What Is Spiritual Formation and How Do I Practice It?

My desire from the beginning of the year has been to explore the disciplines. I introduced the plan of a series with a post on the What and Why of Spiritual Disciplines. Then my sister, Kandy Chimento followed up with a post on the ‘How’ using the Bonsia tree as an illustration.

About that time, my family received a surprise announcement that we had two months to move out of our home. And the disciplines were set on the back burner. I continued reading, all the while these things have been simmering in my mind. Now that life returns to “normal”, I am ready to jump into writing.

I shared my plans with Patty Scott and she offered to write an introductory post to get us going again. So here we go…

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

 Spiritual Formation

by Patty H Scott 

spiritual formations
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I came back to my walk with Jesus in my early 20s after having wandered away during some very painful and trying experiences in adolescence. I hadn’t planned to return to Christianity, but Jesus, relentless in His love for me, made an unexpected way. Then I found myself in a small group with a bunch of relative strangers after a friend had invited me to her church. The leader of this small group was immersed in Spiritual Formation as he attended Talbot School of Theology. He invited me to attend lectures at Biola (the University that houses Talbot). And that is where my foundation in Spiritual Formation began. 

At that time, I had some distorted ideas about God. My faith had started in childhood. And had been strengthened through the influence of some families around me in my elementary and high school years. I had voluntarily read through the Bible five times. So I was well aware of the stories and many of the principles of our faith. While I had some meaningful personal experiences with God, much of my approach to my relationship with Him felt distant. I viewed God as being a lot like other authority figures in my life who were perfectionistic, demanding, and critical. Even though my head knew God was loving, I held doubts and hidden beliefs about His love and true forgiveness of me.  

though my head knew God was loving, I held doubts… #spiritualformation #thedisciplines Click To Tweet

Finding a Mentor

It was at this time in my walk with Jesus that I met Dallas Willard. Much like another famous Christian philosopher, C. S. Lewis, Dallas had a way of bringing Jesus into every situation. And reflecting the depth of his own walk with such thoughtfulness and intelligence. He was the man who introduced me to the Spiritual Disciplines. He also introduced me to my mentor who became like a mother in the faith to me.  

Dallas taught that Spiritual Formation is the process of being formed in our spirit. This is the purpose of God. He made each of us unique. And He never intends to delete or override the special qualities He so carefully wove into each one of our personalities. He does, however, want to form us to be increasingly like Christ.

Just as a concrete worker sets out a mold before he pours the liquid into it, God has a mold for us to be conformed into – and that mold is Christlikeness. While we will maintain our own individuality, we also will become more and more like Jesus. As we practice the disciplines, we deepen our trust-follow relationship with God.  

What are Spiritual Disciplines?

The Spiritual Disciplines are instrumental in this process. We often think of a few basic and common practices as we go about practicing our faith. It is usual to talk about quiet time, reading the Word, prayer, and fellowship. Those are all wonderful things we can do to deepen our faith and help us grow. What I want us to really look at here is how we sometimes misuse those practices. Then I want us to see how we can best apply Spiritual Disciplines to help achieve God’s aims…

  • to make us more like Jesus,
  • and to draw us into greater intimacy with the Triune God.  

Being a “Good Christian”

As I said, my view of God when I returned to the faith was tainted with my misperceptions of His character. When I sat in quiet time, for example, I felt this pressing need to 

being a good christan; spiritual formation
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  • use the “best” books,
  • do the most I could,
  • and show up daily for a specific period of time.

The time I set apart to be with God looked more like someone doing homework for a course than someone spending quality time with a good friend. I checked off the boxes, made sure I did things “right,”. And yet, I missed some of the benefits of sitting with God in His Word and prayer. I was doing it all to earn something from Him. I figured I was not worthy of His love. Therefore, I was going to work and work (serving in church, doing all the requirements of the faith) and show Him He hadn’t made a mistake in offering me His love.  

What the Disciplines Do For Us Spiritually

Dallas said something that turned my life around.

