Viewing entries tagged
discipleship

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Brandon Rood

 

Isn’t it true that we are drawn to the voices we are most familiar with and the people we are closest to? I remember being able to identify exactly where my dad was sitting when he went and sat down in the sanctuary at church.  I would be running around playing with my friends before service began. When it came time to start service I would run to the entrance of the big room and listen for my dad to clear his throat (which he did fairly often) and went running towards the sound. That sound pierced through the noise of all the other voices around me. Why? I had spent a lot of time with my dad, my whole life! I knew his words and his ways. Had it been anyone else clearing their throat I wouldn’t have noticed. Now that I’m married with kids I can understand this even more. When someone says something funny in a group of people I can always identify my wife’s laughter and know where she is. It pierces through all the other noise because I know her, and I’ve spent a great deal of time getting to know her. I always know where my children are when they’re playing with a large group of kids by the sound of their laughter.

 

John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”

 

Jesus had clearly earned quite a reputation and following at this point in his story. He had walked on water, fed five thousand people, turned water into wine, healed a man who was blind and paralyzed, and through his teachings given people many opportunities to know who he was. This was a big deal because God’s people had been waiting over four hundred years for a savior to come set them free and make them a great nation once again like all of the prophets in the Old Testament kept speaking of. Jesus had clearly demonstrated who he was to those who followed him, believed in him, and were close with him. They knew his voice.

 

Jesus was walking along the temple in Jerusalem when a group of Jews surrounded him and asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” What does their question reveal about those asking him?

 

Reflect on your own relationship with Jesus now. We are called to be disciples of Jesus. This means we are called to follow him, build a relationship with him, act like he acts, speak like he speaks, and do what he asks us to do. This requires time, commitment, and effort in getting to know Him, just like it does in building a relationship with your parents, your spouse, and your kids.

 

Take time now and talk to Jesus.

 

“Jesus, thank you for saving me and adopting me into your family. Would you please help me build my relationship with you as your child? Help me to become familiar with your voice so that it pierces through the other noise.  Help me to learn your words and your ways. Help me to ______.”
 


If you want help understanding how to hear the voice of God in practical ways, there are opportunities here at SCC. Talk to someone who has a healthy prayer life and ask them how they hear the voice of God. SCC also offers a class on learning how to pray where they cover that. 

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Don Taggart

 

Therefore, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

1 Timothy 2:8

 

 In today’s riveting installment of the shelbychurch.org blog, we’ll be discussing discipleship once more. Discipleship has been a huge focus not only for SCC, but for The Church ever since Jesus uttered the admonition to his disciples “go and make disciples of all nations.”

 

Before we even start to dig in to what the verse in Timothy is trying to convey, we’re already treated to a biblical example of discipleship in action in Timothy himself. He was a young man Paul encountered during his second missionary journey, who was already well thought of as a disciple in his hometown. Apparently, Timothy was so affected by the message of Jesus and a call to The Great Commission, that he decided to drop whatever it was that his life was all about until that point and follow Paul. Paul walked beside Timothy and mentored him in person for several years before sending him out on his own. These letters (1st and 2nd Timothy) were Paul’s way of communicating with Timothy in a phase of his maturity in which Paul could trust Timothy’s leadership. Aside from the occasional instruction and encouragement of a letter, Paul eventually deemed Timothy ready to lead and teach on his own.

 

Paul’s discipleship model to Timothy is still, not shockingly, the way most good discipleship happens today. Walk closely beside for a season and slowly taper down the unidirectional leadership as the disciple becomes a mentor and leader for others.

 

So… back to our verse: Paul is laying out some instructions for worship. Obviously, anytime we see “Therefore” at the beginning of a verse we need to check the context by reading the stuff leading up to that. To paraphrase the several verses prior to verse 8, Paul exhorts people to pray, intercede, give thanks, etc. because it pleases the Lord, and that Jesus gave himself as ransom and now is the mediator between God and mankind… THEREFORE, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

 

One could read 10 different commentaries on this verse (I did) and get 10 different takes on it, but that’s the beauty and the mystery of the Bible. If we’re intentional to ask, the Holy Spirit will help interpret and amplify the text in a way that affects each of us in a personalized way, even on the off chance that we’re not fluent in Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic.

 

My interpretation of what Paul wants Timothy to teach his disciples, which by the transitive property (math joke) includes all of us, is as simple as this-

 

·      ALL of us are to pray (as a normal part of our minute by minute life)

·      lifting up (either literally or figuratively, either in praise or need)

·      holy hands (hands resolved to say no to compromise and sin)

·      without anger or disputing (with a peaceful forgiving heart)

 

So, Father, let us become the disciples you desire for us to be. Let us be like Paul when you want us to be and let us be like Timothy when you want us to be. Use us to further Your glory by helping us to be a little part of the Great Commission. Help our hearts and our minds, in the spirit of 1 Timothy 2:8, to embrace praying constantly, praising You always, living without compromise, and loving without offense. Amen!

