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“Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples…”

Matthew 28:19 CEV

Anyone that types the word into their computer’s dictionary will get the definition for a disciple. The primary characteristic of a disciple is discipline. According to Dictionary.com, the definition for discipline is behavior that is in accordance with specific rules of conduct and order maintained by training and control. A disciple is a person who makes a conscious decision to devote their life to obeying the teachings of another person. The doctrine that we decide to obey determines our destiny, first on earth and ultimately for eternity. It is a decision that must be made today; “…choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15 KJV). We should not wait until tomorrow when making this decision about our destiny (Hebrews 4:7). Tomorrow is not promised to us (Luke 12:20). There is no coming back to warn others (Luke 16:27-31). As a result of the pressing need to let others know about the amazing grace of God, we were given a directive to go out into the world and tell all people about the wonderful gift of salvation in the person of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus’ unselfish sacrifice on the cross gives all people in the world the opportunity to accept His gift freely. Discipleship requires that we have a reverent attitude for our Lord and study God’s Word every day; “…they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11 KJV). Discipleship requires that we be ready to tell others about Jesus; “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15 KJV). Discipleship requires that we have the ability to avoid foolish and thoughtless discussions since we know that they produce conflicts (2 Timothy 2:23). Discipleship requires that we share the doctrine of Jesus Christ with others while avoiding conversations that will lead people into worthless thinking and ungodly behavior (2 Timothy 2:16, Romans 1:28). Discipleship is most effective when we understand that once we plant the seed in people’s minds about the truth of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is the one that changes people on the inside; “I will put my spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:27 KJV). True disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ know, that if people make a decision to reject the magnificent gift of salvation from our Savior, then we are free to move on and share the Gospel with other unbelievers; “If any place does not welcome you or listen to you, when you leave there, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them” (Mark 6:11 CSB). So, let us not let anything hinder us or slow us down from sharing the gift of Salvation with others. We must not get tired of fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives in spreading His Word. If we continue to obey our Lord in this effort, He will bring the harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up.

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”

Mark 16:15-16 KJV

Submitted by Trustee Stanley Ridley

Sooner or Later, Something Usually Breaks

“Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness…”

Jeremiah 23:12 KJV

In the 1968 pilot for the Colombo crime series titled “Prescription: Murder”, Lieutenant Frank Columbo, played by actor Peter Falk, investigates a married psychiatrist who strangles his wife to death.  The psychiatrist uses different schemes, lies, and tactics to hide his crime and asks his accomplice to the criminal act to keep it secret but Lt. Colombo makes a profound statement in the primetime drama; “Sooner or later, something usually breaks”.  The psychiatrist was a highly intelligent and elusive man but, in the end, it was the psychiatrist’s own human nature that exposed his crime.  Lt. Colombo noticed the psychiatrist’s human flaw very early in the show when he told a fellow police officer that he noticed that when the psychiatrist entered his apartment, he never called out to his wife to let her know that he was home. A friend of the doctor in the show stated that maybe it was because the husband and wife had a recent disagreement and he may have been upset with her but the behavior appeared to be consistent with the doctor’s attitude towards his wife, because earlier, in the show when the psychiatrist returned home from his office after visiting his mistress and knowing that his wife was home, he did not call out for her.  Lt. Colombo rightly assumed that the doctor’s character flaw would sooner or later cause something in him to break.

