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.

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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 Futility of Life Without YHWH

Reading a chapter at a time from Ecclesiastes can lose some of the focus and clarity compared to reading the whole book start to finish. The context is important. A wise man, likely Solomon, reflects on his life and observations toward the end of his life. He shares this wisdom. The key conclusion is found in chapter 12. It helps keep the rest of the book in context for us.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

 13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

It is difficult to find any true and lasting significance in life without consideration of our Creator and our relationship with him. With that in mind, let’s explore chapter 6.

Ecclesiastes 6

The Futility of Life

     1There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men— 2a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction. 3If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, “Better the miscarriage than he, 4for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. 5“It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he. 6“Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not enjoy good things—do not all go to one place?”

      7All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied. 8For what advantage does the wise man have over the fool? What advantage does the poor man have, knowing how to walk before the living? 9What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.

      10Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with him who is stronger than he is. 11For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a man? 12For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

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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.

Dividing Up The Promised Land – Judah

There are passages in scripture where a common first reaction is to wonder what the value could possibly be in reading them and how they could possibly apply today. We should heed Paul’s guidance in 2 Timothy 3:16 and recall that he is specifically calling out the Torah, or Old Testament. The gospels most likely had not been written yet and 2 Timothy in the preceding verses refers to the scriptures that Timothy has known since he was a child.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

With that in mind, we will come to a section of Joshua in which the territory given to each tribe is laid out in detail. Joshua 15 starts with Judah. What can this possibly mean for us today? There are likely several levels, only a few of which I will touch on here. There seem to always be multiple layers or levels to the significance of scripture. The more time you spend studying it, the more treasure and significance you find.

Two things that strike me very powerfully in these following chapters of Joshua are the following:

  • There many are parts of the scriptures that are clearly written in the style of an historical record. This means that they include detailed records of events. This should encourage us that the Bible is true and accurate! Someone making up these stories would not take the time to add such fine detail.
  • Also, we should see that our Father is faithful. He promised the land to the Israelites a long time before and now we should see this as the fulfillment of his promise. This should also encourage us. Though his timing is different than ours, we can always count on our Father being loyal and faithful to his word.
  • Our Father cares about the details in the lives of his people. He was very involved in dividing up the land in very specific way in which he deemed fair and appropriate. He did not simply say … here is the land, go figure out how to divide it yourselves.  So also he cares about our lives today. Once again, this should be encouraging to those who seek to please him and dwell with him.

Joshua 15

Territory of Judah

     1Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families reached the border of Edom, southward to the wilderness of Zin at the extreme south. 2Their south border was from the lower end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that turns to the south. 3Then it proceeded southward to the ascent of Akrabbim and continued to Zin, then went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea and continued to Hezron, and went up to Addar and turned about to Karka. 4It continued to Azmon and proceeded to the brook of Egypt, and the border ended at the sea. This shall be your south border. 5The east border was the Salt Sea, as far as the mouth of the Jordan. And the border of the north side was from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6Then the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and continued on the north of Beth-arabah, and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7The border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and turned northward toward Gilgal which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south of the valley; and the border continued to the waters of En-shemesh and it ended at En-rogel. 8Then the border went up the valley of Ben-hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (that is, Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north. 9From the top of the mountain the border curved to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah and proceeded to the cities of Mount Ephron, then the border curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10The border turned about from Baalah westward to Mount Seir, and continued to the slope of Mount Jearim on the north (that is, Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh and continued through Timnah. 11The border proceeded to the side of Ekron northward. Then the border curved to Shikkeron and continued to Mount Baalah and proceeded to Jabneel, and the border ended at the sea. 12The west border was at the Great Sea, even its coastline. This is the border around the sons of Judah according to their families.

      13Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). 14Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife.” 17Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. 18It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

      20This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families.

      21Now the cities at the extremity of the tribe of the sons of Judah toward the border of Edom in the south were Kabzeel and Eder and Jagur, 22and Kinah and Dimonah and Adadah, 23and Kedesh and Hazor and Ithnan, 24Ziph and Telem and Bealoth, 25and Hazor-hadattah and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), 26Amam and Shema and Moladah, 27and Hazar-gaddah and Heshmon and Beth-pelet, 28and Hazar-shual and Beersheba and Biziothiah, 29Baalah and Iim and Ezem, 30and Eltolad and Chesil and Hormah, 31and Ziklag and Madmannah and Sansannah, 32and Lebaoth and Shilhim and Ain and Rimmon; in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.

