Welcome to Men Of Destiny! We will be learning what God’s word has to say about the Disciplines of a Godly Man. This first post is meant to be an overview of godliness and why it is important for men. There are many examples of men who were great in their field because of discipline and the same is true of our spiritual walks.
None of us can coast because “we are all equally disadvantaged.” None of us naturally seek God, so by His grace, we must work on spiritual discipline. Coasting sure sounds easier, it just doesn’t work!
1 Tim 4:7-8 says, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
Discipline takes work – hard work. Are you man enough to put it in to practice?
Heb 12:1. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
This verse describes the process of intentionally getting rid of every weight or sin that is holding us back and focusing all our energy on godliness. How hard have we worked to focus all of our energy on godliness? “No manliness no maturity, no discipline no discipleship, no sweat no sainthood!” Do we want to grow? Then we need to step up and be disciplined men. There are no shortcuts.
Two reasons to focus on spiritual disciplines as men.
1. Disciplined Christian lives are the exception, not the rule.
2. Men are so much less spiritually inclined and spiritually disciplined than women.
Both of these challenge us that the practice of spiritual disciplines is fading or has faded in our culture and it is not something we will come by naturally. I am challenged that men have given up their role as leaders and men by not stepping up to lead in our spiritual walks. “The Church in America needs real men, and we are the men!”
“Do we have the sweat in us? Will we enter the gymnasium of divine discipline? Will we strip away the things that hold us back and will we discipline ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit?
I invite you into God’s Gym in the following chapters – to some sanctifying sweat – to some pain and great gain.
God is looking for a few good men!”
I’ve put a few questions below. Are you ready to take the hill? May God use us to change our world, starting from the inside out!
What can a lack of spiritual discipline do to your life?
How do you think you can practically train yourself to be godly?
The United States Marine Corp clearly states that they want “a few good men.” Honestly only the best of the best make it through their training. Please take a moment to watch this video. It is a song written by beloved writer, Bill Gaither, stating that God needs a few good men and this was accented by highlighting a few of the men who, on 9/11, demonstrated tremendous courage in the face of possible death. This world needs good men. Better yet, we need Godly men! (more…)
Discipline is a word that you hardly hear today. We just don’t use it very much. Discipline has vacated almost every aspect of our lives. We have abolished it from our vocabulary. The word discipline is still used in some circles – such as sports – especially when it comes to Olympians. But in most of our culture it has all but disappeared. (more…)
God is calling up Christian Men to elevate the standard of leadership in today’s world.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions…” Acts 2:17a
“So shall they fear The name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19
Today’s Christian man has a calling of God upon his life to be a vocal leader and a visionary for the cause of Jesus Christ. However, if you are to be a leader, you must think like a leader! Leaders are peculiar people and they are definitely not your standard cookie cutter men who “blend in” with everyone else. They are not like the jellyfish who cannot swim but is completely moved by the ocean currents who will one day end up being washed up on shore and die!
Let’s take a quick look at one very interesting modern day leader. Check out what the world is saying about an awkward-looking man named Bill Gates:
“He has an all-consuming desire to succeed.” Venture
“He is the single most influential figure in the computer history, now the richest man in America, called ‘Boy Billionaire.’” Wall Street Journal
Bill Gates didn’t wait to get out of high school to learn how to succeed and be a leader. He and his friend, Paul Allen, worked on developing software programs until 4:00 am on school nights and all day during the weekend. At age 15, Gates and Allen wrote a traffic program, formed a company called “Traf-O-Data,” and made $20,000 on their first project. During Gates senior year he was paid $30,000 to write software in his spare time. He would soon become our nation’s youngest billionaire ever. Why should our Christian men wait until they are mature, gray-haired adults before they do something great for God in their World? God is calling the young men to stand up and lead and is calling the mature men to disciple them!
Think Like A Leader
If you want to be a leader then you must think like a leader.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2a
Your thoughts will determine what you will do and who you will be. This is why Satan attacks our thoughts. The simplest of blessings or curses starts in the mind. I mean, you don’t just get up one day and say to yourself: “I’m going to commit adultery today”! It starts with a subtle thought one day, a fantasy. Maybe in anger after an argument with your wife, you begin to have subtle thoughts about what life would be like without her. You begin to think you “deserve better”. You start fantasizing about it and when the opportunity is there, you walk right in without even realizing it! It begins with a thought!
