Tag Archives: making disciples

A Season For War (2 Samuel 11-12; I Chronicles 20)

There is a phrase in both 2 Samuel and I Chronicles that caught my attention this morning: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…”

Why spring? It sounds like the start of baseball season or something. I did some research and this is what I found:

Spring was the ideal time for going to war because, first, the rains were over which meant the soldiers could march on solid and dry ground. There was grass in the fields, fruit on trees, and ripe corn, food for both soldiers and horses. There was wisdom in the timing.

Now, soldiers could suit up at any time of the year. Not all battles were fought in the best circumstances. But if a king could wait until spring before going into battle, he had a better chance of success because his soldiers didn’t have to fight the enemy AND the elements.

I am reminded of Paul’s second letter to Timothy when he told the young preacher to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season…

We, like the Old Testament soldiers can suit up at any time. In fact, we are told to put on the armor of God every day. We are instructed to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus. Our battles, and our opportunities to share the Gospel, don’t just come at prime time. We are told to be prepared to preach the Word at all times.

But I am challenged today to plan my battle strategy, to look for the signs that tell me the time is right to go to that person God has laid on my heart to confront their sin in order to lead them to their Savior. Sometimes we might be tempted to barge in when it’s convenient for us, only to be met with the challenge of fighting the elements of distractions or resistance or misunderstandings while we are trying to fight the battle against sin.

I want to wait for God’s timing, because He is preparing the ground for battle. I want to recognize His season for war against Satan, and be prepared to fight the fight He is leading. Not my season. But His.

May I be prepared every day by putting on the whole armor of God, by being ready to give an answer, to share the Gospel whenever the opportunity presents itself. May I be sensitive to God’s timing. And may I be a faithful and obedient soldier so that when God says, “Charge!” I’m the first to go.

Shepherds and Warriors (Numbers 27)

Oh, for more leaders like the one Moses prayed would succeed him. A shepherd. A warrior.

I know I’m cynical, but I think too many leaders in our churches are businessmen, entertainers, and followers. So much focus is on making their churches look like everyone else’s church, I wonder how much real shepherding is going on.

I don’t know of any warrior who invites the enemy into camp in order to fight a battle. Yet the emphasis in many churches today is to make worship inviting, to bring people in to hear the Word and be saved. I wonder how many pastors are truly leading their people into battle, going into the neighborhoods and towns to make disciples. Too many are focused on fighting the battle within the safety of their church walls.

That was never part of Jesus’ plan according to Scripture.

I pray God will raise up more leaders in our churches whose focus is in being the shepherds and the warriors God needs for His Church. Maybe God is calling you.

If You Build It… (Exodus 25-27)

Sometimes when I read the intricate details of God’s plan for the sanctuary, my eyes glaze over. That happened today, and I was finding it hard to hear what God would say to me about these chapters. As I was praying, I felt God nudge me to take a look at what Warren Wiersbe had to say (With The Word; Oliver Nelson Books; 1991). Here’s what struck me this morning page 61:

“God could have made the whole tabernacle in an instant of creative power, but instead He asked the people to bring Him their offerings. They were privileged to make a sanctuary for God.”

I hadn’t thought about that. If God was so insistent on having the tabernacle done in such specific details, why didn’t He just do it Himself? He certainly had the power. Well, maybe He wanted His children to obey Him, to be a part of the process, to take ownership of God’s House.

The same is true today. God could build His Church today by miraculously changing the hearts of men, by using His power to force people into believing. But instead, He has asked us to go and make disciples. We have the privilege to make a Church for God, to obey Him, to be a part of the process, to take ownership of God’s Church.

Now, I’m not saying we have any power on our own. But God is asking us to be a conduit for His power to change lives, to save souls. That’s His plan. Yes, it takes time, effort, inconvenience at times. But God’s plan for building His Church includes you!

