Posts Tagged ‘Disciple’


Pressures work to develop us as a Disciple of Jesus Christ. How you respond to pressure says a lot about your character, but more than anything, it allows the virtue of Jesus Christ to be your virtue. None of us is born for crisis, or pressure. None of us can naturally handle pressure. If you think you can handle pressure, then you have a wrong attitude toward discipleship. Discipleship is not about building you up so you can handle pressure; it is about humbling you into total dependence upon the one who can handle all pressures, even the ones that are most damaging to us, the Reproofs of God.

Pressure refines the Dross from our life, revealing the Gold

God always designs Pressure to produce His Righteousness in us. The key is HIS righteousness! He has placed Gold in our veins, in our Spirit, and in our Soul. Our fleshly wisdom and ideas, our wrong friends, our wrong habits, our pride, our foolishness, all get in the way of that GOLD shining! He wants us to be GOLDEN, and gold requires the refining process to reveal it. You are already GOLD if Jesus lives in you; God simply wants to reveal him. Moreover, that requires the pressure of the refiner’s fire.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Pressures Reveal our True Hope

More than anything Pressure reveals what are real hope is. And hope is the reason for faith.

JB Phillips translates Hebrews 11:1 this way: “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.”

Discipleship is all about living a life in total dependence and hope in Jesus Christ.

  • God designs pressures to test what we are hoping in.
  • God designs pressures to reveal that we are hoping in the wrong things.
Health Pressures.
  • You can place your hope and trust in Doctors, but what happens when they make a mistake, or make a wrong diagnosis.
  • You can place your hope in drugs, prescriptive or otherwise, but they can cause problems, or lead to dependence and abuse.
Financial Pressures
  • You can place your hope in the banking system-credit cards, home equity loans, line of credit, but what happens when they fail, or tighten their standards, or the home value is falling?
  • You can place your hope in friends, charity of churches or neighbors, but you can’t keep going to them for a handout.
  • You can place your hope in the Government and its “safety nets,” but what if there are cutbacks?

Relational Pressures – Job Pressures – Church Pressures …All are designed by God to reveal true hope or false hope, real faith or pretend. Most of all, Pressures are designed to Develop you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ and cause you to rely on Jesus Christ.

God’s Way is Enlargement through Pressure

Many Christians do not see God’s purpose for Pressure. Some Christians go out of their way to avoid pressure in their life. “Not good for my health, etc…”

That is not God’s Way. God uses pressure to develop us as Disciples. Psalm 25:4 “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.” Discipleship is about knowing the ways of God and allowing Him to teach you His paths for your life. We will not learn the paths for our life if we do not pay close attention to the lessons He has for us.

For example, what happened in the fiery furnace that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were forced into? Three became four. Pressure brought enlargement. Some would find a furnace too confining, so they try to escape. They do not respond to fire, pressure, and limitations. Others accept the pressure, the limitations, and by accepting, make room for a Fourth.

  • Enlargement through Pressure happens when we do not allow difficulties to shut us out from God.
  • Enlargement through pressure happens when we allow them to shut us INTO God.

Either pressure will cause you to reach God’s goal, or Pressure can put an end to your discipleship journey. When the way is too straight, the pressure too great, some escape, give up, commit suicide, while others find fullness and growth. When trials are too tough, some murmur, seeing only their limitations. Others praise God for the trials, and in so doing discover the pathways to enlargement, liberation and abundance of life. On your discipleship journey, is your spiritual vitality being enlarged or is it shrinking? How have you responded to pressures?

The Way of Man often leads to “Spittin the Dummy”

The Way of Man is Losing it – go to pieces, run away, drown your troubles, get high, get low, strike back, kick the dog, hit the wife, lash out. Australians have a saying, you are “Spittin the Dummy” — a “dummy” is Australian for a child’s pacifier. You lost your cool, you spit the pacifier out and now you are crying like a Baby.[1]

The Contrast of David and Saul

In 1 Samuel 28-31, we find both David and Saul under tremendous pressure, overwhelming pressure. One becomes enlarged; the other becomes smaller and dies. One spits the dummy, the other admits he is a dummy and turns to God. When you resist the pressure of God and try to escape in your own way or through your own means, you die spiritually. You become a disciple who “shrinks back,” who takes his hand from the plow, who looks back and turns into a pillar of salt. You become a Dummy “spittin the dummy.”

We often quote Proverbs 3:5 & 6, but we need to go on to 7 & 8.

Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Lean not on your own understanding means not being wise in your own eyes. Walking in straight paths means turning away from evil. Trusting in the Lord brings healing to this body and strength to our bones. It will enlarge our life if we acknowledge Him even in the midst of great pressure. Accepting limitations and pressures in total dependence upon God will always allow for an addition in your life.

One becomes Two. Three become Four. Pressure enlarges our Life.

David & Saul Face the Ultimate Test for a Disciple

David is Close to Losing it

God is about to force David off the fence.

1 Samuel 28:1-2 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, “Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.” David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” And Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”.

David doesn’t back down, but affirms that he is going to impress Achish as they battle David’s brother’s, the Jews. Achish is so impressed, that he makes David his personal bodyguard for life. David will be fighting right along Achish. David’s pride is dangerously close to causing a fatal error in his discipleship journey.

The Settler, the Skewer, the Stinker was about to be forced into fighting against his own people. God was about to reveal the compromising hypocrisy of a Disciple who had taken his eyes off His Promises. David is days away from facing God’s Ultimate Test for His discipleship.

When a believer compromises his walk with God, it will not only place you in harm’s way, but your pride will cause you to defend the very things that are an abomination to God. David was now defending Achish, a sworn enemy of God and His people.

King Saul is Definitely Losing it

Meanwhile, back in Israel, King Saul is getting desperate. Samuel the Prophet was dead. The Priests were all dead, killed by Doeg at Saul’s command. King Saul had tried to get direction from God, but God was ignoring him.

1 Samuel 28:3-6 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.

Saul is at the end of himself. He is so frightened that his heart is racing (the Hebrew implies). I believe he is experiencing arrhythmia:

  • Palpitations (a feeling of skipped heartbeats, fluttering or “flip-flops,” or feeling that your heart is “running away”).
  • Pounding in your chest.
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed.
  • Fainting.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest discomfort.
  • Weakness or fatigue (feeling very tired).

