Category Archives: Witness

What is a disciple?

A disciple

John 8:31-32  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Ask 20 pastors what a disciple is and you’ll get 19 different answers.  If church leaders can’t even decide on what the word means, how can we hope to define it?  As with most biblical truths, we must start with the Bible.  What does it say about a disciple?

It all starts with the Word.  Jesus said to His followers that those who abide in His Word are truly His disciples.  But to be clear, that doesn’t just mean that reading the Bible a lot makes you a disciple.  Nor does it mean that learning a lot about the Bible makes you a disciple.  Abiding in God’s Word means living it.  Each and every move you make in life is grounded in the truth of the Word.  You live according to it.

A disciple is a fully surrendered follower of Jesus Christ who studies the Word, regards it as authority, prays like Jesus, is devoted to fellowship, is spirit filled, serves God, serves others, is a good steward, grows, shares, ministers, and loves.  A disciple should be obvious to anyone, no matter what their beliefs, but a disciple is set apart from the world.

Walking as Christians

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge IS4086RF-00002343-001you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Have you ever heard a statement like this? – “Jesus and the ideas he talked about sound great, I’m just not so sure about all these Christians.” Ours is a world desperately seeking Truth. Take any social context or issue (marriage, family, crime rates, teenagers being prescribed drugs so they can feel “normal”) and the broken human condition is clear. Any honest search for Truth can only lead to the reality of Jesus, but those who search are often confused by their experience with Christians.

My purpose is not to lay guilt on anyone, but to illustrate the depth of our position, and the purpose of Paul’s writing in Ephesians. He starts by saying, “therefore,” a reference to his earlier point, namely, that Gentiles are equal heirs in the promise of Christ. From this radical statement that surely shocked his audience, Paul then says in 4:1 that the Church is supposed to be a picture of this all-encompassing love.

We are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling” and act with “all humility and gentleness.” When people enter our sphere as co-workers, friends, or neighbors, this is the picture we ought to project. And it’s not a matter of performance, either. Down to the deepest fiber of our being, we need to understand that Jesus chose his Church to represent Him. There is no plan B. Furthermore, the picture we are painting with our lives is one that the world longs to see!

This is not a spectator sport, ladies and gentlemen. Be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit” is no light statement. With diligence, we much each master our impulses , tempers, and die to our Selves a thousand times in order that when others see us interact in congregations, in our homes, and in our different social circles, the cumulative thing they take away is Jesus. And it will require everything we have to give.

———-  After paying close attention to what Paul is calling us to do as Christians, is there anything you need to change about the way you present yourself in front of others as you represent Christ?

 

*This devotion by Jeremy Bunge first appeared in January of 2011

Protected from evil

Psalm 91:9-10  Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

God’s people can be assured that our Lord will provide us with protection from evil.  There is literally no reason to be fearful if you belong to God in Christ Jesus.  Nothing in this world, or in any world, can stand against Him (Romans 8:37-39). No evil can come near us if we’re under His protection.

The Lord will provide His angels to guard us (Psalm 91:11), at His discretion.  Nothing can befall us with His knowledge.  No plague, no tribulation, no struggle gets by Him without His knowledge.

Our God is mighty and able to protect us from all things.  He is our strength and our shield.  It’s no wonder the words “Fear not” appear so many times in His Word.  If we make Him our dwelling place, we’re safe in His shadow.

———-  What are you afraid of?

Only He satisfies

Psalm 90:14  Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Where do you find pleasure?  There are so many places in this world to look for fulfillment, but only one satisfies.  The things of this world are vain, fleeting, finite, and altogether incapable of filling the void in our lives.  They are limited and we’re just left wanting more, which leads us to continually search for that “one thing”.

The Psalmist knew the key to true joy that satisfies.  The Lord’s love endures forever, it doesn’t fade, it doesn’t rust or wear out, it won’t leave us.  We can be glad all our days if the place we look for fulfillment is in the Lord.  In fact, this joy does not have to be sought.  It’s a byproduct of seeking God first in our lives (Matthew 6:33).

When we prioritize God first, He adds to us blessings beyond what we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and the things this world has to offer seem like nothing in comparison.

———-  Where are you seeking pleasure?

Your body is a temple

F1ONRF-00003778-0011 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

You and I have work to do. We’ve each been given a calling to fulfill, a mission to accomplish, and that requires our physical bodies. It’s our job, then, to maintain the vessel God will use.

One of my only hobbies is running obstacle course races. They range from about 3 miles to somewhere near 12 miles and there are any number of various obstacles to tackle along the way. Sometimes a course is fairly easy, other times I come home barely able to walk for two days. People always ask me why I put myself through that. My answer is twofold.

First, having a physical goal ahead of me motivates me to stay in shape, to get ready for the event. That’s about the only thing that gets me exercising sometimes. Secondly, I like to sign up for these challenges because they’re uncomfortable and outside the norm. I want to push myself physically to do things that I’m not sure I can actually do. I end up praying a whole lot while I’m running the course because I need all the help I can get. It reminds me that I’m dependent on my Creator to do anything. I believe that brings Him glory.