Is this same manner, you must discipline yourself to start thinking like a leader. Get up in the morning and talk to God about your day, your week, your life in general. Then, begin to plan your day to day life according to God’s will for you (found right in the BIBLE). Daydream about it! Imagine what it would be like to do what God is calling you to do. Write a book, preach, lead a community group, pray for the sick, or whatever it is that God is calling you to do. Then, fantasize about it and start to take baby steps towards it. Before you know it, you will be the leader that God has called you to be.
So what are somethings that godly leaders think about? I am glad you asked, let’s take a look at 4 things godly leaders think about and discipline ourselves to think, to daydream and to meditate on these things.
A leader thinks about how to serve others well.
“This means I am not bound to obey people just because they pay me, yet I have become a servant of everyone so that I can bring them to Christ.” 1 Corinthians 9:19
Who is the leader in the fast food industry and why? McDonald’s of course! They have risen to power and dominance in the fast food market by serving families and children with quick, colorful, fun, inexpensive food. They thought “service,” and now they lead the way!
When you make a commitment to serve others in your church, school, and community, you will become a leader. And I put an emphasis on serving. Many think that leaders just tell others what to do. However, the best leaders in the world are those who serve.
Let me ask you this, who would you follow? Would you follow the mean boss who is not willing to help out and just tells you what to do or a boss who is willing to get dirty and who is not afraid to serve others?
A leader thinks about preparation. As a SCOUT, I was always to “Be Prepared”. I learned the importance of being prepared one day when we went camping to a place called “El Ocotal”. It was a pine forest that sat at an elevation of 8173 feet above sea level. There were Scouts from all over the world there having what we call a Jamboree. There must have been about 500 or more Scouts Camping there.
When our troop left Mexico City, it was a Sunny and a Warm day I remember there being a beautiful blue sky. But as their leader, I made sure to tell them all to “Be Prepared”. After all, we didn’t know what the weather was like there and we needed to plan and be prepared for everything. When we arrived, it was drizzling and cold. It was so cold that a thin sheet of ice was forming on the ground and on the trees!
My troop and I assessed the campgrounds and found many tents lying in low areas were starting to puddle so we looked for the high ground. We noticed many of the other troops had not covered their firewood or even started a fire. We pitched out tents, put a canopy over the base tent and piled up firewood next to the tent so it would stay dry. It was only noon when we arrived and by one o’clock we had set up a safe Zone, a sick bay and a fully operational kitchen where we would later cook our meals. We had two fires going, one for cooking and one for staying warm.
By 2 o’clock, we were sitting around the campfire waiting for the heavy drizzle to stop. we could hear that the other troops were having trouble. They were wet, had no fire and were in need of help. So we helped. We brought the younger scouts that were there (12-14 year olds) to the safe zone to dry up and get warm. Then, we sang songs and told stories to cheer them up. We Shared our fire with other troops and even had to share some firewood to get them started because all their wood was wet. Once the other camps were able to get organized, all 500 or so Scouts that were there had at one time or another come by our camp to dry off, warm up and cook their meals.
I will never forget that camping trip as long as I live! It rained continuously for 5 of the 7 days were were there! I imagine that somewhere in the world there are 500 men who were there that Jamboree that will also never forget the importance of being prepared!
“The horse are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.” Proverbs 21:31
“The more you sweat in preparation, the less you bleed in battle.” (Anonymous)
God has always required great preparation in order to achieve great results in leadership.
Joseph received a dream at the age of 17 and the fulfillment of the dream at age 30. (That’s 13 years of preparation!)
Abraham was 75 years old when God made a covenant with him. He was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
David killed Goliath at 16 years old and was promoted to king at 37 years old.
Jesus spent 30 years preparing for his three years of earthly ministry.
The difference between a leader and everyone else is that the leader will prepare and everyone else takes the battle when it comes.
Leaders think about how to use their time wisely.
“Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
In a lifetime, the average American will spend:
Six months sitting at stoplights.
Eight months opening junk mail.
One year looking for misplaced objects.
Two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls.
Four years doing housework.