 

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

Written by Nolan Wethington

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11


For me, this verse simply means that God always has a plan for you. Sometimes you may not be
able to see what that plan is, but keep in mind when you are faced with a decision, big or small,
the Lord can take the weight off your shoulders if you let Him.


I have turned to this verse many times in the past months as I was struggling to find the right
path for myself after high school. I am admittedly a bit of a control freak, I like to plan things
out, even the little things sometimes. If I have a lot to do in a certain day, I make a schedule and
I try to stick to it. But I was thrown of my game during my senior year of high school.

My senior year hit like a bag of bricks to the face. All of a sudden, I was given so many different
options that had real consequences, and every single option had a totally different path that
went along with it. Not having a solid plan was killing me, but I found comfort in the fact that
God has a plan me.

But here is the great thing:  He doesn't just have a plan for me, He has one
for you as well.


A simple but powerful prayer: Lord, I pray for patience and wisdom when facing decisions. It
may not be clear to me right now, but I know that you have a plan for me. Thank you. In Jesus'
Name, Amen.

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Jessica Ebert

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.  James 5:13

 

As disciples of Christ, we aren’t promised an easy journey. We all face periods of trials and walk through what seem to be dark valleys. James 5:13 tells us that during these times we need to be reliant on God and pray. During these difficult, and at times confusing, points in our lives, we need to be reliant on God, knowing that he has good intentions for his children….his disciples.

 

What is the first thing we do when experience a personal crisis? Do we call a loved one for encouragement or support? Do we let whatever this crisis is shake us to our core and worry ourselves sick? What would happen if we immediately took a minute to stop and pray to our Heavenly Father for help?

 

Being a disciple of Christ means that we are living out our daily lives with Him…not just experiencing his presence on Sunday mornings or in a small group. Discipleship is personal…it is real. I challenge you to be intentional about living daily with God…to take our cares and concerns, but also our victories, and be prayerful about them. Instead of facing our trials alone or approaching them like we do every other day…let’s face them as disciples of Christ. We can claim victory over these in the name of our Lord…so why aren’t we living as though we have already won the battle?!

 

Father, we ask that You help us walk more closely with You. Give us confidence during our trials Lord, knowing that You have already fought our battles and conquered them on our behalf. Remind us during times when we feel overwhelmed or even helpless, that You are always by our side. Help us to bring all of our burdens to Your feet Lord…knowing that You willingly carry these for us. We love You, Lord, and are so thankful for all that You have blessed us with…in Jesus’ name…Amen.

 

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Kay Hungate

 

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. 

Proverbs 15:8

 

Detest and wicked – such strong words to find in the Bible!  Yet – when Solomon wrote these words, he did have a very clear message for us.  Solomon wanted us to think about our everyday life and he offers us guidance on how to navigate what is a path filled with choices.  God asks that we confess our sins and He promises to take them away.  Even those that are in the deep recesses of our soul that we share with no one – God sees and knows them.  God is asking us to have a clean heart before Him, bring our cares, anxieties and sins before Him so He may wash them clean.  Then, through the Holy Spirit, He asks that we be ‘fishers of men’ and pursue discipleship.

 

God wins when we bring one more person into His family.  We accomplish this through trying to live in accordance with the word of God, fellowship and prayer.  This thing called ‘discipleship’ sounds a bit intimidating to me.  However, if we think about it as trying to live like Jesus, understanding God accepts our failures and faults, it becomes very real. Remember, even the 12 disciples disappointed Jesus and had sin and yet, He kept walking beside them.   Being a disciple means spreading the love of Jesus and helping others to understand how much they are loved by the Lord and that He gave His only Son to take away our sins.  If we attempt to live like Jesus, letting His joy spring from our hearts, demonstrating the compassion, gentleness and kindness of Christ, others will want what we have, a life in the Lord!  That opens the door for us to share the love of Christ and all He is done for us. 

 

Discipleship and being ‘fishers of men’ is about taking one step at a time, moving beyond what may be our comfort zone in the name of Jesus.  It is being Jesus with skin on.  Once you take the first step, the next one gets a bit easier.  When covered in prayer, it is amazing how the power of the Holy Spirit will provide you with the right words at the right time to share the love of Jesus.  May you choose to be the light of Jesus in someone’s darkness.

 

Prayer Starter

Lord, I know I am called to be your hands and feet for others, but it isn’t always easy.  You know what is in my heart.  I pray that Your Spirit may work within me and help me to take that next step.  I pray that…..

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Jessica Seelye

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.  Psalm 116:1-2

 

Time and time again I can list instances where I have prayed to God, and He has heard my cry. I haven’t always received the answers to my prayers the way that I had planned, but God has been faithful every single time.

