Category Archives: Discipline / Correction

The Great Commission – Personal Discipleship Plan

This teaching is really a core part of our personal walk with Yeshua. Please take the time to read through it prayerfully, even though it may be a bit longer than average.

At Hearing From Jesus, we take the commands of our Lord very seriously and that certainly includes The Great Commission. In fact, it is this command that most directly inspires our ministry. We want to obey Jesus and make disciples of all the nations.

Besides being the command of our Lord, it is also a natural desire we have in gratitude to God for His grace and forgiveness and also out of love for other people, who may be headed for eternal separation from God in hell, unless they hear and study the true word of God.

Matthew 28:16-20

16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

To learn more about the Great Commission given to us by Jesus Christ, we recommend you study our teaching, The Great Commission – Make Disciples Of All The Nations, before continuing with this teaching on building a personal discipleship plan.

Whether Hearing From Jesus is a primary source for your personal study and growth with the Lord or just another valuable reference site, we have structured our ministry to help you become a disciple, a learner, of Christ and then to prepare to go and make disciples of others. This last point is important… it should not be our goal to do the absolute minimum we can and still get into Heaven. Those who have this attitude are far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Our goal is to grow spiritually to the point that we are feeding ourselves from God’s word and growing in our relationship with God from now until we die. It is a journey that we never finish, but it transforms us along the way to become more like Jesus and less like our old sinful nature. We are to learn well enough to then teach others effectively and help them become disciples as well… so they can , in turn, teach others.

Overwhelming? It can be. So, how do we begin such a task?

Let us begin by studying and then following the example of Jesus Christ. Likewise, we can review how others, like Paul or Moses or Elijah practiced discipleship. In all the examples I just mentioned, these servants of God knew the ultimate authority was God, not a religious authority figure or scholars or traditions. We must seek to develop a personal relationship with God. We must not cling to traditions of men, even if they are taught by religious authority figures. Even the Pope is quite fallible and what he teaches must be tested against the word of God and sadly it often contradicts God’s word. We must test everything against the truth of God’s scripture and seek God in prayer consistently. To be a disciple of Christ we must be willing to put Him first, above and before all other parts of our lives and it will be hard. We must lose our own lives in order to find true life with Jesus.

Matthew 10:34-39

34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Jesus did not attend formal schooling or study at seminary. These things may be helpful, but are not necessary and for most of us, not practical. Jesus studied the scriptures rigorously and with devotion since He was as child. So knowledgeable was He, that when He was twelve, He was amazing the scholars and teachers of the law.

Luke 2:46-47

46Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

If you are coming to know Jesus later in life, do not worry. Use the time God has given you and get started studying (not just reading) the Bible consistently today. God will reveal much to a devoted disciple through His word. Jesus’ disciples certainly did not start studying scripture as children but God used them in a mighty way!

Jesus had a powerful prayer life. Communicating with God to receive God’s instruction through prayer is essential to live as an effective disciple. Jesus did not pray when convenient… when He had time. Jesus stayed up late and got up early. Consistent prayer is essential to staying submitted to God’s will rather than our own. To study more about Jesus’ prayer life, we recommend reading Experiencing Prayer with Jesus, by Henry and Norman Blackaby.

When it was time for His public ministry to begin, Jesus found a small set of disciples, or followers. He had an inner circle in which He invested much time (Peter, James, John) and He had a wider group, but still small, that included all twelve disciples. He invested much time in the twelve, but not as much as He invested in the closer circle of three. Jesus also taught the masses who sought to hear God’s word. He never turned away those who were genuinely seeking the word of God.

We must recognize that Jesus forced no one to be a disciple or to listen to His message. Instead He choose people as disciples who came enthusiastically and willingly. They were eager to learn and not rebelling against God, insisting on clutching onto their traditions or even their personal lives before meeting Jesus.  They were willing to put Jesus as a priority above all other things. They left much behind of what they knew to follow Him. Others whom he invited, such as the rich young ruler introduced in Matthew 19:16, could not put him first and thus chose not to follow him.