Was Saul fearful because of what could happen to his people, his nation? I believe the evidence suggests his fear was entirely self-centered. He feared for his life, he was not reacting as a true leader should. As with God, Saul’s focus was upon his needs and concerns, rather than God and His people.

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

1 Samuel 15:26-28 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.

Samuel made an interesting statement… Samuel told Saul that his neighbor was better than he was.

Does God play favorites??  

What makes one SINFUL MAN better than another SINFUL MAN?

Look at David. He is compromising, he has distanced himself from God, he has disobeyed God, and he has bloodied his sword with innocent blood. Why is he any better than Saul? Why should David be blessed and Saul cursed? Why should David rise to be King and Saul fall in battle?

The Ultimate Test for a Disciple is How You Respond to the Pressure of God’s Reproofs.

This is the key to intimacy with God and knowing and enjoying His Blessing. This will make you better than your neighbor who responds to pressure with a self-focused response.

Proverbs 1:22-33 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

To Reprove: To voice or convey disapproval of; rebuke

How do you handle the Pressure of Reproof?

Hebrews 12:5-7 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

King Saul Despises the Pressure of Reproof because his focus is upon himself.

No appeal to God on behalf of the Nation; No appeal to God on behalf of His Name. No appeal to God to deal with the Enemy. No appeal to God for mercy, justice or righteousness. Saul NEVER learned the ways of God. So what does self-focused Saul do?

1 Samuel 28:7-14 Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.” His advisers replied, “There is a medium at Endor.” So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men. “I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?” “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?” But Saul took an oath in the name of the LORD and promised, “As surely as the LORD lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.” Finally, the woman said, “Well, whose spirit do you want me to call up?” “Call up Samuel,” Saul replied. When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, “You’ve deceived me! You are Saul!” “Don’t be afraid!” the king told her. “What do you see?” “I see a god coming up out of the earth,” she said. “What does he look like?” Saul asked. “He is an old man wrapped in a robe,” she replied. Saul realized it was Samuel, and he fell to the ground before him.

Saul is not only “spittin the dummy,” He is “crackin a fruity” (More Aussie slang for ‘Go crazy, insane, weird.’[2] He is so desperate he is acting insane. He needs some guidance and he wants to conjure up Samuel! He goes to a “witch” to do so! 

Saul presses full speed ahead and violates God’s Law, violates his own law, endangers the life of the medium, lies to the medium, and disturbs eternity in the process. If this were a science fiction movie, we would start to see a fissure crack between the two universes.

God had said this: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22, 18). What used to happen was if a person was found to be a witch or a man was found to be practicing as a wizard, God said they must be put to death – capital punishment was carried out.

Now Why Did Saul seek out this Witch contrary to God’s Word and his own command?

  1. Unconverted?: He was never converted to trusting Faith in God. (Some would disagree) Many professed Christians use astrology and even consult ‘psychics’ (Nancy Regan). However, why would God anoint a heathen as the first King of Israel, the throne His Son would later sit upon?
  2. Fear: Fear causes us to do and say things we normally would not do. Lawyers use the term ‘duress’ as a means of showing their clients were not acting in their right mind.
  3. Trusted in Man rather than God: He thought if he could just get Samuel’s blessing, he could prevail against the Philistines. He was hoping in man, just as he had done all his reign as King. He knew the Philistines had him outnumbered. He hoped that Samuel could appeal to God on his behalf.

The Hebrew phrase for find a woman of familiar spirit is “ʾishshâ baʿalâ ʾôb”. She literally is “mother to spirit” or “container to a spirit”. She is able to conjure up a spirit because she is a container/channel of the “spirit world.”

Job (32:19) uses ‘obe’ as a bottle that may burst under pressure. They were searching for a woman who was a container of a conjured spirit. She was a necromancer, able to speak with dead spirits. Often these were people skilled at ventriloquism, able to throw their voice as if someone else was speaking in a room.

ʾôb̠: A masculine noun meaning a conjured spirit, a medium or necromancer; or a leather bottle. The primary use of the word is connected to the occult practice of necromancy or consulting the dead. It is used to signify a conjurer who professes to call up the dead by means of magic, especially to give revelation about future uncertainties (1 Sam. 28:7; Isa. 8:19); a man or woman who has a familiar spirit (Lev. 20:27; 1 Chr. 10:13; Isa. 29:4); the conjured spirit itself, particularly when speaking through the medium (1 Sam. 28:8; 2 Kgs 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6). The Israelites were strictly forbidden from engaging in such practices or consulting mediums (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:10-12). Interestingly, the word is used once to signify a leather bottle that may burst under pressure (Job 32:19). There is no convincing evidence that this particular reference has any occult connotations. Rather, the connection between the two divergent meanings of this Hebrew word is probably that a medium was seen as a “container” for a conjured spirit.[3]

I think it is so telling of God that a man blowing his top in a pressure situation is looking for a woman who contains an ‘obe’, for this ‘obe’ is about to ‘crack a fruity’ all over Saul’s head.

Here are my thoughts on what happened:

Saul disguises himself and asks this medium to conjure up Samuel. She goes into the back room where she does her mumbo-jumbo thing. I think she is about to throw her voice to pretend its Samuel when the real Samuel appears.

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says:

The woman then commenced her conjuring arts. She cried aloud at the form which appeared to her so unexpectedly. These words imply most unquestionably that the woman saw an apparition which she did not anticipate, and therefore that she was not really able to conjure up departed spirits or persons who had died, but that she merely pretended to do so…

Now some people think it was a demonic spirit in disguise, that God doesn’t allow things like this:

The early church Fathers typically took one of two views: (1) Either God Himself raised Samuel from the dead and sent him to Saul (they simply could not abide the view that a “witch” could raise the righteous from the dead), or (2) this was “just demonic deceit, and what appeared was not really Samuel, but a demon in his guise” (Origen and the Witch of Endor: Toward an Iconoclastic Typology)

I do believe there is a powerful unseen world of demons. I do believe that Satan is actively at work in this world. I do believe Christians need not fear as long as they abide in Jesus Christ. That is why I believe it is so important for you to daily lift up the Name of the Lord upon your House, you spouse, your children and grand-children.

  • Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
  • Zephaniah 3:12 But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD,

When you resist the grace of God in your life, when you rebel against the authorities God has put in your life, when you willingly consult astrology or psychics, even Ouija boards, you are opening yourself to this unseen spiritual world of demonic influence.

Jesus says in Luke 11:20 “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

If we are obeying the King and following His designs and laws, the Kingdom of God will protect us against this demonic world. However, if we are not following the King, not being subject to His laws, then we leave His Kingdom and are subject to the demonic kingdom.

That is why there is so great a need for righteous men to join together in binding the evil one from their community. We can unite in prayer to cast his influence out.

I happen to think this was really Samuel. I believe God allowed him to appear, to give Saul one more chance to show he cared for his people. Look at what he says:

1 Samuel 28:15-25 “Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul. “Because I am in deep trouble,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.” However, Samuel replied, “Why ask me, since the LORD has left you and has become your enemy? The LORD has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. The LORD has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. What’s more, the LORD will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The LORD will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.”

Does that sound like an imitator or an evil spirit? Sounds like a perturbed Samuel speaking to a whimpering King who has spit his dummy out, cracked a fruity and is crying “WOEME.” Saul just never learned. He never obeyed, he never responded to pressure correctly and he never reacted to reproof’s acceptably. His desperation never led to humility, to ask God to intervene for the sake of His people and His name. (Refer to the prayers of Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel and many others)

When Saul heard Samuel’s message, there was no humility, no turning to God, no repentance, just fear! Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words. He was also faint with hunger, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

This is the picture of an ungodly man whose roots are shallow and based upon himself. This is not the picture of a man whose trust is in God, and in His word meditates day and night, whose leave’s does not wither, even in the heat of fire and pressure. There is nothing left for Saul but to go on his way and face life the best he can. He has lost his cool, spit his dummy and cracked his fruity. Even the witch has pity in him and makes him eat some food.

When the woman saw how distraught he was, she said, “Sir, I obeyed your command at the risk of my life. Now do what I say, and let me give you a little something to eat so you can regain your strength for the trip back.” But Saul refused. The men who were with him also urged him to eat, so he finally yielded and got up from the ground and sat on the couch. The woman had been fattening a calf, so she hurried out and killed it. She took some flour, kneaded it into dough and baked unleavened bread. She brought the meal to Saul and his men, and they ate it. Then they went out into the night.

After they ate, they went out into the night.

It is an awful thing to go out into the dark, knowing your enemies are about to attack you, that God has abandoned you, and you must face this tragedy alone…

Saul walked out into the night and grew smaller and smaller, until things got so bad, the only way out for him was to commit suicide. The pressure was too great, God too distant. Saul failed the pressure test of a Disciple.

1 Samuel 31:1-6 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul’s sons. The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him. So Saul, his three sons, his armor-bearer, and all his men died together that same day.

Saul killed himself, because he was more concerned for how his dead body would be treated than how his live body fought the Battles of the Lord. This reveals the Heart of the matter of any Disciple who fails the Pressure Test and spits the dummy or cracks the fruity or simply walks away from the Lord.

He is more concerned about himself than he is about Battling for the Name of the Lord!

Discipleship means you join yourself with the Lord, and you partner with Him in battling against the devil and the world. To battle for the Name of the Lord means you must abandon your self, your comfort, your reputation, for the sake of His Name and His Cause!

Matthew 6:9-13 Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]

We must fight to bring the Kingdom of God to bear here on earth as it is in heaven. We must strive earnestly to lift up the Name of God! In every cause that Saul was given – to wait for Samuel, to destroy all of the Amalekites, to not consult with mediums, he put himself first, just as he did in his dying.

To understand God’s Ways join another Group of Men going into the night…

Centuries later, another group of men had their last meal together, and then after singing a hymn, head off into the dark night to the Mount of Olives. Their leader knows the enemy will soon surround them, knows that terror await him, but He is not afraid. It is for this pressure test that He was born. Sure his disciples would fall asleep as he sweat drops of blood, but soon He knew they would be wide awake. Sure, his disciples would run away and shrink back, but He knew they would benefit from what he is about to go through. He knew they would be transformed into mighty Apostles of Christ.

Therefore, Jesus willingly goes to Calvary, enduring the shame, the pain, the suffering. He did not shrink back. He did not turn away; he even refused the sedative on the cross. He took the cup of God’s wrath and drank every drop, turned the cup over and slammed it down, declaring “It is Finished.”

Jesus took the greatest pressure test ever devised by man or Satan, and instead of being just one, He was enlarged to become Many! The Church was born! His Sons and Daughters now live in the Power of the Cross-because that fateful day He did not shrink from the pressure.

Discipleship welcomes pressure!

Luke reveals it in his Gospel when he quotes Jesus as saying, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). This puts an important perspective on this command of Christ. We do not just open up the strait gate and walk in unopposed. There is a battle that goes on within our souls, because our enemy does not want us to find the way of life. Disciples are going to be in constant battles involving their trust in the Name of the Lord! Paul stated, “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

In Scripture, the gate is used as a symbol of decision-making and of managing internal affairs.

One Greek word translated strive is agonizomai. From it we get the English word agonize. The word entails contending for victory in public games, fighting, or making warfare. It involves pain in the struggle for a public prize. To strive is to make every effort to achieve the goal, as Paul described in Colossians 1:29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

The word STRIVING implies that there are hindrances in the development of a walk of faith and that there is a need for intense determination on our part to win the prize. Paul explained this:  1 Corinthians 9:25-Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Paul goes on to explain:

“So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (I Corinthians 9:26–27).

In the Christian life, “striving” is not our performance of God’s will, but it is our surrender to God so that He can carry out His will in us. Striving grows from the Disciple’s Heart of Dependence.

One of the disciples asked, “Lord, are there just a few who are being be saved?” 

Jesus’ answer was that few would find the way of life.

Luke 13:23-27 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’

We are concerned with people being saved, but Jesus was more concerned with people finding the way of LIFE. Salvation is not a prayer, it is a way of living, and that living means we must not run away from pressure, nor seek our own comfort, our own way, we must not spit a dummy or crack a fruity. We must willingly submit to the Pressures of Life and Reproofs that we might be enlarged as a Disciple.

A Disciple must become disciplined to respond to Pressures in the Name of the Lord, Sword in Hand, ready to do Battle for the Lord!