“Faith isn’t opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.” #spiritualdisciplines #spiritualformation Click To Tweet

Here I was trying to build my spiritual resume when God already accepted and loved me fully. I knew that in my head. It took a while for it to settle in the places that really mattered.

Over time my practice of the disciplines took a different approach. One teacher at Biola said,

“It’s not so much the form that matters as the function.”

He went on to say that some of us aren’t morning people. If we are forcing ourselves to have quiet time in the morning because we believe that is what “good Christians” do, but we are half awake and unable to focus, we have put the form (making sure quiet time is in the morning), ahead of the function (the purpose of quiet time is to draw us near to God and let Him reach into our lives and hearts to help us grow).  

There are Varied Spiritual Disciplines

Over the years I have learned how many varied Spiritual Disciplines exist. For example, when I have been on Facebook and Instagram too much and those social media sites are starting to have a pull on me, I can fast from them for a while and my self-control is restored, as well as my sense of what matters most. Fasting is a great discipline to teach us how to be sweet when we aren’t getting our way. It also teaches us to say no to our urges and wait patiently.  

Dallas often “prescribed” various disciplines as each one might suit a specific area of growth for an individual in a given season. If you are feeling prideful and constantly having to make your point, you can practice the discipline of NOT having the last word. While you may not find that particular practice in the Bible, it is a helpful thing to undertake with the Holy Spirit.

As we seek Him to show us areas where He wants us to grow, He will provide the means towards that growth. In any Spiritual Discipline, we do the thing we can do (abstaining from Facebook, for example) so that God can do in us what we couldn’t do before (cultivate self-control).  

AS we seek Him, He provides the means toward that growth. #spiritualformation #spiritualdisciplines Click To Tweet

Is Your Heart in the Right Place?

The most important aspect of Spiritual Formation through the use of the Disciplines is that our heart is in the right place. As we look at the Pharisees, we see that Jesus acknowledged…

  • their prayer life,
  • their careful tithing, 
  • and their adherence to all sorts of religious practices.

Yet, their hearts were far from God.

We need to approach all Spiritual Formation knowing that we are already fully loved as is, wanted by God, and included in His eternal life. There is nothing to be earned. We are invited into eternal abundance and internal growth as we engage in practices such as…

  • scripture memory,
  • solitude,
  • silence,
  • prayer,
  • meditation upon God’s Word and character,
  • worship with music,
  • or any other number of exercises.

I hope you can pick one or two practices and enter them with the sole purpose of drawing near to the God who formed you, loves you, and longs to help you grow to be more and more like Jesus.  

Patty H Scott

It’s Your Turn…

legacy link-ups

It’s legacy Link-up time. What spiritual discipline are you working on? Share a post about your own spiritual formation or a book review of the book that is helping you grow.

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holy attitudes

Holy Attitudes for Living the Blessed Christian Life

BLESSED

Matthew 5:3-12


When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, he launched into the longest sermon ever recorded. At the beginning of that sermon are what we know as The Beatitudes. My husband recently preached a sermon from Matthew 5:3-12, and he stated,

The Beatitudes are “holy attitudes for living the Christian life.” 

Rev. Skip Atchison
The Beatitudes are "holy attitudes for living the Christian life."  #thebeatitudes #attitudes #holiness Click To Tweet


v. 3:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Poor in spirit: humble. A servant knows that they are reliant on God. The desire to serve God by serving others comes from the love that God pours into our hearts. The more we allow, the more he bestows!

v. 4: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

We tend to link this verse with earthly sorrow and mourning for a loved one who has died. But consider the sorrow that comes because of separation from God because of our sin? Sorrow for our sin brings us into the comforting arms of Jesus.

v.5: Blessed are the meed, for they shall inherit the earth.

Jesus was meek, but not weak. Meekness is not spinelessness. It’s humility. Meekness is knowing that you need God.

v. 6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

How intense is our hunger and thirst for God? How much do we desire to be more like Jesus, to have more and more of His love filling us? Until we know that what we are seeking is God himself, we will not be satisfied.

v. 7: Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.   