In Romans 7, God tells us through the Apostle Paul that we all have a character flaw and if it is not fixed then we are destined for condemnation to eternal punishment.  Our flaw is sin and if we say we have no sin then we are liars (1 John 1:8-10).  God’s Word is what exposes our disobedience.  Disobedience is sin.  Sin is wanting something that does not belong to us.  God’s Word is the only answer to sin.  If it was not for God’s Word, then we would never have known that it was wrong to want something that did not belong to us. The Holy Bible says that Jesus Christ is God’s Word (Revelation 19:13).  The teachings of Jesus Christ tell us that we are not to want what belongs to someone else.  Lying, deception, bitterness, gossip, jealousy, murmuring, complaining, arguing, cheating, killing, abuse, stealing, etc. are all symptoms of one of three elements of our human flaw of wanting or lusting for something that doesn’t belong to us; For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16 KJV).  The human flaw of wanting something that did not belong to them is what got Adam and Eve in trouble in the garden of Eden; And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6 KJV).  There is nothing we can say or do that will keep sin from sooner or later causing us to break.  Sin always seems to find a way to manipulate and pervert what is true and right to make us want all kinds of things that are wrong.  Even if we run down the list of the seven deadly sins and go through the hundreds of other egregious sins and see no evidence that we are guilty of any of them we are still in Apostle Paul’s words, ‘wretched’ (Romans 7:24), or according to the Prophet Isaiah’s words, ‘filthy dirty rags’ (Isaiah 64:6) …and those are terms and phrases that Saints used to describe themselves.  Terms that are used to describe unbelievers include worthless (Judges 9:4), venomous snakes (Matthew 3:7), brute beasts (2 Peter 2:12), children of Belial (Deuteronomy 13:13), ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15), etc.

If we fall into the trap of thinking that we are good, humble, and righteous, then the Lord has no problem putting us to the test; “The young man saith unto him, all these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?  Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:20-22 KJV).  If we look at others and have the feeling that we are glad that we didn’t do what they did then our biggest problem becomes arrogance (Luke 18:11-12).  Pride is one of the things that God hates most (Proverbs 16:18).  Even if we live what the world would consider a perfect and prosperous life, we still fall short of what God requires (Luke 16:25). Sooner or later something usually breaks.  God describes this dynamic as ‘slippery’; But they won’t get by with it. They will find themselves on a slippery slope, careening into the darkness, somersaulting into the pitch-black dark. I’ll make them pay for their crimes” (Jeremiah 23:12 The Message). Even when we do things that we think are done in secret we forget that God sees that too and sooner or later the things we do in secret get revealed; For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14 KJV). 

We must not be fooled and think we are getting away with our disobedience and wrongdoing, even if we do it in secret; For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings” (Job 34:21 KJV).  It may seem like we got away because nothing bad happened or there appeared to be no consequence for what we’ve done but God sees what’s done in secret; “…you can be sure that your sin will track you down” (Numbers 32:23 The Message).  Nabal did not get away.  He made an insult and paid for it later (1 Samuel 25:37-38).  Shimei did not get away.  He made insults and paid for it later (1 Kings 2:44).  King Nebuchadnezzar didn’t get away; “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee” (Daniel 4:31 KJV). King Manasseh didn’t get away; “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they refused to listen. So, the Lord brought commanders from the king of Assyria’s army to attack Judah. These commanders captured Manasseh and made him their prisoner. They put hooks in him and brass chains on his hands and took him to the country of Babylon” (2 Chronicles 33:10-11 ERV).  David thought he got away.  He tried to manipulate Uriah so Uriah would sleep with his wife Bathsheba so they could claim that the baby belonged to Uriah.  When that plan failed David eliminated Uriah without anyone knowing exactly what his personal motives were and the one that he committed adultery with, Bathsheba, kept it all a secret. But David did not get away with it (2 Samuel 12:8).  We will not get away with it either.  Every time we take communion, God gives us a chance to get ourselves right and immediate judgment comes at the time we eat the bread and drink the wine, if we lie and try to deceive, even about the secret things we did, then ultimately we pay the price (1 Corinthians 11:30).

