The Hope That Does Not Disappoint

Romans 5:5, Holy Spirit, Love of God and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)

Everybody faces disappointment.  It is a simple fact of life.  If you live you will at some point be disappointed by someone or something.

Disappointment comes in many forms and from many places.  They can be small or large.  They can come singly or all at once.  But come they will, whether we are ready for them or not.

Knowing this, we have two choices.  We can choose to live life to the fullest, bravely and boldly and full of love as God intended.  Or we can choose to live in such a way that we avoid all possible people and situations that might lead to disappointment in the future.

The thing is, avoidance is not God’s way.  God embraces.  God encompasses.  God gives generously and liberally to all who ask.  And so should we.

We need to be out there, in the world, showing God’s love to all and meeting their needs in His name.  And if we live in this way then we risk being disappointed when we are rejected and especially when God’s free gift of salvation is rejected.

But thank God, we have a remedy.  We must realize our disappointment is temporary.  Any disappointment tied to this life will ultimately pass away when God takes us home to be with Him and all things are made new.  We have that promise and no temporary defeat or setback in this life can diminish it.  God won the victory and while there is much work still to be done, the outcome is assured.  One day we will be with Him and there will be no more tears or sorrow, no more suffering or pain.  Look forward to heaven, child of God.  It will be glorious, indescribable and beyond all expectation.

This is our hope.  But it is not only a future hope.  It is a hope that lives and makes a difference right now, right here.  Like Romans 5:5 says above, our hope does not disappoint (notice the present tense!).  It does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured out directly in our hearts and lives through the gift of His Holy Spirit.

His Holy Spirit ministers to us and provides comfort and peace in times of trouble.  His Holy Spirit guides us into all truth and directs our steps as we trust in Him fully.  If we stumble and fall it is because we are not taking advantage of the wonderful gift that He has given us through His Spirit but even then He stands ready and willing to forgive us and re-establish us if we will confess our sin to Him.

Are you living in disappointment?  Is your hope diminished?  Have the troubles and cares of this life brought you down?  Turn your eyes on Jesus and focus your heart on Him.  Confess your failures and disappointment to Him and cast all your cares upon Him.  He will never leave or forsake you and your hope is safe with Him.  Come and see, Jesus never disappoints.

Have You Ever Asked God Why?

Faith, Christmas, shepherdsI think every single believer has at sometime in their life asked “Why, God?”  “Why is this happening to me”?

We see our circumstances and we feel the effects of fear, doubt, and worry as we desperately try to find a way out.  Sometimes we are sick.  Sometimes we are lonely or hurting emotionally.  Sometimes we may even be in physical danger or suffering from life piling a whole bunch of trouble on us all at once.  Regardless of the cause our first response is usually to seek relief as we repeatedly ask “Why?”

We have a word that we use in the South sometimes to describe something that is just off.  Something that is weirdly messed up in a strange way we call wonky.  “Now that is just wonky!”  Your neighbors car won’t start because a squirrel decided to build a nest inside it and ended up chewing some really important parts while leaving acorn remnants all over the motor?  That’s a pretty wonky story!  (I promise this is related, bear with me)

Have you ever really thought about the circumstances surrounding the Christmas story?  The whole thing could be described as wonky if you look at only the circumstances.  Mary and Joseph have already been told that they are going to be the parents of God’s only son and they have been obedient in preparing for their life together.  But then something happens that turns all of their preparations and plans on their heads.

 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.  So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

Mary and Joseph have to leave their home and  travel (mostly by walking and on the back of a donkey) to Bethlehem because some Roman official got the idea that it was time to take a census.  And of course when they arrive they can’t find a place to stay.  Everything is booked.  So they end up bedding down with the barn animals in the stable and Mary gives birth to Jesus and places him in a feeding trough that serves as his first crib.  Do you think they, during all of this, ever asked God “Why?”

I think they did.  I think they needed constant reassurance that they were right in the middle of God’s plan and that He was taking care of them despite their wonky circumstances.

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.  And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (Luke 2 15-20)

Not only was God actively providing for Mary and Joseph during the birth He was also announcing the arrival of His Son to some very unlikely candidates at the very same time.  Angels appeared to some very important shepherds in a field nearby (I say very important because God specifically chose these men to be the very first witnesses of the Christ child) who immediately left their fields to go and see Jesus.  After seeing Jesus what did they do?

