Today's Devotions

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Showcase: Freedom

  • Freedom of Simplicity, Richard Foster +

    In Freedom of Simplicity Foster gently encourages us to see that our identity, our sense of comfort and security must Read More
  • Freedom and Authority-by JI Packer +

    "Authority" is a word that makes most people think of law and order, direction and restraint, command and control, dominance Read More
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cyclisthome1What kind of  relationship does Christ want with us and how does he wants us to accomplish it? Below are a few ideas I've culled from scripture, Greg Laurie, Wayne Jacobsen and Dallas Willard, among others. 

1. What is the goal of discipleship?

a. To believe that Christ is Lord, and to cherish his grace, while experiencing God's love and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14).

b. To have Christ living in me and through me more and more each day (Galatians 2:20), by the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:5) who through God's love (1 Corinthians 2:5) nurtures my faith (Galatians 5:6).

c. This Spirit-nurtured faith is lived out in real time through patience, kindness, rejoicing at right, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, and enduring all things through a never-ending love from God (1 Corinthians 13).

d. To be pervasively possessed by Jesus through constant companionship with him. (Dallas Willard;

2. How is discipleship accomplished?

a. Through a one-on-one relationship with a person (a mentor who lives with an assurance in things hoped for, with a conviction of things not seen [Hebrews 11:1]).

b. This relationship centers on study of the scriptures (John 5:39; 2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4) with the mentor, directed by the Holy Spirit (Proverbs 19:21) through prayer.

c. The mentor helps the disciple learn how to practice Jesus' word through the power of the Holy Spirit in an active relationship within a local community of believers/aka, a church, and within a small cadre of believers/aka, a life group/small group (Acts 2:42;1 John 1:7) .

3. How does discipleship begin? (all of these require a close, praying relationship with God, empowered by the Holy Spirit)

a. Daily focusing on loving God more than anyone else—a personal, passionate devotion to Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 14: 26; Matthew 22:37; Greg Laurie,; Oswald Chambers, July 2 devotional from My Utmost For His Highest)

b. Daily focusing on living by the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2) by placing my self-worship and guilt before God on a daily basis (Wayne Jacobsen, He Loves Me!, p.186).

c. Daily accepting that we are blessed when we are at the end of our rope, since with less of me there is more of God and his rule (Matthew 5:3, The Message)

d. Daily accepting that all I have is His (Luke 14:33; Greg Laurie) while committing all that I am and all that I have to Christ (Luke 14:28)

Dallas Willard elaborates on discipleship/spiritual formation as follows:

By contrast, practicing Jesus' word as his apprentices enables us to understand our lives and to see how we can interact with God's redemptive resources, ever at hand. This in turn gives us an increasing freedom from failed intentions, as we learn from him how, simply, do what we know to be right. By a practiced abiding in his words we come to know the truth and the truth does, sure enough, make us free. (John 8:36)

Thirdly, only avid discipleship to Christ through the spirit brings the inward transformation of thought, feeling and character that "cleans the inside of the cup" (Matt. 23:25) and "makes the tree good" (Matt. 12:33). As we study with Jesus we increasingly become on the inside--with "the Father who is in secret" (Matt 6:6)--exactly what we are on the outside, where actions and moods and attitudes visibly play over our body alive in its social context. An amazing simplicity will take over our lives--a simplicity that is really just transparency.

This requires a long and careful learning from Jesus to remove the duplicity that has become second nature to us--as is perhaps inevitable in a world where, to 'manage' our relations to those about us, we must hide what we really think, feel and would like to do if only we could avoid observation. Thus, a part of Jesus' teaching was to "avoid the leaven, or permeating spirit, of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (Luke 12:1)

By contrast the fruit of the spirit, as described by Jesus and Paul, does not consist in actions, but in attitudes or settled personality traits that make up the substance of the "hidden" self, the "inner man." "Love" captures this fruit in one word, but in such a concentrated form that it needs to be spelled out. Thus, "the fruit (singular) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (Gal 5:22) Other such passages easily come to mind, such as II Peter 1:4-11, I Cor. 13, and Romans 5:1-5.

"Spiritual formation" in the Christian tradition is a process of increasingly being possessed and permeated by such character traits as we walk in the easy yoke of discipleship with Jesus our teacher. From the inward character the deeds of love then naturally--but supernaturally--and transparently flow. Of course there will always be room for improvement, so we need not worry that we will become perfect--at least for a few weeks or months. Our aim is to be pervasively possessed by Jesus through constant companionship with him. Like our brother Paul: "This one thing I do! ...I press toward the mark! ...That I may know him!" (Phil. 3)

Finally, for the one who makes sure to walk as close to Jesus as possible there comes the reliable exercise of a power that is beyond them in dealing with the problems and evils that afflict earthly existence. Jesus is actually looking for people he can trust with his power. He knows that otherwise we remain largely helpless in the face of the organized and disorganized evils around us and unable to promote his will for good in this world with adequate power.

He is the one who said, "I have been given say over all things in heaven and earth. So you go...." (Matt. 28:18) Of him it was said that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." (Acts 10:38) We are called to do his work by his power.

Reflections to Consider

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Audio & Video

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  • Walking towards Easter: Jesus's Tears +

    These scriptures reflect the pain and suffering, the tears Jesus felt leading up to his crucifixion. Read More
  • Culitvating Good Fruit +

    Proverbs 15:23: To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good Read More
  • Living after Easter +

    Acts 1:8.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my Read More
  • Loving like Jesus and the good, good Father +

    Jesus calls his disciples--and us--to love. Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • Easter: transforming how we relate to others +

    As we prepare for Easter, let’s prayerfully consider some questions regarding John 17. Read More
  • Jesus as the cultivator of our heart +

    Day after day our heart experiences dozens and hundreds of interactions: with others, with news stories,  with our thoughts, or Read More
  • Sing to the Lord: Thinking about to praise God each day with songs from our hearts +

    One of the overriding themes throughout scripture is praising God regardless of our circumstances. Read More
  • A focus on blessing others +

    We are called to be a blessing to the world first to those around us. Read More
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