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An Effective Model for 21st Century Discipleship

An Effective Model for 21st Century Discipleship

Jesus showed us how to do church and small groups

Jesus modeled discipleship in a very personal and relational way without any sign of complexity. The Messiah called each disciple through a personal invitation. He only used simple words that opened the doors to a transformed life to everyone whom he invited.  

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him

 “Follow Me” are two simple words that are very clear and personal. Jesus did not say, “come to me and follow me only if you do this thing or if you know that doctrine.” He did not invite people to come and join his causes or the principles he believed in. Rather, Jesus said, “Follow ‘Me.’” Jesus called out his first disciples to a relationship with him. This simple invitation of Jesus should remain the same for all generations.  

21st Century Church

Discipleship in the 21st Century should follow the way Jesus modeled it. It must first and foremost begin with a clear and compelling invitation. Moreover, there is something more to discipleship than just the invitation. Phil Stevenson describes the invitation of Jesus as clear, consistent, and challenging.  

When Jesus invited Peter and Andrew, they left their nets at once and immediately followed Jesus. They had to let go of what they already had to discover what could be there in Jesus. In contrast, Jesus extended the same invitation to a wealthy man who had so many possessions to let go of, so he responded to the invitation by holding on to what he owns and knows at the expense of living the unknown with Jesus.

As it was in the 1st Century, so it is in the 21st Century; Jesus is inviting us to respond to the opportunity extended by Jesus to follow him. Those who respond set out on the path of discipleship, following the way Jesus modeled it to them.    

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Highlight: Beware of the Birds

Highlight: Beware of the Birds

God is the Sower. Ultimately, nothing grows if He did not plant it. He uses people to establish His purposes. Most of the time, He can use you to share the Gospel with your friend. However, it’s also only God who can make things grow. 

Sometimes, we are the field by which God sows things. Unfortunately, there are times when we become the birds who snatch away the good that God has planted in the hearts of others.

Who are the Birds?

The church can attract different sets of people. Sometimes, the people are like the birds in the parable of Jesus.

Jesus uses these parables to warn us. There would be members of the church who can steal or kill or destroy what God has been doing. The enemy is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Every Christian must be vigilant. In fact, even Christians can be stirred in the wrong direction and become birds at one point in their lives.

Some people may also take advantage of the church community. They become members not because of their faith but because they want to be served. They want to benefit from belonging to the church. However, since there is no genuine repentance and Lordship in their lives, it ends up in chaos. Church leaders must be vigilant that “birds” do not steal the seed that has been planted for the church to grow. Birds snatch up the seed. They steal the seed so they cannot take root and bloom.

As true believers, we can take comfort in the fact that we can ask for wisdom from God. We must be careful to weed out such people so that they don’t steal away the fruits that have the potential to grow in our lives. God can sow a prophetic word in your heart, but birds (fear or doubt) can snatch them away. Nevertheless, birds have a purpose in the story.

Jesus still allowed the presence of Judas Iscariot as one of his chosen twelve even when he knew that Judas was bound to betray him (Jn. 6:70). This shows us that Jesus, in fact, allows or permits evil to coexist with good under his sovereignty and use it for his purposes. 

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Highlight: The Mustard Seed

Seed: In the last post, we talked about how it is crucial to plant good soil for the seed to grow.  Sometimes, we are the farmer who can sow seeds of the Gospel in the hearts of others when we interact with them. In other times, we are the field by which God Himself sow greatness. In both cases, if the soil of the field is hard, nothing will grow.

The Mustard Seed

Scholars note that it is odd to call a mustard a tree. The fact is it’s only grown to be a shrub. Jesus certainly did not make a mistake in his word choice. The people who were listening to him understood that mustard seeds don’t really grow into trees.

This metaphor implies that a mustard seed growing into a tree is unnatural and could not happen if agricultural laws apply.  

If you notice this, you’ll see Jesus’ warnings. There will be many churches and Christians that seem to grow unnaturally. While we can chalk this up to the supernatural grace of God, this can also mean that there are perversions in the way Christians and churches are produced.  Jesus wants to warn Christians about this unnatural way of being.

Shrub vs. Tree Potential

A shrub differs from a tree.  In the same way, the Holy Spirit develops a true Christian. This individual will differ from one who has a superficial faith. The Christian can live and make decisions by the grace of God. Conversely, the other who claims to be Christian is only borne out of good works and trivial human effort. Somehow, a part of us shrivels in discomfort when we enter a church or encounter a Christian that may appear God-honoring on the outside but is truly self-gratifying on the inside. Even the least discerning of us get uncomfortable around certain people because we know that the way they present themselves is fake and unnatural.  