They “made it widely known” and “all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds”.  God understood the importance of including “the least of these” into His plan and at that time anyone who was a shepherd  was considered the lowest in terms of societal position.  I believe God picked them specifically because He wanted the world to understand that everyone, no matter their station, was to be included in His plan.  And it was “the least of these” that started the important task of telling the world about Jesus’ arrival.

Viewed from a human perspective the Christ child’s birth may seem to be a strange (wonky) series of circumstances and events.  But viewed from a Godly perspective we see that God had a plan and carried it out using ordinary, lowly people who in turn did amazing things for God’s Kingdom.  So next time you are tempted to ask “Why” instead ask “What are you doing, Lord?”  and “How can I make sure that I stay in the middle of it so that you can use me?”

Why Taking Care Of God’s Business Is Good For Us

Matthew 6:33, Kingdom of God, SpiritPutting the Lord’s business in front of our own is a real challenge.  We live in a fallen world and we are fallen creatures of flesh.  Our physical senses limit us to perceiving only temporary things and the completely natural thing to do is to react to the circumstances and environment around us and try to take care of our needs first and foremost.

But this is not God’s way.  If we profess to be His children then He asks us to seek to do His work first.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Because God is good, His instruction also comes with a promise.  If we seek His kingdom and His righteousness first then everything else that we need will be provided for us.  In other words, our God will never leave us stranded or without help.  As we work for Him and carry out His business He will be working right alongside us for our benefit and His glory.  This is a great blessing in and of itself.

But there’s more!

What God has been teaching me lately is that if I will put Him first and do the work that He has asked me to do then while I am doing it, I won’t fall into sin and temptation and am much less prone to human error.   Put another way, doing God’s will is the perfect defense against sinning against Him.  It sounds obvious when you really think about it but is still an amazing truth to discover.

When I am doing my own thing and not being especially attentive to the Lord I make a lot of mistakes and tend to exercise poor judgement.  When I am listening for the Lord and putting His work first then I perform at a level that is higher than “me”.  And that is completely awesome to the point that afterwards I will sometimes look around and go “what just happened?  Did I do that?”

And the answer is no, God did it.  I was just the man who was willing and ready to be used.

God will do the same for you also.  If you are willing to believe on Him, walk with Him in Spirit and truth and then put His kingdom and His righteousness first God will perform miracles through you.  You will do things that will leave you joyful and amazed as His Spirit flows through you.  And through it all, God will be glorified and you will see just how God our God can be.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)

How Faith Grows

faith, persecution, trialsWhen writing, I find it sometimes is better not to start with a title or even a strong idea for a topic.  Sometimes you really don’t know exactly what is banging around inside your own head until you sit down and just let the words flow.

Being a reader I would imagine that this is making you nervous.  You are thinking, “if even the author doesn’t know exactly where this is going, do I really want to hang around for the ride?”  And honestly, that’s a valid question.  I would answer it like this: if you regularly read this site and trust the content that is presented on a normal basis to be factual, inspiring and (hopefully) interesting then I hope you will trust me enough to see this piece through.  If you’re new here or just don’t care for what I normally post then I would encourage you to look elsewhere.  Life is too short to spend it doing things that don’t inspire you, help you grow or enrich you in some way.

With that out of the way, I can now hopefully express to you what is on my heart.  And that expression would have to start with my own gratefulness.  If there has been a central theme to my Christian walk this past year it would have to be God showing me just how blessed I am through His redeeming power.  No matter how badly I mess up or how inadequate I feel at times, God’s redeeming power is greater.  His grace is greater than all my sin; always has been and always will be.  This is a great comfort to me every single day.

Learning to trust Him and His unseen hand is sometimes hard for me, but God is patient and kind.  Through circumstances, the teaching of other mature believers and the ministering of the Holy Spirit, I am discovering what a joy it is to be able to put all of my trust in the Lord.  My nature is to fret and to over analyze everything and then try to control and plan for all possible outcomes.  Not only is this exhausting, there is absolutely no peace of mind when trying to live this way.  This is not God’s will for my life and it is not God’s will for your life either.  He wants you and I to learn to trust Him absolutely and without reservation.

