Glorious Redemption!!

Glorious Redemption!!picture of cross glorious redemption

The Son of God is hanging on a cross, suffering unimaginably but not just from physical pain but from the weight of the sin of the whole world, my sin included! He has the choice to call ten thousand legions of Angels to His rescue but He stays, He submits to the will of His Father to redeem mankind from their sin. He knows He is their only hope, and so He willingly gives up His life on the cross. All creation trembles and the sky grows dark, it acknowledges what has taken place.

It was here at the cross when Jesus died that redemption was made possible for us. Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God’s grace.” (NKJV)

I have known the truth of this for almost my whole life, having grown up in a Christian home, but only recently has it actually changed my life. I have been a Christian for a couple of years now; I gave my life to Christ at a revival meeting one night when I was 18. The joy of being forgiven of my sins was amazing! I was on fire for God; unfortunately it didn’t last very long… I didn’t know what I had done wrong and I started doubting my salvation. I had many doubts and had no victory in my Christian life, I felt confused and alone. I lived this way for many years and eventually I began searching Scripture and started believing the promises of God about how He has called us and will complete the work He has started in our lives. I didn’t have complete victory over this until recently.

We had a speaker come and teach our class a couple of weeks ago and his topic was not about redemption but while teaching he mentioned briefly what redemption means and how it impacted his life and I was just struck by this truth and it has stayed with me ever since. He said that when we come to the cross in repentance and salvation we exchange our lives for the Righteousness of Christ, so that when God looks at us He does not see us in our sinful flesh but He sees Christ’s Righteousness in us. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (ESV)

This verse was not foreign to me, I just never really fully grasped it’s meaning but it makes so much sense now and it has really encouraged me and helped me be victorious in my life! Through Redemption Christ lives in me, by understanding this truth I now can fully surrender my life to Christ and trust Him to work in me and make me more like Him; I don’t have to try and overcome my sins and failures on my own.

1 Corinthians 1:30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” (NLT)

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Overwhelmed by God

 

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“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” -Psalm 61:2

These past few weeks God has been teaching me how totally dependent I am on Him for my every need. Back in the beginning of the year I had prayed that God would bring me to the place where He was my only source of strength and that I would not rely on my own ability to live for Him. God answered that prayer by allowing me to become overwhelmed with all that was before me so that I would find my strength in Him.

I really don’t like being in situations where I am overwhelmed by all that is before me. That feeling of not knowing how you will complete a task and being totally inadequate for the job certainly wasn’t what I was asking God for!

God showed me that this is exactly the place I need to be at in order to experience His Holy Spirit at work in my life. If I am still holding onto my own wisdom, strength, and ability then I won’t be looking to God to do the work in my life. He just becomes a backup plan, someone I can go to if my own plans don’t work out.

God desires that I have nothing else to rely on but Him. Living in the power of the Holy Spirit means that I must surrender all of my human abilities to the Lord. Instead of relying on my own strength, which runs out pretty quickly, I need to allow the Lord to take over. No longer will I be overwhelmed by my own inabilities, but I become overwhelmed by the power and ability of God.

Phil. 2:13 says “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” God is the One who does the work in me. I don’t have to struggle on my own or rely on my own abilities. Everything I need is found in Him alone, but only when I stop trusting in myself will I experience the fullness of His Holy Spirit at work in me.

Each time I am in a situation that is beyond what I can handle in my own strength I am reminded where my strength and ability lie. It is not in anything that I can do but only through the Holy Spirit at work in me. Even though I still don’t like being in overwhelming situations, God is teaching me that peace and rest come when my focus is on Him.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Selah” -Psalm 62:5-8

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Fighting or Loving

Fighting-Loving-20160604_204730Growing up I spent a lot of time reading about wars our country fought in history books and stories of soldiers who gave their all for their country.  The sacrifice that they showed for their country was a great influence on me, but I am afraid the concept of fighting for something no matter what it costs others also influenced me too greatly.  I saw the glory of being a hero, while ignoring how much it has the potential of hurting others.

Throughout Scripture we have many instances of the Christian life illustrated in a military manner. Such as: weapons of our warfare II Corinthians 10:4; Armour of God Ephesians 6:11-18; fighting the good fight of faith I Timothy 6:12, there are many other examples as well.  However while I emphasized in my mind this side of Christianity I ignored other Scriptures such as “Matthew 9:13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”, or Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”.

As a result of ignoring these verses as well as others, I have run roughshod over many people, far too many.  The result was that I hurt many people in my life that the Lord had placed there for me to minister to.  Because of this militaristic mindset, I began fighting for what I saw as the truth no matter who it hurt. The result of this was that I began alienating myself from many of my fellow believers.  In a conversation with someone about three years ago, he pointed out to me that I was not showing love in a particular situation, but rather I was being harsh on several individuals.  He was right, but I refused to receive what he was saying.  In fact I took it as a badge of honour that someone was criticizing me for doing what was “right”.

Recently God has been opening my eyes and showing me what it looks like to love.  For a long time, God has been teaching me how he loves me, but now he is instructing me in how to love others.  One of the major ways is by serving others as Galatians 5:13 instructs us.  Another is showing compassion on those who have not come to the same maturity as I believe I have in a certain area.  I have also come to realise that I cannot have my own personal interpretation of Scripture.  Many times I take how I understand Scripture as the standard and I get frustrated and judgemental if others do not see it the same way.  The Christian life does indeed have military parallels of fighting to the end.  However, in pursuing this end we must remember to have compassion, mercy and love for others.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

A Strong Tower

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It seems the storm around us is always raging which in this case would be translated into trials. Lately the Lord has been teaching me about fighting battles.  I have been finding encouragement from 2 Chronicles 20:15-17. My most common way of battling against my struggles in life is to worry and over process these things in my mind. Once the enemy has gotten me with worry he then proceeds to attack me with discouragement which is one of the enemy’s most successful ways of prying into our hearts. One day after the passage in 2 Chronicles was shared with me by a friend it really caught my attention and even more so after I went to read it for myself. King Jehoshaphat was instructed to not be discouraged, because the battle didn’t belong to him but to God. All he was supposed to do was to go out the next day, take his position and watch God take the battle.