The Lack of Authenticity in the Church

When watermelons grow naturally, they are oval in shape, full of seeds, and are covered by a green, striped outer skin. Yet these days, we will find watermelons that are square, seedless, and monochromic. These are unnatural, produced by the interference of human hands. While we enjoy eating a seedless watermelon for its convenience, watermelons were never really designed or created to be this way.

In the same way, some churches have become perverted when it comes to their doctrines, values, and objectives; thus, they take on a new nature – one that is not of God. They may identify as a church of Christ in the same way that the mustard tree is identified as something that stemmed from the mustard seed, but the way they present themselves and what makes them up differ. They grow because they placed their own hands in the process.  As a result, we will encounter churches with resounding accusations of secularism, manipulation, abuse, purposeful connection with authoritative figures to acquire power, and unnecessary extensive expenses on marketing and advertising.

 

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A Commandment for Generations

“The destiny of future generations depends on our action today.”

Sunday Adelaja

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,

Exodus 20:5 NRSV

Number 15 opens up shortly after Israel’s defeat at Kadesh-Barnea. This failure shows that the people have not learned how to trust and obey (Num. 14). The Lord rejected the older generation and started a clean slate with the younger ones. On the other hand, God had a different message — a word of encouragement — for the younger generation: “You are going to enter the land I am giving you as a home” (Num. 15:1).

This younger generation faced 38 years of wandering, but the Lord guaranteed that they would enter the Promised Land and claim their inheritance. The children suffered because of the sins of their fathers. Their fathers did not believe and obey the Lord, and as a consequence, the blessing was delayed, even for the younger generation. It shows us that when we disobey God, even in withholding our tithes and offering, we are not only causing trouble upon ourselves but for the next generations.

It shows us that when we disobey God, even in withholding our tithes and offering, we are not only causing trouble upon ourselves but for the next generations.

The older generation of Israelites repeatedly refused to submit to God’s authority, and to the authority of God’s appointed leaders. In the present day, these are our spiritual fathers — the pastors and the church elders. Believers commit the same mistake. We see divided churches, dysfunctional families, and rebellious people judging and wandering away from the church, and never accomplishing much in the work of the Lord.

The thing is this, and we need to get it so as not to suffer the faith of the older generation of Israelites —  Unless we submit to God’s Word and His appointed leaders (Heb. 13:7-9,17), we cannot successfully claim our inheritance in Christ (Eph. 2:10), and do the work God set for us to do.

When it comes to the offering, when you fail to bring in your târumah because you don’t want it to go to your pastor, instead of keeping your wealth, you would lose it. It’s because you lose the blessing and the chance to step into your promised land because you willfully dishonored God and His appointed leaders.

The younger generation can only enjoy the blessings of entering the Promised Land if they obeyed God. It’s the same standard for them, as it was with their parents. Moses gave them four special instructions that the believers today would benefit from if they obeyed them.

First, please the Lord (Num. 15:1-21). When they do enter the Promised Land, they were to offer to the Lord. The offerings were designed to please the Lord. The sacrifices discussed in these verses were spontaneous expressions of love and gratitude to the Lord. Along with these sacrifices, the worshipper was instructed to offer two quarts of fine flour with about a quart of oil, a portion of which was given on the altar, while the rest are given to the priest.

The younger generation must heed this command to make an offering and give it to the priest in order to please the Lord.

When larger animals were sacrificed, the amounts of the meal, oil, and wine were increased proportionately. The offering to the priest was dependent on the tithe that was initially given to the altar.

Take note of this interesting point. The Jews would not become agricultural people unless they settled in the promised land, and cultivated vineyards, olive trees, and fields of grain. The Lord was already assuring them of the provision for the offering they would make. The Israelites have not even stepped into the Promised Land yet, the Lord already gave instructions for the offering. It means He is also assuring that they would be provided for in the land. God would not ask you to offer anything He has not given you.

The Israelites have not even stepped into the Promised Land yet, the Lord already gave instructions for the offering. It means He is also assuring that they would be provided for in the land.

 

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SACRIFICE

SACRIFICE

SACRIFICE: 

Restitution or reformation does not cancel out sin. It is only a substation sacrifice that can atone for our sins for us to be reconciled to God. Our submission to the Lord in confession and restitution must flow from the acceptability of the sacrifice. At the end of the day, Jesus was our substitute.

