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Posts Tagged ‘Discipleship’

The Purpose of God

“So then death worketh in us,
but life in you”
2 Corinthians 4:12

The radical nature of the Kingdom of God is one of mystery and paradox; it is contrary to the constitution of natural man. Entering into it requires the death and renunciation of the self-life in order to touch the wonder of its power. The very LIFE of the Kingdom of God is only available in Jesus. There is “salvation in no other name” and there is LIFE in no other. He ALONE is the Kingdom and He ALONE is the Way into the Kingdom. He is the TRUTH of the Kingdom and He is the LIFE of the Kingdom.

“For the Jews require a sign,
and the Greeks seek after wisdom”
1 Corinthians 1:22

Here Paul sums up the inclinations of the world and the people of God. His people desired signs and wonders and others sought “wisdom” (Greek word “sophia” from which we derive the word philosophy*). The nature of the heart of man has not changed. God’s Kingdom will not be found by these means for Paul goes on in the very next verse of scripture:

“But we preach Christ crucified,
unto the Jews a stumblingblock,
and unto the Greeks foolishness”
1 Corinthians 1:23

Christ crucified is the pivotal point upon which the entire purposes of God rest. The Way into this Kingdom is dependent upon the extent of our identification and participation in His death being worked out in our lives. The corresponding revelation of His Life in us will be to the degree of “death” being worked into us. This happens through the operation of His Holy Spirit combined with our own will yielding in true discipleship. Smooth words, elaborate teachings and overt signs and wonders will never replace the power of a crucified life. It is in this place that God’s work must culminate if we would enter into the wonder of His Life. Again Paul continues:

“But unto them which are called,
both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God,
and the wisdom of God”
1 Corinthians 1:24

It is in those who are called that this revelation is made known. The nature of a call requires a response and the call to discipleship is predicated with an “if”. The “if” allows a free-will response from the individual. Entrance into the Kingdom is not by words, understanding, or signs and wonders but by the crucible of the Cross.

“For we which live
are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake,
that the life also of Jesus
might be made manifest in our mortal flesh
2 Corinthians 4:11

The end and purpose of all life is “…that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh”.

*NOTE: Contained within the Greek language are differing words for knowledge and love. The word for Philosophy comes from two Greek words (φίλος- philos) and (σοφία-sophia). Philos is one of three main Greek words for Love; agape, philos, and eros. Each speak to a realm or a sphere of love. Eros is a love which proceeds from the flesh and in turn loves fleshly things. Philos is a love which originates from the soul; it speaks of friendship and affection and when combined with (σοφία-sophia) we end up with the word philosophy: man’s love for wisdom and knowledge. It is a knowledge which may sound deep and good but leaves those who hold it weak and ineffective in the ministration of His life. God’s end is Agape – it is His love ruling, leading and holding us to His ways and purposes. God’s love cannot rest in anything which is contrary to His nature. It is the One over-riding motive which can produce discipleship within the heart of an individual. Peter’s love (philos) failed for man’s affection will never hold a heart true in times of testing.

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,
but in the power of God”
1 Corinthians 2:5

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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Walking in the Spirit – The Call –

PART ONE

THE CALL

“Walk in the Spirit,
and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”
Galatians 5:16

The depth of our walk in the Spirit of God is revealed in the freedom we have from fulfilling the lusts and desires of the flesh. This scripture is not a teaching it is really a simple statement of truth. The natural man hates the truth for the truth leaves no room for compromise. The natural man, that carnal self with all of its deception and lies, cannot be saved. Its nature is corrupt to the core and God’s answer is not to be found in anything but crucifixion.

“For the mind of the flesh is death,
but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace;
because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God;
for it is not subject to the law of God,
for neither can it be
Romans 8:6-7

When Jesus spoke of an individual becoming a disciple He conditioned it with an “if” which speaks of a voluntary choice made by His own. It is not an arbitrary statement; it is the essential and indispensable requirement to come to the place of thinking rightly towards God. Salvation is not a teaching or a formula whereby someone says the right things; it is the very transformation of an individual’s thinking. Without this ongoing process men and women are mere adherents to a teaching rather than living branches partaking of His Life.

“And be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable,
and perfect, will of God
Romans 12:2

Why does the mind need to be renewed by the process of His transforming life within our hearts? To the end we may “prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God”! Those who bypass this process will go through life never fully being able to know God’s will for their lives. The cross is the essential instrument in this work of transformation. Those who circumvent the way of discipleship have no ability to discern between good and evil. They may be able to understand things on a doctrinal level but when it comes to the deceptive works of spiritual darkness they will be ill equipped to know that which is of God from that which is borne of the flesh and the dark work of fallen spirits.

God has not left us without the knowledge of the depth and surety of our walk in Him.