At the same time as I read 2 Chronicles 20 I had been reading through 1 Samuel 14.

In verse 10 Jonathan say that if they are called by the Philistines to come up and fight and that it would be a sign that the Lord would help them defeat the Philistines. The Lord showed me how this can be true for me today. Even though my battles may not be an army of men, whatever it may be, health, battles of the mind, the Lord is ready to help defeat the army. The Lord desires for me to hand the battles in my life over to Him and there is no other way for me to find victory. With this I was so encouraged to know that no matter what comes my way it’s not my battle, its God’s.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

The Perfect Proposal

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While learning about the divine characteristics of God, I have grown to really appreciate the outdoors. Climbing up a high peak and glancing over the scenery has never gone short of leaving me in awe; the sunlit clouds moving across the clear blue sky, the different shades of colour in the trees, and the clear view of the horizon. As I take in the beautiful view, I am reminded that this is the same God who gave up His Son so that I can be reconciled to Him. I am reminded that as far as the east is from the west, God has removed my transgressions (Psalm 103:12). This is the God who is holy, eternal, and knows me deeply and specifically. He is the One who sought after my heart and asked for me to unite with Him in fulfilling His purpose for the world. The beauty of the whole universe is a reminder of His proposal to me. Before coming to School of Discipleship, I lived a life focused on gaining the approval from others. It was more important for me to be accepted by the people here on earth, than to live a life accepted and pleasing to God. Going through Crazy Love by Francis Chan, gave me a clear understanding of the love that God has for me. Francis Chan really emphasizes that even though I am a sinner who is prone to fail Him every day, He still chooses to love me regardless of my failures. He set me apart before I was born and chose for me to be a part of His glorious inheritance. How can I turn my eyes away from the God who offers the very thing that man cannot fulfill in my life? Does my life show that I have accepted His Love and His vision for the lost? Even as I write this, the feeling of guilt still overwhelms me.

In the book of Romans, God has a job description laid out for each one of His disciples. As a follower of Christ and a receiver of His love, I am called to go and preach the gospel so that those who hear will believe, call upon the Lord and be saved (Romans 10:14-15). If that is required of me, then I should not live a life staying idle and content with my bad work ethic. It reminds me of the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. Jesus tells the story of a master who went out to the market place and hired men who were standing there idle all day. When the master asked them “why do you stand here idle all day?” they said “because no one has hired us”. The master then gave them a job and sent them to go and work in his vineyard. This (according to Jesus) is exactly the perfect image of the kingdom of heaven. At one point in my life, I was standing idle, wasting my time and life. But God sought me out and hired me to be a worker for His kingdom and Romans 10:12-15 is the job description. This is what I’m required to do; it is why He has chosen to reveal His perfect love to me!

Father, thank you for offering me your perfect gift of salvation.

Thank you for choosing me to be your bride.

Thank you for surrounding me with your creation;

Never being able to forget your love and divine qualities.

Work in my heart and life so that I can be a vessel for your kingdom.

Give me the desire to draw others to say yes to your proposal

So that they can also bask in your unfailing love.

—School of Discipleship student

Abnormal Lifestyle

 

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“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the                                                                                     will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”                                                                                          Romans 12:2

Not being conformed, to live differently than the world… Looking at this verse it’s easy to say that I do live differently–I don’t swear, I don’t dress immodestly, I don’t party But what if that isn’t enough? What if God calls us to a higher standard?

This past month or so, we have been going through two different books: Touching Godliness by K.P Yohannan and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. These books have really impacted my view of life. Life is so fragile and short. The Bible says it is like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. What we do in this little while determines our eternity.

Deuteronomy 10:13  puts everything I have been learning in one paragraph:

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

It sounds simple but when I look at each command more closely, I realize it is so different than the normal Christian life.

 To fear God:  To fear God means to show respect and reverence. How often do we give a hurried prayer asking God to bless our day and then not think of Him again until we are in need of Him? If we took the time to examine and ponder over how great and amazing our God is, it would cause us to come before Him in awe and reverence.

To walk in His ways: How many of us truly live as Christ lived on earth? Do we love the poor and needy as he did? Do we take time to share the gospel with the people around us ? Do we forgive those who wrong us and love those who hurt us? Christ did all these things and He calls us to follow Him.

To serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul: This is taking it a step further. We are not only called to follow Christ, but to do so with a joyful heart. Everything we do as we follow Christ must be done with a genuine heart of love, and not just because we feel obligated to serve. God doesn’t want half-hearted service; He wants all of us or nothing. Jesus said to pick up your cross and follow Him. He certainly didn’t leave room for excuses or halfheartedness.

We are to keep His commandments: Someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” When we are more concerned about things in our lives than the things of God, or God Himself, we break this commandment. How many of us even think about others half as much as we think of ourselves? I know I don’t!

The most encouraging part of this verse is the end of it. God commands these things for our good. God wants us to enjoy life and make the most of it and He knows the only way to do so is by obeying His commands.

As you probably have realized by now, this sure doesn’t sound like the life the world advertises. In my personal life, I find it difficult to stay focused on Christ and the things that will count for eternity. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day, to worry about all the little things that happen. What encourages me and keeps me going is that I don’t have to do it on my own. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us and gives us the power to live out this abnormal lifestyle.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

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