Five years waiting in line.
Six years eating.
How much time are you wasting on other non-productive activities like endless watching television, surfing the internet or talking on the phone? I know some people who watch an average of 6 hours of TV a day! Let’s do some math here and open your eyes to this grave problem.
6 hours of TV a day times 365 days a year equals 2190 hours of TV time a year. There are 24 hours in a day so 2190 divided by 24 equals 91.25 days (24 hour days) watching TV. Let’s analyze this for one second. The average person works 35 – 40 hours a week. 40 times 52 weeks is only 2080 hours versus 2190 hours watching TV. If only you got paid to watch TV, but we don’t! The stats are just as alarming for smartphone usage and social media time.
If you stole one hour of each day from your TV and telephone-time, or if you got up one hour early everyday, in one year you would add 15 full days to invest in the leadership goals that God is preparing you for.
Leaders think big and think how to carry that BIG thought out.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” Ephesians 3:20
Leaders are known by their accomplishments and by their impact on the world. Leaders don’t let their circumstances limit their potential or change their focus. How much you accomplish in your life is directly related to how BIG you think.
Make a list of steps you must take to reach your goals and start doing them one at a time. The key is diligence and persistence.
Today I will talk about leadership. How can we develop it in ourselves? How can we recognise it in others? What are the disciplines and characteristics of a leader?
A lot has been said and written about leadership. It seems that everyone is looking for leaders. Every business organization needs leaders and those who have leaders are very successful. I have read many books on leadership and I have takes a few courses on leadership too. However, the best book on leadership is the bible.
If we are striving to be Godly men, we must seek to become the Spiritual Leaders that God created us to be and this will require some discipline. Let’s read Joshua 1:1-18
“1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2‘My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites.’” Moses has gone. God has said he can’t enter the promised land. So the Israelites need someone new to lead them. There’ll be very difficult years ahead as they seek to conquer the land and drive out its pagan inhabitants. So God chooses Joshua. Now if we’d read through the book of Numbers before we came to Joshua we would have read how before they entered the Land Moses sent 12 spies to check it out. 10 of them returned saying they could never do it. But Joshua and Caleb came back and said that of course they could, because God was with them. Well the people didn’t listen to Joshua and Caleb so they spent another 40 years wandering in the desert until every one of them had died. Except for Caleb & Joshua, that is. So now God appoints Joshua to lead them.
2. The Promise of God
And as God calls Joshua, he gives him a promise; an assurance that if he takes on the job God will give him success.
He says, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life.”
How would you feel if God said something like that to you? You’d feel indestructible wouldn’t you? It would be like a great weight had been taken from your shoulders.
“Wow. I thought God had given me an impossible task and now I realise that he’s going to look after me, give me success. What a relief!”
Actually, God has said something like that to you. Pay attention to the words of 1 Peter 1:4-5
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us … an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Protected by the power of God. His Power has given us everything needed for life and godliness. Wow! What relief!
3. The Power of God
Joshua was promised the power of God just as we are: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”
The great thing about being called to be a leader in God’s church is that you don’t have to depend on your own ability or power or cleverness. God promises to supply all the power you need.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything to make your leadership work. Look at what was required of Joshua.
II. The Leader
The first requirement for Joshua was courage. He was about to lead an army into occupied territory. This was to be a difficult job, even if God was with them. There would be battles and death. There would be fortresses and giants to contend with. Only a brave leader would be able to carry it through. So God tells him: “7 Only be strong and very courageous.” Maybe you wouldn’t be quite so keen on being chosen as a leader if you heard those words.
There’s always this balance in the Christian life, isn’t there? God tells us he will be with us and look after us. But he also tells us to be strong and courageous. Phil 2 puts it like this:
“12 Therefore, my beloved, … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Work out your own salvation? God is at work in you, enabling you. It’s a double sided coin!
Not only is he to show courage, he’s also to show devotion to God.
“8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night …”
If he’s to remain a faithful leader of God’s people it’s vital that he know how God wants him to act. So he’s to meditate on the book of the law day and night. We too are encouraged to meditate on God’s word, to use it to teach and admonish and correct us.
If you want to be a godly leader today, the reading and meditating on scripture is just as important for you. Let the Holy Spirit lead you as you read and study God’s Word.