“Walk in the Spirit,
and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”
Galatians 5:16

Paul goes on in this same chapter to explain unto the Church at Galatia what the works of the flesh look like:

“Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed,
which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies,
angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders,
drunkennesses, wild parties, and things like these;
of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before,
that the ones practicing such things
will not inherit the kingdom of God
Galatians 5:19-21

Do we have jealously? Envy? Uncleanness? Divisions? Lust? These are the works of the flesh. If we are walking in the Spirit of God we are freed from such things. The workings of the cross and the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus are making us free. Let us not deceive ourselves with the horror of the modern day “gospel” for His word tells us if we do these things we will “not inherit the Kingdom of God”. Let us not assume that because we know something we possess it, or because we started out well we are no longer under obligation to carry the cross and remain lifelong disciples of our Lord and Saviour. It is to this end we live to follow Him alone who can make us free from the plague of the self-life. It is in the crucifixion of self that we are made free. We must realize that truth is not a teaching or a scripture on the page of a book; truth is His Life living and ruling in me.

“And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free”
John 8:32

What is the measure of truth at work within an individual? It is the degree to which we are made free to walk and live in His Spirit. The journey into truth begins with the revelation of our desperate need for Him. Truth reveals man’s inherent need for change and it is in the discovery of this that men and women turn their hearts to the One alone who is able to do this. Those who cling to teachings and doctrines will perish in the powerlessness of religion. Truth is a person and His Name is Jesus. In Him we are made free, in Him we become new creations of His Glory and Majesty and in Him we enter into the Kingdom of God.

“Little children, let no man deceive you:
he that doeth righteousness is righteous,
even as He is righteous”
1 John 3:7

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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The Blood Sanctifies our Walk

“…and Moses took of the blood of it,
and put it upon …
the great toe of his right foot”
Leviticus 8:23

Election, Godliness and Being Chosen by God

DISCIPLESHIP

“But know that the Lord hath set apart
him that is godly for himself:
the Lord will hear when I call unto him”
Psalm 4:3

It is the godly whom the Lord sets apart for Himself. It is the godly in character and heart whom God hears. It is in this context that men and women must consider God’s grace. God’s election by Grace must be coupled with man’s response. “Many are called, but few are chosen”. Teachings, miraculous deliverances, movings of His Spirit in signs and wonders and even His own goodness are no insurance of entering the Kingdom of God. Israel saw His manifest power as He laid Egypt waste and yet they failed in the wilderness and perished without entering into God’s purpose. It is essential for us to see and grasp the truth of God, His ways and His Holiness.

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness”
1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Paul goes on to say that these things were written for our learning and admonition. These were people who grieved God. Despite all the miraculous signs and provisions of God, this generation fell short of God’s desire for them. They did not consider Him in their walk. They lacked the desire to please and bless Him by how they conducted themselves in their daily affairs of life. They went through life choosing the things that would please themselves rather than God. They saw His acts without ever discovering His ways.

“He made known his ways unto Moses,
his acts unto the children of Israel”
Psalm 103:7

We see this same truth in the New Covenant.

“But without a parable spake he not unto them:
and when they were alone,
he expounded all things to his disciples”
Mark 4:34

It is the disciples whom Jesus pulls aside to expound on the hidden truths of the parables. Disciples are those who follow Jesus. They live to learn of Him and because of this “…the Lord sets apart him that is godly for Himself…” They are sanctified by God for His purposes and it is these ones He consecrates (chooses and sets as living stones in the breastplate of His Holiness). These works of God are for those who choose Him, who desire to follow Him, discovering His ways and the wonder of His heart. Discipleship is the path into His Love. The verity of all true disciples will be revealed by the signature of His Love in them.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another”
John 13:35

God’s love is the defining feature of His true disciples. Many who are religious will (as the Pharisees) love their own little circle; the stamp of a true disciple is one who loves God’s people with the same Love that beats within the heart of our Heavenly Father. This Love is characterized by a passion and concern for the spiritual condition of His people. Denominational ties are irrelevant as they only see One church, One Flock and One Body. It is a Love that seeks out God’s sheep and God’s approval and cares little about the approval of man. True disciples do not seek positions or prominence; they seek to function within the confines of His calling upon their lives. The mark of God in the life of a true disciple is one of serving God not men. This Love “seeks not its own things…”

“Love has patience, is kind; love is not envious; love is not vain, is not puffed up; does not behave indecently, does not pursue its own things, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. Love quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 LITV

Those who seek the pre-eminence in the midst of God’s people are not His disciples nor are they His true sheep. Those who encourage the affection of God’s people toward themselves, rather than ministering that His people fall in love with Jesus, have not seen God’s heart. The desire of the true ministers of God is not to draw men to their church, fellowship or their person; it is to Glorify God in all things. The cry of a true disciple is:

