God at Work in History

One of the things I have been learning through my study of Church History this year is that God is always at work in the lives of His people. Even during the times of darkness and chaos when it looked as if God wasn’t even in the picture, He was at work behind the scenes using each circumstance for the good of His people and to bring glory to His name.

All throughout history the Church has been faced with hardships from within and without, but the Middle Ages was an especially dark time for God’s people. We recently read about some of the struggles they faced during that time including: wars from invading barbarians, the destruction and violence of the crusades,  leadership corrupted by greed, the  division of the church between East and West,  and the devastation of plagues and sickness.

Yet in the midst of all of this there is evidence that God had not abandoned His people. Even during this dark time we can see that God was at work bringing forth His purpose through it all. He raised up missionaries, like Boniface and Lioba who dedicated their lives to  reaching Germany with the Gospel, Reformers, such as the monks, who called people to a life of holiness and a deeper love for God, and the Mendicants, mobile preachers who travelled from town to town preaching the Gospel to all who would listen. During this time the Gospel was taken to many unreached peoples such as the English, Irish, French, and Moravians (modern-day Czech Republic). God was working through the lives of His faithful followers who were willing to give their lives in order to be obedient to God’s calling upon them.

In one of the lectures we watched the speaker made a comment that really stood out to me. He said “God is like a field teeming with life below the surface.” On top it may look like nothing is happening at all, but underground, within the soil, the seeds are very much alive and change is taking place. Soon the seed will sprout and push its way out of the soil.  Then what has been taking place below the surface will become visible to all as we see the evidence of a new life.

Many situations in my own life are much like that field. On the surface I don’t see anything happening and assume that what I can or cannot see in the natural must be all that is taking place. I am so quick to focus only on what is right in front of me and grow discouraged because it appears that God is not at work. In the midst of difficult circumstances I don’t see any way that God can be using it to bring about  His purpose. I am unaware of what is taking place just below the surface and that out of the trials and struggles God is creating something new and beautiful.

God has been reminding me that just as He was at work behind the scenes in some of the darkest times of history so He is at work in the difficult moments of my life. I can trust that in the same way He raised up His faithful followers to bring about His purpose during a dark time in the Church, so He will use each circumstance in my life to ultimately show His faithfulness and unfailing love to the world around me.

My desire is to choose each day not to focus on the apparently lifeless soil above ground but to remember that underground, where I cannot see, change is taking place. What I can see in the natural is only momentary in light of all that God has in store for eternity.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

A Broken Life

This past month in class we have been reading through “Calvary Road” by Roy Hession. In the beginning I really struggled with the message of the book, this was mostly because it was so convicting for me. It was as if God was using it to point to all the areas of my life that needed to be dealt with and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that God was going to have to do the work in me and I asked Him to do whatever it took to bring me to that point of brokenness before Him. It was one of those prayers that I didn’t really know what the answer would look like at the time, but all the way through the book I experienced God breaking me in answer to that prayer.

God showed me what true brokenness looks like. It is responding in humility to God’s conviction of sin. It is not a onetime thing, but a daily choice to surrender myself completely to the Lord’s will. Brokenness begins when I come to the foot of the cross and look upon Jesus who was willing to be broken for me. He was willing to give up His life and take upon Himself my sins, because of His love for me.

When I think of what Christ went through, it humbles me and puts me in awe of the incredible love of Jesus. He was willing to be broken, suffer and pour out His blood on the cross in a demonstration of complete obedience to His Father. In response I cannot refuse to follow in His example by being willing to yield my time, rights, reputation and will to Him, in order to be filled with His life.

The only way God can do His work in me is if I allow Him to put to death my sinful nature, so that He can live victorious through me. I have to be open to God’s conviction, allowing Him to reveal the sin in my life and then be willing to respond in obedience to His voice. I cannot change or experience brokenness through striving on my own. Only Christ can do the work in me through the power of His Holy Spirit.

As I daily walk with Christ He continues to bring to light the areas in my heart that I must surrender to Him. When I choose to respond to His conviction, I am able to experience the
nearness and intimate fellowship of my Father. For He is near to those who are humble and broken before Him.

“Lord, break me, then cleanse me and fill me
And keep me abiding in thee;Broken-Life-1S8GWOY55F
That fellowship may be unbroken,
And Thy Name be hallowed in me.”

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

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

What is Revival?

I had always thought of revival as the Church growing…which it is. However, I viewed it as the Church growing because there were more stones being added to the temple of God (more people being saved). The Calvary Road by Roy Hession flipped my view around. Revival doesn’t have to do with people outside the Church. If you break down the word ‘revival’ it means to infuse life back into something that has lived before. People outside the Church have never been alive spiritually, and as such they cannot be given life again. Revival is inside the church. It is the growth of individuals inside the Church, those who are already a part of the temple of God; and this won’t just make the temple taller or more expansive, but will actually multiply the size. A square that doubles in size occupies four times as much space as it did before. A cube will occupy eight times as much space. As the temple grows it will become more fit for the dwelling of God.

Revival is also not a communal thing in and of itself. It is a personal thing in that the members of the body of Christ each saying in his heart that he will be more like Christ and surrender his will. He will break before God daily and be filled with the Holy Spirit. With this being the definition of revival, it is impossible for there to be a revival outside the Church!  The Holy Spirit only indwells people who are surrendered to Christ.

What does revival mean to me? It used to mean that I would look for more people coming forward at an altar call. I thought that it would mean more people coming to the church on Sundays, larger Sunday schools and more Wednesday night Bible studies. That isn’t what I see it as now. Now I see revival being me, as an individual, going into my room and pouring out my life in surrender and brokenness before Christ.

 

School of Discipleship USA

Gospel for Asia

The Perfect Proposal

sd-the-perfect-proposal

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

 

abnormal lifestyle RadicalSaviorRadicalFaith

“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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