Pressures, even the pressures designed to reprove us, provide Opportunities for God’s Kingdom to Grow and God’s Power to Provide. Is your heart and love for God and His people growing? Perhaps you have stiffened your neck to His reproofs in the past. Perhaps it is time to repent and focus upon the great needs of God’s Kingdom. Are you actively partnering with God to bring His Kingdom to bear on this world? Or is your tiny heart focused upon your own kingdom? 


[3] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “ôb̠”.

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The First Century Church Experienced the Power of Grace and Touched the World with the Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They did so because they were not ashamed of the Cross of Jesus Christ. They were not ashamed of following a God who had been cursed on the unspeakable Cross of Crucifixion. They were not ashamed because they were LIVING PROOF of the Power of the Cross over the corruption of the flesh. Jesus Christ was not only Savior of their Souls, He was the Savior of their LIVING! 

Church must emphasize a 24/7 devoted living in Christ and His commands, not just a segregated devotional (quiet) time.

Church must emphasize a 24/7 praying life not just a prayer time.

Church must direct Disciples how to bring their spiritual existence into touch with the physical reality of living.

Church must lead Disciples to put into daily practice what Christ commanded and taught.

Church is a Community of Love in Christ centered around a Grace Missional purpose to bring the lost and hurting into the reality and power of Christ.

Church builds Disciples not motivated by guilt but empowered by forgiveness and redemption.

Church builds Disciples who Share Christ with friends and neighbors because they Love and Trust Jesus Christ.

Church builds Disciples who Give because they Love and Trust.

Church is Powerful to the Community when it is a Powerful Community of Love that empowers people to Break Bad Habits (Spirit conquers Flesh).

Church is Powerful as Disciples grow past guilt to productive change built upon Confession and Abandonment to Jesus Christ.

Church preaches Repentance to Abandon the fleshly world and live in the Spirit of Grace

Church leads Disciples to Abandon themselves to God’s Grace and God’s responsibilities for them.

Church leads Disciples to Greater and Growing Trust in God, because mistrust leads to sin.

Church leads Disciples to the Dominion of God’s Kingdom over their own Kingdoms.

Church that Grows and Develops Disciples will constantly Apply the Truth of Redemption to the Disciple’s Life.

Church will constantly strive to bring ALL lives into Christ’s Life.

Church will Grow from a Growing Relationship with Christ’s Life.

  • Church can change if there is a goal that can be accomplished with specific steps of action.
  • That goal is to build Disciples who experience and share the Reality and Power of Christ’s Life in their daily living.

David is a great example of a man who becomes a mighty disciple of Jesus Christ. Sure, I love Peter, Paul, Andrew, Timothy, but no one had their life exposed like David. No Disciple ever had his failures exposed like David. He is a man I can relate too. I hope you can relate to him as well.

Discipleship does not depend upon how much you know about the Bible. You can know all the numerology, all the Theology, all the Eschatology, even all the Soteriology and be dead in your walk with the Lord, and even be dead in your sins.

For Discipleship begins with your eyes being open to the reality of this invisible God. It Grows as the Word of God becomes your source for life, it develops as you learn to depend upon God as you encounter Goliath’s, Saul’s, Doeg, caves and today, a Fool.

Once you have begun your Discipleship Journey by giving your entire heart to God (because Faith has opened your eyes to see this Real Invisible God) then things will be actively at work in your life-hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah.

I know it is crazy to keep using the Hebrew, but did you know we will speak Hebrew in Heaven? God’s law is in Hebrew for a reason, and I believe when we speak it in praise to God, we will use the original language.

Hesed is unfailing love, the love that seeks us out, that strengthens us, that propels us all because of God’s covenant relationship with us.

Mishpat is God’s justice based upon His Word, becoming the justice of our life, and spreading to our House. Jesus Christ restored the Justice to this world when he was crucified and then resurrected. The Justice of the Cross becomes the justice of my heart and my house.

Tsedaqah is the righteousness that God wants to build in my life. The Justice of God in my heart will always seek to become the righteousness of Christ in my outward life. Righteousness is of Christ, but is in constant battle with our flesh, and this world. It is the righteousness of Christ that is constantly warring with the spirit of Babylon.

A Disciple must always be careful how he battles, for in the battle we can lose our walk with God.

  1. Discipleship truly develops when we deal with people. David’s Discipleship developed as he dealt with people.
  2. Discipleship also develops as we make choices.
  • Goliath chose to worship his strength and mocked God. David chose to exalt God’s Name rather than the fear of man.
  • King Saul chose his pride and arrogance and disobeyed God. David learned to humble himself under the wings of God rather than follow what his men or his emotions told him to do.
  • Doeg chose a selfish reward destroyed God’s servants.
  • David learned that the mercy of God means Justice and Righteousness come as he learns to trust God in the darkness of the cave, or on the side of the Rock.

Discipleship grows as we learn to deal with all kinds of people. In addition, as we encounter people, either our love of God will grow or it will weaken. This is where we find David this morning. He has an appointment with a Fool, a real Jerk, and David is going to develop as a Disciple through this encounter.

Lesson from Charlie the Janitor

In “They Call Me Pastor: How to Love the Ones You Lead”, H. B. London tells about his church janitor named “Charlie”. Charlie was a great cleaner. However, he was so frustrated by the people and how they left the church, that he would have been happier cleaning a hermit’s cave. He complained constantly to the Pastor. To Charlie, the church would have been a perfect place without people. He was constantly harping to the pastor to remind the people to keep the church clean and picked up. He even wanted the pastor to make a statement from the pulpit. However, Pastor London thought about it and realized that the church is not just made for people, it is the people.

“Let’s remember that Jess, Mary, Tony and Erica are the reason the church exists. Mrs. Carter, Mr.Jengling and Susie Mae are also part of the fellowship. Meeting human needs or providing a product is what helps businesses make a profit and defines the purpose of every profession.” It is true for us as pastors as well. Every Kingdom effort is intended to help someone.

The old business model was to focus on making a profit. Focus on the shareholders. The new “Apple” business model is to focus on bringing value to the customer. Give them a product that adds value to their life, and they will grow your business.

The focus is outward on the needs of the customer, not inward on the bottom line.