 Where would we be without God’s love, mercy and grace? Where would we be? When Jesus taught what we know as “The Golden Rule, (love your neighbor as yourself), He was teaching simple mercy. 

v. 8: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.     

A pure heart is an unselfish heart, a heart with pure motives, a heart like Christ. The more we can truly be like Christ, the more likely we are to bring others to Him.

v. 9: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.   

The only way to truly have peace is through Christ. Even when we get that peace, Satan will try to steal it or disturb it. We should seek peace in Jesus, and we should let Him be our peace.

v. 10: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

v. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.     

We read, hear and see stories of Christians persecuted for their faith. These persecutions range from “no public prayer” to execution for your faith (depending on where you are in the world.) We must stay strong in our faith. Jesus told His disciples that this would happen, and sure enough, it does!

But Jesus also said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) 

v. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.     

Being persecuted for our faith is nothing new. It has happened since the old testament prophets were proclaiming their faith in God. 


Finally, Our hope is in Christ.

My point in all of this is a simple one:


BLESSED.

If we live according to God’s Holy Word,

… follow the teachings of Christ,

… accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior,

then WE ARE BLESSED.

 No matter what each day of life brings,

  • joy or sorrow,
  • good or bad,
  • in abundance or in want,

we are so blessed because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Count your blessings, and have a great day!

Glenae Atchison

legacy link-ups

It’s Your Turn!

Add a link to your post about Leaving a Legacy. We’re looking forward to reading it.

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Multi blossom Tree

Grafted Into God’s Family and Producing Fruit

How Does Grafting Relate to the Family of God?

Most of my adult life, I have ministered to children. I love to creatively find ways to get the children to interact with older adults in our church. So when I saw a chance to have a local farmer from our congregation come share with the children, I jumped at it. He came and showed the children how to graft apple trees. Then he related that to being grafted into God’s family.

I don’t know if the children learned anything from it but it excited me to see just how it correlates to salvation.

Start with the roots

A sprout from the stump of Jesseom  Image Credit: Brita Seifert at Pixabay
Image Credit: Brita Seifert at Pixabay

A Branch from David’s Line
11 Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
    yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.

Isaiah 11:1

God promised long ago that a shoot would grow up out of the stump of Jesse. Wow! a stump. When I think of a stump I think of a tree that has been cut down or has fallen down. The possibility of new growth seems unachievable. But hidden underground is an elaborate root system that is still alive and strong… The perfect place for a sprout.

The root system of the stump of Jesse has many branches. All the patriarchs of the Old Testament each grew a root deep. These roots would be the source of power and strength for all Christians coming afterward. Jesus was that shoot that grew into a New Branch from the old root. Then each of us, through salvation, are also grafted into the same root system.

We Can All Be Grafted In

17 But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. 

Romans 11:17
Stages of grafting
Photo credit: Fruit Mentor

What is Grafting? And Why Is It Done?

Grafted in to One Family


Definition – What does Grafting mean?
Grafting is the process of joining two plants together (an upper portion and a lower portion) to grow as one. The upper portion of the plant is known as the scion, which is attached to the lower portion known as the rootstock.

https://www.maximumyield.com/definition/58/grafting

Two Become One

“Joining two plants together to grow as one” – We need the Family of God growing together in unity as one church in order to grow strong. We feed on one another and the older stronger roots nourish the younger, weaker sprouts. (See John 17:23)

Grafted in Produces His Image

Bolded words are my emphasis.

This is most often done for fruit trees, and virtually all trees in orchards are grafted. Grafting in the orchard is done because the seeds of a fruit tree cannot reproduce true to their genetics. Therefore, the branch of a desirable tree is grafted to a suitable rootstock.

https://www.maximumyield.com/definition/58/grafting

We are all made in the image of God, but ever since the fall of man, we cannot produce our true genetics on our own (the fruits of the Spirit). Grafting into God’s Family provides nourishment from the body of Christ. Then the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of God. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Take note here that a graft may be ugly at first but the results will be quite wonderful.

