Discipleship Means Following the Teacher

Running is an interesting sport. It is more individual based than team focused but don’t be mistaken, it is a communal sport. When one goes out for a run s/he follows the path in front of him/her taking it one step at a time.

Being a follower of Jesus is like a run whereby the disciple goes in the steps of Jesus. The follower learns how to love as God loves; to serve as God leads us to serve. Each day brings a new lesson from God. We need to be open to receive it.

As one who is on the verge of faith be encouraged by the Apostle Matthew.  By profession he was a tax collector. He was responsible to collect taxes from his fellow Israelites for the Roman government.  As he was able he could collect more from his fellow countrymen to keep for himself.  It goes without saying he was not the most popular man in town.

So when Jesus met him one afternoon in Capernaum, Matthew was surprised that the Great Teacher was inviting him, the tax collector, to be one of His chosen disciples. And what was Matthew’s response? He got up, walked away from his tax booth and followed Jesus that day.

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.”

Matthew 9:9

Today Jesus stands before you inviting you to follow Him as one of His closest disciples. You may currently be on the verge of growing deeper in your trust in God. What will you do? Will you get up like Matthew and follow Him?

Your journey with Jesus is your own run but you are not alone. You run with a community of fellow disciples, encouraging you along the way.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

Each day look for the lesson God has to share with you. Open your heart to trust the Holy Spirit and where the Spirit leads you. Love, not judge others. Serve humbly to share God’s love with others.

Over time you will see how your thoughts become fixed on Jesus. You act differently than before you began following Jesus. You will see God transforming your whole self from the inside out.

So when the winds of life try to blow you back lean into Jesus. Hold His Hand and let Him carry you through the storm.

During the times of joy give praise to our Creator God Who cares for you and the whole world.

Lastly one question only you can answer: What is your response to Jesus inviting you to be His disciple?

This Week’s Challenge

Note each day this week what Jesus is teaching you about trusting Him more fully. What is your response to those lessons?

Nobody’s Perfect. Well…He Is

Nobody’s perfect. Everyone has faults Everyone makes mistakes. No one can earn a perfect 10 for one’s life.

As this is true, then what hope does anyone have for going to Heaven?

A person has to be perfect in order to get into Heaven. If no one is perfect than what is one to do?

There is one who is perfect. Jesus Christ lived the life we are supposed to live and willingly died the death meant for us. Then He rose from the grave conquering sin, death and the devil.

It is because of Jesus’ willing sacrifice we have salvation. It is by God’s grace freely given to us that we go to Heaven. Heaven is where we are close to God without sickness, pain or death. Joy abounds. Peace teems the streets reaching all people.

Sin corrupts all things. It has power over of us that we cannot overcome on our own. The things we do not want to do but somehow we still do them. The changes we want to make but struggle to fully implement them.

Sin separates us from God. God is holy. Nothing unholy can be in His presence. Jesus steps in and bestows His righteousness on us so that we can spend eternity in Heaven with God. The great chasm that we will never cross on our own is shrunk to non-existence by God’s grace.

As we realize our need for a Savior and humbly surrender to Jesus we begin to live our new lives in Christ in freedom.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

You are on the verge of living your new life in Christ. all it takes beginning the day seeking what God’s Will is. Start now. Pray, “Lord, how do You have me to serve You today?”

Live in this freedom with joy. Be not afraid of the adventure. Show your gratitude by sharing why you love Jesus. Love as God loves you. Share freely as God has freely shared with you.

As you are on the verge step into the new life with open arms Jesus chose to die because He loves you. He rose from the grave so you, me, every person in the world can spend eternity with Him, God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This Week’s Challenge

How has God blessed you?
Go share the blessing with someone today.

Who is this Guy Jesus?

If someone says s/he is a follower of Jesus it is safe to assume that individual has a relationship with Jesus. So it begs the question how does someone get to know a man who lived two thousand years ago?

There is little debate about the historical Jesus. Scholarly thought across the board agrees a man from Nazareth named Jesus lived and taught. What is debated is whether He is the Son of God. Some think He is the Son of God. Some think He was a great teacher and that was all.  Others say He was a lunatic.

The writer CS Lewis renowned for The Chronicles of Narnia and his books on Christian thought states a person’s decision on Jesus this way,

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who say he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”

As you decide for yourself who Jesus is consider this no body was ever found after His death (even though it was guarded by Roman soldiers to prevent theft). He appeared to His disciples and up to 500 people at one time over the course of 40 days.  Also, instead of the movement fading away it only grew after His death and resurrection.

For any person who is on the verge of growing deeper in faith saying for one’s self who Jesus is important. Reflect on times God was beside you in joyous times and difficult times. Remember how God provided for you in all circumstances.

As we read through the Gospel of Matthew in this series let us see how Jesus lived through loving all, showing us how to serve one another.