A church will grow as our neighbors learn we have a product that will add value to their lives. However, if the church focuses on their own bottom line, and wants to cater only to the members (or shareholders) the church will not grow. Our church is not about us, it is about “them”. We must not avoid outsiders; in fact, we must seek to bring value to their lives as we interact with them.

David Discipleship Brings Value

Look at David. He brought value to his men as he openly brought the reality of God into every situation he faced. Look at his interaction with Saul in 1 Samuel 24. David confronted Saul, waving the skirt of Saul’s robe in his hand, and said, see, there is no evil in mine hand. He lifted up God to Saul in verse 15: May the LORD therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.” 1 Samuel 24:15.

David brought the value of God before Saul. And for a moment, Saul responded to the mercy shown him.

1 Samuel 24:19-20 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.

Discipleship is embracing the Value of Jesus Christ for all of your life, and then exalting Him every chance your get. As you do, God will build your House, and your righteousness will be evident to others.

I. David Encounters a Fool

Remember-much of discipleship development occurs as we learn to react to others. God wants us to react to others in mercy, in justice and in righteousness. But underlying all of our dealings, there must be humbleness before God.

When David encountered a Fool, he forgot the humility part, until God sent a very special woman into his life.

A.  The Story – I Samuel 25

Samuel died. Israel mourned, and David went to the desert area of Paran.

The wilderness of Paran — stretching from Sinai to the borders of Palestine in the southern territories of Judea. Like other wildernesses, it presented large tracts of natural pasture, to which the people sent their cattle at the grazing season, but where they were liable to constant and heavy depredations by prowling Arabs. David and his men earned their subsistence by making reprisals on the cattle of these freebooting Ishmaelites; and, frequently for their useful services, they obtained voluntary tokens of acknowledgment from the peaceful inhabitants[1].

Here David’s men provided protection for the men shearing the 3000 sheep owned by Nabal. His men did not demand any food or payment, they simply stood guard. Normally Nabal’s men would have sustained losses, for roving bands of thieves are prevalent when it is shearing season.

David, in accordance with hospitality laws ingrained into the Jewish and Eastern culture, sent his men to request food and provisions in return for their protection. This was nothing unexpected, and Nabal, who was likely informed of the protection, refused proper hospitality. Not only did he refuse, he insulted David. He insulted his father. He implied he was a runaway slave, and said he would be stupid to take food meant for his shearers and give it to someone he did not know where they came from.

The insult was obvious, and David recognized it at once. As soon as he heard the report, he said, Get your swords on Men, were not going to take this insult sitting down. He left 200 men with the stuff, and he and 400 men left to kill Nabal and his men.

Balaam had a similar reaction to his Donkey

Numbers 22:29 and Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”

Was David justified? I believe so. David could not let this insult go unpunished. Nabal rewarded David’s good with evil, and it was David’s desire to bring justice to Nabal. (Only it was David’s idea of Justice).

King Saul was a different matter, for He was in God’s office. But Nabal was simply a churlish fool.

In this day and age, we cannot take justice into our own hands. There were no police in David’s day. There was only honor and insult. An insult required action, or there would be no honor.

Discipleship is about Mercy, Justice and Righteousness being in balance in our lives. David knew Nabal’s actions reflected a man who had no righteousness. He was foolish and evil, and David was going to deal with him.

Now surely David knew the command “Thou shalt not kill”. Did Nabal’s foolishness outweigh God’s command?

B. Abigail Intervenes

To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter or hinder an action or development:

1. Abigail appeals to David with hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah in view.
  1. Justice (for his House) – because that is what David was taking into his own hands. (vs. 28)
  2. Mercy, Unfailing Love – Reminder that David is bound up and held by God (vs. 29)
  3. Righteousness – David will one day rule as King, and there will be no grief or blood guiltiness. (vs. 30-31)

1 Samuel 25:28-31 (28) Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. (29) If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. (30) And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, (31) my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.” ”

2. Look at the Special Qualities of Abigail
  • She was respected (25:17).  The servant knew to go to her.
  • She properly reacted to anger (25:33, 35).
  • She had great faith in God (25:26ff).

She is presented as a woman familiar with God. Her confident trust in God allowed her to remain a saint even though she was in a miserable marriage. Her words to David reveal that her faith was very practical in her life (25:26, 27).

  • She was assertive and decisive (25:18ff).

The situation was urgent and Abigail moved in a decisive way to prevent harm. She knew what needed to be done and did it the best she could. She approached David in the customs of the day but she made sure the task was done (25:24). She did not hesitate to tell David that his desire for revenge was wrong. Later she confronted Nabal and told him how foolish he was (25:37).

  • She cared for the safety of her household (25:31).

Abigail’s first priority was the safety of her home. She did whatever was necessary to assure that her family honored God and was safe.

  • She was humble and meek (25:41, 44).

As she approached David, she demonstrated humility. Humility characterized her entire conversation. –Woman of meek and Quiet Spirit

  • She brought Joy to David’s heart. (25:32).

Indeed, her name meant “My father’s Joy”

II. David Discipleship Lessons

Discipleship Definition

Discipleship – “the intentional process of making the virtue of Christ my own, through submitting to His Lordship and Direction, and the daily Hope of Gaining Christ” Discipleship is simply gaining by trading

Here was David, perfectly just in taking action against this insult. But would this have been a Discipleship Development Moment? Not if he killed Nabal. Disciples submit to God and His Direction.

Even though David did not know Jesus Christ, he was about to learn a lesson, for David is a type of Christ.

1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

A. Fools are People who say “God is Not”.

Both Psalms14:1 and 53: begin with this statement. The fool (nabal) hath said in his heart, “There is no God”. Young’s Literal translation reveals what the italicized (There is) mean: “God is not”[2]. The “There is” is implied, but not in the Hebrew. You could also translate ‘êyn ‘elohiym as simply “No”. A Fool is someone who realizes there is a God, but denies that He has any importance or rule over his life.

There are others…who, while they profess to acknowledge both (God and his governance of the world), deny him in their heart, and live as if they were persuaded there was no God either to punish or reward.[3]

  • Nabal showed he followed his namesake by refusing to acknowledge David, refusing to be hospitable, refusing to share God’s providence.
  • Nabal’s pride was set against God’s right to govern and judge.
  • Terrell Suggs showed he is a fool by saying the Baltimore Ravens do not need God on their sidelines.
  • Our great nation has been playing the fool as we continue to deny God’s right to govern and judge.
  • “The Harbinger”
  • Preachers can be fools

Ezekiel 13:3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

  • Fools say No to God because they refuse to admit his way is wrong

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

B. Fools are Dangerous to Disciples.

We saw how David dealt with Goliath. We saw how he responded to King Saul. With both he trusted in the Lord! Even in the cave he exalted God, and said, God, you have your way. David faced these huge obstacles and trusted God more and more.