There is a process and an order to growing in the faith, just as there is a process and an order to all of God’s creation.  God is a God of order; chaos is not in His nature or part of His plan.  Just as a seed is planted in fertile soil and then through water and sunlight grows little by little in to a mighty tree, so must our faith grow.  Being the impatient man that I am, I want quick results and dramatic displays of maturity.  Wouldn’t it be better if this whole life of faith and journey towards Godliness could be accelerated somewhat?

All I can say to that is our sanctification and our holiness is a God-designed process and must not be rushed through.  God’s Word tells us that we grow from “faith to faith” (Romans 1:17) and that we should count our trials as joy because they are producing Godliness in us (James 1:2-4).  On hard days verses like those help to remind me that God is still working on growing my faith.  My part is to simply trust and obey.

I tell you this because I know that life is hard.  At times, joy and laughter can be in very short supply and if you are like me, the weight of your responsibilities can seem overwhelming.  But God is greater.  When I choose to focus on Him and make Him my priority He takes all of my burdens and cares and replaces them with peace and joy.  He wants to do the same for you, right now, today.  Commit to learning to trust Him with your whole heart and hold nothing back.  Let Him begin the work of faith in you and be patient as He grows you into the man or woman that you were always intended to be.

Then Comes the Moment We Ask

Faith, Belief, LukeThe apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5 NASB)

Following a period of traveling around the countryside and observing Jesus teaching, healing and disrupting many of the prevailing attitudes and opinions of the day, the disciples found themselves dismayed and amazed.

These men were ordinary people who had been leading ordinary lives until they encountered a man named Jesus who called them out of the place they were in and bid them to follow Him.  In most cases, they were not well educated or remarkable.  They simply had enough faith in that moment to recognize that Jesus was someone that they could trust their lives to and that He was sent by God to them.

So began their journey and their education.  They quickly discovered that this man Jesus was like no one else that they had ever encountered.  He had power to heal the sick, to cast out demons and even to bring the dead back to life.  And his teaching was unlike anything they had ever heard before.  He took the law and the words of the prophets and taught them in a way that cut right to the heart of a man and his motivations.

Suddenly, it did not matter where you were born, what you looked like, how much money you had or even that you were physically whole.  Jesus’ message seemed to be for everyone and he emphasized this by spending more time with those in the margins of society than with those in power.  He paid particular attention to those who had the greatest needs and seemed to have no patience for the rules and regulations of the Pharisees, angering them on several occasions.

By the 17th Chapter of Luke, it is clear that the disciples’ heads are spinning.  The spark of faith that led them to follow Jesus has yet to fan into the flame that will ignite the early church and they are struggling to wrap their hearts and minds around all that Jesus is teaching and showing them.  I can hear the eagerness and consternation in their voices as they finally say to Jesus “increase our faith!”

They are, in effect, asking for the Lord to help them understand.  They want clarification.  They want answers and explanations.  But most of all, they want their faith to grow so that they may follow and serve the Lord and do the very difficult things that He has been teaching and asking them to do.

I believe a similar moment comes to all believers.  A moment when we may be puzzled and perplexed, buffeted and battered but still honestly wanting to do the will of our Lord.  And we recognize that it is not in us or of us that we may accomplish His great work.  It is only by the power of the Spirit of the living God that we may accomplish His will and it will require us to put our faith to the test.  And small though our faith may be, it can do mighty things when it is placed upon the one who is eternal and unshakable.

Charles Spurgeon said “The eye cannot see itself. Did you ever see your own eye? In a mirror you may have done so, but that was only a reflection of it. And you may, in like manner, see the evidence of your faith, but you cannot look at the faith itself. Faith looks away to itself to the object of faith, even to Christ.”

Are you struggling?  Are you questioning?  Are you seeking and honestly trying to understand?  Cry out to God and ask Him to increase your faith and then put all that you have in His care.  Keep walking with Him, one step at a time, and watch as your small faith placed in a mighty God can do miraculous things.

2014: The Year of I Just Don’t Know

trust, obey, faith

I have questions..