And sometimes the building of God’s church (small “c”) includes you, too. For instance, our church is in the middle of a building project. We have the land, we have readied the land, but we are a few hundred thousand dollars short of being able to break ground. Now, some of us are praying that God would move in the heart of a rich benefactor, that by some miracle the money will come so He can build His church on this island. We would absolutely give God all the glory! That’s not a bad prayer. And God is certainly able to answer that prayer today.

But God is asking us to build that church. It might require sacrificial giving, effort, inconvenience in the lives of we who are part of this fellowship of believers. But we have the privilege of building a church for God.

I think God’s plan is a good one, not that He’s looking for my approval. And I love the example the Jewish people lived, as they gave, and worked, and obeyed God in the making of what must have been a beautiful sanctuary there in the desert. Their obedience must have spoken to the pagan people around them, it certainly speaks to me today.

May I buy into God’s plan, and be a faithful worker in the building of His beautiful Church in 2020. As I think about it, I want to be faithful in contributing to the building of His spiritual Church, AND the church building that will house Frederica Baptist Church on the north end of Saint Simons Island.

Because I believe if we are faithful, obedient workers in God’s Kingdom, if we build what He has asked us to build, people will notice. If we build it… they will come.

 

November 27; It’s Not Right

I Corinthians 8:1-11:1

Our society is obsessed with “rights,” aren’t we? The right to an abortion. The right to marry who I want to marry. The right not to look at a Confederate flag or a caricature of a smiling Indian on a baseball cap. We are so determined to exercise our “rights” we don’t care who we have to step on to get them.

Paul says if anyone has “rights” it’s a Christian. In 10:23 he tells us that for those of us redeemed by the blood of Jesus, “everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

The apostle tells us he willingly gives up his “rights” for the good of others. He gives example after example of this in the chapters we read today. He goes as far as to say, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (22b)

Not long ago I heard a preacher use that verse to promote contemporary worship. That is a twisting of this Scripture that makes me so angry. Paul is NOT talking about worship at all. What Paul is talking about is much harder than rocking to a few repetitive phrases in order to “experience worship,” or even to entice people into attending the service on Sunday.

Paul is talking about what you are going to do today to reach someone for Jesus’ sake. Paul is talking about investing yourself in the life of a non-believer, spending time talking about and doing the things that person enjoys. Paul is talking about giving up some of your rights in order to put that eternal soul ahead of your own comfort or desires

I don’t know where we got the idea that Jesus wants us to invite unsaved people to church. He never said that. In fact if you read the Bible you’ll see that the church needs to be restricted to believers for a very good reason.

What Jesus told us, and what Paul is demonstrating, is to get off the couch, let go of what you think you deserve, and BE the person that will make that non-believer want what you have in Jesus. Go, Jesus said. Make disciples. Think of others more important than yourself.

I know that takes effort and energy. It takes time and it’s not always convenient. But it’s not right for a Christian NOT to.

October 13; You Talking’ To Me?

Mark 14:29-44; Matthew 14:1-21; Luke 9:7-17; John 6:1-15

What did Jesus mean by telling the disciples to feed the five thousand men (plus women and children) that day they were on that remote hill? The disciples suggested the people leave to go find food for themselves. There weren’t exactly Walmart stores around the corner. The people had been there all day, some had come from great distances. They were hungry. And Jesus said, “Feed them.”

You talkin’ to me, Lord?

The disciples found a few loaves of bread and some fish and brought it to Jesus. “This is all we have,” they told Him. And it was enough.

What did Jesus mean by telling us to go and make disciples?

You talkin’ to me, Lord? I didn’t go to seminary. I’m not great with words. I’m shy. I’m just a regular guy, no Billy Graham here. I wouldn’t know what to say. Send them to the preacher, or the Sunday School teacher. Or let them figure things out for themselves. I don’t have what it takes to make disciples.

In the feeding of the 5000 Jesus didn’t expect his disciples to scrounge up enough food for everyone. He asked them to give Him everything they had. They did, and the people were fed – with plenty of food left over!