 

When I read these two verses I hear hope. A hope that when we pray to God that He will be faithful. God hears my prayers. God hears my voice. The greatest part in all of this is that He hears you too. The writer of this Psalm is getting ready to share a testimony of how God was faithful. He isn’t just remembering a past experience when praying to God, but he is remembering a deep assurance from it that God will hear him next time as well. These verses help us see the past, the present, and the future promises of God.  It’s a promise that we can pray to God because he HAS proven himself faithful in prayer. Can you hear the love of the Psalmist for God in these verses? The writer not only knows that he loves God, but he knows why he loves God so much. “When love can justify itself with a reason, it is deep, strong, and abiding.” (The Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon)

 

As we continue to pray for our community, families, and the discipleship direction of our church we can rest in the promise that God is hearing our prayers. God HAS heard our prayers, and He will continue to do that moving forward. In what areas has God proven himself faithful to you? You might be in a season right now where it is really hard to see God’s faithfulness. When we pray for sick loved ones, and the answer doesn’t come out right. When we pray for a new job, and it still hasn’t happened yet. When we pray for someone with an addiction, and they are still struggling.

 

My challenge to you today is to look deeper. Remind yourself of where God has been faithful to you. Ask him in prayer to remind you of those areas where he has listened, and you watched him work in your life.  

 

Prayer: Father, I love You. I love how You hear my voice. You hear my cries out to You. I love that You hear me when I don’t have the words to say. I love how You turn your ear to me. I love that I can come to You with my questions, my hurts, my praises, my sadness, my happiness, and my thoughts. Help me to see that through prayer my love for You can grow deeper, and that my thoughts and words matter to You.

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Tammy Crenshaw

 

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  Matthew 7:11

 

Ask, seek, knock are all ACTION words.  How active is your prayer life?  Do you ask selfishly?  When you seek, is it to find selfish answers?  Are you knocking on a door in hopes that God will open it for your own selfish gain?

 

As a Christian we are called to follow Jesus' actions. What does that mean when you read a verse like Matthew 7:11?  Praying unselfish prayers takes an intentional mindset.  When we pray using action words like ask, seek and knock, we need to be ready to act when we feel God prompting us into action. Today's verse clearly tells us that when we ask, it will be given.  (Ask Him with a loving heart).  If we seek, we will find. (Seek with eyes on Him). If we knock, it will be opened to us. (Knock with the expectation that His answer will be revealed).

 

Matthew’s words seem simplistic.  You mean, all I have to do is ask and “it” will be given?  Wait, what is “it”?  What if the “it” I ask for isn’t the “it” I’m given? There may be some fear associated with asking, seeking and knocking.  We must have the intentional mindset of, “I’m going to ask God for ‘it’ and believe the ’it’ He gives, is His will for me.”  The belief in God hearing our prayerful action words and showing us His will when we ask, seek or knock should not cause us to be fearful, but instead, should bring us peace.  There is peace in knowing that God knows which “it” will allow His glory to be seen even if “it” was not the “it” we asked for.

 

When we pray, we are having an active conversation with God. You do not need to speak any fancy words when you are having a conversation with God. He doesn’t expect our conversations to always be warm and fuzzy. He wants to hear you Ask, Seek and Knock in the belief and expectation that you will be Given, Found and Opened to His great love and glory.

 

My prayer for us today:

Hey God, I come to You today with my heart and eyes actively fixed on You. I ask, seek and knock expecting Your will for my life. Help me to be intentional in my prayer life and in my walk with You.  Help me believe in Your will for my life.  May others see You through my actions today.  In Your name I pray. Amen.

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Laurie Brooks

 

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.  Luke 6:12

 

Luke is a physician, an associate and traveling companion of Paul.  It is thought that Luke wrote his gospel for an influential man named Theophilus, from whom Luke may have received funding for his writing endeavor.  Theophilus may have been a new convert and was financially able to affront the funds and materials necessary to Luke.  Luke, himself, could have been a man of great means as well. 

 

I tend to be very scientific when I ponder the Word of God.  I like to know and understand the black and white facts - which means I think WAY too hard about verses and tend to question things I should just chalk up to faith. 

 

So, while I was researching this verse (there goes that black and white thing again), I found it very interesting that a man of obvious means should leave his home and travel with Paul.  He became a disciple – he accepted and assisted in spreading God’s word.  And Luke had never met Jesus! 

 

So, before I could even pray about this verse, I was completely impressed that Luke would follow Paul, believe and have faith in Jesus, when he could have stayed at home in his comfortable “doctor’s house”. 

 

Luke tells me that Jesus went to a mountainside and prayed.  He also spent the night praying to God.  What was so important to Jesus that He felt he needed to pray all night?  The next verse gives my scientific brain a hint (well, a slap up-side the head, actually):  “in the morning, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them as His apostles."  It was the very beginning of THE disciple creating disciples! 