The way God works never ceases to surprise me.  Just when I think that perhaps I am on a certain path and heading in a certain direction, something comes along and everything changes.

Looking back at 2013, it was a year of intense spiritual and personal growth.  The Lord booted me out of complacency and into action and this blog was one of the most visible results of that upheaval.  And if you had asked me last Fall what I thought 2014 was going to look like I would have told you “more time writing, more blogging and an expansion of Matthew515.com”.

And up until around Thanksgiving I would have stuck with that answer.  But then, the new job came along at the end of September and I started working 6 days every other week.  I also lost my weekdays off and those were the days that I used to get the majority of my writing done.  Work got busier and busier and although I tried to stick with the same posting schedule, I just couldn’t keep up.  I was soon exhausted and worn out.  Something was going to have to give.

So in the month of December I made the decision to take a few weeks off from writing and to rest my mind and body a little bit.  It seems to have worked because I’m excited about writing again and I feel a spurt of mental and creative energy that I haven’t felt in several months.  I’ve got several topics lined up to write about and I’m also working on another guest poster for later this month that I think will genuinely benefit anyone who reads his work.

That being said, my job really hasn’t slowed down any and the powers that be have told us that everyone in my department is on six day workweeks until further notice.  And I’m still a Sunday School teacher, AWANA Club worker, Choir member, Church Secretary and Husband.  My responsibilities have not lessened and my time to write has not increased.

For now, the answer seems to be for me to write as I have time and energy to do so and to not try and keep a set schedule of three posts a week.  This is a big change from where I thought I would be at this point and I admit I’m having a hard time with it.  I’m praying that the Lord would give me wisdom in this area and for me not to be discouraged because things aren’t as I thought they would be.  I don’t know how many times the Lord has to show me that His timetable is not the same as mine but it’s a lesson that I am still learning.

As per the title for today, I really don’t know how 2014 is going to turn out for Matthew515 or for anything else.  And as far as that goes, I guess you could insert any future date in the title and it would still work.  No one knows what tomorrow will bring and only in hindsight do we gain a sense of perspective on what the Lord has been doing.  I know that He is working for my good and that is enough.  I will keep going and  keep trusting His unseen hand.

Apologies all around, then, if my posts aren’t regular and updates don’t happen as often as I would like them to.  I hope and pray that I will be able to get back to three posts a week at some point in the future but as to when that might be, only the Lord knows.  And I’m okay with that.

No Matter How Much You Ask, God Will Never Give You More

Time, Faith, God's willIf there’s one thing that I could use a lot more of, it’s time.  If I had more time I could write more blog posts about God and the amazing things that He does.  If I had more time I could get involved in an array of worthwhile causes and charities.  If I had more time I could spend it with my parents, family and friends that I love as often as I wanted.  More time seems to be the easy answer to much of what I view as an obstacle to God’s glory.

Of course with my very limited view and finite mind, what appears to be an obstruction to me is nothing of the sort to our Heavenly Father.  He’s working and He desires to use me in His work if I will just remain humble and obedient.  Can I walk day by day, in faith and at peace with God and man?

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NASB)

With that in mind, perhaps what I need is not more time at all.  What I really need and what God really wants me to learn from all of this is just to trust him.

My perspective needs to be a Godly one.  Instead of wishing for more time I should be praying for more faith, more hope and more love.  And what are the tools that God uses to grow my faith?  Often times they are trials, tribulations and obstacles.  The very things that I say I need more time to overcome and get around are the very things that God can use to bring me closer to Him.

Is my desire to really know Him better and to see Him more clearly or is it merely to be comfortable and blessed?  Honestly?  I think it’s more the latter than the former, and that’s a problem.  Knowing God brings blessings and God loves giving His children good gifts.  But if my desire is the gift and the blessing more so than the Giver then I need to check my priorities.

I must recommit to walking by faith, day by day.  I must have wisdom enough to realize that God has granted me the strength I need to make it through each day and to accomplish the work that He has given me to do.  And I must not worry and fret about the trials and obstacles in my life.  God is bigger than they are and perhaps through them, He is trying to teach me to rely on Him even more.

If You Know Nothing Else, Know This One Thing

the character of GodOk, I admit it.  I am not as well-adjusted as I look.  I am prone to bouts of worry and I tend to over think and over analyze just about everything.  I regularly spend so much time focused on the thoughts and ideas that are banging around inside my head that I miss what is going on right in front of me.

