Following Jesus, what does it really mean? Jesus sets the example for all of us, his followers, to emulate. True discipleship equals total surrender, love, and faithfulness in God. The following are a few of the many examples Jesus lived and displayed so that we can learn about discipleship.
Sacrifice: His life was of sacrifice, to glorify the Father through the redemptive plan of God (John 17:4). A plan created in the beginning with unconditional love for you and I. Jesus endured the cross as the cup of wrath was poured out on him. Jesus took upon himself the sin of humanity becoming a sacrifice to establish our righteousness in the sight of God. Jesus completed everything for us. As we follow Jesus we are expected to repent and believe in him. However, there is much more we have to do as his follower.
Commitment: We commit ourselves to him and in so doing, we sacrificially give ourselves over for our Father to be glorified. As we analyzed the widow, who gave all she had this past Sunday, we too must be encouraged giving our all. Holding back does not say, I trust you. Holding back does not say, you are Lord over my life. Holding back simply does not say, Lord, I love you. Holding back says, I believe I am able to control my life and I have the ability to make myself right in your sight. Do we really want to attempt to control our life? Has Jesus not already accomplished enough?
Jesus purchased freedom for us! Jesus’ sacrifice was to free us from slavery and that is the good news. WE HAVE BEEN SET FREE. The payment required for sin, could not be satisfied by man or any work by mankind. Due to the love of the Father, we now have freedom in Christ. In our freedom, we as disciples must follow Jesus, by spreading the gospel while loving the Father and our neighbor. Our freedom does not free us from suffering or attacks from the enemy, but our freedom reassures us Jesus is with us every step of the way. While going through the remaining of your week, take time to reflect on your freedom in Christ. Also, pray God allows you to share your freedom with someone at your occupation, in your family, or even the stranger on the streets.
Prayer – God today, I am free. Free to experience your love as our Father, free to love our neighbors, and free to spread the gospel to the lost. Thank you! God you loved me so much, you restored me unto you. You are simply amazing. Father, place someone in my path that I can share your word with or at least share my life changing encounter with you. Help me to give you my all and show me what I must do. I commit myself to glorify you and your kingdom. In Jesus precious name, Amen.
Warmly in Christ and for the Kingdom of God
Marlo D. Brayboy
Lexington Church of Christ
Last week’s Weekly Uplift focused on strengthening our marriages and this week we’ll take a closer look at purposeful parenting.
Psalm 127:3 “Children are a gift from the Lord; offspring are a reward from Him.” We can know with certainty that God wants us to be successful parents and wise stewards of the precious children He has entrusted to us.
As parents, many days can seem like a struggle to keep our precious gifts alive, especially in the early years. Thankfully, the Bible gives us clear instructions on how to raise our children in the Lord. When we were kids, we all loved the game of Follow the Leader. The objective is to follow the leader closely and correctly to win. The same is true in our lives and our parenting. The leader is our perfect Lord and Savior, Jesus, and the more closely we follow Him the better our chances of “winning” at this crazy journey of parenting. We cannot be perfect by any stretch of the imagination and neither can our children (as darling as they may be) but we can serve, disciple, pray, lead, and love them like Jesus to the best of our ability. The root of the word discipline is disciple which means to teach. Our discipline should be teaching them to live like Jesus. We cannot do this effectively without first “filling up”.
Fill Up & Pour Out
“Filling up” during personal time with God is essential. Psalm 46:10 tells us what to do. “Be still and know that I am God.” In the gospel of John, Jesus makes it clear why. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 This is an oversimplification, but maybe some days feel like we’ve accomplished nothing because we didn’t connect to the Vine before we began our to-do list. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Our daily “fill up” through time spent with God will become the filter through which we interact with our spouse, our children, and others.
“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) Charles Stanley puts it this way, “The more you fill your heart with His words and guidance, the more those words will flow from you to others.” You cannot pour out of an empty vessel.
