Tag Archives: discipleship

Breaking Camp to Follow Jesus


scan0027The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.  Break Camp and advance into the hill country . . . go to all the neighboring peoples . . . ‘

–from Deut. 1:6-7 (NIV)

God’s people had camped with Him at the mountain where the law was given. This is also where Elijah came in a time of particular discouragement and depression.  Desert mountain symbolized to early Christians a place of bondage to law and slavery (Gal. 4:24ff).  At last, God would take them into the rich, green land He had promised them, the “hill country” of freedom and abundance.  They would be a people, holy unto Him, a light to the peoples around them.  Israel was a testimony to the One true God. They were waiting for a word from Him.  They wanted guidance.  They anticipated that God would answer them, but they needed to hear His command—GO—advance.

Like them, a second time in Israel’s history, God’s people waited to hear from Him.  Four hundred years of silence finally broke as Messiah Jesus came into the world.  At the right time, He appeared publicly to Israel and said to those who would follow Him, “Go into all the world.”(Matt. 28:18-20).  This was God coming to His people to heal, deliver, forgive, restore for a reason . . . so that they could break camp and “GO.”  These new followers of Messiah would be a holy people, washed clean, created to be a light on a hill, a pure people for fellowship with God and for reconciling the nations and multitudes to God.

God has been preparing a people here at New Life for the past seven years.  Noteworthy that the number seven is the number of completion, the biblical number of perfection.  Not that we are perfect in and of ourselves, but we have a God who is at work in our midst and He is perfecting us to be a holy people to be used of Him to minister to “all the neighboring peoples” (Titus 2:11-14).

God’s heart for us is to forget the past and move confidently ahead with Him.  Some of us have been hurt or wounded in the process of becoming a people and tracking with the Lord into house-church, but now it is time to be healed and set our hearts on advancing with our Savior.  For He has called us to “Follow” that He might make us fishers of men and women, boys and girls who need a Savior.

God is calling us to a deeper love, to bear with one another in love, to move on from here and to “break camp.” Now, in His Spirit and grace, He commands us to GO.  Go to all the peoples in this region who need Him.  Go to those who need freedom and salvation.  “Forget the former things.”  He is doing a NEW WORK.  Do you perceive it?

We are breaking camp.  We have pulled up stakes and are following our God. Don’t be left behind. He has important life-saving work for you to join Him in. But it’s in hill country of relationship, not the desert of religion.

Are you Led or Pushed?


What a great day! What a beautiful morning. I slept until 9:15. Got up. Showered and shaved. Groomed my beard and hair. And dressed. Then went into the Cave and began a Custom Scan of my Cave computer. After that, I carried the laundry down for Marcy, greeted the ladies in my household, and went to my office downstairs. I made some coffee (haven’t had any yet, turned on the computer, scanned through my emails and answered a couple, then set up for my morning of writing to follow my first cup of coffee and prayer. So far . . . A wonderful, and joyful start to the day.

2013-02-27 10.36.40I love spending quiet, alone time with my Father. That comes with my first cup of coffee. I have a little sitting area, where I light my candle (inviting the Holy Spirit to make me aware of his presence and considering the flame as the ever burning love between me and Jesus). Then I sit with him in quiet for a season, mainly to still my mind. Sometimes I read a text of Scripture with that theme of quieting myself and being still before Him.

Once I’m quieted in his love and presence, I become spiritually Alert, sensitive, listening, waiting. I usually have a devotional reading and a book that I will go to if I don’t feel too much push toward it. I say “Push” because I’m always alert to anything that feels like a “push” to have to accomplish something. That is usually a sign that something in me is opposing the quiet and leading of the Spirit.

The Lord never pushes me . . . He LEADS me. He is in front, not behind. Sometimes he’s along side. But He has NEVER pushed me. He Draws. He leads. He sends. He walks beside. He walks ahead. He abides in one place with me. But He never rides me nor leads from behind.

That is one of the ways I recognize the voice of my Shepherd. “My sheep know my voice . . . And they will not FOLLOW another,”  Jesus said in John 10. Are you one of his sheep? If you have been drawn by him and if you have the high privilege of being one of his sheep, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, then you have something to look forward to. And you will find Him when you search for Him with all your heart. You will find it when you are willing to give everything for the remarkable, wonderful joy of knowing Him–the Shepherd of your soul–Jesus of Nazareth . . . Risen from the dead. Alive and looking for you.

So I guess my day is going to be another adventure. Whether good things or bad things happen (for there is no guarantee that we will not suffer) He is with me and I am with Him. My day is in his hands. And as he takes my hand with his, He will lead me through whatever lies ahead. All in all . . . I’d say that’s a great day!