Jesus made time for people and demonstrated compassion, but also remained focused on going about doing God’s work. He dealt with mockers appropriately so as not to let them distract Him from getting to those who wanted to hear.  Jesus would reply to those trying to trick Him, but only to provide a teachable moment and an opportunity for them to hear truth and repent, and then He would move on.

In three years He created a team of disciples who could go out and teach others. This is what disciple means… Jesus does not call us to just remain a “baby” in the faith, needing constant care and feeding. Jesus calls us to be disciples who can learn and teach others to learn. Those others then teach more and there is a multiplying effect that has dramatically impacted the world over the last two thousand years… starting from the humble beginnings of a poor carpenter who taught truth and stood up against the established  teachers and scholars of the time and against centuries of traditions of men which were put above the commands of God.

We will briefly comment regarding Moses, Elijah, and Paul but of course you can study and learn more about them by reading the scriptures.

Moses trained judges to be prepared to help meet the needs of the people in order to properly lead such a large number of people. [Exodus 18:17-26]

Elijah invested time to disciple Elisha, who became his successor. [1Kings 19:19-21]

Paul managed his disciples over a wider geography, across many different cities and regions.  He taught to crowds, big and small, on his missionary journeys. However, he clearly had a close circle of disciples with whom he traveled and invested significant time and a wider circle of individuals whom he discipled through occasional visits and more frequently through correspondence (e.g. letters).

So… what do we learn from Jesus and His servants?  What is a practical way to begin?

We must all begin with study of the scripture and prayer. We must develop a strong personal relationship with God.  Do not get in a hurry to be the teacher. Jesus did not start discipling others immediately, he studied from time of child and started with disciples at 30 years old. His disciples spent three years under His instruction and care before going out to disciple others on their own. They maintained a support structure often going out in pairs and coming back to consult with one another.

Most of us need to identify resources and techniques for studying scripture, and possibly find a teacher or disciple who is further on the journey than we are to help lead the way and answer questions. We must learn to feed ourselves with God’s help, still listening to the wise, but testing all they teach against scripture.

When you are ready, start seeking those you can invest time and relationship in to come together to study God’s word with commitment and devotion. Seek your disciples, without giving up or forsaking your relationship with your teacher or with God. Keep feeding yourself and continue on the journey to know, love, and serve God or you will not be effective in leading others. Even if you do not feel comfortable guiding a Bible study on your own, set up a  Bible study anyway. You can use material from our ministry or from other teachers who have already prepared and shared the message of God’s word. Just remember to test everything against the whole of scripture using your own discernment and prayer…  as even good teachers have some doctrine incorrect… and some of it quite significant.

After a time, do not rush it, and staying connected to the disciples you study with… each of you perhaps in pairs can also set up separate small groups to disciple others. Invest in more than just Bible study, but in life activities and support one another. Do not tolerate among your disciples those who would tempt you to sloth or to disregard and rebel against God’s word by rationalizing sin or worldly culture as acceptable. Do not tolerate among your close disciples those that refuse to submit to God and repent of their sin, clinging to their sin nature and refusing to change behaviors to honor God. Follow Jesus’ instructions found in Matthew 18:15-17.

15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Listen, also, to your fellow disciples when they point out to you your sin… for the wise listen to good advice with thanksgiving and become wiser. A fool despises correction.

Stay focused. Consider writing down a plan for your personal discipleship both as a learner and as a teacher. Review periodically, perhaps a few times a year, to evaluate your progress and commitment to this mission. Pray for God’s help frequently… “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Please reach out to us with questions through our Contact Us  page. Our intent is to teach you and support you in becoming a disciple, not just to give you a word from the scriptures daily… though that is a great start.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Test Christian “Norms” Against the Biblical Text

Much of what is taught in churches today has drifted far from the early church and the followers of Christ… from those like Paul and the written record we have in the Bible. I think in many cases, it is hard for us to accept it because so many of us just accept what we are told by others around us, by our parents, by people at the local church. How often do we really test it against what is actually written in the Bible?