Our response to His sacrifice must be complete obedience.

The sinner must render acceptable obedience which is the evidence of a saving relationship with the Lord. Authentic faith is backed up by action. People who do not bring in their tithes and offering cannot back up their faith that God is the Source of everything, because they are not generous with whatever material wealth they have.

Suppose we say that we share life with God  but still walk in the darkness. Then we are lying. We are not living out the truth. 

But suppose we walk in the light, just as he is in the light. Then we share life with one another. And the blood of Jesus, his Son, makes us pure from all sin. (1 John 6-7)

 

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PROTECTION

EVIDENCE OF GOD’S PROTECTION

EVIDENCE OF GOD’S PROTECTION: 

King Hezekiah began his independent reign when he broke the treaty which his father Ahaz made with the Assyrians (2 Kgs. 16:7), probably during the reign of Sargon II (722-705 B.C.). Sargon’s successor Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) decided to bring Judah into line, and he led a campaign against Hezekiah in the king’s 14th year (2 Kgs. 18:13). Hoping to prevent Jerusalem’s capture, Hezekiah hid the city by concealing the outside water supplies (2 Chron. 32:3-4).

He also repaired any weak spots in the wall and built towers around it (1 Kgs. 9:24), and added to the weapon supply. He also mobilized the people under army officers. He encouraged them not to feat, but to trust the Lord — a power far superior to a nation like Assyria. Hezekiah assured the people that the Lord was with them to help them.

What was Hezekiah doing in the previous chapter? (Protection)

He was securing the tithes of the people and also making sure the priests are provided for and encouraging people to be consistent about their giving.

He took care of the priests — God’s workers. As a result, God protected Hezekiah’s reign and gave him victory.

In 2 Chronicles 32:9-15, Sennacherib boasted that no other god had been able to protect his people from the Assyrians. He was mocking the God of the Israelites, saying He was just another God. After his taunting through letters and addresses through his messengers, he would send delegates to speak in Hebrew on the wall to demoralize the people about their God.

Hezekiah took care of the provision for the priest. In return, the Lord protected him and his kingdom.

Hezekiah turned to the Lord with the Prophet Isaiah. With the help of the prophet, they prayed for divine deliverance. God gave the king assurance through the prophet (2 Kgs. 19:20-34). God sent an angel to destroy the Assyrian host forcing Sennacherib to retreat in humility (2 Chron. 32:20-21a). Hezekiah took care of the provision for the priest. In return, the Lord protected him and his kingdom. He upheld Hezekiah’s throne against the Assyrian army. This protection only comes from God.

 

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PROTECTION

COMPENSATION-FOR-PASTORS

GENEROUS COMPENSATION

GENEROUS COMPENSATION: There are many accounts wherein the Bible reveals God’s desire to compensate properly those who labor in the Lord’s vineyard. When Jesus appointed the 72 and sent them out two by two, he gave specific instructions as to their conduct. He was very specific, and it clues us into how ministers must be compensated. Jesus instructed them if anyone was generous enough to offer them lodging and food, they were to accept it.

Jesus instructed them if anyone was generous enough to offer them lodging and food, they were to accept it.

Stay there and eat and drink anything they give you. Workers are worthy of their pay. Do not move around from house to house. (Luke 10:7)

According to Aubrey Malphurs and Steve Strope, authors and seminarians:

People are God’s human agents for ministry effectiveness (1 Cor. 3:5–9). Your ministry will be only as good as the people who serve the Lord and the church. Scripture is clear that the workers deserve their wages.… It’s unbiblical (and shameful) when a church fails to take care of its staff.

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TARUMAH

TÂRUMAH AS A SACRIFICE

The heave-offering or the târumah offering is found in the Old Testament. Practicing the giving of the târumah is a spiritual exercise that trains our hearts and minds to keep an altar for the Lord. We are to set apart the târumah offering and to give it generously. The Lord is a holy God and this practice is our declaration of our obedience and trust in the Lord.

Numbers 5:9

According to Numbers 5:9, “All the sacred gifts the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him.”  Exodus 23:19 tells us, “The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.” The heave-offering belongs to the priest.

In Numbers 5:9, the term “gifts” here is directly translated as the târumah.

Gifts are made “sacred,” not because one brings them to the priest. Instead, the gift is sacred because the giver sets it apart from his income.