1. David Lost His Cool

Has that ever happened to you? You handle crises and major battles with grace, and people are amazed how you handle things so well, trusting God!

But face a fool, and you lose it! You get all upset, you blow your top and say some choice words!

2. We have all encountered fools like Nabal.

They are usually overbearing, contemptuous, hardheaded and hard hearted. We have all had our:

  • Kindness met by harshness
  • Service unrecognized, unappreciated.
  • Motives Questioned

3. Has this ever happened to you?

  • Your neighbor (you know the one) complains about your dog pooping in his yard for the 90th time and you go ballistic.
  • The bumbling server who has ignored you all night finally brings more drink and spills it all over you.
  • Your boss says one more snide remark and you blow your top.
  • Your friend says one more nasty comment about your kids and you rip into her.

We can put on our Christian Superman Suit to handle a sickness, or the death of a loved one, and everyone says, wow, he really trusts the Lord!

  • God forbid some fool follows too closely on the highway.
  • God forbid some fool keeps his brights on as he drives toward you.
  • God forbid some fool makes a snide comment about your personal hygiene.
  • God forbid some fool disrespects you and the job you are doing.

Fools can get under our skin; they can elicit emotions of revenge, yes, even of murder.

C.  Fools Threaten our House (God’s Justice)

As Abigail said to David:

1 Samuel 25:28-29 Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.

1 Samuel 25:32-34 And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! For as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.”

1. David would have troubled his house

If David had taken this action, justified in the sight of men though it was, it would have brought blood guiltiness upon his house. He would have “troubled his house” by seeking man’s justice, and not God’s.

Proverbs 11:29 Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.

2. We must be wise in our Heart

The other half of this verse says that if you want to conquer the fools of this world, you have to be wise in your heart.

Fools strike without warning. We often react in the heat of the moment. But if our heart is wise, we can deal with them the way God wants us to deal with them. Abigail was wise in her heart. She was a picture of the Holy Spirit, who brought wise counsel to the heart of David.

She could have said: David, don’t be stupid! Don’t you know that God says thou shalt not kill! Don’t ruin your life by killing David! While it carried the right message, it would not have been well received. David would have perceived it as additional bitter judgment.

Instead, Abigail reached his heart by reminding David about his House, and how David’s Life was bound in a bundle held by God! David’s life was bound up in the one who held his life! Just as Christians, when we enter into salvation with Jesus Christ, from that moment on, our life is bound up in His life! We become a precious bundle to Jesus Christ. From that moment on our life reflects on His life!

David’s life was a precious bundle to God, for David’s life was bound up in God! Therefore, Abigail reminded David that God had a responsibility to take his enemies and sling them away as if slung from a sling. Abigail reminded David of Goliath, and how if David could trust God to deal with Goliath, he could trust Him to deal with Nabal!

3. David’s House and Inheritance was at Stake!

Isaiah 57:13 When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off; a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain.

4. Wrong Reactions to Fools Will Trouble Your House

Just check the news out to see how people’s lives are ruined by the way they react to fools.

  • A man burnt down a topless coffee shop in Maine because his ex-girlfriend worked there.
  • In Louisville KY, Lequan Washington, 35, started punching his mom in the face when she refused to get him some Kool-Aid. Mom told him to get his own Kool-Aid. Washington told Police that his Mom fired a gun at him.
  • January 4th, a 32 year old man gouged his 62 year old uncles eye’s outs. His uncle was a fool, and finally did something to make the man snap.
  • You can go to YouTube and watch fights in restaurants, fights at school, and fights at the Subway.
  • People get beat by McDonalds Employees.

D.   God Is Best At Handling Fools.

If we can trust God with Goliath’s, with King Saul’s, with Doegs, with the darkness of Caves, we need to trust Him to deal with Fools!

1 Samuel 25:36-38 And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.

David needed to be patient. Why ruin his House over a Fool? In treating the injustice of Nabal with more injustice, he would have failed his House, and taught a devastating lesson to his Men.

Luke 12:16-21 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Proverbs 27:22 You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.

E.  Disciples Become Fools when they say “No” to God.

Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

F.  Disciples Hear and Heed the Holy Spirit

Abigail is a perfect example of the Holy Spirit. Her name meant “the Joy of my father” and is exactly the impact of the Holy Spirit! As she humbly plead softly David, reminding Him of God and David’s relationship and potential with God, David’s heart became soft, his emotions more reasoned and he committed Nabal to God.

  • 1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Abigail UNDERSTOOD the Ways of God

Think about Abigail just a moment. Here she was married to a Fool, and instead of despising God, or becoming a fool herself, she became a gracious woman, known for her beauty and wisdom.

She is a picture of the Grace of Jesus Christ, who said in John 16:33,  “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Disciples do not have to lose our cool to fools. We simply have to follow the Holy Spirit.

1. God’s Loves the Unlovely, but He resists the Proud.

Jesus loved fools. They surrounded him. They were drunks, thieves, tax collectors. He loved Pharisees, but he had a hard time with their arrogance. Even though he was stern and direct with His rebukes, most refused to repent of their pride.

They should make Christians walk humbly before God, for the truth is we are only one step away from being a Pharisee. That is how dangerous pride is. When pride rears its ugly head, we push God to the side and say, “No God” I know what is best, I can figure this out on my own. As soon as we do, the Holy Spirit starts to whisper in our ear, “you fool!”

2. How did Abigail wind up with Nabal?

It could have been an arranged wedding. He could have been charming at first, and then became more in love with wealth.

Regardless, Abigail displayed total respect for her husband, at the same time appealing to David.

There was no betrayal, no selfishness,

3. Why did she intervene?

What do you do if you are married to a fool? When you are reviled, you revile not, but you commit yourself to Him who judges righteously. Do not take justice into your own hands, but appeal to God and patiently wait for him to bring his justice into your house.