 

As we have all heard a lot lately “SCC wins when we make a disciple who makes another disciple."  This is where it all started!  Jesus prayed all night about this very thing. 

 

But what do you suppose He asked of God?  I don’t know about you, but my mind would have wandered after about five minutes, and I would have fallen asleep in less than thirty minutes.  It has nothing to do with the importance of this – it has everything to do with being human. 

 

We heard a sermon (here at SCC) about this, and I have talked about it with my small group.  How in the world do you pray all night long?  You talk.  You just talk to God.  Have a conversation with Him.  Much as Jesus probably prayed:

            Please help me be a disciple of Christ and fulfill His mission!

            Help my church become disciples in our community!

            Pray that I (and SCC) trust, learn, and have a bigger faith in Him!

            Guide me in Your path that I might lead others to You.

 

Just talk to God.  He is always listening. 

            

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Tom Hoehner

 

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Matthew 6:5-8

 

Jesus cautions us here not to display our piety before men.    Why?.........because we are all sinners so making such a display is  hypocritical.  The closet place of prayer is a special place. Over the years I have discovered that if I am faithful to the discipline of prayer, that I come to the place where God calls me to pray for specific people and specific situations.

 

My parents' generation called it a "burden" to pray.   Mom would say, "God has put a burden on my heart to pray for thus and such."  When this happens, stop whatever you are doing and pray.......  if you don't the burden will lift, and you will have missed an opportunity to intercede for something  really important. Sometimes you will find yourself overcome with emotion and you are not sure why, but you know it is a call from God to pray.

 

Scripture also tells us that wherever two or three of us agree as touching any one thing it shall come to pass.  This is corporate prayer........ agreement that brings power and God's intervention in a situation. Both closet prayer and corporate prayer are vital cogs in our prayer life.

 

Be sensitive today to the voice of God and if He impresses you to pray for a person or situation follow through on that. 

 

When it happens to me it is sort of "out of the blue" and sometimes it is someone that I have not had contact with for a very long time.    I still pray for my government and Spanish teachers from high school because God puts them on my heart.

 

If God impresses you to pray for a certain person and you are able to contact them, sometimes I will get in touch and just say something like........" I'm not sure why but for some reason you are on my heart today."  Be prepared to do some counseling............nothing opens up a person to ministry like the knowledge that God is putting them on someone's heart.

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Stephanie Munger

 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

 

You can Google or research the best practices of living a Christian life and find thousands of perspectives. At SCC, we have small groups, we have Sunday morning worship, we have a large intentional community who thrive on supporting one another, but sometimes that is not enough. Going to the Bible as a resource in the book of James, James explores the “how-to” disciplines of a Christian life. James wrote his letter originally to the persecuted Christians of the first-century in hopes to expose hypocritical practices and encourage healthy and genuine Christian faith. The setting and experiences of being a 21st century Christian may seem day and night compared to the lives of James’ original audience, but that is not to say his letter is outdated or unusable.

 

Looking specifically at this verse in James, we are drawn to the practice of prayer in relation to those around us. Anytime a verse begins with therefore we must backtrack to understand the cause for this verse. In v. 15, James wrote, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” Our faith must produce action. Active and fervent prayer is the life source of a healthy Christian life. It is our bridge to our Heavenly Father. We are not only called to pray for ourselves, but also for our Christian brothers and sisters—that is when authentic healing occurs in the Church.

 

In my own life, those who I feel closest and at times the most vulnerable with are those who intercede on my behalf through prayer. The second part of v. 16 speaks on the fervent or earnest prayer that “produces wonderful results”. This is to say James is not speaking on five second prayers that quickly cross our minds and just as quick leave. The prayer James refers to is the type that occurs often, that goes deeper than a quick request, that is directed to the heart of God and avoids empty intentions. To be a disciple is to bring others to Christ, and what better way than to speak directly to God himself?

 

The scary nature of vulnerability is not immune to even the most mature Christian. In this sense, we must respond appropriately to those who come to us with their confessions. Confession of sin should not imitate gossip nor be in the boundaries of unwholesome talk. “Those who hear the confession should have the proper response: loving, intercessory prayer, and not human wisdom, gossiping, or “sharing” the need with others.” (Enduring Word Commentary) The easiest yet subtle way interceding prayer becomes gossip is when the focus of the request is solely on the action or sin instead of bringing healing and reconciliation to the person in need.

 

Prayer: “Lord, I am not meant to do this life alone. You bring people into my life to encourage, to walk alongside, and to challenge me. Allow me to see when the need arises to confess my sins, whether personal or directed toward another, in hopes that healing may be achieved and my relationship to You preserved. Additionally, work in me to be a person who my brothers and sisters may come to in need and know I will fervently pray on their behalf.”