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

Waiting On The Lord

Waiting-Lord-DSC_0211During my solitude time this past week I was reading from Isaiah chapter 8 where God speaks to Isaiah about the coming judgement against Judah. Because of their wickedness, God is going to send the nation of Assyria to punish them and carry them away into captivity.

God reminds the prophet Isaiah in the midst of all of this not to be overcome by fear but to keep his focus on God. Verse 13 says, “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.”

In times of difficulty and struggle, it can be so easy to take our eyes off of God and to be overcome by the fear of man, but God says that He is the One we are to fear.

To fear God means to live in reverential awe and respect of who He is. When our focus is on the power and might of our God, we will no longer be concerned about what is taking place around us. We can trust that God is in complete control.

Further on in Isaiah 8 verse 17 says, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in Him.”

Isaiah knew that He could put His complete trust in God and had faith that God would use the Assyrians to bring His plan to pass.

Waiting on the Lord means to be attentive to His voice and to be constantly in tune to what He is doing. Just as a waiter at a restaurant has the job of making sure the needs of their customers are met, so we must be looking to see what God requires of us and how we can serve Him.

When I am facing a spiritual battle it is so easy for me to focus on what is going on around me instead of keeping my eyes on the One who is in control of the situation. Instead of waiting on the Lord and being attentive to His voice I allow fear and anxiety to overtake my mind. God used this passage in Isaiah to remind me that my mind must be continually on Him. He is the One that I should fear and stand in awe of. I can wait on Him and rest in the assurance that my trust does not lie in man but in God, who is sovereign over all.

“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people”

– Charles Spurgeon

 

School of Discipleship CA

—School of Discipleship student

Who am I… Really?

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I·den·ti·ty- the fact of being who or what a person or thing is

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. But now in Christ Jesus you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:1 & 13

As the year in School of Discipleship continues, it is amazing that one doesn’t just get to know the Lord more intimately, but one also gets to know themselves through this challenging year of being discipled.

In class, the Lord has been teaching me to recognize the importance of knowing my true identity. All of Mankind has identity. Our identity may come from many areas in life including family or friends, job, money, or even the past. The Lord has been challenging me in this regard:  In the way I live, where is my identity rooted from? If my supreme identity comes from anything other than Christ Himself, I will soon realize that whatever else I root my life in will be earthly and thus will diminish. As a child of God, I have the amazing privilege to know and be known by an ever infinite God, and must recognize my value in this, rather than anything else that bids for my life.  I am ultimately not who anyone else says I am, nor known supremely by my weaknesses or failures, but I am who CHRIST alone says I am!

Does Christ complete me? Do I feel as if I need that one thing, aside from Christ, in order to  “feel” complete?  What makes my heart race and receives my awe? In what is my identity really found when everything else is stripped away?

Though I have been greatly challenged in learning my need for a complete self-denial, the Lord has been teaching me that my absolute only boast, and ultimately life, must be in Christ. I have and am absolutely nothing without Him, but am everything in Him. It is unfortunate to know that I can go through the daily tasks of serving the Lord, without ever realizing who I am as His blood bought child, and miss out on the relationship that our Father longs for with His children.

So when I am tempted to believe that other things will somehow satisfy, or to ‘amen’ what the enemy would have me to believe,  I must remember that as a child of God, He is the one who makes me who I really am. In Christ, my identity is completely sure since He never fails nor changes forever.

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—School of Discipleship student

Before the Day Began

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Time has gone by very fast this year.

It seems the month just begins and then it is the end. Now, there are just over a few weeks till the graduation of my first year at School of Discipleship.

Lately I’ve been pondering how fast time is going and struggling with what I can do to take advantage of it. I want to make the most of every last day, but how can I? How can I truly grasp everything out of today?

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I believe it starts at the beginning of the day.

A while ago I asked one of the staff at Gospel for Asia what keeps them focused on God throughout the day, and they said that it was spending time with God in the morning and surrendering the day into His hands. When they spent time with God in the morning they were more focused during the day. I find it challenging to focus on Jesus throughout the day a lot of the time; but giving myself to prayer and the study of God’s word early in the morning makes a difference. It’s kind of like putting on one’s armour for the day.

I once heard Joni Eareckson Tada (a lady who became a quadriplegic at a young age from a diving accident) say on the radio that she would pray a certain prayer every morning. It went something like this: “Lord, please look at the world through my eyes today and speak your words through my mouth and listen through my ears….” and so on until she had dedicated herself to God for that day.

This has stuck with me ever since I first heard it and I believe it is part of the reason why Joni is such a friendly, joyful, encouraging and loving person. And why she has impacted so many lives.  Because of Joni’s inspiration I want to write my own prayer of dedication and I thought I would share it with you.

“Dear Father,

This morning I give my eyes to you

For only your grace to shine through.

I give you my words today,

That my mouth may speak of your way.

Please take my ears for you to use,

May I hear only what you choose.

Whatever, Lord, my hands will do,

I dedicate it all to you.

Father, please lead the paths of my feet,

That I walk where joy and suffering gladly meet.

Each thought, each action, movement and plan,

I gave to you before the day began.

Amen.”

—School of Discipleship student

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