©2013, David C Alves

When Will the End Come?


The End of all things is at hand!

Try a little experiment here. Before reading this post, ask the Holy Spirit to take the veil off your heart and mind. Ask him to grant you revelation or illumination, that you might be able to see spiritual truth through spiritual eyes. Why is this important? Because according to the following Scripture text, unless God gives you his Spirit while you read, you will not understand. The result will be that you will consider all that follows “foolishness.” On the other hand, if God grants you the grace to read with understanding, it could transform your entire life in a moment of time:

1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

 We are drawing closer to the end than most people imagine. God is reaching out to those who will humble themselves to seek him with a genuine heart. He is hardening those whose hearts and consciences are cold and seared.

Matthew 24:3–14 (ESV)*

Signs of the End of the Age

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Think about this. God gives EVERYONE an invitation and opportunity to receive and accept the “Good News.” If Jesus is not more important to you than this world system, if he is not at the center of your life, if you are not “born-from-above,” (John 3) then Jesus will deny you before His Father in heaven. You will lose not only your life, but will forfeit your eternal destiny in his Kingdom. What in you would want to embrace an empty future instead of the future you could have as a beloved son or daughter of the Father?

It’s time to wake up from the Matrix.

Matthew 10:32–39 (ESV)

32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Intensity of relationship here is what Jesus is referring to. Having a nominal I-go-to-church mentality is a denial of Christ. When the hard times come, you will fall away if you are not a diligent follower of Jesus BEFORE hard times come. Those whom He will “acknowledge” before his Father are those who seriously love and follow Him . . . today. Once he re-invades his realm to set up his government, it will be too late to declare your loyalty. He given everyone an opportunity to recognize his reign on this side of His second coming. He is right at the door and is sending people to warn and call you.

Be careful before you reject someone who tries to reach out to you in the name of the Lord. Seek to understand that the reason the person is reaching out to you is because someone reached out to him or her, or because that person knows and loves you. God’s desire is for you to know him. Those who are his love what he loves and care about the people and values HE cares about.

The spiritual veil that covers our eyes can only be removed by the grace of Christ through someone who cares enough to bring the truth of the Good News, despite what it may cost them. Receive that person as an honored envoy of the “King of Kings.” In the following text, the King—Jesus—speaks to the crowd:

Matthew 10:40–42 (ESV)

Rewards

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

If you treat God’s royal envoy with honor and dignity, rather than disdain, then Christ guarantees your reward. Even if you give someone who comes in the name of the Lord a drink of water–because he or she represents Jesus–you will not lose your reward. How much greater reward if you give Jesus your heart and life.

If you have not chosen to follow with all your heart yet, I implore you to invite him to be your King today.

QUESTION: Are you prepared for the end? Are you Christ’s disciple or the world’s?

©2012, David C Alves

*All Scripture unless otherwise stated is from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible published by Crossway.

What if You’re Not Who You Think You Are?


Ever wonder why the western church lacks such power and presence? Ever wonder why your life seems to be missing something that would take you over the top in your spiritual growth? Do you want to be more like Jesus?

This word is to those who consider themselves disciples of Jesus Christ. This word is to those who have experienced supernatural regeneration and are “born-from-above.” This word is for those in that group who want to go deeper into the mysteries of Christ.

This word is for those who do not think that they already know all there is to know about being a child of the King. This word is for those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and want to know Him better. You’re disatisfied with the status quo. Tired of fighting the church wars. Underwhelmed by the crowds of professing believers who are more about appearances, perfomance-based-easy-believism, and simple platitudes. You are more interested in relationship than a pursuit of knowledge for knowledge-sake. You beleive the Scripture that says knowledge “puffs up” but that love “builds up.” So you want to know the deep love of Chirst and of the Father.

What if you’re not who you think you are?

What if you’re who God thinks you are? What if you’re not merely a servant of God, or a disciple, or even a friend of God. What if you’re who the Father says you are . . . a “son”?

I believe that He has illumined His intent for the church at this season of our journey? I believe that our understanding of who God says we are is an essential prerequisite to the Second Reformation–God’s recapturing of Family, of relationship in His image.

What difference would it make to KNOW that you are loved deeply and have an identity that you may have heard of, but not yet discovered in experience? What if entering into who God says you are were to transform not only your thinking but your everyday decisions and activities? What if the truth about you placed you squarely in the family that God is Father of?