I’ve also been known to fall victim to my own fears and doubts.  I fear failure, both for myself and my endeavors, and I doubt my ability to do what’s required of me.  Can I really be the faithful follower that God has asked me to be?  Can I really love my wife as I should; unconditionally and without reservation?  And can I really continue to write and speak about the Truth when I am so often persuaded by a lie?

Spoken more plainly, why does God choose to use us to carry out His plans when we are so weak and prone to failure?

The answer, I am learning, has far more to do with the nature and character of God than it has to do with anything about us.

From a personal perspective, the more I get to know Him, the better I see His nature and understand His character.  And if there is one awesome truth that God has given me a glimpse of lately it is that He cannot fail, He cannot lose and He is always faithful.  He is constant when I am wayward.  He is loving when I am unkind.  He is victorious through the most horrific of circumstances and there is absolutely nothing that He cannot do.

God is not surprised.  God is not overwhelmed.  God is not tired.  And God’s purposes are always accomplished in His time and in His way.

To know that I am privileged to be a part of His divine plan for redemption and that He is patiently working through me is a marvelous thing.  Although there is still so much that I don’t understand I am beginning to realize that as I am faithful and obedient, God will  provide me with exactly what I need to do His work, when I need it.  Instead of focusing on my weakness, my fear and my doubts, I will instead focus on His strength, His glory and His love.

This is a fundamentally important and necessary shift in my perspective that must take place if I am to walk in a manner that pleases God.  What does the writer of Hebrews say?

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NASB)

We must have faith in the character and nature of God.  The only way to have that faith is to get to know Him and to let Him be Lord in every area of our lives.  We must continually seek Him and never stop following hard after Him.

“Lord, may we strive to know you ever better.  May we be faithful followers.  May we seek you first and always.  And may the desire of our hearts be to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ our Savior.  Amen.”

The Lesson I Learned from a Tiny Frog

Tiny Frog in My Kitchen

Mr. Frog could comfortably sit on that quarter with room to spare.

One evening not too long ago as I sat in my recliner, laptop in hand and working, I decided that I needed a short break to stretch my legs.  I headed towards the kitchen for a glass of water and a snack but didn’t make it too far in the doorway before I stopped short.

There on the floor, just out from the fridge, sat something very curious looking.  Because of its small size and grayish color my first assumption was that it was a ball of fuzz (a dust bunny) that just happened to be in the shape of a tiny frog.  The only puzzling aspect of my conclusion was that I had been in the kitchen not two hours before and had since been alone in the house.  Since dust bunnies normally originate from underneath the refrigerator, I was confused as to how one had gotten to it’s present location which was several feet away.

Thinking that I should definitely tidy up before my wife made it home I took a few steps closer and was amazed to discover that the “dust bunny” was actually the smallest frog that I had ever seen.  Noticing his dusty feet, I guessed that he must have been hiding underneath the fridge until very recently.  And he was now sitting in my kitchen floor!

Not wanting to miss the chance to record the little guy for posterity, (mostly to show my wife later) I ran and got my digital camera.  After a couple of pictures in which the tiny frog posed obediently and without protest, I realized that without some sort of familiar object the sense of scale was lost.  There was really no way to tell just how small the frog was from the picture.  That was when I had the bright idea to introduce some spare change to the situation.

You can see from the picture that accompanies this post that the tiny frog would have comfortably fit on top of a quarter with room to spare.

Not wanting to endanger the frog’s life when we let the cat back in later in the evening, I decided to embark on a rescue mission.  I grabbed the smallest cup that I could find and gently placed my hand behind the frog with the cup in front of him.  Thinking the frog would jump into the cup I was very surprised when he suddenly jumped up onto the lip of the cup and seemed to be very contented to say there.

For the short trip through the kitchen and across the porch to the edge of the sidewalk the tiny frog sat very regally on his perch until I lowered the cup to the ground.  With a quick series of motions he hopped off of the cup and disappeared into the dewy dampness of the lawn.  Feeling quite pleased with myself, I turned to head back inside the house when I got the strangest impression in my mind.

