“You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven…” Luke 18:22
When the young, wealthy ruler encountered Jesus, the latter's words struck him to the quick, suddenly compelling him to examine his beliefs and motives. Would he give up the riches he had worked so hard to get, along with the associated status, power, and voice? His entire world was laid out before him, upending all of his core values, beliefs, and world view of his being.
When you and I encounter Jesus, what happens within us?
Our entire existence should be re-oriented and reframed as we have a fresh encounter with the Lord.
Just as the rich, young ruler, our lives can be suddenly turned upside down. Jesus gets to the crux of the matter as He touches into our personhood, our gifts and resources. Consequently, an internal filter emerges, revealing the motives of the heart. How are we prepared to respond?
Each time we are brought face to face with a need, we have the opportunity to encounter the heart of the Father. We can harden our hearts and turn our thoughts elsewhere or we can ask “Lord, what would You want me to do in this situation?”
We may have ideas of savings for retirement, fulfilment of travel dreams, the purchase of another home or cottage or setting funds aside for residential care in our later years – yet, our plans can be pre-empted by an encounter with a need.
Our giving and partnering with God are much greater than ourselves. We do it unto Him. We respond in obedience. We make ourselves available for His purposes. We avail our wealth, resources and person to Him –the author and creator of all.
We will have many opportunities in this side of heaven to partner with Him. We can open ourselves up to see the world around us through the eyes of the Father, knowing what value He placed on people and the Kingdom in which we are called to live. Are we willing and available?
Nothing is more thrilling and rewarding than realizing we have been about the Father’s business.
Have we given Him our undivided attention and unwavering response in every new encounter? All that we have is His. What other way could we respond?
May our hearts be open to a fresh encounter with Him that radically changes our perspectives and causes us to see the endless possibilities where we can release our wealth for eternal purposes and the expansion of the Kingdom in the lives of many.
I heard a song the other day, and these particular words stood out for me:
I'm gonna know what it means to live
And not just be alive
-Say I won’t by Mercy Me-
I’ve been thinking about those words and what they really mean.
God gave us the gift to be alive, and if we really think about it, it doesn't require much effort on our part. We need to eat, sleep, etc. A lot of these things are part of our daily lives and we all do these things, regardless of what we believe. These are all basic human needs. Living, however is a bit different when we really think about it.
When we say that we are living, it is something that we all can do differently. We have different jobs, live in different areas, have different families, etc. So how we live is actually something we choose to do, regardless of circumstances. We can choose how to live each day.
So let’s look at a couple of verses and dig into this a bit more.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
In the book of Philippians, Paul was imprisoned in Rome, awaiting a potential death sentence for sharing the gospel. Imagine what he was going through. We can’t possibly, but if we really think about the text in the verse we just read, we will have a different perspective on what that means. Paul was quite literally meaning that with all of his heart.
What does it mean to really live for Christ? How do we know if we are truly living for Him?
Let’s look at 3 things today that we can do that can help us answer these important questions.
All things have been created through Him and for Him. We must first realize that living for Christ is not about us. Jesus demonstrated this in the most amazing way, by giving His life for all when no one deserved it. Even during his life, Jesus was always focused on the needs of others. While this may not be easy at times, let us take the time each day to focus on others.
2. Living for Christ is a lifestyle
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
Living for Christ is not just about going to a church building. Every area of our lives ought to demonstrate that we are living for Christ. Our jobs, school, what we watch, what we listen to, how we talk to others, etc. are some examples. If we are just attending a church service and not living for Christ in our everyday lives, we are not truly living for Christ.
Another thing to remember about this is also why we live for Christ. We do it for the Lord and not to impress or get the attention of others. Living for Christ is a lifestyle.
3. Living for Christ is a life-long commitment
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
Jesus is the only way to God and that is how we will enter into glory someday. Living for Christ is a beautiful commitment and wonderful honor. Life is never perfect and we all do face challenges, but let’s keep at it. Let’s move forward in Christ. By staying connected to God and other believers, we can be encouraged to continue with this life-long commitment. I encourage you to make this a priority in your life for God. Do it for Him. He is worthy and He is awesome.
Paul was truly living for Christ, not only through his words, but how he lived his life for Christ.
Jesus was everything to him and like Paul, we are encouraged to live out our faith each day by God’s grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit. We cannot do it on our own strength and ability. We need to depend on God.
Like the song I mentioned earlier, let’s just not be alive but let’s truly live…for Christ.
At OMS Canada, we have some remarkable missionaries whose hearts are to live for Christ and to share and encourage others to do the same. A lot of them make different sacrifices for their own families and by God’s grace, they live for Christ. Please prayerfully consider supporting one of these servants today. We are all in this together, living for Christ. May God continue to bless you as you are a blessing to others.
Welcome back to the Discipleship blog series. If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can find them here.
Last time we learned about the importance of finding that Person of Peace.
This week we will learn about the BLESS pattern for prayer.
It is true that one of the very best ways to identify a potential person of peace is to offer to pray for him or her. This will pretty quickly get to the point of whether this person is willing to engage with you on spiritual matters.
Here are five ways you can pray for people you meet during your Prayer Walk:
As you walk and pray, be alert for opportunities and listen for promptings by God’s Spirit to pray for individuals and groups you meet along the way.
You can say, “We’re praying for this community, is there anything in particular we can pray for you about?” Or say, “I’m praying for this area. Do you know anything in particular we should pray for?” After listening to their response, you can ask about their own needs. If they share, pray for them right away. If the Lord leads, you may pray about other needs as well.