2 Thessalonians 3

Exhortation

      1Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

      6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

      14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

      16Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

      17I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Reflect prayerfully on the following, some of which may seem contradictory to what many Christians teach or how they act.

  • We are not to hang out with others who lead an unruly life, even if they claim to be Christian and come to the same church we do.
  • Work hard to support yourself and your family. Seek not to be a burden on anyone. Do not take or demand handouts on a recurring basis if you don’t need them, even if you could justifiably ask for them.
  • Do not continually support and feed those who refuse to work for themselves. This does not mean those who can not work, but those who choose not to work. Let them eat their own bread. While this may seem offensive to some, think about it. If we screen out the lazy who could support themselves, we will have more to help those who really need it and can not help themselves. Charity is not intended to support sloth.
  •  Shame has a place. It is useful and appropriate at times for someone to be or feel shamed when they are doing something wrong. Our world tries to teach that no one should be “shamed”. This is false. Shame can help lead to repentance. We are to separate ourselves from those who claim to be Christian but live as the pagans do. They are not enemies, but they are to be admonished. This includes pastors and churches teaching false doctrine which is not consistent with the Bible.

These are not my opinions… these are the words of Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit and included in the Bible for our reference from YHWH Himself.  They are intended both to protect us from drifting away from Him and also to help encourage others to avoid drifting away from Him to be more like the culture around them. These instructions lead to helping the body of Christ shine as a light to others, different from the world around them and lead to glorifying God. We never glorify God by simply adopting the ways of the pagan culture around us and blending in.

As we close, spend time praying and reflecting on the following:

  • Pray that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
  • The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one if you seek Him and submit to Him.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Rebellion Against God Leads to Servitude

After all the miracles that YHWH performed to deliver Israel to the promised land, they still disobeyed. They intermarried with people of different faiths who they were supposed to drive from the land. In time they served false gods and the Lord’s anger was kindled up against them. He turned them over to enemies as a result.

Let us remain humble enough to remember that YHWH does not change and we are not somehow better than the Israelites. YHWH has delivered to the USA a great nation, but we have turned in large part against him. We should not doubt for a moment that he will ultimately remove his hand of blessing and perhaps turn us over to destruction or servitude as judgment against us and to help drive us to repent as a people. The USA largely remains very proud and independent and does not depend even on YHWH, which is unfortunate.

As his people, we should humble ourselves and pray, and turn from our wicked ways and ask forgiveness (2 Chronicles 7:14). Do not confuse this with waiting for the wicked to humble themselves. The message to repent is for YHWH’s people.

Judges 3:1-8

Idolatry Leads to Servitude

      1Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; 2only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). 3These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. 4They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses. 5The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; 6and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

      7The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. 8Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Great Commission – Personal Discipleship Plan

At Hearing From Jesus, we take the commands of our Lord very seriously and that certainly includes The Great Commission. In fact, it is this command that most directly inspires our ministry. We want to obey Jesus and make disciples of all the nations.

Besides being the command of our Lord, it is also a natural desire we have in gratitude to God for His grace and forgiveness and also out of love for other people, who may be headed for eternal separation from God in hell, unless they hear and study the true word of God.

Matthew 28:16-20

16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

To learn more about the Great Commission given to us by Jesus Christ, we recommend you study our teaching, The Great Commission – Make Disciples Of All The Nations, before continuing with this teaching on building a personal discipleship plan.

Whether Hearing From Jesus is a primary source for your personal study and growth with the Lord or just another valuable reference site, we have structured our ministry to help you become a disciple, a learner, of Christ and then to prepare to go and make disciples of others. This last point is important… it should not be our goal to do the absolute minimum we can and still get into Heaven. Those who have this attitude are far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Our goal is to grow spiritually to the point that we are feeding ourselves from God’s word and growing in our relationship with God from now until we die. It is a journey that we never finish, but it transforms us along the way to become more like Jesus and less like our old sinful nature. We are to learn well enough to then teach others effectively and help them become disciples as well… so they can , in turn, teach others.

Overwhelming? It can be. So, how do we begin such a task?