Who is Jesus telling you to feed today? Are you going to let them fend for themselves, or will you expect them to go somewhere else to hear about the Savior because you are looking at your meager abilities?

Hear Jesus tell you to give Him what you have, and let Him take those meager abilities and turn you into a disciple-maker.

Yes. He’s talking to you!

March 30; A Candle In The Window

Joshua 19:32-21:45; I Chronicles 6:54-81

Joshua instructed the tribes to assign cities for the Levites. Remember, the Levites did not receive an inheritance of land in Canaan. God Himself was their portion. But they had to live somewhere.

As a result, sprinkled throughout the Promised Land, there were forty-eight cities designated as Levitical towns. The Levites were the sanctuary protectors, the priests, the Truth authorities. And God made sure they were accessible to everyone in the country.

Matthew Henry says this about the Levitical cities we read about here in Joshua:

“Thus God set up a candle in every room of his house, to give light to all his family.” (Commentary In One Volume; Zondervan; 1991; page 235)

I like that analogy. I’m reminded Jesus called Himself the Light of the world. (John 8:12) And in Matthew 5 He tells us WE are the light of the world and should never hide our light under a bowl. Before He went back to heaven, Jesus told us to go into all the world, to share the Gospel and make disciples. In other words, to shine our light!

I think God would have us consider our spiritual wattage. Are we, as children of God through the blood of Jesus, shining His light into a world that desperately needs Him? If not, why not?

May we each be that candle through the window that bids people come to the Light which is Jesus Christ.

This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Zephaniah; Complacent

I don’t think we fully understand the length to which God goes to address sin in our individual lives, and in the world. This God, who is not willing that anyone die without Him, who went to the cross so no one has to, is actively working in all our lives to get our attention, to draw us to Himself, to hear us confess our sin so He can shower us with His amazing grace. But some of us are so stubborn.

Chapter 3 talks about the lack of morality, how brazen people can be in their depravity. Verses 6-7 tells us God disciplines sin with the intent people will recognize their need of Him and repent, so that He can remove His hand of judgment, and bless them. “But they were still eager to act corruptly in all they did.” (Emphasis mine)

Now, before we get too comfortable thinking, “I’m not committing any brazen acts of disobedience, or living a sinful lifestyle,” let’s back up to Chapter 1:12. God says He will punish complacency, those who think, “God won’t do anything either good or bad, so I’ll just sit here in the comfort of my pew.”

Look at 2:15.

This is the carefree city that lived in safety. She said to herself, “I am, and there is none besides me.” What a ruin she has become, a lair for wild beasts! All who pass by her scoff and shake their fists.”

Does that sound like 21st Century USA? I think it does. But the bigger question is: does that sound like any of us? Are we banking on that day when we accepted Jesus as our Savior, thinking we’ve got it made-in-the-shade because well, once saved always saved. But we don’t make an attempt to “grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus,” and we don’t live lives that look different from the world, and we certainly don’t share Jesus with anyone else for whatever reason. Oh, we go to church most of the time. And we even keep our Bible on the table next to our beds. We pray before we eat when we remember to. And we recognized how blessed we are to live where we live, to be able to pay our bills, and see the doctor only at our yearly exam. Life is good. And we’re a bit smug about it all. Isn’t that the definition of “complacency?”

Dear one, Zephaniah tells us God punishes “complacency.” If you think you can be described as “complacent,” ask God to forgive you. It is a sin. Then get out there and get busy making disciples.

I am reminded, through Zephaniah, that God does and will continue to punish sin (including complacency), until we repent or He comes again. And His discipline will only continue to hurt more and more as long as people continue to act corruptly. I’m also reminded God WANTS to stop the hand of judgment, and He will, if we turn to Him.

“But they were still eager to act (complacently) in all they did.” (paraphrase mine)

May no one ever have a reason to call you or me complacent. May we be busy doing the will of God, growing in our relationship with Him by studying His Word and praying. May we be actively leading people to their Savior, so that God can forgive and bless us, our land, and the world for Jesus’ sake and for His glory.