Finally it’s not enough to just study God’s word we need to obey it. So God continues
“8… so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.”
Again there’s a promise here isn’t there? If he’s careful to act in accordance with God’s word, God will make his way prosper; he’ll have success.
So leaders need to show courage; they need to be devoted to God and the study of his word and they need to be obedient to that word. And if they’ll do that God will be with them.
But the other great thing is that if you’re a leader, you’re not on your own, even from a human point of view.
III. The People
The third partner in this leadership process is the people themselves. Joshua knows that his leadership will depend on their willingness to follow him. Leaders aren’t much use if no-one follows them, are they? In fact you could say that the true test of a leader is just that: are people following?
So his first act as leader is to call the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, who have been given land on the east of Jordan, to come and follow him into the promised land to help the other tribes conquer it. He says:
“13 Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you.”
Moses had given them a command which they’re now to follow.
Secondly their obedience would require them to show the same sort of courage that Joshua was called to show. They were going to be fighting the battles in the front line. Some of them would die in the process. So they too needed courage. He says
“14 But all the warriors among you shall cross over armed before your kindred and shall help them, until the LORD gives rest to your kindred as well as to you.”
The Lord might be giving them the land but they’d need to march in the army and take it away from its inhabitants. Unless they showed courage they would fail.
Well at this stage of their history they pass the test. They may not always do this well but at this stage they gladly pledge their loyalty to Joshua as their leader.
They say “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you… 18 Whoever rebels against your orders and disobeys your words, whatever you command, shall be put to death.”
You can’t ask for more than that can you?
One of the things we should expect is that God’s people will show loyalty to those God has placed over them; that they will accept their leadership and go where they lead. And that they won’t work to undermine that leadership. This is something that you don’t always get in secular organisations.
Finally they offer Joshua their encouragement. They say:
“18… Only be strong and courageous.”
They encourage him to take God at his word. To step out in faith and lead them into the promised land, even if it is a tough job he’s embarking on.
One of the joys of ministry is when someone comes up to me and encourages me. That happens in many ways. Sometimes by a word, sometimes by telling me something that they have observed, or that someone has done in response to my ministry. But it’s so important. Spiritual Leadership is one of the toughest things to do and we need all the encouragement we can get.
But what about you?
If leadership is a 3-way partnership how are you playing your part? If you are going to be a godly man, you will have to show leadership. Then remember that God has promised to be with you, to empower you. If you are then you need to lead with courage; you need to remain devoted to God; you need to be a student of his word and obedient to his leading.
What about those leaders who work under another leader? The success of our mission hangs or falls on people who follow their leaders! It rests on those who show courage in following where the leader takes them and who remain loyal even when the going is tough, especially when the leader takes them somewhere they’re not sure they want to go. It may hang or fall on people who provide encouragement to their leaders to keep on leading them.
Nothing has changed in 4000 years. God still calls out people, both ordained and lay to lead. It still requires courage to lead. We still need to be devoted to God and to his word. And we still need people who will follow, give their loyalty and encourage us as we lead.
But that seemed impossible for him. After all he is just the cup bearer to the King.
Nevertheless, God made it possible by moving the heart of the king!
II. Vision Encourages us.
GOD’S HAND WAS ON NEHEMIAH AND THE KING GRANTED HIS REQUEST! Amazing right?
When we see God move after we’ve taken that first step of faith we are encouraged to press on! Besides, when we get that fresh vision from God we are encouraged to move on.
III. Vision gives us direction in life on what we are to do.
Nehemiah knew what he had to do, but had to take action and saddle up his horse and head to Jerusalem.
It’s not enough to know where we want to go. We have to take a step of faith to see that it happens.
IV. The Vision creates momentum
As we begin to move and people see the move of God and buy into the vision, momentum carries the vision forward.
Then, people want to be part of a moving, growing something!
I believe that God is moving, He is causing growth and giving vision to men all over the world! His Vision!
GOD’S VISION WAS BORN ON PENTECOST WHEN HE POURED OUT HIS HOLY SPIRIT. BUT THAT IS NOT A THING OF THE PAST, HE’S STILL DOING THIS TODAY, HE’S STILL CALLING US TO THIS VISION.