Let us begin by studying and then following the example of Jesus Christ. Likewise, we can review how others, like Paul or Moses or Elijah practiced discipleship. In all the examples I just mentioned, these servants of God knew the ultimate authority was God, not a religious authority figure or scholars or traditions. We must seek to develop a personal relationship with God. We must not cling to traditions of men, even if they are taught by religious authority figures. Even the Pope is quite fallible and what he teaches must be tested against the word of God and sadly it often contradicts God’s word. We must test everything against the truth of God’s scripture and seek God in prayer consistently. To be a disciple of Christ we must be willing to put Him first, above and before all other parts of our lives and it will be hard. We must lose our own lives in order to find true life with Jesus.

Matthew 10:34-39

34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Jesus did not attend formal schooling or study at seminary. These things may be helpful, but are not necessary and for most of us, not practical. Jesus studied the scriptures rigorously and with devotion since He was as child. So knowledgeable was He, that when He was twelve, He was amazing the scholars and teachers of the law.

Luke 2:46-47

46Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

If you are coming to know Jesus later in life, do not worry. Use the time God has given you and get started studying (not just reading) the Bible consistently today. God will reveal much to a devoted disciple through His word. Jesus’ disciples certainly did not start studying scripture as children but God used them in a mighty way!

Jesus had a powerful prayer life. Communicating with God to receive God’s instruction through prayer is essential to live as an effective disciple. Jesus did not pray when convenient… when He had time. Jesus stayed up late and got up early. Consistent prayer is essential to staying submitted to God’s will rather than our own. To study more about Jesus’ prayer life, we recommend reading Experiencing Prayer with Jesus, by Henry and Norman Blackaby.

When it was time for His public ministry to begin, Jesus found a small set of disciples, or followers. He had an inner circle in which He invested much time (Peter, James, John) and He had a wider group, but still small, that included all twelve disciples. He invested much time in the twelve, but not as much as He invested in the closer circle of three. Jesus also taught the masses who sought to hear God’s word. He never turned away those who were genuinely seeking the word of God.

We must recognize that Jesus forced no one to be a disciple or to listen to His message. Instead He choose people as disciples who came enthusiastically and willingly. They were eager to learn and not rebelling against God, insisting on clutching onto their traditions or even their personal lives before meeting Jesus.  They were willing to put Jesus as a priority above all other things. They left much behind of what they knew to follow Him. Others whom he invited, such as the rich young ruler introduced in Matthew 19:16, could not put him first and thus chose not to follow him.

Jesus made time for people and demonstrated compassion, but also remained focused on going about doing God’s work. He dealt with mockers appropriately so as not to let them distract Him from getting to those who wanted to hear.  Jesus would reply to those trying to trick Him, but only to provide a teachable moment and an opportunity for them to hear truth and repent, and then He would move on.

In three years He created a team of disciples who could go out and teach others. This is what disciple means… Jesus does not call us to just remain a “baby” in the faith, needing constant care and feeding. Jesus calls us to be disciples who can learn and teach others to learn. Those others then teach more and there is a multiplying effect that has dramatically impacted the world over the last two thousand years… starting from the humble beginnings of a poor carpenter who taught truth and stood up against the established  teachers and scholars of the time and against centuries of traditions of men which were put above the commands of God.

We will briefly comment regarding Moses, Elijah, and Paul but of course you can study and learn more about them by reading the scriptures.

Moses trained judges to be prepared to help meet the needs of the people in order to properly lead such a large number of people. [Exodus 18:17-26]

Elijah invested time to disciple Elisha, who became his successor. [1Kings 19:19-21]

Paul managed his disciples over a wider geography, across many different cities and regions.  He taught to crowds, big and small, on his missionary journeys. However, he clearly had a close circle of disciples with whom he traveled and invested significant time and a wider circle of individuals whom he discipled through occasional visits and more frequently through correspondence (e.g. letters).

So… what do we learn from Jesus and His servants?  What is a practical way to begin?

