5D Draw near to God

Yesterday I referred to Frank Viola quoting Billy Graham. Here is a second quote from that article,

This is Billy Graham’s prediction about the future Christian landscape. He made it in 1965 and it’s come to pass in our day:

“Multitudes of Christians within the church are moving toward the point where they may reject the institution that we call the church. They are beginning to turn to more simplified forms of worship. They are hungry for a personal and vital experience with Jesus Christ. They want a heartwarming personal faith. Unless the church quickly recovers its authoritative Biblical message, we may witness the spectacle of millions of Christians going outside the institutional church to find spiritual food.”

In our lives as disciples there is no substitute for the presence of God. We must long for it, crave it and earnestly seek it. God promises as we do this, he wil move towards us, James 4: 7,8

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

5D #3 Making Disciples: Billy Graham agrees with Jesus

Mark 1:16-20,

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

It is not easy to be too clever for God. We have often divorced ourselves from the methods practised and taught by Jesus in favour of a more “realistic” approach that seems geared to 21st century living. We basically don’t “do discipleship” unless it can be seen as going to college, attending a class or teaching series, attending a programme.

Being a disciple of Jesus is a lifestyle not an activity.

Reading on Frank Viola’s blog it appears Billy Graham realised the wisdom of the discipleship making methods of Jesus. Here Viola quotes Graham on one aspect of what he would have done were he not a travelling evangelist,

“I think one of the first things I would do would be to get a small group of eight or ten or twelve men around me that would meet a few hours a week and pay the price. It would cost them something in time and effort. I would share with them everything I have, over a period of years. Then I would actually have twelve ministers among the laymen who in turn could take eight or ten or twelve more and teach them. I know one or two churches that are doing that, and it is revolutionizing the church. Christ, I think, set the pattern. He spent most of his time with twelve men. He didn’t spend it with a great crowd. In fact, every time he had a great crowd it seems to me that there weren’t too many results. The great results, it seems to me, came in his personal interview and in the time he spent with the twelve.”

Time to think

1. What activity are you involved in that is following the pattern of Jesus in making disciples? Are you making disciples or attending church?

2. Who do you meet with in order to progress your walk as a disciple, are you in a directly accountable relationship with anyone?

Bringing definition to life

This quote comes from Jon Walker’s Breakfast with Bonhoeffer which I recently read. In context Walker is talking about compartmentalising life and relationships although I was most impacted by the idea of definition coming into my life only through Jesus.

How often is my life out of focus, how often am I unreal in what I believe about life, family, relationships, job, politics, society (I could go on) simply because the world is not framed by Jesus, because my life is being viewed through the wrong lens.

“You cant say “Jesus is part of my life, or, Jesus is important in my life. You can [only] now say, Jesus defines my life””

Being intimate with Jesus

In my reading I have been thinking of Jesus and his relationship with the disciples. To me it appears that the most radical thing he says is in John 15:15,

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 

As someone who has few close friends I consider it a special honour to be named a friend of Jesus.

I came across this quote from John MacArthur on the meaning of John 15:15,

At the court of the Roman Emperor and at the courts of Eastern Kings, there was a very select group of men. These men were kind of like what we would call the ‘kitchen cabinet’ in America, except that they were intimate men. They were not just advisors who were schooled politically; they were dear friends of the King or the Emperor. They were his protectors as well as his advisors. They were the ones who were caring for his life, and at all times, they had immediate access to the King. They could enter into his bed chamber anytime they wanted. They could be with him whenever they needed to be with him. They had to gain no entrance from anybody because they were called the friends of the King. He talked with them before he talked with his generals. He talked with them before he talked with any other rulers of other nations or any other statesman. The friends of the King were those who had the closest possible relationship with the ruler. They had an intimate connection with him, and they had the right to enter his presence at any time.

And that’s exactly what Jesus is saying to us. You don’t need any particular authority. You don’t have to pass any particular formality. You have immediate and instant access into my presence at all time‑‑because you’re my friends. [My emphasis added.]

We’re not like slaves who have no right to enter the presence of the master. We’re not like subjects who crowd the sides of the street and watch the King pass by and hope, once in a while, we catch a glimpse of his robe flapping in the breeze. We have a complete and total intimacy with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That’s what it means to be a friend of Jesus.

 

5D Fellowship with God

Usually reading anything by Andrew Murray produces a sense of conviction in my life. A few days ago I started reading The Deeper Christian Life and got to page 1,

The first and chief need of our Christian life is fellowship with God.

The Divine life within us comes from God, and is entirely dependent upon Him. As I need every moment afresh the air to breathe, as the sun every moment afresh sends down its light, so it is only in direct living communication with God that my soul can be strong.

No further comment is required.
As with all of Murray’s works The Deeper Christian Life is not to be read casually or glibly. This has to be meditated upon, thought through and brought into obedient action.
Time to think
1. When did I last “feel” the presence of God?
2. Do I long for God’s presence – is it “the air I breathe”?
3. Am I dependant upon God?
Helpful Pages
The full text of the book is available for free using this link. In fact ccel.org have a number of books by Murray (as well as others) which are available for download by following this link.

