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STUCK! Chapter Four: Who Should I Impact?

A Personal Story
I got saved as a teenager, but I don’t remember anyone “discipling” me. The closest I got to being discipled was with an elder in our church, Mr. Smith, an old itinerant preacher originally from Ireland. I met with him a couple of times to talk about the Christian life and I think he might have prayed with me. Once. He was a great man of God with a heart for sharing the gospel with the lost.

But I don’t recall his sharing his life with me or making any effort to consistently help me advance in my walk with Jesus.

The only other memory I have of Mr. Smith was when my brand new bride and I asked the elders’ blessing to go to Germany as missionaries. Mr. Smith withheld his approval, saying that if we weren’t doing door-to-door evangelism here in the States, why would we travel overseas to do it? It was a painful experience, but eventually he gave us his blessing. I regret not pursuing deeper conversations with Mr. Smith.

I also regret growing up in a church environment that taught that simply being in the meetings, simply “being under the sound of the Word,” was good enough. It was a kind of discipleship by osmosis. Excellent church attendance would lead to Christlikeness. The truth is that most of my teenaged friends — some who had perfect attendance pins that reached the floor — abandoned their faith when they went to college.

Our Default Setting
For many of us our default setting is our own personal comfort. We naturally look after the me-myself-and-mine life that we have. Of course we should care for our own families — and for our own lives. But getting unstuck involves getting some of our vision off ourselves!

Looking outwardly, intentionally asking whose life I might impact for the kingdom, does not come naturally to us. It is a God-given passion to help others in their walk with Christ. It involves opening up our homes, clearing our calendars, limiting our hobbies so that we might influence others for the Lord.

In-Your-Face Verses
God’s Word is clear that my love for Christ must spill over to loving His children. If I love Him, I will take Jesus’ challenge to Peter and apply it to my life: “Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep.” (Jn. 21:15-18). Bringing spiritual nourishment to others is so critical that Jesus repeats Himself so that Peter gets the message.

Where in Scripture are we challenged to disciple others? If “disciple” means “learner,” then whatever knowledge I possess as a mature believer must be shared with those who are younger in the faith. We are to “teach the word” (Acts 18:11). We are challenged in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to communicate the message: “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”

We are to train younger believers about false teachers who will not spare the flock (Acts 20). Timothy is commanded by the Apostle Paul: “Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (2 Tim. 2:14).

Discipling others will often lead us into recognizing we are not where we need to be in our own Christian walk. We read the following of the believers in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Heb. 5:12)

Playing with Praying
Can we talk? In the churches that still have mid-week prayer meetings, most of the prayers I hear prayed have to do with health conditions. One church I know has a prayer list on which most of the items are about upcoming surgeries, members’ fighting Covid, and information about hospital visits. The one who writes the prayer letter is a medical professional (a dentist) and he doesn’t hesitate to go into such medical specifics that I sometimes feel it’s as if I’m looking over the shoulder of the attending physician and reading the patient’s medical chart. (I want to cry out, “HOLY HIPPA!”)

If one asks how the Apostle Paul prayed for his co-workers and their health, we have only a few statements like: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” (I Tim. 5:23 KJV). In 2 Timothy 4 Paul sends greetings to various fellow workers: “19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick. 21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.” (KJV). Paul obviously didn’t apply the truth of prosperity theology for he failed to command Trophimus to name and claim his healing in Jesus!

So, if I’m not to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy praying for the physical well-being of the saints, for what am I to pray?

A few years ago I was invited to speak at a men’s retreat and I chose as my topic “Several Crucial Questions for REAL Men!” I led the men through Colossians 1:9-14 which reads —

I asked them two questions, “Are you man enough to ask others to pray for you? And do you ask them to pray for the things that are really important?”

I then listed seven items in Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers:
1. that they would lead a worthy life (v. 10);
2. that they would have a desire to please the Lord (v. 10);
3. that they would be fruit-bearing (v. 10);
4. that they would be spiritually growing (v. 10);
5. that they would have the strength to endure (v. 11);
6. that they would be joyfully thankful (v. 12);
and
7. that they would rejoice in their rescue (vv. 13-14).

Are you praying for anyone like that? My concern for others, if it is not where it ought to be, will be increased as I spend time praying for them. And praying for their life — not just their health!