I was just like that tiny little frog.

Like my little friend, in the trials of life I often loose my way and end up in places that I have no business being in.  How often had I been completely and hopelessly out of sorts, stuck somewhere unfamiliar after coming through dark times and dirty places?  How many times had I looked up and realized that I was so tiny and the situation that I was in was so big and so much beyond me that I couldn’t even hope to see the end?  And how many times has my Heavenly Father stepped in to pick me up and bring me back to where I needed to be, gently and with loving care?

Every single time.  That’s how many.

 

What does “discipleship” really mean?

discipleship,christianity,faithI recently attended a seminar called “D21”, short for “Discipleship for the 21st Century”.  I really didn’t know what to expect but I decided it would be a good thing to go and learn all that I could.

There were 5 different classes offered.  After a brief introduction in the main sanctuary we all chose a class to attend for the evening based on what was most relevant to us.  I chose the “Simple Discipleship” course which was aimed at small group bible study and Sunday School teachers who were looking to learn more about discipleship.

Over the course of about 2 hours we discussed the state of discipleship in our modern churches (more on that in a minute) and then focused on a few very easy questions and methods that literally anyone can use to help someone else in their walk with Christ.  Stories were shared.  Ideas were verbalized.  Real love and real prayer for one another occurred in that classroom before it was all said and done and it was a great experience that I hope I never forget.

But let’s back up for a second.  What, in its purest form, is discipleship?  Simply put, it is one individual sharing of themselves with another individual for the cause of Christ.  We simply need to tell of God’s great mercy and provision in our own lives and then ask what God is doing in their life.  It doesn’t require programs.  It doesn’t require literature.  It doesn’t even require education or training.

Don’t believe me?  Go check out Mark 5: 1-20.  This is the passage of scripture our teacher for the evening opened up with and it gives a powerful example.  It tells the story of a demon possessed man who accosted Jesus almost as soon as he got out his boat in a region called the Gerasenes.  If you know the story then you know that the man was in a bad way and no one could restrain him and he spent his days by wailing and shouting and hurting himself with stones.  Jesus healed the man and set him free from his demonic possession and the man wanted to stay with Jesus and worship Him.

But Jesus didn’t let him.  Jesus said in verse 19 “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”  Jesus was asking him to become a disciple and a witness and to tell his story of redemption and freedom.  The really important part is this: How much discipleship training had this man had? (zero)  How many days had this man spent in church and Bible study?(zero)  How much time had passed since he became a believer before the Lord asked him to go? (not very much)

What this man had was a powerful encounter with Lord Jesus Christ that forever changed his life.

Right now, today, we have even more than that man had.  We have the living Holy Spirit who, if we allow Him, moves and works in our lives.  We also have our own individual stories of how the Lord saved us and called us out of darkness and we need to share them with each other as a way of strengthening and encouraging other believers.

And to show you an example of how God works, I recorded Monday’s video blog that Thursday morning.  At the close of that blog I talked about how we need to share what God is doing in our lives because it shows us a fuller picture of God’s great love and is so very encouraging.  Thursday evening I went to the discipleship seminar and what did we end up talking about?  We talked about sharpening each other spiritually by sharing what God was doing in our lives!

Do you think God is trying to tell me (and us) something?

Now ask yourself, how much of this type of simple discipleship is going on in your church.  How much of this type of simple discipleship are you personally involved in?  And, if the answer to either question is “not very much” or “not any” then where do you start?

What this type of simple discipleship requires is relationship, connection and trust.  It requires getting to know someone a little bit by making an effort to be friendly, helpful and concerned.  It requires us asking questions about another person’s well being and actually being interested in what they say.  It also requires that we open up about what’s going on in our lives.  And then, as we begin to forge connections with those around us we are given the opportunity to share Christ; with another believer for edification and with an unbeliever for salvation.

So, I have a challenge for you and for me.  The challenge is this: Ask someone how it’s going with them spiritually.  And then be ready to follow up if they don’t have an answer to that question or if their answer is not a good one.  Start with someone you already know well, like your spouse or a close friend and work from there.  Take small steps towards sharing the God that is alive in your life and and I guarantee that God will bless your effort.

So, are you ready to start practicing simple discipleship?