5D supplemental: What the world understands

I stand amazed at the dedication and determination of many people in this world who will subject their body to great stress and discipline in order to achieve a goal. Look at the video below and you will see their determination.

Christians, Christ followers, disciples, are called to the same level of discipline every day. Consider this section from Luke 9:20, 23-25

20 Then he [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”…23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

The way of the cross is the way of Jesus. Being a disciple we have to walk it not once but ever single day. Christ paid the price on the cross to enable you to do it. Walk with him.

When do you worship?

I read this AW Tozer quote on the Eternal Perspective Ministries website,

So I’ve got to tell you that if you do not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week. There is no such thing known in heaven as Sunday worship unless it is accompanied by Monday worship and Tuesday worship and so on….

We come into God’s house and say, “The Lord is in His holy temple, let us all kneel before Him.” Very nice. I think it’s nice to start a service that way once in a while. But when any of you men enter your office Monday morning at 9 o’clock, if you can’t walk into that office and say, “The Lord is in my office, let all the world be silent before Him,” then you are not worshiping the Lord on Sunday. If you can’t worship Him on Monday you didn’t worship Him on Sunday. If you don’t worship Him on Saturday you are not in very good shape to worship Him on Sunday. (Tozer on Worship and Entertainment, 9, 24)

5D #2 Temptation

Interestingly in the life of Jesus we see that the first leading of the Holy Spirit is into the desert to be tempted, Mark 1:12,13,

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

This does not mean that God tempts Jesus, James 1:3 which tells us that God doesn’t tempt anyone – yet he does allow situations, circumstances, other people and a variety of other sorces to bring temptation into our lives. Here in Mark 1:12,13 we see Satan tempting Jesus over a period of forty days (and probably in a variety of ways, mental, physical, spiritual), and at the same time God watches to see what the result will be.
Temptations also come through the power of our flesh and the accusation and opposition of Satan (Hebrew, adversary, one who resists) who often speaks into our minds.

Yet we should see that as we resist and stand firm in faith against temptations, that God wants to use them for good in our lives. In Disciples of Jesus Book 3 Bob Gordon suggests that trials and temptations can help to work the character of Jesus into our lives – here are a few reasons:

  • They expose the depths of our maturity in God 
  • They show us the things we really value in life
  • They show us our strengths ands weaknesses
  • They develop spiritual perseverance
  • They make us sensitive to the needs of others and teach us to empathise
  • They make us rely on God more
  • They can establish patterns for future decision making

Time to think
1. How do you respond to temptation?
2. Consider what lessons God might be trying to teach you in any current trials you face; What might he be trying to change in your life so that you look more like Jesus?
3. Think about the weak, easily tempted areas, in your physical body. Are there areas where you regularly fail?
4. Are there strongholds in your mind, areas where your thiking leads to defeat, e.g. in self pity, anger, bitterness?
5. Do you need to take positive action; pray and fast more, repent of sin and defeat, confess your sin to a spiritual elder in order to receive greater power to overcome?

Helpful Pages
In putting together these posts I often consult other books or websites. Occasionally I shall list some of them so that you can refer to the site for your own Bible study and information. Here are a couple used in this post:
https://www.biblegateway.com/ – a resource rich site that allows you to look at five parallel versions of a passage at one, invaluable.
https://bible.org/netbible/

http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/satan/

5D #1 Holy Spirit

I have called this series 5D because it is meant to take five minutes in which time we shall consider one simple aspect of being a disciple (5 minutes in Discipleship). I shall post 2-3 times each week and intend to follow Mark’s Gospel highlighting aspects of the example of Jesus that we can apply to our lives as his disciples.

Mark 1:9-13

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son,whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.

From this passage I wonder how you would describe the relationship of the Holy Spirit and Jesus? There are two obvious points to notice:
– The Spirit descended upon Jesus. The image suggests he was coming from heaven (in the Bible heaven is up)
– The Spirit sent him out. Was it an order, a command or a suggestion of the best way to move forward?

How would you describe your relationship with the Holy Spirit?

Jesus makes it clear in John’s Gospel that it is his intention for every believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Jn 7:37-39,

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”By this he meant the Spirit,whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

If we are following Jesus, looking at him, copying him, then in just the same way that he was, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Time to think

1. Have you asked God our Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit? Lk 11:13,  “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

2. Do you know the fellowship of the Holy Spirit? 2 Corinthians 13:14

3. Are you led by the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life? “…the Spirit sent him out…”

 

A final prayer

2013-09-17 08.22.04Today was my last day of lecturing at Life Transforming College International in Siliguri, the students pictured on the right had the delight of attending my last lecture. I have enjoyed many good times with the staff and students of that institution and praise God for giving me the chance to be involved there. Over the last few days I have been praying for them more than I usually do – I long that God will continue to do a life changing work in their hearts and minds. This passage from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 has been the foundation for my praying. God bless you my friends!

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

I leave confident that God has something new for me, though he hasn’t revealed it to me yet. I would value your prayers for my wife, children and me to know the door to walk through.