Grafted In Does Not Take Away Our Identity

Multiple varieties can be grafted to the same rootstock to produce a novelty tree that will produce several different fruits on the same tree. Most roses are also a product of grafting to a different rootstock.

https://www.maximumyield.com/definition/58/grafting

Isn’t that marvelous? It still produces its own variety of fruit. We don’t lose our identity when we give our lives to God. We just get our source of strength from Him. Our strengths and abilities remain and we add to the beauty of the family tree and the root adds to our strength. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

Sam Van Aken's grafted fruit trees are still quite young, but this artist rendering shows what he expects the "Tree of 40 Fruit" to look like in springtime in a few years.
Courtesy of Sam Van Aken
Sam Van Aken’s grafted fruit trees are still quite young, but this artist rendering shows what he expects the “Tree of 40 Fruit” to look like in springtime in a few years.
Courtesy of Sam Van Aken

Grafting in Takes Time and Patience

When grafting a plant one must take care to do it properly.

  • Cutting the root
  • Carefully placing the scion (twig).
  • Binding the graft with rubber bands, graft clips, tie tape, and plastic.
  • Then we wait 30 days or more. Some grafts take a year or more before they begin to produce fruit.

I found it interesting that the graft must remain tightly bound for a while until the graft is successful. The graft must grow with the root to become one with it. (Ephesians 3:14-19) (This reminds me of raising our children. We must apply stiff rules until the child matures.

How often do we throw new Christians right into ministry before allowing them to grow in faith? Other times we just praise the Lord but never disciple them at all. Then we wonder why they fell away from their faith or why we don’t see transformed lives. We need to take care to place new Christians where they will receive the most needed nourishment. It takes time to realize new growth and productibility.

We must take care to nourish new Christians before expecting new fruit to begin to bud in their lives. Click To Tweet
graft by Abeidomi at Pixabay
Photo credit: Abeidomi at Pixabay

Grafting is Use to Repair Damaged Plants

Repair damaged plants. Large trees or specimen plants can be damaged easily at or slightly above the soil line. The damage may be caused by maintenance equipment (such as lawnmowers, trenchers, or construction equipment), or by disease, rodents, or winter storms. The damage can often be repaired by planting several seedlings of the same species around the injured tree and grafting them above the injury. This procedure is referred to as inarching, approach grafting, or bridge grafting.

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/grafting-and-budding-nursery-crop-plants

Storms of life can damage Christians severely. At these times, a strong community of Christians should nurture them back to health; pulling them in close and away for the storms so they have time to heal. How often do we expect one (even ourselves) to keep keeping on when we should pull in and just let God and His family love us back to health.

We have the wrong idea if we believe Christians are like the Energizer bunny. Ca we keep going and going and going? No! We need refueling. We need time for repairs and definitely rest.

Grafting Causes Faster Growth

Increase the growth rate of seedlings. The seedling progeny of many fruit and nut breeding programs, if left to develop naturally, may require 8 to 12 years to become fruitful. However, if these progeny are grafted onto established plants, the time required for them to flower and fruit is reduced dramatically. Another way to increase the growth rate of seedlings is to graft more than one seedling onto a mature plant. Using this procedure as a breeding tool saves time, space, and money.

What? A fruit tree on it’s own may take up to 12 years to begin to produce. But if grafted into another older tree it will mature much faster.

Ok, then. Let’s talk fellowship with other believers. It’s true: We can grow on our own just reading the Bible and praying, but fellowship with other Christians helps us grow faster. It’s why James encourages us to “not stop meeting together.”

Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:25-27 Common English Bible (CEB)

Grafting in is Highly Important For Our Faith

In Conclusion, we all need to work together grafting new stems into the family of God: Bringing in new believers, watching for believers who have been hurt or been through a storm.

Let’s Review

  • Grafting makes us all one in Christ.
  • It transforms us into His Image.
  • We don’t lose our identity, but rather, grafting strengthens it.
  • Grafting heals our wounds and diseases.
  • Our wounds and diseases are healed.
  • We grow faster!
6 reasons we must be grafted into God's Family. #christians #familyofGod Click To Tweet
Legacy Linkup Blended Families and God Stories
Click Now – Legacy Link-up for Blended Families & God Stories

Are you “grafted in” to God’s family? If not, you can begin the process by knowing Christ.