Parenting is not a task we can take lightly, nor is it an impossible weight that we’re meant to carry alone. He will give us rest for our weary, exhausted souls when we come to Him. (Matt. 11:28-30) The more regularly we fill up with our daily portion from God, the better we can love and serve our families in a way that points them to Christ.
Over the next two weeks we will be focusing the Weekly Uplift on our families. God communicates time and time again throughout the entire New Testament the importance of the family. God describes in great detail the nature of the relationship between husband, wife, and children (Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, 1 Peter 3). We encourage you to take time this week and next week reading over these passages with your family and praying about them.
There is a Calling on Your Marriage
There is a calling on your marriage put there by God. The calling is to submit to each other in love, which illustrates the relationship between Christ and the Church. If there is a calling, then how we answer it is essential. If we want to love well, then we must communicate well. All great partnerships are formed around how well they communicated.
One day a husband was leaving the bathroom after showering and his wife walked in behind him and stepped on the wet rug. “Eww that’s disgusting. Can you please wipe off your feet before you get out of the shower?” Not understanding, the husband did so but forgot a few weeks later. The wife was sure to mention again, “Babe, can you please wipe your feet before getting out of the shower?” Finally, he said, “I don’t know why this bothers you. The rug is used to dry my feet.” After a small giggle the wife responds, “Oh! I always thought they were used to keep my feet warm in the mornings!”
How can we communicate better?
Listening with Life
The key to communicating is putting down the need to be heard. I have the tendency to begin formulating the perfect response to my wife while she is still talking. This prevents me from listening and fully engaging her point.
How about we try another approach?
When your spouse comes home from work and wants to talk about their day, let’s be ready. First and foremost, ask questions that engage them to speak more. For example, you can ask how they felt in the situations they are explaining. Second, when they are done explaining their day ask if they want you to just listen or to respond.
Make Time to Talk
The most important aspect to communication is regularly scheduled time to do it. This concept isn’t foreign in our Spiritual lives either because a crucial aspect of a thriving relationship with God is daily prayer. The more you talk, the closer you are, and the deeper relationship you experience.
Check Your Progress
Finally, we have to do a communication check-up with each other periodically. This means that both husband and wife have to be open and honest when they feel that they aren’t communicating well. I find these conversations are best done with a counselor in the room. This is because we often don’t have the right words to communicate how we feel because we are out of practice. The counselor will ensure you are effectively communicating with each other, instead of arguing in “circles”.
Answer the Call
We owe it to the calling put on each of our marriages to do the very best we can. The very best we can do includes implementing great communication within our marriages. So, let’s listen with life to each other. We can regularly schedule times to communicate, and let’s encourage communication through common intimate action and evaluation.
The Love Languages
Dr. Gary Chapman wrote the book The 5 Love Languages, which sold 11 million copies and was the #1 best seller of the New Your Times 8 consecutive times. The focus of the book was how people express and receive love in different ways called love languages. The 5 love languages are: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
It is clear the truths used in Dr. Chapman’s book are also biblical truths:
Quality Time: Luke 22:14 When the hour hand come, Jesus reclined at the table with his apostles. 15 He said to them, I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before my suffering. Jesus desired to spend time with his apostles and desires to spend time with you. Let us spend quality time with our Father.
Words of Affirmation: Luke 22:28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a Kingdom just as my Father conferred one on me. 30 So you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Gifts: Luke 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Jesus paid the price we each deserve bearing all the sins of humanity. With his work on the cross, Jesus now offers us an undeserved gift to those who repent and believe in him, which is salvation.
Acts of Service: Luke 22:27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I among you as one who serves. Jesus the greatest among men did not come to be served, but to serve and gave his life for mankind in order to reestablish humanity into righteousness.
Physical Touch: John 13:4 so Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Jesus had to touch the feet of the disciples in order to wash them. The washing was required by Jesus for the disciples to have a part in him. Without the washing they would not have a part of Jesus.