We must all begin with study of the scripture and prayer. We must develop a strong personal relationship with God.  Do not get in a hurry to be the teacher. Jesus did not start discipling others immediately, he studied from time of child and started with disciples at 30 years old. His disciples spent three years under His instruction and care before going out to disciple others on their own. They maintained a support structure often going out in pairs and coming back to consult with one another.

Most of us need to identify resources and techniques for studying scripture, and possibly find a teacher or disciple who is further on the journey than we are to help lead the way and answer questions. We must learn to feed ourselves with God’s help, still listening to the wise, but testing all they teach against scripture.

When you are ready, start seeking those you can invest time and relationship in to come together to study God’s word with commitment and devotion. Seek your disciples, without giving up or forsaking your relationship with your teacher or with God. Keep feeding yourself and continue on the journey to know, love, and serve God or you will not be effective in leading others. Even if you do not feel comfortable guiding a Bible study on your own, set up a  Bible study anyway. You can use material from our ministry or from other teachers who have already prepared and shared the message of God’s word. Just remember to test everything against the whole of scripture using your own discernment and prayer…  as even good teachers have some doctrine incorrect… and some of it quite significant.

After a time, do not rush it, and staying connected to the disciples you study with… each of you perhaps in pairs can also set up separate small groups to disciple others. Invest in more than just Bible study, but in life activities and support one another. Do not tolerate among your disciples those who would tempt you to sloth or to disregard and rebel against God’s word by rationalizing sin or worldly culture as acceptable. Do not tolerate among your close disciples those that refuse to submit to God and repent of their sin, clinging to their sin nature and refusing to change behaviors to honor God. Follow Jesus’ instructions found in Matthew 18:15-17.

15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Listen, also, to your fellow disciples when they point out to you your sin… for the wise listen to good advice with thanksgiving and become wiser. A fool despises correction.

Stay focused. Consider writing down a plan for your personal discipleship both as a learner and as a teacher. Review periodically, perhaps a few times a year, to evaluate your progress and commitment to this mission. Pray for God’s help frequently… “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Please reach out to us with questions through our Contact Us  page. Our intent is to teach you and support you in becoming a disciple, not just to give you a word from the scriptures daily… though that is a great start.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Test “Christian Norms” Against the Biblical Record

Much of what is taught in churches today has drifted far from the early church and the followers of Christ… from those like Paul and the written record we have in the Bible. I think in many cases, it is hard for us to accept it because so many of us just accept what we are told by others around us, by our parents, by people at the local church. How often do we really test it against what is actually written in the Bible?

2 Thessalonians 3

Exhortation

      1Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

      6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

      14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

      16Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

      17I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Reflect prayerfully on the following, some of which may seem contradictory to what many Christians teach or how they act.

  • We are not to hang out with others who lead an unruly life, even if they claim to be Christian and come to the same church we do.
  • Work hard to support yourself and your family. Seek not to be a burden on anyone. Do not take or demand handouts on a recurring basis if you don’t need them, even if you could justifiably ask for them.
  • Do not continually support and feed those who refuse to work for themselves. This does not mean those who can not work, but those who choose not to work. Let them eat their own bread. While this may seem offensive to some, think about it. If we screen out the lazy who could support themselves, we will have more to help those who really need it and can not help themselves. Charity is not intended to support sloth.
  •  Shame has a place. It is useful and appropriate at times for someone to be or feel shamed when they are doing something wrong. Our world tries to teach that no one should be “shamed”. This is false. Shame can help lead to repentance. We are to separate ourselves from those who claim to be Christian but live as the pagans do. They are not enemies, but they are to be admonished. This includes pastors and churches teaching false doctrine which is not consistent with the Bible.

These are not my opinions… these are the words of Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit and included in the Bible for our reference from YHWH Himself.  They are intended both to protect us from drifting away from Him and also to help encourage others to avoid drifting away from Him to be more like the culture around them. These instructions lead to helping the body of Christ shine as a light to others, different from the world around them and lead to glorifying God. We never glorify God by simply adopting the ways of the pagan culture around us and blending in.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Guidance and Encouragement for the Church

There is actually quite a lot packed into a fairly short chapter in 2 Thessalonians 3. Read through it and meet me on the other side to unpack it.