Mandy Farmer
book Review Lunch with lewis

If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis

If you could go back in time and talk with anyone, with whom would you talk? #cslewis #lunchwithlewis #bookreview Click To Tweet

My first desire would be to talk with one of my grandparents. I would love to sit on the porch swing one more time with my grandmother and, this time, talk about things that matter. I would ask her about the day she got saved. Perhaps I would ask her more questions about her life and my parent’s lives. Then definitely, I would be sure to ask for a few recipes.

If I were to choose someone outside of my family, C.S. Lewis would rise to the top of my list. I would want to dig deep into his brain and understand life better. I stumbled upon a book recently that caught my interest, If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life, by Alister McGrath.


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A Great Conversationalist

book review CSLewis
Book review #CSLewis #bookReview

What we may already know about him is confirmed on the jacket of this book. A few lunches with Lewis would be interesting in the least… possibly eye-opening and heart-revealing.

… his mind traveled through a wide and varied terrain: from atheism of his early life to his conversion later in life; from his rational skepticism to his appreciation of value of human desires and imagination; from his role as a Christian apologist during World War II to his growth as a celebrated author of classic children’s literature.

If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis by Allister McGrath

Who is Allister McGrath

McGrath like Lewis started out as an atheist. He wanted to go to college to study science and prove that God did not exist. He kept being pulled back to reading Lewis’ works until, he too, could resist Christianity no longer. Before he knew it he had become quite a student of Lewis to the point of writing on him in several articles, books and even a biography of Lewis.

He states in this book (Lunch with Lewis) that he likely wouldn’t want to ask questions as much as he would just like to thank him for his guidance all along the way.

A Synopsys of Lewis’ Books

This book discusses many of the writings of Lewis in the form of answering questions posed. To this point, I had only read The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and Surprised by Joy. “Lunch with Lewis” gave me a great amount of information and interest in several other books. I found myself often making a note “to read this book”. Indeed, I recall reading Mere Christianity and wondering to myself why I had waited so long to read it. Before I finished it, I was saying, “I must read this book again.”

"Lunch with Lewis" prompted me to read more of C.S. Lewis. #bookreview Click To Tweet

Questions Discussed in “Lunch with Lewis”

McGrath developed 8 different “lunches” with C.S. Lewis where he discusses different topics. Using the works of Lewis, McGrath shares what he believes Lewis would say to us about these topics.

on Friendship

Right off the bat, McGrath finds Lewis asking us more questions than we are asking him. But these questions are somewhat rhetorical, that is, they make us step back and think.

How are my friends influencing me? What task lies ahead of me that demands a community of support? How can I support my friends? Am I spending enough time and energy cultivating real friendships? And is friendship an end or a means—something good in itself or a good to be consumed?

page 52

Our Part in the Stories of Narnia

As you might expect, it takes more than one “lunch” to discuss Narnia. McGrath suggests that before we are even able to ask our questions about Narnia, Lewis would ask us, “Where do we fit in these stories?”, and leaving us with this thought…

The story we believe we are in determines what we think about ourselves and consequently how we live. For Lewis, Christianity doesn’t just make sense of things. It changes our stories. It invites us to enter into, and be part of, a new story.

Page: 78

Lewis as an Apologist

And what of finding the truth in Christianity? Many would say that C.S. Lewis was instrumental in bringing them to their faith. Lewis, also, credits other apologists for pointing the way for him. And so, Lewis challenges us to be apologists as well, so that, others may come to know God. We must find ways in our own era/culture that will connect with people in order to pass the faith along.

Christians can’t just tell one another that their faith makes sense. They’ve got to get that message over to their culture at large.

Page: 125

Other Topics Covered

And there’s more. More “lunches with Lewis” that I will leave for you to discover. To whet your appetite, let me just mention the topics of education, suffering, and the afterlife. All of these have excellent discussions you won’t want to miss.

What of Our Own Legacy?