Look at Matthew 8. In this chapter we read 4 different stories of how Jesus had authority over disease, death, nature and spiritual world. Could a mere man do this on his own?

Jesus was fully man and fully God. He experienced the highs and lows of life. He understands what we are going through in our own lives. We can go to Him with our questions, our fears, our worries. He walks with us through it all.  #resolvedfaith

Go to Him with your questions. He loves to answer them. Give Him your fears. He will calm them. Trust Him. He will teach you great things.

While you may still have questions who Jesus is hear God the Father speak to who Jesus is:

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5)

Who do you say Jesus is?

This Week’s Challenge

Journal who you say Jesus is.  Explore why you love Him.  Ask Him to help you grow in your relationship.

On the Verge of the Adventure of Your Life

Is this all there is?

Is there more to life?

We search for meaning, a purpose to the daily humdrum of life. It can be easy to slip into a rut and forget the big picture. To be reminded of our why helps to encourage us on those days we want to run away from it all.

We begin a new series together exploring being from on the verge of going deeper in our faiths with Jesus Christ. Whether you have been journeying with Him for decades, or a couple of years, or you are beginning your journey today, we are all on the verge of a deeper faith in Jesus.

Over the next several weeks together we will hear from God in the Gospel of Matthew of how we are created in His image and each called to serve wherever we are in His name.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:20)

Each of us has been created in the image of God.  Meaning we are akin to God enabling us to have genuine fellowship with God. God knows us fully. We are able to grow in our relationship with Him because we are created in His image.

Though we are created in His image it does not mean we can ‘rest on our laurels’ and feel entitled to go to Heaven.  It is from our humble repentance and God freely giving His grace that we live and serve.  We live in the freedom of being fully forgiven of our sins.

As followers of Jesus we live from the image of God (imago Dei). We are empowered to serve the Lord with joy. What we do and say reflects Jesus to others. We are His representatives here on Earth.  

It is exciting to know we are created in the image of God. We know our identity is from God alone. Peace abounds within us because we know we belong to God. Joy fills our hearts as we go forward serving the Lord. 

“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they [Peter and Andrew] left their nets and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:19-20)

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus called His disciples to learn from Him.  In this verse Jesus invites two brothers Peter & Andrew to leave their family’s fishing business to follow Him with their whole lives. 

Jesus stands in front of you today saying the same words He said to Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow me.”

He is inviting you to serve Him with joy.

He is inviting you to step from being on the verge to a closer walk with Him. 

Will you join Him?

This Week’s Challenge

Write in Dry Erase marker on your bathroom mirror one way you want to grow closer to Jesus. Be practical in how you will live it out.  As you get ready each morning schedule it in your day to do it.

Go Ahead and Hit the Refresh Button for Your Life

The week after Christmas is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Work slows down just enough to allow for some dreaming to occur. New Year’s Day is just around the corner to provide the best natural restart. Anything is possible. So why not dream big?

During this last week of the year I become giddy as a child waiting for Santa.  January 1st is the day I can start using my new planner.  The blank pages contained within it scream to be filled with new hopes and dreams. They wait with great anticipation to record the adventures during the new year. Oh the joy is uncontainable!

Remember those habits you want to change or start doing?  Why not start new on January 1st?  Those projects you have been meaning to start?  Start them once the ball drops in Times Square. 

It’s almost like hitting the refresh button but only for your life!

As a disciple (follower) of Jesus Christ we are given our own “refresh” button each morning.  Every morning brings a new beginning in the Lord.  Regardless of how far we think we strayed from God we can turn back to Him and receive His grace and forgiveness.  We get to out again serving the Lord with our whole selves. It’s like every morning is January 1st.  

If you are not a follower of Jesus yet today is your own “refresh” day. Surrender your self to Him and watch the great things God will show you. Don’t fear if you think you don’t know “enough”. Have a willing heart to learn. Connect with other disciples and do life and ministry together. Serve together and watch the Holy Spirit sow seeds of faith.

The beauty of the Christian faith journey is grace. One is not required to be perfect. A humble heart that is willing to serve is what God seeks. The questions we have we can ask and watch how God answers them. Stress is relieved because we know God’s in control. We can enjoy the ride. 

As you take time this week ask God to help you hit the “refresh” button. See what plans God has for you. Be open to new possibilities, different perspectives. If one day takes you away from Him know that each day you can hit the refresh button and start anew. 

Dream the big dreams God has for you.  

Enjoy the adventure. 

Each morning hit the refresh button and serve with a humble heart.

This Week’s Challenge

Take a blank piece of paper and dream how God is equipping you to serve this you.  Post it to your social media and share throughout the year the fun adventures God has for you.