2 Thessalonians 3

Exhortation

     1Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

      6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

      14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

      16Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

      17I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

There is a lot we should take note of and apply in our own lives today.

  • Paul begins this chapter by asking for prayer not only for him to be protected from wicked men, but also for the word of God to spread quickly and be glorified.
  • Paul expresses faith and confidence in the Lord not only for his situation but for that of the believers in Thessalonica. He has confidence in God’s protection from Satan as well as the need to ask God to help direct our hearts to love Him and be steadfast in Christ.
  • Paul takes time to encourage other Christians.
  • Contrary to what many would teach today, we are not to befriend and be close to unruly, undisciplined people just because they may claim to follow Christ. Their behaviors and attitudes bely the fact that they are not truly submitted to Christ.
  • Paul makes special emphasis of saying they should not grow weary of doing good.
  • Right before saying this, Paul comments quite a bit on how they set an example by working for and paying for what they needed to survive. He makes two points, both of which seem at odds with what is normal in our culture today.  We should take note as our culture may be out of calibration with the early church. First, that even though he could expect the people to provide for him while he ministers to them about Christ, he thought it important to support himself as an example. Second, those that refuse to work “shall eat their own bread”. He clearly states that those who are unwilling to work (not talking here about unable to work), should not be subsidized in their laziness or stubbornness by others but rather encouraged by even their own hunger to work and be productive.
  • Paul also makes a point to instruct the church to discipline and admonish  members who refuse to live according to the proper instruction in these matters. Too often today churches do not admonish anyone effectively, if at all. All are invited to sit in church regardless of their outward sin and rebellion. Pastors rationalize that “at least they will hear the word”, but individuals take home the message that living in sin as they are is just fine and they are “saved”. Those outside the church can no longer see that the church is any different than they are.  People in the church behave the same way that people outside the church do. Effective rebuke is desperately in need, even though it should be done with respect and love. Pastors are too concerned someone may get mad and leave, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is no trophy for having the biggest crowd sit in church and not follow God. Quite the opposite. Leaders will be judged based on how they accepted sin and offended God instead of man.

Pray and reflect on this message from Paul to Thessalonica. It is still relevant today. Ask God to show you what changes you should make in your life.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Let Your Actions Match Your Statement Of Faith In Christ

We should all strive to live in such a way that our actions match our statement of faith in Christ. For those who would simply acknowledge Christ in name but live according to the world, you are worse than those who just reject Christ outright because you fool yourself and others so that they may not find their way to Him.  We are to be a light, which is to say that we must be very different from the darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Christian Conduct

      12But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 14We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Do not quench the Spirit; 20do not despise prophetic utterances. 21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.

      23Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

      25Brethren, pray for us.

      26Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

      28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

How Will You Treat The Vineyard Owner?

The Israelites at times turned their backs on YHWH. They rejected his prophets and then killed His son, Yeshua. The Jewish people largely rejected Christ. As such, YHWH invited the gentiles to be grafted in to be His people in their place. If YHWH will allow His chosen people, Israel, to be replaced, none of us should be so arrogant as to think we can dictate the terms of our relationship to YHWH. He invites and accepts people on His own terms, which are outlined in the Bible.

YHWH will not force any to remain in relationship with Him. Nor will He hold back judgment for those who reject His offer through Christ of forgiveness by grace

Luke 20:9-18

Parable of the Vine-growers

     9And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10“At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11“And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12“And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. 13“The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14“But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15“So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16“He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!”

17But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,
THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone’?

18“Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

Those who reject Christ may feel as though they are having a victory in this world for a time. They may laugh and reassure themselves that they are in control. However, YHWH will hold them accountable for their sin should they continue their rejection of Christ’s offer of forgiveness through grace.

What decision will you make? How will you treat the vineyard owner and His messengers? His son?

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Lord Provides Justice

For those who cry out “separation of church and state” for the USA, I simply call out the lie inherent in the claim. Those words never show up in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. They only show up in letters of a founding Father not incorporated into our governing documents. The context was reassuring a Baptist congregation they would not be forced by the government to accept a certain set of Christian beliefs. The founding fathers integrates their faith in the one Christian God throughout the launching of our great nation.

