Devotion and Discipleship

Are we the Christians we should be?…

August 12th, 2019

We get into a rhythm with our walk with Jesus. It doesn’t matter what level of growth we have experienced at points along the way, we level out and plateau for a season.

This is all well and good if that leveling out is just for a season.  God will put obstacles in our path that force us to abide in His power and protection. Typically, we don’t appreciate it when those times come but if we are persistent in His Word and focused on Him, He will reveal to us what He’s doing.

In those moments of rest, we should focus on praise regardless of our circumstance, our prayers should be steeped with thanksgiving and be continuous. We should both focus on prayer specific to our hearts and a conversational engagement with the Lord.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)

It is those moments that we have a pause in our growth that we need to seed our souls with nourishment from the Word and our relationship with our Father.

Evaluation

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)

Most of us have seen this passage more than once and yes, this test that Paul is talking about is to validate our salvation.  God considers the heart and if our hearts aren’t God’s it will show. Let me show you another that isn’t a test of our security in the Lord but is instead focused on our commitment to Him.

Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord.

Lamentations 3:40 (NLT)

We are to examine ourselves regularly to see that our steps are the ones that bring us to a closer fellowship with God.

This passage came after the writer posed a situation noting our complaining.

Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?

Lamentations 3:37-39 (NLT)

God permits us the liberty to do the things we do, and we find in another passage that God causes the rain to fall on both the just and the unjust. We have no justification to complain when we are punished for our sinful behavior.

Whereas examination of our faith to see if it is genuine, really isn’t all that difficult if we are honest with ourselves, this other testing may be a bit more difficult because we conveniently justify ourselves before our Holy God. If you think you can do that successfully, here is a newsflash; you can’t.

If we could have justified ourselves then Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die in our place to purchase the grace that he in turn gives to us freely.

This is where we get to the core of this devotional; devotion and discipleship.

These two common areas of our faith speak volumes of where our heart is in relation to the Lord.

Devotion

“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT)

We’ve talked about this passage recently, but it says so much about our hearts and where they are in alignment with Jesus’.

He tells us, “If you want to be my disciple”, then he lowers the boom on us, “you must, by comparison, hate everyone else”. Another way you might put this is that if you really want to be a follower of Jesus your love for Him in contrast to your love for everyone and everything else will appear as despising them.

In the devotional about God sliding the scale of our love we discussed that apparently our capacity for love and hate is a specific gradient. There is no way for us to prove or disprove this concept, but if you listen clearly to what Jesus teaches, in the passage above He is saying that our love should be escalated to the point that we love Him above all else!

In other key passages, He tells us to love our neighbor, love our enemies, and hate no man.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things — as I warned you before — that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 (CSB)

Any of these could be an indicator that we are out of step with the Lord. But, Specifically, our only allotment for hate is against evil and sin, not people.  Not of any race, color, or creed!

God has moved our scale to meet the love quotient we are to have for Him, and as a result we have zero room for hate for our fellow man; regardless of their affection for us. We are to love everyone and that love scales to Jesus in such a way that it is in the position where the hate we harbored before is the baseline of our love now.

Because of the phenomena (which isn’t phenomenal at all to God), we have two very clear indications when our steps have strayed a bit from the path which the Savior designates for us.

The first is again a bit easier to hide from ourselves, because our loss of love for Jesus is easily masked. It’s easy to hide because all we need to do is lie to ourselves regarding our devotion to Him.

The other one is more easily identified because it is significantly harder to hide from others and ourselves; hatred.

If we demonstrate we have hate harbored for any ‘person’ then we have a sure indicator that we are not any longer in congruence with the path Jesus as called us to.  You can hate the sin, but you can’t hate the sinner, it just doesn’t wash.

Discipleship

Discipleship is a two-pronged discipline.

We have a personal discipleship in which we are striving to become more and more like the Savior each and every day.

When anything becomes a priority over our quest to become more like Jesus every day, we have an indication that we are out of step with Him.

Next, part of being like Jesus is to make disciples for Him, so our willingness to disciple others for Jesus is a tell where our heart is as well.

Not that we have to be busy every waking moment actively discipling others, but we should be watching and looking for opportunities to plant seeds of discipleship and if those seeds blossom; ready willing and able to follow through, doing exactly what the Great Commission tells us we should do.

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”

Matthew 28:20a (NLT)

This one means that we are going to put ourselves out there to do exactly what Jesus calls each and every one of us to do. It doesn’t mean we will schedule regular sessions with new believers, but it does exhibit a commitment to building up the body of Christ.

Turning Back

Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord.

Lamentations 3:40 (NLT)

This is what repentance is all about. When we see that we have gotten out of step with the Lord then it is time to repent; turning back to the path He calls us too.

In examining our ways, these two aren’t the only indicators we can gauge our alignment with God by, but they are two really good ones. If our “Devotion and Discipleship” isn’t what it should be, then we aren’t being the disciples Jesus calls us to be, and it is time to turn back to Him!

In His Grace!
kip…

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