      33In the lowland: Eshtaol and Zorah and Ashnah, 34and Zanoah and En-gannim, Tappuah and Enam, 35Jarmuth and Adullam, Socoh and Azekah, 36and Shaaraim and Adithaim and Gederah and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages.

      37Zenan and Hadashah and Migdal-gad, 38and Dilean and Mizpeh and Joktheel, 39Lachish and Bozkath and Eglon, 40and Cabbon and Lahmas and Chitlish, 41and Gederoth, Beth-dagon and Naamah and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages.

      42Libnah and Ether and Ashan, 43and Iphtah and Ashnah and Nezib, 44and Keilah and Achzib and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages.

      45Ekron, with its towns and its villages; 46from Ekron even to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

      47Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; as far as the brook of Egypt and the Great Sea, even its coastline.

      48In the hill country: Shamir and Jattir and Socoh, 49and Dannah and Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), 50and Anab and Eshtemoh and Anim, 51and Goshen and Holon and Giloh; eleven cities with their villages.

      52Arab and Dumah and Eshan, 53and Janum and Beth-tappuah and Aphekah, 54and Humtah and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior; nine cities with their villages.

      55Maon, Carmel and Ziph and Juttah, 56and Jezreel and Jokdeam and Zanoah, 57Kain, Gibeah and Timnah; ten cities with their villages.

      58Halhul, Beth-zur and Gedor, 59and Maarath and Beth-anoth and Eltekon; six cities with their villages.

      60Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah; two cities with their villages.

      61In the wilderness: Beth-arabah, Middin and Secacah, 62and Nibshan and the City of Salt and Engedi; six cities with their villages.

      63Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.

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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 for the Church

Looking inside the letters that Paul wrote can be fascinating. There is a mix of eternal truths we should try to apply and personal situations which really may not have as much applicability broadly.

1 Timothy 5:17-22

     17The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 21I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. 22Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

      23No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

      24The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. 25Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.

Clearly when we review this scripture, we can see elements which are still broadly relevant. When there is an elder with good reputation and a teacher or preacher of the word, let us not accept an accusation without two or three witnesses. This is just good sense to apply to anyone who has a good reputation. Sometimes people make false accusations or accuse them of something that is not true, even if the accuser believes it.  A good name, or reputation, is to be valued and considered.

He makes reference to rebuking publicly those who continue to sin. This implies that they continue to sin… after you have confronted them privately. Making the rebuke public for those who refuse to repent is important. We don’t do it much today and are the worse off for it. It is intended to discourage others from sinning. Today it seems we are always too concerned about offending the sinner, rather than about offending YHWH by accepting the sin in our midst. Publicly addressing it helps to highlight the sin to others in the congregation also. Failing to confront the sin also sends a clear message to the people that it is acceptable.

Do not lay hands on anyone too hastily. Before we pray over and bless someone as a congregation, let us take time to know them and use discernment. We are to be selective. If we bless and encourage someone who goes off and does bad things, we have some accountability for it, according to Paul.

Then there is a sudden switch over to talk to Timothy about something very personal and specific to him. He has a stomach condition and Paul recommends a little wine. This does not appear to be generally and broadly applicable, but rather specific to Timothy. Paul is not saying all of us need to drink some wine because all of us have stomach issues or are frequently sick.

The last few verses are very interesting as well. It is certainly true that some people are obviously sinners and everyone knows it. For others, they may appear in life to be good and righteous, but their sins may be discovered after they have died. Not everyone that appears righteous is so.

Ultimately though our sins may be concealed for awhile to man, they are never concealed before the Lord.

I encourage you to prayerfully reflect on this passage and consider how it applies to your life today. Think specifically about changes in attitude or behavior that you should make.

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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 Within The Church Regarding Widows

1 Timothy 5 is a very interesting passage. Paul lays out some specific instructions to help guide Timothy in his ministry leading a church body. He makes some distinctions that we do not often make in our society today. We do well to truly reflect on this passage and let it guide our behavior and focus as a church.

One interesting distinction is that he does not refer to all widows as one group with the same guidance for all. He separates it based on age, based on behavior and attitude. He suggests the church body should be focused on helping those who truly don’t have family to care for them. He also rather firmly asserts ” 8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1 Timothy 5:1-16

     1Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

      3Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. 5Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

      9A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. 11But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. 16If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.

I think the guidance is good that is given in regards to treating elders as if father or mother when giving a rebuke, younger folks like brother and sister. This perhaps helps us limit the condemnation in our rebuke and focus our help as offered in love. The rebuke is still applied, but in a more gentle and loving way.