Stepping with the Holy Spirit

“If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

This has been a transformative journey together exploring what it truly looks like to pray the petition, “God, Your Will be done”. On the surface it appears we are ‘giving permission’ for God to move in this world. As sense of letting go and giving space for God to lead us.

As we have dug deeper we have learned that God is already moving. His Will is being accomplished, even if we do not see it with our own eyes. What we are asking in this prayer is for us to be used by God to achieve His Will.

How God responds to us in by sending the Holy Spirit to guide along God’s path. Those times we may grow tired the Holy Spirit is there to give us rest and then pick us up when it’s time to serve. When we are discouraged the Holy Spirit sends us reminders showing us some of the fruits of ministry.

Paul, the writer of the letter to the Galatian people teaches them, and us, the importance of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit because the Spirit transforms us from the inside out. We are no longer burdened with the things of this world. Instead, we live freely in God’s grace.

So how do we keep in step with the Holy Spirit?

First, we listen to the Holy Spirit by reading the Bible. We recognize God’s Voice with more ease when we routinely hear it.

Next we look to see what God is doing around us. We note what doors of ministry open. We see who God places in our lives to become friends and serve.

Keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is a daily discipline which requires our humble hearts to follow and obey.

Be not afraid fellow disciple (student) of Jesus Christ. Be excited to see the awesome things God is including you in.

Each day take one step with the Holy Spirit. Walk into the opportunities God presents you. If you get nervous remember God is in control. He’s got it covered. You have nothing to worry about.

Go out, disciple of Jesus. Step in the footsteps of the Holy Spirit. Serve where God places you. See all the great things being accomplished according to His Will.

This Week’s Challenge

In your devotional time not where the footsteps of the Holy Spirit are leading you. What ministry opportunities is God giving you today?

How to Grow Closer to God

Praying the petition, “God, Your Will be done” has profound impact on us individually and corporately as the children of God. It is all encompassing, transforming each of us from the inside out. We are certainly not the same people after earnestly praying this prayer.

While we have seen in this series that God’s Will is being accomplished here on Earth we are truly asking God to show us His Will and to include us in it. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and hearts in seeing how God is already moving. We surrender to His Will so that we participate in it.

The key learning in this petition is the undeniable fact that God draws us closer to Him. Our hardened hearts are soften. Our eyes are open to truly see Him. Our ears come unclogged to hear the Will of the Lord. We journey more closely with the Father as a result.

The 3rd Petition (aka section) of the Lord’s Prayer helps us to pursue humility and be reminded that we are not in charge, God the Creator is.  We take our rightly place in submission to follow obediently and serve faithfully. We think not of ourselves but rather of what God has for the world. 

While left to our own vices we become self-centered, neglectful of the needs of others. We seek after our selfish desires ignoring the wider community. It is only by God’s grace are we able to break free and fix our eyes on Jesus. We begin our humble submission by praying this petition.

As this year is drawing to a close it is a natural time to stop and reflect on how we can be better servants of the Lord.

So what areas of your life need to be submitted to the Lord? How might you be selfish and thinking only of yourself? What is God teaching you about His Will?

Take time this week to pray this petition earnestly and hear how God answers it. Be receptive. Put aside whatever expectations you personally may have and hear what the Lord has for you. See how God brings you into community to serve and grow.

Spend time with fellow disciples and pray together how God is calling all of you to step out in faith to humbly serve. Receive what the Holy Spirit gives to you.

Don’t be afraid at how God will transform you. There will be growing pains but hang in there to see the beautiful growth God does in you.

Through it all note how you do draw closer to God. It is a natural outcome to humble prayers to the Lord Almighty. When we all pray “God, Your Will be done” we become steadfast in the Lord able to withstand all attacks from the adversary. With God all things are possible.

This Week’s Challenge

Begin each day this week praying this petition and see throughout the day how He draws you closer to Him.  When you meet with friends or your small group or Bible Study do the same and see how as a community brings you closer to Him.

Did You Catch that Glimpse of Heaven?

As we have seen in previous posts in this series seeking God’s Will changes who we are and brings us closer to community with one another. It is a journey that may begin at various times for each individual but does continue for a lifetime for everyone. It is a journey which draws us home to Heaven.

See, this world is not how God originally designed it. Rebellion set in with humanity and leaving this world to be broken. Things are not how they should be as God created it. Instead of walking away, God set into action His Plan to redeem the world through the life, death, and resurrection of His Only Son Jesus Christ. God’s Will is to bring all of humanity back to the perfect union we once had before rebellion entered.

We do not seek God’s Will on our own. If we attempt to do so we, at best, will only see a small portion of it. In community with others do we begin to see the full picture. With this authentic community we also get a glimpse of Heaven. We get to see how intricately woven together we are by the Holy Spirit.