A fool give full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. – Proverbs 29:11

Matthew 7:26-27 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

III. Holy Moments

David Discipleship is a “succession of holy moments in which we count on His grace and strength to get us through”. Alan Redpath

Most people come to church needing a Holy Moment. We do our best with singing and preaching, but church is not the place for holy moments. Holy moments take place as you encounter fools, and Goliath’s, your friends, your spouse, and your children. Holy Moments happen when in the face of someone or something that causes you to rear up in pride or revenge, all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit whispers in your ear, and you humble yourself to submit to the Will and Word of God. A Holy Moment takes place when your will is set aside so that you may be set apart for the purpose of God!

David was puffed up with pride. He was owed something, his name had been disrespected, and his sword was drawn, ready to exact justice.

Along came the Holy Spirit in the form of Abigail, meaning ‘my Father brings Joy’ and what she said and did brought David into a Holy moment, where he was reminded once again that Discipleship is practicing God’s mercy, God’s justice and God’s righteousness.

Abigail brought a holy ‘unfailing love’ moment to his heart, reminding David that he was a precious bundle whose life was held by God. So this Holy Moment brought a change to David’s Desire.

Abigail brought a holy moment into his House, by reminding him that his pride was about to bring dishonor to his house, a house that God had great plans for. Who cares what a fool thinks of him and his house. As she reminded David:

1 Samuel 25:28 … the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD…

David must stand upon the justice of God, and fight the battles of the Lord. That requires humbleness, not pride. Therefore, this holy moment was beneficial to David’s descendants.

Abigail then brought a holy moment to David’s hope, reminding him that God was able to sling his enemies like a rock from a sling. That holy moment brought a decision that resulted in David’s development as a Disciple, a Mighty Man of God.

Esau and Jacob

Did you ever wonder why God chose the wimpy, liar, deceiver and thief Jacob to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel? Why not Esau, a man’s man, a hunter, a skilled fighter? He would make an excellent leader for the Jewish Nation.


God hated Esau and loved Jacob, because the one sin that God despises most in man is his pride and arrogance. God could work with a liar and a thief, but he could not work with a proud man. God saw Jacob transformed into a man who leaned on Him. That never would have happened with Esau, for he was too puffed up. Hebrews 11:21 says that Jacob blessed his sons while leaning on his staff. He had learned that he nust depend upon the Lord God for every aspect of his life. So he blessed as he leaned on the Lord!

Are you on a Discipleship Path this year? Do you desire to Develop into a man of God? Then let this mind be in you which was in our Lord Jesus Christ. Even though He deserved to be treated as God, he deliberately laid everything aside, humbling Himself to Death, even the death of the Cross.

Do you desire Holy Moments in your Life? Then lay aside your rights, your pride, your comforts, and your reputation. Humble yourself to the Holy Spirit, and trust in God to grow you and develop you into the man of God He desires.

As Isaiah wrote: “he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain”.


[1] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 SAMUEL”.

[2] Psalm 14:1 A fool hath said in his heart, `God is not;’ They have done corruptly, They have done abominable actions, There is not a doer of good. (Youngs Literal)

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Psalm 14”.


My time in Bible College was tumultuous at best. The emphasis was on outward conformity to rigorous (and silly) rules. Discipleship was a matter of conformity. Fortunately, I started reading books by Watchman Nee, reading sermons by Charles Finney and RA Torrey. I learned from these men that being a disciple is much more than knowledge and outward conformity. I learned about the Holy Spirit. I learned about grace!  Christ wanted to live in and through my life. This was the basis of Galatians 2:20. His life in me is True Discipleship. Outward conformity is false discipleship, dangerous, prideful and destructive.

Now that I am a pastor, how do I take this conviction and use it to make disciples in my church? Strangely, God has led me to explore the life of David. When I looked at the ‘last words of David’, some concepts just popped out at me, and God showed me a foundation for discipleship in the church.

DISCIPLESHIP from the LAST WORDS of DAVID

2 Samuel 23:5 (NKJV) “Although my house is not so with God, Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, Ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire(hepes); Will He not make it increase(semah)?

WHAT DAVID IS SAYING

It is the end of his life, and David is praising God for the Covenant He has made with him, (2 Sam 7). He is praising God for his faithfulness, even though neither he nor his family had been like the tender grass springing up from the ground and flourishing by the united influences of the sun and rain.

Because of God’s covenant with him, his house would be ordered and secured, his desires would be met, and God would cause his house to spring up and grow!

He acknowledges his failures, (my house is not so) and prophetically looks forward to God’s Covenant of Salvation. (Indeed, the writer of Hebrews calls David a prophet ahead of Samuel in Hebrews 11:32). It is though David, in his last recorded message, is saying:

“My house is not like that; I am a very faulty man; but God has the One Who satisfies Him on my behalf”.

There is no doubt about it that in his last words David was lifting up his eyes from his own failure, his own coming short, his own weakness, yes, his own grievous sins, and at the end of his life he is saying with Job, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). As David wrote in Psalms 138:8 ‘I see the One Who will complete my life and “will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psa. 138:8), and make good on my behalf where I have failed.’

These are the words of a true Disciple. In his words are revealed the secrets of a lifelong journey of discipleship. Discipleship grows from total dependence upon the Promises of God. Discipleship changes our Heart, our House and our Hope!

The three areas of David’s Life in Which David Grew to Be a Man of God are seen in his last words:

1. Heart (For all my desire)

  • Psalms 57:7 (ESV) My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
  • 1 Kings 3:6 (ESV) And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you
  • Psalms 119:2 (KJV) Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

2. House (A Covenant with me and my House)

  • Ps 26:8 Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.
  • Ps 101:2 I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
  • Ps 112:3 Prosperity and welfare are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
  • Ps 127:1 Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
  • Ps 128:3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the innermost parts of your house; your children shall be like olive plants round about your table.

3. Hope (He will make it Grow)

  • Psalms 71:5 (ESV) For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
  • Psalms 119:114 (ESV) You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.  
  • Psalms 119:116 (ESV) Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!  
  • Psalms 130:5 (ESV) I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;  

DAVID DISCIPLESHIP

Discipleship MUST FOCUS on three areas of your life:

1. Your Desire. (For this is all my salvation and all my desire)

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

What are the desires of your heart? What gets you emotionally excited? What or who do you incline yourself toward? What are you fixed upon? Desires centered upon God and His Word are Life-Giving!