Gifts are made “sacred,” not because one brings them to the priest. Instead, the gift is sacred because the giver sets it apart from his income. The first fruits of the income are set apart as tithes and offerings, as well as târumah or heave offering. The act of separating the first fruits makes the entire income holy because the giver is declaring that God is the source of the entire provision. Even when the giver is sacrificing only a portion of the income, the Lord can bless the whole lot, depending on the attitude of the giver’s heart.

Deuteronomy 12:6: In the passage below, we see that the târumah or the “special gifts” is different from the tithe.

The passage said bring your special gifts and a tenth of everything you produce. If it were the same, it would have said special gifts or a tenth of everything you produce. Thus, they are different offerings that are commanded of the people.

Take your burnt offerings and sacrifices to that place. Bring your special gifts and a tenth of everything you produce. Take with you what you have promised to give. Bring any other offerings you choose to give. And bring the male animals among your livestock that were born first to their mothers. (Deuteronomy 12:6, emphasis added)

Where you are right now, if you have peace in your heart about the local church you belong to, then this is the place God chose you to worship, and you must bring the offering here.

Different kinds of offerings are brought to God’s chosen place of worship. The Lord specifically guides the believers as to where they are to bring the offering. Where you are right now, if you have peace in your heart about the local church you belong to, then this is the place God chose you to worship, and you must bring the offering here. The people are called to sacrifice and to offer it unto the Lord as worship.

Deuteronomy 12:6 is followed by verse 7, which is a verse that speaks of joy:

You and your families will eat at the place the Lord your God will choose. He will be with you there. You will find joy in everything you have done. That’s because he has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 12:7)

Giving results in joy, not in sorrow, in the Christian life.

Out of the people’s obedience, there is a joy as a result of blessings. Joy is underlined by the fact that it appeared twice in the chapter accompanying sacrifices and offerings (Dt. 12:12; 18). Giving results in joy, not in sorrow, in the Christian life. We go back to how Paul related generosity with an attitude of cheerfulness:

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

As a people, may we find joy in giving? Our offering to the Lord is not another bill to pay. It is an opportunity to express our true devotion to the Lord. It is a declaration that we treasure our relationship with God more than we treasure our earthly wealth. Moreover, it is an opportunity to experience the blessings and faithfulness of the Lord, as a direct outcome of our obedience.

There is joy when you experience the communal nature of worship life with a local church. It is important to rediscover the joy of community worship, making offerings to the Lord as God’s people. It’s one thing to be called to give individually, but to live together as a church is a whole different experience of communal worship. The early church love feasts. It is after they give their offerings as a community that they also have celebrations as a community.

It’s one thing to be called to give individually, but to live together as a church is a whole different experience of communal worship.

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TARUMAH

Tzedakah

The Tzedakah Spirit

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And, the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Because of indifference once dies before one actually dies.”

Elie Wiesel

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 NRSV

The distinction of Tzedakah (צְדָקָה)

There is a different kind of giving that emerges from the bible. Târumah can be considered tzedakah, especially when it is in the context of taking care of your leaders — people whose duty does not allow them to make a profit for themselves.

The word tzedakah (tsuh-DOCK-ah) is a Hebrew term that literally means “righteousness”. In the Jewish culture, tzedakah pertains to charitable giving or philanthropy. In Judaism, the weight of this word goes beyond charity. It refers to doing good to ensure that the needs of others are met.

In the context of the târumah, the giver does not only give to fulfill traditions or duties. Instead, there is a spirit that has compassion for the well-being of the priests, as servants of God. They are doing their part to serve their spiritual leaders. The tzedakah offering does not only include the târumah, but it refers to what we now know as a benevolence fund.

Tzedakah is a foundational spiritual practice. Tzedakah was a central obligation of Jewish life, whether the person is rich or poor.

The practice of giving is not according to a person’s economic station or spiritual accomplishments. In the Jewish culture, life begins and ends in tzedakah, and so it must not be an issue or a struggle. When a child is born, the Jewish father pledges a certain amount of money for the distribution of the poor. At the funeral, the mourners contribute coins to the beggars who swarm the burial area.

The tzedakah is practiced in order to remind the individual that at every turn of one’s life, giving is present. Every celebration or holiday is usually accompanied by gifts. In Jewish culture, generosity is a way of life. During holidays, they would pass around a box wherein coins are dropped for the support of different charities.

The well-off home has a series of boxes for different purposes. If something good or bad happens to the family, a coin is dropped in the box. The children are also trained in the habit of giving.