Three Levels of Disciples
I cannot say from my own life that I have followed the advice I’m going to give you now. But it is still important and worth listening to! I believe each of us needs three kinds of friends in our lives.

Each of us needs a Paul. We need an older believer (it’s getting harder for me to find older believers at my ripe old age of 72!) who can help us in our walk with Christ. Each of us also needs a Barnabas, a co-worker, a fellow-laborer, an equal. And each of us also needs a Timothy. A younger believer into whose life we can pour ours.

HOMEWORK:
1. Drop to your knees (if you are able) and ask the Lord to forgive you for not discipling younger believers. And while you’re down there, ask Him to burden your heart with one specific individual you could befriend, pray for, and disciple.

2. Write out a prayer like the one we looked at in Colossians 1 for a younger believer.

3. Pray about starting an online Bible reading group like we discussed in our second chapter.

4. Suggest to your church leaders (your elders especially) the idea that they should set the example and disciple at least one young person every six months.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2022 in 2 Corinthians 10, STUCK!

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 11)

The interrogation of the man born blind decidedly goes downhill from this point on. He has referred to Jesus as “a prophet” (i.e. a man of God) and has declined the expert opinion of Israel’s religious leaders that Jesus is “a sinner.” But the story continues.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

Hurling Insults: The Pharisees lose it when the man born blind says to them, “Surely you don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?” (v. 27). That was the last thing these Pharisees wanted! So they engage in hurling insults against the man. Verse 28 reads 28 ἐλοιδόρησαν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπον· Σὺ μαθητὴς εἶ ἐκείνου, ἡμεῖς δὲ τοῦ Μωϋσέως ἐσμὲν μαθηταί. (Literally, “They insulted him and said, ‘You are a disciple of that one, but we are disciples of Moses.'”)

This verb loidorēō is used only four times in the New Testament. Here in John 9 it can be translated “scoffed.” In Acts 23:4 it is translated as “insult.” In I Corinthians 4:12 Paul is speaking of the Apostles’ response to persecution and says, “When reviled, we bless.” And in I Peter 2:23 we read of the Lord Jesus: “When he was insulted, he did not respond with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten . . .” People resort to insult when logic and reasoning fail them — and they feel threatened!

Knowledge and Ignorance:  The Pharisees protest that they are disciples of Moses. They declare, “we know that God spoke to Moses . . .” Their knowledge was certain and sure — and they were convinced that they were in the right.

It is interesting that Jesus says in John 5:46- “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. These Pharisees admit their ignorance about Jesus when they say, “but as for this fellow we don’t even know where he comes from.” (v. 29).

Here these religious leaders of Israel have the opportunity to learn about Jesus from someone who has been the recipient of one of His miracles. But they argue for their complete loyalty to Moses, failing to realize Jesus was, in a real sense, the new Moses.

Today’s Challenge: In a sense, everyone is a disciple, a follower, of someone, even if that someone is . . . themselves. As disciples of Jesus, we need to speak the truth about Who He is and why He should be followed. And we do that with our words and our behavior.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2021 in focus

 

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Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) Part 17

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-5-25-29-am“Do you want to become His disciples too?”  Never were more volatile words spoken.  That question got at the heart of the matter:  If Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Pharisees were wrong and should repent and follow Jesus with all their hearts.

Sometimes three of the hardest words to say are “I . . . was . . . wrong.”  And the Pharisees are in no mood for conversion.  They don’t repent or relent of their wrong view of Jesus.  Instead, they take out their anger on this man born blind and “hurl” insults at him.  The term for “hurl” is λοιδορεω (loidoreo) and means “to revile, rail at, abuse” and is used here in v. 28 and also in Acts 23:4; 1 Cor. 4:12 and 1 Pet. 2:23.

This verbal stoning signaled their utter frustration at explaining away this miracle and finding more ammunition against Jesus.  The man born blind had made this personal — “Do you want to become His disciples too?”  The way the question is framed in Greek implies that the man born blind expected a “NO!” answer: screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-5-59-33-am “Surely you don’t want to become His disciples too, do you?” (μη + an Indicative question, a common feature in John’s gospel).

These “leaders” had no desire to follow — anyone!  And they certainly did not want to do a 180 and begin to follow Jesus! (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2017 in wrong

 

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