God is continually restoring and healing the world in preparation for the new Heaven and the new Earth where there is no mourning, no loss, no pain. Perfect union between God and creation is restored. We pray for God’s Will to be done for this end.

Each time we pray the petition, “God, Your Will be done” we are praying to see what God is doing and how we are called to help fulfill it. As an united community seeking God’s Will we get a glimpse of Heaven, a small taste of what it will be like in Heaven when all things are restored.

This glimpse of Heaven is found in the relationships we share with one another. One sees Heaven wherever 2 or more people come together from varying backgrounds and experiences to not grapple for political power but rather utilize their differences to be stronger together in service to the Lord.

The glimpses we do receive from the Holy Spirit helps us to not be discouraged. They serve as a motivator for those times the adversary attempts to derail us.

These glimpses also remind us who we are. They whisper in our hearts the plans God has for us. We are able to keep seeking God’s Will because while we may not see the finish line right now we do know where it is and how wonderful it will be in Heaven.

So as you go about your day and your week look for those glimpses of Heaven that God sends you. Be encouraged that this journey is not in vain. Stand firm in the Lord and together in community. Give praise to God for His unending love for all of us.

This Week’s Challenge — As you serve this week in community debrief together how you got a glimpse of Heaven.

It’s More Fun With Friends

Seeking after God’s Will is a fun adventure. And it’s definitely more fun with a friends. We are not meant to go through this journey alone. God designed us to journey together, striving after Him as a united body.

See, God lives in community. God the Father is in perfect community with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. They dwell in perfect harmony and serve together as one body. Now if the Almighty Creator is in community shouldn’t we, the created, be in community with one another?

The beauty of community is that where one may be weak, another is strong. If you do not have experience someone else has that experience. Or you may be skilled in an area that someone else may not be as skilled.  It is only in community together that we truly see God’s Will.

We are not able to see perfectly as God sees.  So God then puts us together with one another so that as a united body we can see what God’s Will is for the world. When we stop to listen together we are able to put the puzzle pieces together and see the beauty of God’s Will.

When we try to go it alone we lose the full beauty of God’s Will.  We may know clearly what God has for us to do but we miss the pieces that God gives to others. Without them we have a partial picture, only part of the story.

Imagine trying to complete a puzzle with only the edge pieces.  Sure, you may have the complete frame but do you see the full picture? Imagine now if you worked with others who had the inside pieces to help complete the full picture. This is the beauty of seeking God’s Will in community with others. We get to see more fully the beauty of God’s Perfect Plan.

Here’s the question before each of us how do I seek God’s Will in the community with fellow believers?

Do I insist on being on my own and not intentionally be in community with fellow disciples?

When do I listen to what God is telling another disciple to learn from him/her?

How do I pray with disciples humbly seeking God’s Will for us?

Each of these questions are vital to being in authentic relationships with fellow disciples seeking God’s Will.  We cannot do this alone. God created us to be in community with one another as He is in community with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. When we are in united community together we begin to see the beauty of God’s Plan.

This Week’s Challenge

Meet with a friend or two this week to share how each of you see God leading you in ministry.  Pray together to hear God’s Will and see how your puzzle piece fits in.

Seeing the World with God’s Lenses

Did you ever get a new pair of glasses? Before them the world appeared clear, in focus. Then presto, change-o wearing the new glasses everything is brighter, crisper. Who knew all these colors even existed before? it’s like a whole new world before your very eyes.

As you wear these new lenses you do see things differently and therefore you begin to act differently. The information being received is processed in a new way. You are not able to act the same, old way. You are changed. You are new doing new things.

Along our faith journeys the Holy Spirit works within us changing us from the inside out. This transformation is necessary as we authentically pray for God’s Will to be done. As a result we begin to see the world as God sees it. We view it with new lenses on. Now we see through the lenses of love and grace. As we have experienced God’s love and grace so we can share it with others.

It is incredible seeing the world from a new perspective. It is seeing it as if for the first time. You learn about what you did not already know. Passion is renewed as it was in the beginning of your own faith journey.

The curious thing is we don’t know what we don’t know. By stepping out and trying new things, gaining new perspectives we learn to see through the new lenses God gives us. It requires a step of faith to leave the “safety of our comfort zone.”

So what does it look like? It is going to a new place where you are the minority and being humble to learn from a new culture.

It is seeing a person in need and asking, “How can I help?”

It is listening to someone on the opposite side of a political issue and learning from him/her.  Remember to listen to learn, not to argue.

Wearing new lenses helps us to see our faith community through the eyes of a guest. How inclusive are we to the guest?

As you go about your week serving Jesus ask Him to see the world through His eyes. What is different?  What do you learn? Do you see people more clearly?

This Week’s Challenge

Have a conversation this week with someone who has an opposing political view from you. Learn from their perspective.  How do you see the issue differently now?