HE GAVE US DIRECTION FOR THIS AS HE SPOKE TO THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA WHICH WE READ ABOUT IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION.
V. FIRST HE SHOWED THEM THEIR OPPORTUNITY
A. They were given the opportunity to bring in a supernatural harvest of souls
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, AN OPEN DOOR ALWAYS REFERS TO AN OCCASION OF BRINGING MANY INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
NOT ONLY IS THE DOOR OPEN, BUT GOD IS GOING TO SUPPLY THE RESOURCES THEY NEEDED TO ACCOMPLISH THE TASK!
The Winner of the 2000 Little League World series came from Maracaibo, Venezula. When the team arrived for the series they only had one bat and four of the players didn’t have proper shoes. As word spread a number of American sports manufactors heard and provided them with every kind of equipment they needed to play the game. They could have said, we don’t have the right equipment and quit early on.
INSTEAD THEY WENT IN THROUGH THE DOOR THAT WAS OPENED TO THEM AND WHAT THEY NEEDED WAS SUPPLIED.
IF GOD SETS BEFORE US AN OPEN DOOR, HE WILL EQUIP US TO PLAY THE GAME. HE WILL NOT WITHHOLD ANYTHING NECESSARY FOR A CHURCH TO EVANGELIZE IT’S COMMUNITY!
The first Christians had to realize it wasn’t in their strength that it was to be done. In fact they couldn’t UNLESS GOD WAS WITH THEM!
In like manner, we have to realize that it’s not in our streghth or wisdom that it’s going to happen. BUT IT WILL BE IN GOD’S POWER!
These first Christians had to learn to pray and fast and wait upon God!
WE MISS MOST OF OUR DIVINE APPOINTMENTS BECAUSE WE AREN’T LOOKING FOR THEM, BECAUSE WE HAVE NO EXPERIENCE OF THE POWER OF GOD IN OUR LIVES!
We have to experience God first hand, not as a story or just as a belief, BUT AS GOD, WHO INTIMATELY LOVES US AND DESIRES TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH US!
GOD IS NOT A CONCEPT! HE IS A PERSON WHO DESIRES TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH AND EVERYONE OF US!
These first Christians were obedient to God’s word. They read God’s word, they taught God’s word, they preached God’s word, loved God’s word and stood by, upon and under God’s word!
Did you know that God always blesses people who honor his word by conforming their lives to it? Their outreach wasn’t to get more people in their church, but their outreach was to get more people into God’s kingdom (that translated into more folks in the church).
WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY THAT MOST CHURCHES ARE ENVIOUS TO HAVE. More and more people moving to San Antonio, building houses and having families in record numbers!
We are to have a vision to reach out, not a vision to grow our church so we can pay our bills, so we can brag on our growth, but because this is the vision of God for us now. To reach out with the love of God to people who need the Lord!
VI. Press through the Opposition
There was opposition in the church in Philadelphia, and Nehemiah met with opposition as well, but they didn’t let that disturb them, they continued anyway for they new that opposition to the things of God is straight from Satan.
Rev. 3:9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars —I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.
He’s writing about people who are in the group but due to their opposition to the things of God are going to be stopped after they see our faithfullness and our determination. They are not to be stopped by discouragement, or lack of faith, or anything else the comes against them.
THE REWARD OF A CHURCH WITH A VISION THAT ACTIVELY PURSUES IT IS A CROWN FROM JESUS. OUR REWARDS MAY NOT BE HERE, BUT OUR REWARDS IN HEAVEN ARE JUST AS REAL!
Let’s pray for God’s vision, let’s all get on board! Let’s go through that open door he has for us RIGHT NOW!
John 4:35-36 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
WE HAVE AN OPEN DOOR. WE HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT AT WORK IN THE WORLD. WE HAVE ALL THE RESOURCES OF GOD.
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
For the past four weeks we have been discussing the disciplines of Church! We’ve seen that a church at prayer, a church in mission, and a church that is pursuing the purposes of God are all important because these disciplines will allow us to move in the direction that God is wanting us to move. There are two more disciplines we will discuss before we are done. The discipline of a Growing Church and the discipline of a Church with Vision. Today we will focus on the Discipline of a Growing Church.