I believe that the Father wants us to know this important truth:

“All who are led by the Spirit are the ‘sons of God.'” (Romans 8.14)

Are you born-from-above? Then you have “the right to become [one of the] ‘sons of God.’ (John 1.12)

Are you “led by the Spirit” of the living God? Then you are one of the “sons of God.” When’s the last time you heard a message on “sonship”? And if you did hear one (and I’d stand amazed, because in 40 years as a Christian, I’ve never heard ONE–not once) did you understand how important it is to God that you understand that identity? Why did He make sure that Scripture preserved and outlined our sonship?

This is an important word for the church today. Sonship is the key to you living into the fullness of what Jesus did in His Atonement. His sacrifice accomplished more than simply forgiving your sins so that you could fly off to heaven [which is an unbiblical image anyhow].

Your identity as one of the ‘sons of God’ is the word for His Family today.

We’re the ‘sons of God’ . . . So What?: Believe God About Who He Says You Really Are!

 

My book explains from the Word of God why the biblical doctrine of sonship is so important to God the Father, and thus needs to be important to me and you. Perhaps understanding sonship is the next step in your walk with Christ and your fellowship with the Father. I wrote this book to help those who have responsibility in spiritual formation or who are mentors. I also wrote it for anyone who is willing to go deeper. WSOGSW is not an easy read. You may find that you read some and then put it aside for awhile because you have to ponder or dig into the Word. But you receive what you’re willing to give. If you study and meditate upon these truths, you will be amazed at the result.

What others are saying:

Believe Who You Are, Do What You Must,” @ Lay It Down | Carl Simmons

Five-star Amazon Reviews by church leaders

QUESTION: How do you view yourself in light of the fact that God has made you a “son.” (yes, ladies too).

©2012, David C Alves

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Finishing Well


Reading Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:7 (ESV). Is it any wonder Timothy did well in his ministry. He had a mentor/coach/father living the life in plain sight.

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Some have said that Paul was talking and acting from pride. They must not have read or thought much about Paul, his teachings and his own testimony. He told us to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. Humility was constantly modeled and taught by Paul. No, Paul was merely stating what was true to encourage his son in Christ. He was urging Timothy to follow his “father’s” example.

As a spiritual dad and son of the Living God, I too want to finish well. I want to finish stronger than I started. And I want that for my spiritual sons–the young men I mentor/coach.

Paul used a couple of metaphors. Each brings something special to the table to be seen. He was in a habit of mixing metaphors, but not by mistake like so many of my previous students in English. He knew what he was doing and what those metaphors would evoke in the mind of his reader(s).

First he says in verse seven that he has fought the good fight. Faith can be just that too. Faith fights the deadly “D’s” of the enemy–doubt, discouragement, disappointment, depression, and darkness. Holding onto the promise can be hard–a fight. Certainly we’ve all fought doubt and discouragement. We know what it is to battle against unbelief. Unbelief plagues every promise and word of His. Paul has been there and holds up a picture for Timothy. He has fought the “good” fight. The fight is worth it. IMPLICATION: And so can you. You can and will. Paul, ever the encourager, places this encouragement before his “son.”

Second, he brings in an entirely different picture. “I have finished the race.” Interesting from two vantage points.

Paul sees our sonship as a race in that it has a starting line and a finish line, toward which we “run.” We began completely by the grace of our Father. Likewise, we have a destination. Otherwise how could he say that he “finished.” How did he know that? I think when you or I finish, we too will know. We don’t quit. We FINISH. As long as we finish well, we don’t need to finish first or even second. Even if I come in dead last (no pun intended), I want to FINISH. And from beginning to end, God’s grace and delight will carry us the distance.

Both metaphors–the fight and the race–point to activities that have an END. He says, I have fought and I have finished.

Finally he says, “I have KEPT the faith.” The word literally is “kept watch over” in the sense of a sentry on guard. Are you guarding, watching over, the Good News and your spiritual formation? Paul made sure that he held on to what was important to Father in the ministry he carried out. He was faithful, like his Master.

I love it that Paul was not asking Timothy to live something he had not lived. He was encouraging Timothy to walk like his “father.” To pass on what he had seen and heard in Paul (2 Tim. 2.2; Phil. 4.9). This is the pattern given us in Jesus (1 Jn. 2:4-6). The pattern is passed on through Paul to Timothy and all of us.

From start to finish, the fight, the race, the keeping of the treasure ALL require endurance. That is where the power and steadfastness of the Holy Spirit must be the energy at work in you to keep you going until the end. Paul desired for us to know the power and he wanted also to know the power that raised Jesus from the dead. That’s the same power that can carry you through all to finish well.

With all this in mind, we do well to invite Father’s Holy Spirit to empower us to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith until we see Jesus face to face.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this pattern in Jesus, Paul, Timothy, or YOU?

©2011, David C Alves

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