Christianity is to live a life that pleases and glorifies God.  Walking by faith is the best way we can bring glory to God.

Most people today are justifying themselves by what they are doing, rather than being justified on what has already been done.  We are not declared righteous by our works, we are declared righteous through our faith.  Just like with Abraham, he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Simply believing God is enough.  Wow!!!  That is incredible to think that in order to really please the Lord all we have to do is believe Him.  In a world that wants to question Him, God just wants us to believe Him.

When there is an argument between my children, I find that both of them just want to be believed.  The same goes for God.  Satan is telling his story and God is proclaiming his truths.  The question remains:  Are we going to believe the lies of Satan, or are we going to believe the truths of God?

Today’s Challenge:  Just believe God.  Remember the only way to truly live, is to live completely by faith.