“He must increase, but I must decrease”
John 3:30

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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ALWAYS ABOUNDING

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast,
unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour
is not in vain in The Lord”
1Corinthians 15:58

As God’s people we are to be ALWAYS abounding in the work OF The Lord. This is not to be confused with work FOR The Lord; rather it is work OF The Lord. While visiting some relatives this week I noticed this scripture on a plaque in their home. It was in another version and it really struck me with great conviction. “Always abounding”! This phrase can only be applied to Disciples. This is not a part time occupation, not a scarce and rare moment in the life of a true believer. It speaks of being occupied with His Work and a fulfilling of His desires in our daily life. The “always” is based upon a faith that knows “that your labour is not in vain”. It is a deep assurance that if we walk faithful to Him, “abounding” in His Work, we shall surely reap fruit unto His Glory. Men who believe little, do little. This walk and journey of life can only be according to the faith which is at work in our hearts. We reap according to our sowing, we grow according to our doing, and our faith is exercised by the doing of His will.

Those who are “always abounding in the work of The Lord” are “steadfast” and “unmovable” in The Lord. By the handling and working of the things of our Father we remain engaged in the power of His reality. There is a subtlety in just “knowing” things about God; without the “doing”, the things of the Spirit become distant, doctrinal and mysterious. They become ethereal and rare rather than the simple flow of Him in and through our lives. Many speak of the “will of The Lord” as a hidden thing that is hard to find. Let us be reminded that Paul is speaking to His brethren in Corinth; not a select few, but the whole church there. We must put away wrong thinking and seek this life of “always abounding in the Work of the Lord”.

“Wherefore be ye not unwise,
but understanding what the will of the Lord is”
Ephesians 5:17

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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THOUGHT FOR TODAY

FRUIT

“Herein is my Father glorified,
that ye bear much fruit;
so shall ye be my disciples”
JOHN 15:8

Life for the Christian is one of living out each day with a single agenda: Glorifying our Father. Simplicity is the very thing that confounds the religious and brings Joy to the disciple of Christ. To glorify our Father is to simply live to bear fruit unto Him every day of our lives. It can be in the small kindness shown to others, speaking His Word of Truth to another, or living with the breath of a prayer in our hearts to Him. It is the unconscious flow of daily life and as we grow it becomes a life of doing. To fully learn something will result in the simplicity of doing it. He is more desirous to direct our steps and lead us into the very arena of HIS WILL than we are to learn. If there is a true desire to do His will there will always be the knowing of what that will is.

“…If any man will do his will, he shall know…”
JOHN 7:17

Fruitfulness and Discipleship cannot be separated. We read in John 15:8 that bearing fruit unto the Father is the badge of life for one who is a Disciple. A Disciple is simply one who gives up his will to serve another. The Disciples became Apostles, the common people became Prophets and Teachers, and the servants of God became men and women who were called “friends” of the Most High. They grew from outward instruction to the inward knowing of His Will. A true Disciple cannot remain a disciple. Discipleship is the school of learning and as such the day must come for the disciple to cease from needing bread to becoming bread for others. Jesus SENT out His Disciples so that they could learn to live in the wisdom that can only come through the medium of doing.

There are those who say they would bear fruit if the opportunity arose, if the conditions were right, or if God would only give them more ability. Religion shapes a strange concept of God when men think that God has withheld from them the ability to Glorify Him! Jesus said that HE came in order for us to HAVE LIFE and to HAVE THIS LIFE ABUNDANTLY. This is either a true and valid saying or it is just another empty religious platitude. If being a Christian is simply adherence to a teaching or a tradition, then we are left with a form of righteousness but no power to be actual living expressions. Disciples are those who are actively walking, following and doing the things they hear and see in Him. This is no theoretical life; it is actual and real because Jesus is alive and working in their hearts. The very heart beat of His Life constrains them to a life of focus and seeking to do His will. The desire to glorify our Father is the chief duty and purpose of all life. The reward is too precious to miss any opportunity afforded us. What is this reward? It is “The Joy of the Lord”. Bearing fruit brings the realization that in glorifying Him we can know of HIS JOY in us which becomes our strength to grow in the wonder of His Ways.

“…but the people that do know their God
shall be strong, and do exploits*
DANIEL 11:32

*NOTE: Literally in the Hebrew the word “exploits” is not there; the verse actually says “shall be strong and do”. They that know their God shall be strong and DO. It is a daily opportunity for us to be strong and to do of His good pleasure.

