Victory Through Worship

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During this year of School of Discipleship there have been battles and emotions that I have not been able to defeat and conquer on my own. It is as if I have become a clear target for the enemies’ arrows of doubt, fear, and anxiety. The Lord has never been short of showing Himself faithful, but I could never figure out why His acts of faithfulness have always become shadowed when I face a trial. Why am I so quick to forget all that He has brought me through, and fall right into the doubt and fear that has already been conquered at the cross of Christ?  Why am I so quick to open the door of my heart to discouragement and defeat? I know that through Jesus’ death on the cross I can now experience freedom, hope and victory but the distance between my head and heart seems to be a mile long.

During my solitude time over the SD camping weekend, I asked the Lord to speak to my heart and reveal to me what I needed to change or apply in my life. He brought me to Gideon in the book of Judges. Gideon was the weakest man from the weakest tribe, but God had a plan to use him to bring liberating victory to the Israelites. I would not call Gideon a mighty warrior, but rather a lowly man filled with the same fear and doubt that I struggle with every day.  He did not feel worthy of the impossible task and so he asked the Lord for signs of confirmation.  It was after the third sign that he developed the faith and courage to follow in God’s will to fight against the Midianites.

When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.”

When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”

(Judges 7: 13-15)

So what was it that turned Gideon into a mighty man of faith? What finally gave him the courage to fight against a great host with only 300 men on his side?  It was the act of worship in response to the interpretation of the dream that changed the gaze of his eyes. He no longer feared his enemies but now feared the God who had been faithful to the rebellious nation of Israel.  My answer lies in the story of Gideon. God has been so faithful to me during this year of School of Discipleship, and as I look back I should interpret every answer to prayer as an outpouring of His love, guidance and protection over my life. It should bring me to complete awe and worship of the One whose strength is made perfect in my weakness.  As I look up towards the heavens, He will give me the wisdom and strength to dodge the flaming arrows of the enemy in order to accomplish all that the He has in store for my life.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

A Missing Treasure

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Is there a place where one can encounter the presence of God more than in another place?

This question surfaced in my mind after what I experienced a couple weekends ago.  We went camping… and it was amazing. The lake was right near our campsite, the birds sang loudly in the early mornings (not so pleasant for sleeping), the sunrise and the stars were so beautiful. It was so peaceful to go down to meet with God by the lake, in the calm, the wind, which caused the waves to crash against the shore. I could have sat there for hours just to soak in the beauty of God’s creation and most of all His presence. What the LORD showed me during that weekend was incredible! It was like my mind and spirit were so ready to hear from a loving Father everything was so clear. Each night I couldn’t wait to get up and go to the lake to meet with God, it was worth rising early, getting a bit dirty and cold to experience Him.

Only one thing was wrong: the camping trip came to an end. That meant tiredness from late nights and early mornings and being thrown back into weekly routine. But the worse thing was my excitement to meet with the LORD was gone. It was just another thing to do like it had been before. My mind was no longer clear and I couldn’t focus as easily as I had been able to at the camp. I longed for that experience again, but it wouldn’t come back.

Can I not learn? Do I not change? Why is it that some places cause me to experience God in a greater way?

Then the LORD showed me so gently the missing treasure: Expectation.

Expectation: “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” (oxforddictionaries.com)

I get up each morning to meet the LORD in the same place; nothing changes, it’s dark, I’m tired, I pray and read. But there is something I can change, and that is my expectation. On the camping trip I had high expectations, partly coming from being in a new place and in creation, God met and exceeded them. But when I walked into the house again, those expectations left, and everything was normal, just as I expected it to be.

I may not have a choice as to where I can go to meet with God, but I do have a choice as to what I will expect from those times with Him. I want to enter each time of prayer or reading with great expectation as to what the LORD will do and say with the Psalmist, My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” –Psalm 62:5 KJV

—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

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

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