Secret sin is like untreated cancer.  Cancer that goes untreated slowly destroys the healthy cells of the body.  Sooner or later something physically breaks.  Unconfessed hidden sin is a slow deterioration similar to how cancer eats away at our visible bodies, sin eats away at our invisible spirits.  Sooner or later something spiritually breaks.  Just like cancer leads to the inability of the body to physically function normally, sin leads to the inability of the mind to think clearly in order to make the right decisions; Sexual sins, strong drink, and new wine ruin a person’s ability to think straight” (Hosea 4:11 ERV).  God provides us with spiritual medicine to help us avoid spiritual disease;…when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ERV).  For those sins and failures that we’ve done that no one else knows about, God tells us to find someone who we can trust and confess our sins to them, even the secret sins so that we can expose ourselves privately with those who truly love and care for us so we can allow God to heal us (James 5:16).  One way or another our sins will be found out.  The medicine is confession.  We can confess them voluntarily or God will expose them involuntarily (1 Timothy 5:20).  Involuntary exposure usually brings about shame which is a form of chastisement.  Going through the motions does not please the Lord.  Living a flawless life is nothing to God.  True worship is demonstrated when our pride is shattered.  We can break our pride by choice or have it broken against our will (1 Corinthians 5:5).  Truly broken lives ready for God’s love don’t, for a moment, escape God’s notice; “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17 KJV).  Sooner or later something usually breaks so it is probably better than we are broken sooner than later to give the Lord time to repair us before it is too late.

Submitted by Trustee Stanley Ridley

Discipleship is About Touching Hearts

An elderly gentleman lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the next-door neighbor’s little boy went into the gentleman’s yard, climbed into his lap, and just sat there. When the boy’s mother asked what he had said to their neighbor, the little boy replied, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

Discipleship comes from the word ‘disciple’ and means one who follows another. In order to be disciples, we need to become more like our model example, Jesus Christ. Discipleship requires a deep sympathy and sorrow for people who are spiritually lost and a very strong desire to help alleviate their suffering by sharing the good news about the gift that God has given to people in the person of Jesus Christ who is able to deliver all of us from suffering and save us from eternal damnation. God had so much compassion for people that He allowed His only Son to give the ultimate sacrifice for us to have eternal life; “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus Christ was the ultimate example of compassion for people and end demonstrated that during His ministry. When Jesus saw Mary and the people crying out about the death of Lazarus, the Holy Bible says that Jesus was very upset and deeply troubled to the point that He cried (John 11:35). He helped him cry but then He delivered a healing (John 11:39-44). According to the Resource of Leadership Training Learner’s Guide, Volume III titled “The Leaders Example”, there are three basic principles associated with discipleship:

  1. Be a good example – Titus 2:7
  2. Follow the example of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 2:21
  3. Help people be good examples to others – 1 Corinthians 11:1

Discipleship is a process that involves transforming believers into maturing and reproducing followers of Jesus Christ which begins at the moment of salvation when a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Discipleship is like human growth. Immediately after salvation, we are babies in Jesus Christ who are very dependent on others for spiritual feeding and security; “As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). We grow from babes into children who gain independence by becoming aware of Biblical truth and the consequences of our actions; “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11 KJV). We then move away from childhood towards youth or adolescence where we become independent and aware of moral choices and desire role models; “That our sons maybe as plants grown up in their youth…” (Psalms 144:12 KJV). We mature into spiritual adults becoming interdependent or mutually dependent on other believers and realize our vulnerability and need for each other and for God’s protection; “Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 ERV). We become spiritual parents, church elders, fathers, and mothers when we reproduce the next generation that has the same Christ-like characteristics as we do (1 Timothy 1:2).

In the infant phase, the ‘Disciples Instruction’ asks believers to come to Jesus Christ. In the child phase, the ‘Disciples Invitation’ asks new believers to follow Jesus. In the adolescent phase, the ‘Disciples Invitation’ asks believers to commit themselves to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In the adult phase of every believer, the ‘Disciples Identification’ asks believers to abide in Christ and take on the nature of Jesus, grow in their relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In the parent phrase, the ‘Disciples Implementation’ involves sharing all that we have learned in order to teach others about the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Discipleship requires that all believers make a decision about their Christian walk with Jesus.

We must decide where we want our ministry to count – in the momentary applause of popular recognition or in the reproduction of our lives in a few chosen people who will carry on the work after we’re gone.” – Robert Holman

Submitted By Bro. Eustace Murrain