The great freedom and protections we get are directly related to Christian beliefs and understanding of God. Our legal system is an example. Reading Numbers 35 we see some key aspects of what has now been incorporated into our legal code… differentiation for unintentional manslaughter vs. murder, a right to a trial, validation of witness testimony, rules and limitations put on even those who committed manslaughter, and the Levites at the center of it all to dispense unbiased execution of the law.

Numbers 35:9-34

      9Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11then you shall select for yourselves cities to be your cities of refuge, that the manslayer who has killed any person unintentionally may flee there. 12‘The cities shall be to you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the manslayer will not die until he stands before the congregation for trial. 13‘The cities which you are to give shall be your six cities of refuge. 14‘You shall give three cities across the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan; they are to be cities of refuge. 15‘These six cities shall be for refuge for the sons of Israel, and for the alien and for the sojourner among them; that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there.

      16‘But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. 17‘If he struck him down with a stone in the hand, by which he will die, and as a result he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. 18‘Or if he struck him with a wooden object in the hand, by which he might die, and as a result he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. 19‘The blood avenger himself shall put the murderer to death; he shall put him to death when he meets him. 20‘If he pushed him of hatred, or threw something at him lying in wait and as a result he died, 21or if he struck him down with his hand in enmity, and as a result he died, the one who struck him shall surely be put to death, he is a murderer; the blood avenger shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.

      22‘But if he pushed him suddenly without enmity, or threw something at him without lying in wait, 23or with any deadly object of stone, and without seeing it dropped on him so that he died, while he was not his enemy nor seeking his injury, 24then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the blood avenger according to these ordinances. 25‘The congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he fled; and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil. 26‘But if the manslayer at any time goes beyond the border of his city of refuge to which he may flee, 27and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge, and the blood avenger kills the manslayer, he will not be guilty of blood 28because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession.

      29‘These things shall be for a statutory ordinance to you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

      30‘If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. 31‘Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death. 32‘You shall not take ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to live in the land before the death of the priest. 33‘So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. 34‘You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD am dwelling in the midst of the sons of Israel.’”

Careful comparison and study of the laws of YHWH compared to other civilizations at the same time often amazes me to see how He provided for His people a way of living together beyond simply giving them land. He was constantly involved in their culture and structure of society. He was, and remains, a loving Father who is interested and engaged with the lives of His children.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Accept His Rebuke Graciously and Humbly and Focus On His Mission

Moses was a wonderful, but imperfect man. He served the Lord faithfully for many years. He made some mistakes. One such mistake is recorded in Numbers 20:8-13 where He disobeyed the Lord and struck a rock rather than speaking to it as God commanded Him. He was rebuked by God and as a consequence of his disobedience he was not allowed to go with the people into the promised land.

With that quick background highlighted, let us see how Moses responds when he faces the consequences of his actions before God. Does he complain? make excuses? refuse to do God’s will? stop caring about his role as leader of the people?

He does none of these. Instead, he accepts the rebuke graciously and with humility, focusing on the needs of the people. He continues in his role as their leader, seeking God’s help to identify a replacement leader for them once he is gone.

Numbers 27:12-23

      12Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go up to this mountain of Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the sons of Israel. 13“When you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was; 14for in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water.” (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.)

Joshua to Succeed Moses

     15Then Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, 16“May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, 17who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” 18So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; 19and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight. 20“You shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him. 21“Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his command they shall go out and at his command they shall come in, both he and the sons of Israel with him, even all the congregation.” 22Moses did just as the LORD commanded him; and he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. 23Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.

We all make mistakes. We are all worthy to be rebuked from time to time by the Lord. Let us ask the Spirit to help us to be as humble and  graceful as Moses was before the Lord in accepting the consequences of our actions. We should focus then on how we continue with the mission God has called us to do rather than “pouting” or giving up or getting bitter like a spoiled child who is corrected by his or her parents.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.