It is a good reminder that even the pagans take care of their own household. We are failing in our faith if we don’t take care of ours. We should not rely on the church body to care for our own household. In this way the church body can focus on those who are truly alone and without support.

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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.

Speak, For Your Servant Is Listening

Samuel was a great prophet of the Lord. What can we learn from how he connected with the Lord when he was still a child?

  • He listened to the advice of one elder than himself, even though that person was far from perfect.
  • He responded to YHWH’s call with utmost simplicity… no complicated prayer needed. “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
  • Then… he did something amazing that most of us don’t do… he stopped talking to YHWH and started listening.
  • He shared the word that the Lord gave him even though he was scared to do so.

We should do likewise.

1 Samuel 3:1-14

The Prophetic Call to Samuel

     1Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.

      2It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was, 4that the LORD called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6The LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him. 8So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the LORD was calling the boy. 9And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

      10Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11The LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12“In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13“For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. 14“Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

      15So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17He said, “What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.” 18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him.”

      19Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail. 20All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD. 21And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

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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 Has Done Great Things!

Give thanks and celebrate joyfully as the Lord delivers victory! May the glory always be given to YHWH.

Psalm 126

Thanksgiving for Return from Captivity.

A Song of Ascents.

     1When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.

      2Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”

      3The LORD has done great things for us;
We are glad.

      4Restore our captivity, O LORD,
As the streams in the South.

      5Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.

      6He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

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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.

 

Caleb Was A Righteous Servant, Faithful and Patient

We hear a lot about Joshua as a loyal follower of YHWH, but often Caleb can be overlooked. Caleb stood firm with Joshua in faith when they spied out the land. The Lord recognized the faith of Caleb and Joshua both. He rewarded them by letting them see the promised land while they were still in good health. Take note, however, that their reward was delayed quite a bit, and they still had to endure wandering in the desert due to the sins of their peers. Let us remember that we don’t always get instant gratification and feedback from the Lord when we do well. That does not mean the Lord is not pleased or will not reward us… only that it is sometimes delayed.

Joshua 14

Caleb’s Request

     1Now these are the territories which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance, 2by the lot of their inheritance, as the LORD commanded through Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe. 3For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan; but he did not give an inheritance to the Levites among them. 4For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property. 5Thus the sons of Israel did just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they divided the land.

      6Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the LORD spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. 7“I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. 8“Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully. 9“So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’ 10“Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. 11“I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. 12“Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken.”

      13So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully. 15Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war.

Caleb was a righteous servant, both faithful and patient. Let us follow his example.

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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.

Discipine Yourself for the Purpose of Godliness

None of us who follow Christ should allow ourselves to be content to simply get by and do the minimum “required”, but rather seek to transform our lives and be examples to others in godliness. That means we will be different from those around us. We will not blend in. We must be able to demonstrate that our walk ties back to God’s word and God’s Spirit. We will need his help to be sure, but we must also dedicate ourselves to pursuing godliness and being holy and set apart from much of what is around us in society and culture and even in the church where they have mixed or blended with the teachings of the world.

1 Timothy 4:6-16

A Good Minister’s Discipline

     6In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

      11Prescribe and teach these things. 12Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear 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.

Falling Away From The Faith

Paul warns Timothy that there will be a falling away from the faith as people pay attention to doctrines of demons and turn away from God’s instruction. We do well to hold tight to the written instructions of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Brit Hadasha (New Testament). Let us study them and seek the Spirit to have understanding. Let us take caution not to accept teaching from those who change their meaning, even if the teaching is commonly accepted by churches that identify as Christian.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

Apostasy

     1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

One could take the specifics of this passage to mean many different things. Examples could include our focus today as a culture on abortion, homosexuality, transgender. It could include many things.

Some will claim this means we are to eat whatever we want, but ironically we all still cling to some dietary code we have learned, whether it was devised by man or by God. Some eat crawfish, some eat cat. Some abstain from pig, some from cow, some from meat altogether, some from red meat on Fridays in lent. None of us consider everything we could eat to be “food”.  We should reflect not on what we or our local culture identify as food, but what the Lord calls food. This would have been the context in which Paul was writing.

As a silly example, we are not to accept poison or something that would do us harm! So clearly he is not meaning everything but rather all food… and it should be God’s definition of what is food.

Seek the Lord and study the word. Ask him to increase your knowledge and wisdom in these things. Be patient with other followers of Christ, even in the midst of some disagreement.

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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.

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