Being a Disciple

JESUS SPEAKING

    “A disciple is not above his master (teacher), but everyone who is properly taught will be like his master” (Luke 6: 40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     In the bible, God is referred to as “the most high,” because elevation is how human beings distinguish between what is valuable and invaluable.  People honor things by lifting them up.  In ancient times, when a king stepped down from his thrown and stood at ground level with his subjects, those subjects would lower themselves beneath him; many would bow, others would kneel.  If the king was a child, then his subjects would sprawl out face first on the ground to make sure the king stood above them.  The teacher and student relationship is quite similar (as Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher”.) The disciple, or student, must realize his or her lack of knowledge (they lower themselves); the teacher then becomes the superior source of necessary information.  In exchange for their humility and ability to learn, the disciples were promised that they would become like Jesus.  Anyone who lacked this type of humility could not be a follower of Jesus then, and cannot be His follower today.  A person who believes they have a better way, or who desires to learn from sources other than the Lord, cannot be properly taught.

    A long time ago, I was caught in a dilemma. I remember calling up a friend for advice on a situation that had made me absolutely furious.  In the middle of the conversation they said, “What would Jesus do?”  I tried to shrug it off, and replied something like, “Well, He’s Jesus, I can’t be like Him.”  However, the question cut deep into me; the answer to how to react to the situation wasn’t debatable; rather, it had a face, and a name, and that name was Jesus Christ.  I was not called to behave in my own way, but to behave like Him.  After all, a disciple is someone who is a student and follower of their teacher.

    If you are a believer, then you as well are called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  How does that process begin for you?  First, you must humble yourself and lift Him up.  Jesus Christ must become the moral authority in your life.  Get rid of any competing teachers, and make His words the foundation upon which your life and your actions are built.  Bible reading is essential. Commit some of your time daily to the study of His words.  The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the book of Revelation contain His spoken words and descriptions of His behavior; only by knowing your teacher can you be properly taught; and only by humbling yourself before the living God can you become His disciple.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask to become Your disciples.  We lift up Your Son and we ask that He become our teacher.  Jesus, speak to us in our hearts, and mold us and shape us into Your image.  Remind us of all of the words that You have spoken, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we may minister to all those You place in our path.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Embracing Change

JESUS SPEAKING

    “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5: 37-39.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS        

    In the ancient world, when an animal was slaughtered, the stomach and the bladder were extracted and utilized to store and transport valuable liquids. Wine was a very common first century beverage. Unlike water, wine underwent a process known as fermentation; during which gases were produced; these gases caused the wineskins to swell and expand. The older wineskins were hard and inflexible (like leather.) As the new wine expanded, it would cause them to tear open. Therefore, unfermented wine was always placed into new wineskins. In this illustration, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered through His Son Jesus Christ. Most people despise change; preferring instead to cling to their old lives. Yet as followers of Jesus Christ we must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; we must no longer fear change, but rather, we must fully embrace it.
    Shortly after becoming a Christian, God began to make some very serious changes in my life. For many years I had enjoyed listening to secular rap music and heavy metal. But one day God showed me how it was negatively affecting my spirit. So I made a commitment to only listen to worship music (which was positive, clean, and uplifting.) My appetite for the old music was strong; at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me; but slowly I began to like it. Soon I was joyfully singing along with the songs; I noticed my attitude was more positive; my thoughts were more peaceful. I even began smiling with ever greater frequency. Today I still refrain from listening to the old songs; just worship music. God has made similar changes in every area of my life. He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He has made all things new.
    God desires to pour His Spirit into the hearts and minds of those who are willing to receive it. His Spirit produces great transformation. We must let go of our fears; we must become willing to change; we must not be rigid and inflexible; only by embracing and allowing God to transform us will we truly experience new life. Let go of your old ideas, habits, and beliefs, and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. Allow Him to guide and direct you and He will lead you into a place of everlasting peace and joy.
    “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would make wonderful transformations in our hearts and minds. May we become flexible; may we embrace change. We desire to become more like You Jesus; remove any habits, ideas, or beliefs that are standing in the way of our growth; destroy the old things and bring forth the new. May we experience the fullness of Your Holy Spirit. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

Blessings and Cursings

JESUS SPEAKING

    “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you […] for the Son of Man’s sake […] for indeed your reward is great in heaven […] But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6: 20-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    The pronouncement of blessings and cursings was an intimate part of the Jewish culture.  Many Israelites would bring their children to the Rabbi’s to receive a formal blessing.  A blessing is a prophetic profession of some future good in an individual’s life.  A cursing however, foretells of some impending calamity.  The blessings that Jesus pronounced upon the crowds were entirely dependent upon their reaction to His message.  Those who chased after the passing pleasures of this life would ultimately enter into unending sorrow.  Those who chose to deny their own desires in order to serve God, would eventually inherit eternal rewards.  Without question, every genuine believer must embrace sacrifice.  Some common sacrifices may include wealth, a potential career, power, property, prestige, or any number of other selfish indulgences.  Because the path to peace with God includes enduring some manner of present pain, most will reject the gospel and continue in sin.

    To more easily understand this scripture, we need only look at the modern day credit card crisis.  Right now, Americans possess more debt than many previous generations could’ve ever possibly imagined. This current epidemic is often the direct result of extreme self-indulgence.  When a person goes out shopping and they can’t afford an item, they might use a credit card to avoid denying themselves the joys of some passing pleasure.  But paying for things with money we don’t have doesn’t make the pain disappear; it simply postpones it.  Eventually the credit card company is going to come looking for their money; causing those who have fed their fleshly appetites to endure the suffering they so desperately attempted to avoid.

   Many people have spent an entire lifetime avoiding pain; indulging in pleasurable endeavors instead. However, their suffering hasn’t been eliminated; its only been deferred.  They will eventually be required to ‘pay the check.’  Chasing after wealth, material possessions, careers, and even a good reputation can lead to an eternity of pain.  So then, self-denial is the way to inherit eternal blessings.  Volunteering, using our excess wealth to bless the needy, spending time listening to others, evangelizing, as well as visiting widows and orphans, are just a few of the ways we can practice self-denial in this life.  Where are we currently denying ourselves?  What do we have in excess?  Is it time, money, or even knowledge? What can we give away?  By denying ourselves, we will become servants of the living God; and in the coming kingdom, we will receive the blessings of eternal life.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to willingly endure the pain of sacrifice in the present time; that we might refuse our own desires in favor of fulfilling Your purposes.  May we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow You.  Reveal to us where we can be more selfless; where we can be more giving; and where we can be more loving.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!


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