Use the word B.L.E.S.S. to help you remember 5 different ways you can pray:
• Body [health]
• Labour [job and finances]
• Emotional [morale]
• Social [relationships]
• Spiritual [knowing and loving God more]
In most cases, people are grateful you care enough to pray.
If the person is not a Christian, your prayer may open the door to a spiritual conversation and an opportunity to share your story and God’s story. You can invite them to be a part of a Discovery Bible study or even host one in their home.
If the person is a Christian, you can invite them to join your Prayer Walk or train them how they can Prayer Walk and use simple steps like praying for areas of influence or the B.L.E.S.S. Prayer to grow God’s family even more.
So go out and practice this. God will bless your faithfulness with fruit.
One of the biggest challenges disciple makers face in Canada is the lack of enthusiasm for obedience. Some say that it sounds an awful lot like legalism to talk so much of obedience. Others claim they can have Jesus as Saviour but not so much as Lord. Still others just do not know how to build obedience into the regular rhythms of life.
To the first two comments (legalism and Lord) I would say that you really need to take this up with Jesus himself, as it is He who said to teach disciples to obey every command He had given (Matthew 28:19-20). His words, not mine. It’s not legalism, it’s simply obedience. And I don’t think you can claim one part of Jesus (His saving work) while refusing the other part (His requirement of obedience to His commands - Matthew 28:19-20).
So, how do you build faithful obedience into the DNA of a worshipping group or fellowship? By using the
Three Thirds Meeting format.
The Three Thirds Meeting- What is it?
This concept was first used by Ying Kai, but later put into a chart and words by Steve Smith. I want to be sure to give them credit as this is definitely not original with me (you can purchase the T4T book here).
You can use whatever words work well to describe the three parts for you in your context. Smith describes the three parts as:
Basic Three Thirds Meeting Structure
In using this, I’ve adjusted the sections a bit (from Smith’s description). I am using a hybrid approach that combines elements of both T4T and DBS. I stick to the three parts because of the powerful accountability loop it provides. The time frames are up to you, but its good to keep them somewhat equal. If you want to have a one-hour meeting, then 20 minutes for each section works well.
Look Back (20 minutes)
In the look back section, we start with Member Care. Instead of jumping straight into your lesson or Bible study, take a few minutes to hear how people in the group are doing. Ask about their families and take any prayer requests. This doesn’t need to be long (5 minutes is enough) but it should be sincere.
Then have a brief time of worship. You can sing a few songs or use non-musical worship.
After that you have a time of friendly accountability with the group. Ask them about the goals they set in the last meeting. How did they do at obeying God’s Word from the lesson last week? How did it go when they tried to share their testimony or what they learned last week? Smith says we should ask about both 1) following (the obeying and 2) fishing (the sharing).
Give everyone a chance to answer about both areas. If your group is too big, split into pairs or groups of three to do this friendly accountability time.
If you set goals and do not ask for a report, you are training disciples to be disobedient! You do not want to do that. So be sure to include this important accountability time as a regular part of your meeting DNA.
The final thing in the first section is Vision Casting. Vision casting is a short, simple challenge to reach the lost in your area. You can use a story, a scripture, picture or a variety of options for the vision casting part. But be sure to remind them every meeting of the urgency of reaching the lost. Keeping this front and centre helps to keep the group focused on the primary task of a disciple.
Look Up (20 minutes)
In this section you train them in content from God’s Word. Whether you use a short passage of scripture or a story, keep it brief. The reading of the passage or telling of the story should not be more than 5 minutes long.
After sharing the story or scripture several times, have the trainees/disciples repeat it back to you. This is very important in helping them gain confidence. It also helps you know what they have understood. In the DBS method, this is the “repeat the passage in your own words” part. Be sure that everyone in the group can repeat the passage or story with some level of accuracy before you move on to discuss it. If they make mistakes, gently correct them and ask them to try again until they can each share it well.
Adult learning specialists tell us that taking this step of repeating before interpreting is vital. It helps people to internalize what is being said. If you take time to do this well, you will find you have much deeper and more meaningful discussions about the scripture.
Then work through these questions to engage with the Scripture.
What do you like about this story/passage? What don’t you like? (this can include anything they find difficult to understand)
What do we learn about God?
What do we learn about people?
Is there a sin to avoid? A promise to believe?
Is there an example to follow? A command to obey?
Look Ahead (20 minutes)
Then, you move to discussion about how you will be faithful through sharing and obedience. These are questions you can use:
What did I discover/learn from this?
Who will I share with? (If you use this question, you are already moving into goal setting).
What will I obey?
Find the set of questions that works best for you. But stick to the same questions each time as you train. Variety can hinder multiplication. It needs to become normal and natural to always ask these same things.
During the discussion, make sure each person gets a chance to share. Again, this is why your disciple-making groups should not be too large. If you have a bigger group, split into pairs or threes to answer these questions so each person speaks. As disciples speak out these answers, the Word of God is taking root in their hearts.
Set specific goals related to following Jesus (obedience) and fishing for men (sharing). Make clear decisions regarding personal and/or group application of the scripture.
For example, say you study the passage about the Good Samaritan. You might decide as a group to work together to help a needy widow in your community that week. Also, be specific about who you will share the gospel or this week’s passage/story with in the coming week. The more specific the goals, the more likely people will do them! And, they know that next week, you will be asking them to report on how that went.
Start with reporting and end with goal setting in each disciple-making meeting. This is what we call the Friendly Accountability Loop. It works! Don’t let time pressure (because you had too long of worship or went into preaching-mode in the lesson time) cause you to skip these things.