Now, let me wrap all this physical stuff in with the spiritual aspect we’ve talked about. I have a calling to love God more than anything else, giving my body as a living sacrifice. In order to carry out His purpose for me, which includes loving other people, serving them, and all other sorts of things that require a physical body, I’ve got to keep my body operational to the best of my ability.

My body is not my own. Your body is not your own. We’ve been bought with a price and now we’re to bring the Lord glory through our bodies. We can’t neglect the physical in exchange for the spiritual. They need each other.

How are you taking care of your temple? What do you need to do to improve?

Pass on the Good News

IS4086RF-00042411-0012 Timothy 2:2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

 

 

 

 

Giving is good for spiritual health. We’ve discussed how not withholding finances and possessions can be a great exercise, but there’s more to be shared than just the tangible things of this life. We have something even greater and it just begs to be shared with others.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, that is, the good news that He lived a perfect life that we could never live, without sin, and paid the ultimate price by dying on a cross to pay for our sins, and that He rose again from the dead and now advocates for us even now on His throne, is not some mysterious secret to be kept. It’s the best story ever to be told and it must be told to all who will hear.

If we’re paying attention and really have our eyes open, we’ll see that there are potential opportunities to share this news all over. Withholding the gospel and keeping it for ourselves is not good for us spiritually. It makes us inwardly focused, which is not the purpose God intended for the gospel. It’s meant to be told, again and again and again.

If you’re flatlining spiritually and aren’t sure what’s wrong, take a self assessment and diagnose whether you’re sharing the Good News with others or keeping it bottled up within. If the answer is the latter, make it a point to ask God for a person to share His story with.

Everlasting to Everlasting

Psalm 90:2  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Our God is eternal.  He has existed from before time and will continue in existence for all eternity.  From everlasting to everlasting He is God.  You’ve probably heard this truth before, but have you taken the time to meditate on it?

There’s assurance in the fact that the God to whom we belong has always been and will always be.  He knew you before there was a you.  He’s aware of your every struggle and He cares about your every pain.

Unlike the false gods of this world, our God lives and cannot die.  He is present in your life and seeks a deeper relationship with you, His child.  Take comfort in knowing that the Creator of all things has everything under His control.  He is capable of being our dwelling place because He is eternal and unchanging.  Abide in Him.

Continue reading Everlasting to Everlasting

The New Commandment

1 John 2:7-14  Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

What is this old commandment that’s a new commandment that’s really an old commandment?  What does John refer to?  He is speaking of the commandment given to him personally from Jesus himself.  Love God and love others. What was given in the Old Testament as Law (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18) was confirmed in the New Testament by Jesus as being relevant even after His coming (Matthew 22:34-40).

Notice John’s reference to darkness and light, just like how he speaks in his presentation of the Gospel (John 1:1-13). He’s presenting a contrast for us to realize that the world’s darkness can’t overcome the light of Jesus.  When we obey the command to love God and love others, we shine a light in the darkness so bright that it can’t but be seen.  It’s a shining city upon a hill, giving off a beacon of light for others to recognize.

When we love, we show God to the world.  When we serve, we show them the character of Christ and glorify Him.  When we obey, we do a great work of evangelism (Matthew 5:16).


The Word of Life

1 John 1:1-4  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

The natural response to the joy we receive in Christ is to share it.  How could we, knowing that we have experienced new life in the Son of God, keep that to ourselves?  We should be overflowing with joy, ready to burst if we don’t share it.

John was among the apostles who walked with Jesus while He was here on this earth.  He writes in his first letter to the churches in Asia Minor that he wants them to share in the fellowship he and others have with God through Christ.  He proclaims all he witnessed with his own eyes, all he heard with his own ears, so that the joy of others might be made full.  He’s not willing to keep it all to himself.  What he was sharing was life.

Jesus is the Word of life and He made Himself known to mankind.  John was there when Jesus was present in the flesh, God incarnate sharing life with other people.  John knew that real life is in Jesus and in this he found his joy.  He also knew that his joy would be made all the more complete if he told others about the Word.  Notice his motive explained in verse 4, that “our” joy may be made complete.

Jesus is life.  If you’ve experience new life in Him, share it with everyone around you, so that they will have joy AND so that your joy would be made more complete.  If you haven’t experienced the life-giver, why not seek Him out?  Find out what this life is that others are talking about.  Ask God to reveal Jesus to you and make Him real to you.  He will.

Nothing can separate us

Romans 8:35-36  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

The life of a Christian isn’t without problems, though some expect it to be.  The truth is we often find ourselves facing more problems because we’re Christians.  We might be persecuted, made-fun-of, mistreated, untrusted, or any number of things because we’ve chosen to follow Christ.  Unlike the rest of the world, though, we’ve got a God on our side who gets us through it all.  Nothing can separate us from His love.

Honestly, when we get down to the bottom of why we’re attacked at times, it’s precisely to try and separate us from God.  The insults, the dangers, the threats, they’re intended to get us to turn away from Him.  Fortunately for us, God is holding onto us tightly through the storms, showing us that He’s on our side.  What the enemy meant to take us from God will in most cases only serve to draw us closer to Him as we seek shelter in Him.  In the trials, His love shows through even more.

———-  When have you found yourself seeking shelter in God’s love because of troubles in your life?