As I sit in my hotel room in southern Jerusalem overlooking the city of Bethlehem, I cannot help but wonder if the Church, in its various forms of Christianity, is anything like Jesus intended. After His resurrection, Jesus commissioned his disciples to “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 28:19-20).
What does it mean to be a disciple (a student) of Jesus the Messiah? To the first century Jew, was becoming a disciple more than making a decision to follow Jesus? Was becoming a disciple more than joining a church? I believe so. David Pileggi (i.e. Rector of Christ Church, Jerusalem) says that first-century discipleship involved loving the Torah (i.e. the books of the “Law” comprising the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), loving study, and imitating the one whom you were following. Discipleship involved entering into a relationship with someone who taught you and modeled for you the life of God. Let’s look at Discipleship a little more closely.
These are three basic understandings that first-century followers of Jesus would have understood about what being a disciple means. As you and I seek to be disciples and make disciples for Jesus, let us be people who love the Scripture, study the Scripture, and imitate Jesus Christ and the life he lived. Let us not be about just making more religious people, but people who are disciples of Jesus.
Dr. Foley Beach is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (Canada, US, and Mexico).
In our busyness, we can neglect some important aspects of following Jesus, which would help us to know Him better, to understand Him better, and to deepen our relationship with Him. These aspects of following Jesus are usually not screaming for our attention; therefore, they are often overlooked in the hectic pace at which most of us live. While not an exhaustive list, these relationship attributes are offered to encourage you to go deeper with the Lord.Generosity: A Gift from God Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist who made millions of dollars from inventing and selling dynamite. One day in 1888, he was shocked to open the newspaper and see this headline: “The Merchant of Death is Dead.” It was his obituary! After reading his own obituary, Alfred Nobel realized that the legacy of his life was not what he had hoped. He set out to make a change becoming a generous person who shared his resources to make a positive difference in the world. Learn to become a generous person. Was There Really a Resurrection? Every year billions of Christians all over the world gather to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. Jesus was executed by the Roman government on a cross outside Jerusalem for his claim of being the Messiah. Today, as back then, there are many who don’t believe it. For those who believe, they discover that Jesus is really alive. This is not just a matter of intellectual assent; it is also a matter of belief (of faith). One can learn all the historical, archaeological, and scholarly data, but it always comes back to a simple step of faith.
Part I -- INTRODUCTION: We are told in the New testament that there is a Spiritual Gift of faith that God imparts, but most of us don't use our Spiritual Gift of faith. Faith is like a muscle; if we don't use it, like a muscle, faith atrophies. You cannot live on yesterday's faith -- you must use your faith, or you will become weak in your faith!
Part II -- PRAYER - 2: Prayer is: 1) spending time with God – acknowledging God’s presence in all our lives’ activities; and 2) conversation with God – listening to and talking with God. Prayer reflects on our relationship with God. Why don’t we pray. The Apostle James, in James 4:2-3, provides a perspective regarding Prayer Life: “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
We are trying to encounter God as He wants us to through prayer. Prayer is an incredible Spiritual Gift that the Lord has given us; a gift so that we might know Him and to accomplish His purpose for us. When discussing prayer, the attribute of prayer, that is often left out, is faith. As Jesus tells us about the importance of faith in Matthew 15:25-28: “But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.”. It does not take much faith to have great faith. The writer Hebrews, in Hebrews 11:1-3, defines faith: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.".
In order to create and sustain our prayer life, we must: 1) have faith and believe that God exists; 2) believe that God will honor your seeking Him – start by praying as you are; and 3) exercise your faith – stretch your prayers for God.
If you have a prayer life, how do you approach your prayer life? Do you enter your God relationship through prayer with a faith expectation and confident that God hears you and will respond? Just remember that Jesus taught us that it does not take much faith to have "great faith". Faith is what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Prayer exercise for this week: 1) pick some issue for which you need direction; 2) ask god, by faith, to give you an answer; and 3) all week long, come to God asking for an answer until you get an answer. Faith is the power behind your prayers.
TODAY’S PRAYER: Keeping the Sabbath, Lord, will require a lot of changes in the way I am living life. Teach me, Lord, how to take the next step with this in a way that fits my unique personality and situation. Help me to trust you with all that will remain unfinished and to enjoy my humble place in your very large world. In Jesus’ name, amen. Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day (p. 129). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, RIGHTEOUS IN GOD’S EYES. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): Matthew 8:10; Matthew 15:25-28; Matthew 8:26; Matthew 14:31; Matthew 17:20-21; Hebrews 11:1-3; Hebrews 11:6. (Click the blue below to read the full Bible text for these scripture references in BOLD.).
WEBSITE LINK TO DR. BEACH’S DAILY DEVOTIONAL – “The Old Testament Law of “an eye for an eye” Was Reversed by Jesus in His “Great Commandment” in which Jesus Followers Are “to Love””: https://awordfromthelord.org/devotional/
A WORDFROM THE LORD WEBSITE LINK: www.awordfromthelord.org
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