The father would encourage this habit by having his son give the alms to the beggar, instead of handing them over directly. Jewish people grow up with the gesture of giving becoming almost a reflex. How blessed is a person whose habit is to give, instead of to take?

Jewish people grow up with the gesture of giving becoming almost a reflex.

If we study the proper context of “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev.19:18), it is not a command to feel as loving toward another as you do toward yourself, but to love your neighbor as part of yourself. Love is an action. It is about taking care of others, as you do yourself. Thus, giving tzedakah leads to the realization that there is no self or other —  giving to the needy is like taking money from your right hand and placing it into your left.

Tzedakah is a practice in which anyone can engage. Unlike the word “charity,” which has its origins in the Latin Caritas, “heart,” tzedakah comes from the Hebrew word tzedek, which means “justice.”

Charity is done by someone whose heart is awakened (Ruach), something not everyone has experienced.

Tzedakah, on the other hand, challenges you to be just. Even the person who has a scarcity-fearing egoic consciousness (Neshamah) can support this principle, since creating a system of just earning and use of finances protects you as well as others.
According to Moses Maimonides, a great medieval philosopher, there are eight degrees of tzedakah (with number 1 being the ultimate and number 8 being the most basic) still followed today:
  1. Seeing to a person’s independence by providing a person with a job, entering into a partnership that allows the person to establish a business, giving an interest-free loan, giving a grant.
  2. Giving tzedakah anonymously through a reputable third party and without knowing who will receive the aid.
  3. Displaying anonymously to a known recipient.
  4. Showing publically to an unknown recipient.
  5. Offering without being asked.
  6. Allowing generously after being asked.
  7. Awarding gladly but not generously.
  8. Giving grudgingly.

The highest form of charity is when you prevent others from ever becoming poor, such as by offering a loan or employment or investing in someone’s business.

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Tzedakah

GROWING YOUR PROPHETIC GIFT

In every area of life, feedback from others is fundamentally needed to help us grow and develop our gifts and skills. There is a saying that goes, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions!” This is also true concerning our spiritual gifts of prophecy and discernment. At the end of the day, if we don’t know how to improve and sharpen our spiritual gifts — and the manner in which we use them — we will not reach our truest potential. It’s not that we are the source of these gifts, but it is that we’re the stewards of these gifts that we seek to grow them.

It’s not that we are the source of these gifts, but it is that we’re the stewards of these gifts that we seek to grow them.

Feedback is important because when we recognize and acknowledge our blind spots, we are able to address them. We can never identify our own blind spots. Moreover, we also learn from the wisdom of others who are already ahead of us on the journey. Our ability to communicate clearly to others what God has spoken to us is sharpened when we receive feedback from elder prophets. Moreover, Godly feedback provides confirmation of our prophetic insight, which benefits us and those to whom we are ministering.

Through feedback, we can assess the degree to which the ministry is helpful. You can also ensure that there is no gap — or misunderstanding — between what you have heard from God (regarding His heart and purposes for a person or for a situation), and what the person has actually received and understood through your prophetic word.

Ministry feedback can come from the following people:

  • A person you share a prophetic insight with;
  • A leader, pastor, or spiritual overseer in the situation you are ministering in;
  • A mentor or fellow team member.

What are the benefits of ministry feedback you’ve personally experienced and how did it help you grow?

Do you have fears or anxieties with regards to receiving feedback or constructive criticism from prophetic leaders, senior pastors, or fellow prophets? What are they?

 

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Saved by Grace

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

We humans are in need of saving. We need to be saved from the darkness of this world and the world of sin that we were born into. This is why Jesus came down on earth to become the perfect example, to teach and guide those who are lost. We all know how the story goes from there, He becomes crucified and dies to save us from sin. The work of Jesus has been done.

Religious organizations still feel however, that we still need to do so many things to go to heaven. They make up traditions and rituals to make them feel like they’re doing good and that they are finding favor in God’s eyes. What they don’t know is that they cannot attain grace on their own. The Master Prophet and his school of prophets declare this message to the world and help those who are in need of prophetic guidance.

Prophecy will teach you that God has given you the gift of grace and what you can do in order to make the most out of this gift. Not only will you be able to deepen your relationship with God, but HE will also show you your undiscovered talents and skills that you can utilize in order to have a prosperous life!

Are you ready to truly know more about the Kingdom of God? Stop whatever you are doing and get your free written prophecy today. Learn more about grace and how you can receive abundant blessings in your life.

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