GROWTH IN THE CHURCH IS ALWAYS TWO FOLD
A Church must grow in two very important areas. There must be Spiritual Growth and Numerical Growth. I must say that one always follows the other to a degree.
What does it mean to grow Spiritually? Well, It means that we are becoming more and more like Jesus everyday! And this doesn’t happen by accident! it is something we are mindfully doing on a daily basis. Although I really wish it did happen by accident. That is to say that spiritual maturity and growth just happen. BUT IT NEVER HAS BEEN THAT WAY!
Spiritual Growth comes as we allow God to move and direct our lives. It comes as a mindful, willful act. It is deliberate, not by accident or chance. The only thing that naturally comes to us as human beings is the fact that we have a spiritual bent to sin. That’s called iniquity in the bible. And like anything else in life that is worth doing, it takes effort, time, training, and desire!
Larry Bird, one of the greatest basketball players of all time had a gift, but he grew in that gift as he practiced countless hours toward improving himself! Even when he was at the top of his game he still got up every morning and shot 500 baskets. Did you know that he studied the game plans and memorized them and then went out on the court for hours each day to practice the game plans? He was good, but he knew that unless he put in the effort, his natural talent would be useless! He had to be ready to face the other team and execute the game plan perfectly with the talent that he had.
There is no way I can hit on everything that we can do to grow spiritually in one short class, but in these two bible passages, we find the disciplines that every Godly man must follow if we are to grow Spiritually.
‘As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. ‘ Ephesians 4:1-16
1. First Discipline:
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
This is a prayer of his for the people in Ephesus to become the men and women God created them to be. They are to be bound together by love and the unity of the Spirit. They are to be continually growing, no longer being infants in the faith! One of the key dangers of remaining infants in the Lord is that we can so easily be lead astray from the truth.
Paul is saying God has given leadership gifts to the church… Eph 4:11-14 “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Do you know what is destroying much of modern Christianity today? It’s rebellion in the church! Rebellion in the church is when people choose not to follow the leaders that God has placed over us. Not that we are to be led blindly by the church leaders but that we are to follow them with discernment based on the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Rebellion takes on lots of faces and we have seen them all if we are honest with ourselves. Non attendance, lack of participation in the life of the church, lack of communication, these are all ways that rebellion shows itself in a church.
The discipline here is to listen and move and grow with your church. That’s exactly what was happening in the early church from the beginning!
2. Second Discipline
– Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Let me be brutally honest now. There is no way that we can become like someone we don’t know, or don’t know very well. Have you ever liked and admired someone so much that you began to act and be like that person? You can’t do that unless you know that person. The only way to do that is to be around them and know them and copy them. That’s how we become more like Christ! We do this as we are around Him, knowing Him and copying Him. We do this through our prayer life, our Bible study and day to day living asking ourselves the age old question, “What would Jesus Do?”
And you know what? We have a bonus in this relationship. The Holy Spirit who will lead us and direct us and allow us to experience the presence of Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Growth = Numerical Growth
IF WE ARE GROWING SPIRITUALLY THEN WE WILL ALSO BE GROWING NUMERICALLY. As we get excited about our Lord, our Faith and our Church, we will want others to come and become a part of that!
Have you ever been a part of a group that you were not really very excited about? Chances are you have. How many of your friends or family did you invite to join that group? Not many right! Contrast that to being a part of a group that is exciting and where things are happening! You want all your friends and family there because of that! Well, that is exactly what was happening in the early church in Jerusalem.
Acts 2:46-47 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Notice something here! It wasn’t Jesus who was in the streets, sharing the Good News. It wasn’t the professional clergy (there were none) and it wasn’t the Evangelism Committee (they didn’t have one of those either). I can assure you that it wasn’t good publicity or a name singer! What was it? IT WAS THE PEOPLE OF GOD ON THE MOVE INVITING IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND PEOPLE WERE BEING SAVED!
Does this work today?
You bet it does! God is on the move today. His Spirit is moving in ways never before seen in modern history. The church is being called into obedience under His Lordship. More people are coming to Christ now than ever before and the question is this:
ARE YOU GROWING AND EXCITED ABOUT YOUR FAITH?
ARE YOU INVITING AND SHARING THE GOOD NEWS WE HAVE?