This book is more than just “cliff notes” on a book. Lewis, through McGrath, challenges us to think and re-think your faith. More than just your faith, you will begin to consider…

  • What difference are you making in the lives of others?
  • What memories are you leaving behind?
  • Has our influence changed lives?

Remembered by God

Yet Lewis himself might helpfully remind us at this point that the most important thing is that each of us, whether remembered by others or not, is remembered by God. And that’s what really matters. Human history may forget about us, as it has forgotten so many. But our names are engraved on God’s hands, and written in the Book of Life—a fitting, even inspiring, thought with which to end our series of lunches with Lewis.

Page: 208

I suggest that you go find a few C.S. Lewis books and read them. If you don’t know where to start, start with “Lunch with Lewis“. Perhaps it will guide you to where you want to begin.

Reading to Strengthen What I Believe;

Mandy Farmer

I purchased this book and I am giving my own honest review on my own accord. *****

Written as part of our Summer of Legacies Series






church attendance

How to Improve Your Church Attendance Experience

“…not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”


Hebrews 10:25

Our world is seemingly becoming less concerned with God and more concerned with self. Society preaches being happy at all costs; putting our happiness above all else. When a weekly commitment that Christians are encouraged in the Bible to keep becomes a challenge to us because we do not feel like it, then it may be the time to remind ourselves that church is not really about us…it’s about God. Allow me to expand.


Of course, we receive amazing benefits from going to meeting Together (attending church),

But sometimes we need that powerful reminder that what tops the “Why Should We Go to Church?” list is the fact that the church/meeting together offers us an opportunity to give to God.

I can’t help but think that God is pleased when we give Him our best worship as we stand alongside our church family. #churchattendance Click To Tweet
attendance
free image pixabay.com modified by Mandy

Encountering the Irritating

Yet, in that church family, we will likely encounter people who irritate us from time to time. There comes a time to decide that pleasing God is more important than trying to avoid being offended by someone’s conduct, lifestyle, or personality. (Remember, there are others who put up with us on those occasions when we might be the ones irritating them!)

My Sunday School teacher, whom I happen to be married to, has said, “If you feel that church is missing something, maybe you are supposed to bring it.” In other words, instead of lamenting the lack of energy, excitement, or enthusiasm, perhaps we are being called to prayerfully initiate it. Instead of considering leaving a church because it doesn’t fulfill our needs, perhaps God is prodding us to stay and be a prayerful part of the solution. Instead of wishing people would change, perhaps God is teaching us to prayerfully change our attitude toward them.

If you feel that church is missing something, maybe you are supposed to bring it. #churchattendance Click To Tweet

Think of the possibilities

If our church is a Gospel-preaching, community-reaching, Bible-believing, Holy Spirit-receiving church, but there are some other aspects that we see as negative, just think what our positive, prayerful approach could possibly accomplish!

Lord, help me become excited about the wonderful opportunity of regularly attending church and being part of a church family. Help me to see and be thankful for the blessings I receive when I go to church, but to be even more concerned about the blessing I can be to others in my church family, as I put the focus on You and Your love. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

See you in Church!

Gwen

make disciples

The Great Commission ~ Who Me? Make Disciples?

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20


As I read The Great Commission passage again, two things that had never caught my attention popped out at me.

First, “they went to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.”

Second, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” 

First, they obeyed. But second, some doubted.

When we consider The Great Commission, we are sometimes intimidated by the “meat” of the passage. By the “meat,” I mean the command to “go and make disciples of ALL nations…”   When reading that and truly considering what Jesus asks of us, our initial thought may be,

“What?! Go EVERYWHERE and make disciples?! I am NOT a preacher!”

Who Me? Make Disciples? That's what the Great Commission says.

Well, that is true. And, that is also false. Most of us are not preachers by profession, but our lives either preach the word, or they don’t. 
You see, Satan will plant doubt (as he did for a few of those disciples) in us to keep us from living for Christ, and to keep us from making disciples for Christ. Even in our obedience, the devil will try his best to create doubt and reluctance. We must not let that happen!