“And let us consider one another
to provoke unto love and to good works”
HEBREWS 10:24

Brian Troxel
http://www.word.info

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GOD IS LOVE

PART FOUR
DISCIPLESHIP THE PATH TO LOVE

“For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son…”
JOHN 3:16

Love is sacrificial. It is its very nature to give and expend itself on behalf of others. The giving is not determined by the worthiness of the receiver; hence God so loved the world. Such sacrificial extravagance lavished on us staggers all reason. Love does not measure its giving based on merit; it measures its gift by the giver. Love motivates all who are held in its sway to show forth the mercy and truth of God. Love is truly the greatest gift for in the giving of it we participate in the sharing of God Himself.

Love is the birthplace of all of God’s expressions. Mercy, truth, exhortation, reproof, forgiveness and judgement all flow from this one source and all are remedial in intention. He seeks relationship with man. We read of the “voice of God” walking in the cool of the evening looking for that fallen Adam. We see Him clothe that fallen one’s nakedness and we hear Him speak of a coming redeemer who would crush the very work of Satan. HE would GIVE HIS only begotten SON to become our עֲזָאזֵל ʽazāʼzēl, sin bearer. That same love is now sent into our hearts that we would manifest it in the world in which we live. Love is not only extravagant but costly. The more we are held within its power the more we become aware of its worth and sacrificial nature.

The radical call to discipleship is the very means by which we are enabled to give and shine forth this costly pearl of great price. It can only find expression to the degree that one has known the breakings and work of the cross. Our Love FOR Him holds us to the cross. The Love OF Him is expressed through the outworking of the Cross in us.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another”
JOHN 13:35

Discipleship and Love cannot be separated.

“The disciple is not above his master:
but every one that is perfect shall be as his master”
LUKE 6:40

Discipleship is the path to becoming like our master. To learn of Him, to discover His heart and His ways one must be yoked (Matthew 11:29-30) with Him in the bonds of love.

Ω

“Not what the disciple says in public prayer,
not what he preaches from pulpit or platform,
not what he writes on paper or in letters,
but what he is in his heart which God alone knows,
determines God’s revelation of himself to him.
Character determines revelation”
Oswald Chambers (1874–1917)

Brian Troxel

 

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LEARNING RIGHTEOUSNESS

“Let grace be shown to the wicked,
Yet he will not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the Lord”
ISAIAH 26:10 (NKJV)

Righteousness is not the product of our environment nor is it the result of favor being shown to us. If everything was to go our way, and the blessings of all that this world has to offer were given to us, it would not help us to learn righteousness. For Righteousness is an issue of the heart not of our surroundings. The righteousness of God is known on the basis of Judgment, not favor. In the verse that precedes this one (which gives us the flow of God’s thought here) it states…

“…For when Your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness”
ISAIAH 26:9

The righteousness that is available to us in the New Covenant is because of the terrible Judgment that was poured out on our Blessed Savior. Men who fail to appreciate the reason for the cross are never really impacted by the corresponding grace that flows from Him. Righteousness is not only a gift it is a life that we LEARN by walking with Him. Men who take sin lightly will never learn righteousness; the change of whom and what they are is temporary and ethereal. Our environment and how we are treated will not change what we are in heart. Righteousness must be learned by walking and interacting with our God.

The true child of God knows of His discipline and His chastening. It is of necessity that we know of this in our lives. For it is in these things that we LEARN and GROW in righteousness.

“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,
nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth…”
HEBREWS 10:5-6

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,
but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth
the peaceable fruit of righteousness
unto them which are exercised thereby”
HEBREWS 10:11

How good and right are His ways with us. As a loving Father with a child HE deals with us according to His plan and purposes. Joseph did not know that the path laid out for him was the means by which he was made ready to rule and reign. God waited and watched carefully over Joseph until the “Iron entered into his soul” and his word came!

“He sent a man before them, even Joseph,
who was sold for a servant:
Whose feet they hurt with fetters:
he was laid in iron:
(Hebrew “Iron hath entered his soul”)
Until the time that his word came:
the word of the LORD tried him.
The king sent and loosed him;
even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.
He made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his substance:
To bind his princes at his pleasure;
and teach his senators wisdom”
PSALM 105:17-22

His judgments are always meant to be remedial and redemptive in purpose. Men who spurn His discipline and harden their hearts toward Him pay the bitterest of prices. For it is those who are “exercised” by His chastening that receive the peaceable fruits of righteousness. May we be a people who are quick to submit ourselves to His dealings that we may grow in His righteousness and love. He knows the things that lie before us and His preparation work is that we may become “vessels of honor” unto His Glory in the days ahead.

“…Or despisest thou the riches
of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering;
not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart
treasurest up unto thyself wrath
against the day of wrath and revelation
of the righteous judgment of God”
ROMANS 2:4-5

Ω

“The steady discipline of intimate friendship with Jesus
results in men becoming like Him”
Harry Emerson Fosdick

Brian Troxel

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