At the end of this passage, we find all the strength we need to fulfill that Great Commission. “And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Jesus is right there with us, wherever we go, whoever we meet, whatever He gives us to say or do. We must claim that, and cling to Him if we are to fulfill this Great Commission that He gave to those disciples long ago, and to us today.

Do not delay.

Go. Make disciples.

Remember, Jesus is with us every step of the way!

Glenae

P.S. Discipling Teenage Girls

Mandy’s sister, Kandy Chimento created a discipleship program for her youth when her husband was a youth pastor. She wrote about it here.

Titus 2 Women

The Bible admonishes us to come alongside the women younger than us. Most of them are looking for someone to lead them. Why not you? Also, check out Mandy’s review of Nancy DeMoss Wolgmuth’s book, Adorned, Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together


or Sue McDonald’s book Table Mentoring, a Simple Guide for Coming Alongside. Mandy’s review is here.


keeping the faith

4 Building Blocks to Growing Our Faith


I Praise God for His Salvation

I thank Him daily for loving us (me) so much that He sent His Son to earth to live a perfect life, to suffer the cruel death on a crimnal’s cross, but then rise again just to save us all from our sins. Praise His beautiful name! [Read my testimony of faith on my memoirs blog.] But I want to know Him more. I want to grow closer and closer to Him.

Salvation Goes Beyond the Altar

But it doesn’t stop there. Our salvation goes beyond the day that you kneel at an altar and confess your sins to God.

Yes, I believe that we are saved by grace, it is not of works lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8). Yes, I believe that we are made into a new creation. The old is gone and the new is here! 2 Corinthians Praise the Lord!

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We are Called to Grow in Grace

But we are also called to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18). If we gave birth to a baby and that child remained a baby forever, we would be saddened. It would break our hearts if the child never learned to walk and talk and live a productive life. Yes, we would still love him but we would desire so much more for him.

The very next verse in Ephesians 2 says,
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Salvation Leads Us into Service

So our salvation should lead us into service for God .. living a life that glorifies Him and leads others to Him. ie. growing in grace

2 Peter 3 says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “

And the Apostle Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4:1-6 (AMP),
So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation]— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.


Live a Life Worthy of the Call

So, I too, encourage you to live the life worthy of His calling. We need to work to live holy lives to the glory and honor of God and also, to be a light in the darkness so that others can find the way to Christ.

Photo credit: free at Canva.com; Modified by Mandy

In order to “leave a legacy” for our children and those around us we must first grow ourselves. And how to do we grow? First, we study the Bible. We fill our minds and saturate our lives with His Word.


All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Growth through Bible Reading

Bible reading and study teach us how to live for Him. It corrects us when we are wrong, encourages our faith and keeps us on the narrow way. And because we need this encouragement in a moments notice, we should memorize the scriptures. King David said, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”-Psalm 119:15. If David needed it, so do we.

If King David Needed it, so do we! Click To Tweet

Growth Thru Prayer

Secondly, we must communicate with God. Yes, pray to God and practice His presence every day. Communicating with God includes worship and adoration, repenting of sin, interceding for others, and yes even petition for our needs.

Growth Through Fellowship

Thirdly, we need fellowship with other believers. We are not an island. Without faith and encouragement of others, we would fall too easily. Solomon declared that “two are better than one because if one falls the other can help him up. Three are even better! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) God promises that whenever we gather together even in a group of 2 or 3, that He will be in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20) Realistically, we need each other so don’t neglect the meeting together of believers.

Growth Through Sharing

And finally, we need to share the Gospel. We are not blessed with salvation so that we can keep it to ourselves. We are commanded to “go and make disciples of all nations”. Even without this command from Jesus, sharing our faith helps us (Matthew 28:19) stronger in it. It confirms in us our belief in Christ.

Let’s do this, friends!

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more thoughts on these four growth factors. I have searched out some fellow bloggers who can so eloquently speak on these things and I have asked them to write encouragement to us to help us grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Join me here on the blog every Monday to be instructed and encouraged. Have you subscribed to receive our updates? You can do so just below in the blue bar. Just add your email address and click submit!

Growing in Grace;

Mandy Farmer

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