Desire (hepes)- A masculine noun meaning delight, pleasure, desire, matter. The root idea is to incline toward something[1]; it means “to experience emotional delight.” This delight may be felt by men or by God. Men are said to experience it in respect to women. Shechem, son of Hamor, had “delight” in Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Genesis 34:19). The contestants in King Ahasuerus’s beauty contest did not return to him after the first viewing unless he had “delight” in them (Esther 2:14))[2].

2. Your Dependants. (Responsible for your House)

Discipleship is never isolated. It is not for the benefit of one person. Discipleship builds your house. Discipleship benefits those who either depend upon you, or are influenced by you.

  • Hebrews 3:4-6 (ESV) 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
  • Hebrews 11:7 (ESV) By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
  • Acts 18:8 (ESV) Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

3. Your Development. (Will He not make it grow?)

Discipleship takes place over a lifetime. It is to develop you into the man or woman God wants you to be. It is an up and down thing. It is a series of growth failures and successes, but the end result is that you develop the character of Jesus Christ! Christ is the Hope of your daily Life! He is the Reason you Grow!

  • This word is one of the names of Christ – He is the Branch (Zech 3:8)
  • Ephesians 4:15 (ESV) …we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…
  • Psalms 92:12 (ESV) The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Grow (semah – A verb meaning to grow, to spring forth, to sprout. It refers to a plant as it breaks forth out of the ground)[3] This word is one of the Titles for the coming Messiah:  Zechariah 3:8 (ESV) Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch (semah)

Is This God’s Plan for Discipleship?

I believe this folds perfectly into what God desires for His people. Discipleship is about becoming one who knows and understands our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Jeremiah 9:24 reveals what God delights in. If we are to know and understand God, then our discipleship ‘program’ should allow us to know and understand what God delights in, and make those our delights!

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV) 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

REMEMBER BABYLON?

Recently we wrote about Biblical Babylon, and how it represents much more than a city, or a region. It represents man robbing God of His glory. It represents man trying to minimize God’s impact in his life by seeking after Splendor, Status and Success.

  • Instead of focusing on a heart that is set upon God, we focus on things that are beautiful, exciting, fun. Our heart desires all the beauty of this world.
  • Instead of focusing on our dependants, our House, and how our life can benefit them, we focus on our self, on our own status, what makes us look good to the world.
  • Instead of focusing on developing a life dependent upon our God and Savior Jesus Christ, we focus on success, on things that make us look successful.

The spirit of Babylon is diametrically opposed to being a disciple. The spirit of Babylon will trip you up on your journey to gain Christ!

  • Wise Man –> Boasts in Wisdom -> He is focusing on man’s Splendor, After all God used wisdom to create the world. (God employed wisdom as His master craftsman to create all things[4] (Psalms 104:24 (ESV) O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.)
  • Mighty Man –> Boasts in Might –> Might is another word for Status. Men of ‘might’ are men of status.
  • Rich Man –> Boasts in Riches –> Riches are synonymous with Success in today’s society.

Here God takes direct aim at the spirit of Babylon and says it has no place among His people. God follows the negative with positives that we should pay close attention to. God says: if you are going to boast, boast in this, that you understand and know me, that you know what I delight in! David was a man after God’s own heart. He made it the priority of his life to know and understand God. Isn’t that what a disciple does? A disciple gets to know and understand Jesus Christ! That knowledge and understanding comes from a personal relationship. David certainly projects a man who had a close, personal relationship with God. God further states there are three things He delights in. He delights in unfailing love (hesed), justice (mishpat), and righteousness (tsedaqah). So if David’s intent was to make the delights of God his own (a man after God’s heart), shouldn’t that be reflected in David’s life, and what he aspired to? Should we not find evidence of God’s delights in David’s life? Yes we should and yes we do!

An amazing insight was granted me as I looked at David’s last words. As I saw what his life had culminated in, I saw what had been driving him all his life. The God brought Jeremiah 9:23 & 24 to my mind. There was a connection, and I had to seek it. Then my eyes were opened. David’s last words were also an expression of Hesed, Mishpat and Tsedaqah! David had built his life around what God delighted in!

David is the ultimate example of a disciple of Jesus Christ! David’s life is our pattern for discipleship! Discipleship must focus upon Hesed, Mishpat and Tsedaqah!

Discipleship should lead us to delight in what God Delights in, to knowing and understanding God!

Discipleship should lead us to Jesus Christ, and to the hope of gaining Him!


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, .

[2] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “712: ‏חָפֵץ‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 310.

[3] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book,

[4] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 337.


When I owned an Asphalt Paving company we decided to get into concrete, and so we did in a big way. We even did footings, slabs and walls for new construction. I learned a great deal about foundations for commercial buildings. You don’t just dig a trench and pour concrete. You must consider where the main support beams are placed, what the weight load of the walls will be, what type of soil the foundation is on, and many other factors. The foundation is a really big deal that I had taken for granted. Good concrete alone is not enough for a solid foundation. You must use steel re-bar, and the amount and configuration of the re-bar depends upon the load at that point. Even concrete slabs have to consider the weight of the objects they will support. As part of our foundation work we did some banks which had bank vaults. Most vaults nowadays are actually pre-fab concrete units that are shipped in and moved in place. The vault door is added later. But the slab of the vault is poured 12″ to 24″ thick, with 2 to 3 layers of 3/4″ re-bar tied on 12″ centers. (We did one with 6″ centers). They do not want the vault going anywhere! It also indicates the weight (and importance) of the bank vault. Before concrete, I never thought about foundations. Now I consider them wherever I go. I even took this picture of some awesome re-bar for a building going up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Judging by the re-bar pile, they still had a lot of tying to do!

The church of today is so often about programs. We need programs to keep drawing crowds and making people ‘feel’ like they are Christians. So often ministry programs for children, seniors, life groups, special events, and whatever must pass the “feel good” test. Will it “minister to a felt need” and make everyone “feel good”. Modern ministry must have an emotional draw or it usually dies.

The church that Jesus began and the Apostles modeled was centered around discipleship, making disciples. Emotional feelings quickly fade in the face of persecution. There must be something more about being a church than “feel good” programs. That more is true discipleship. We tried to get a “discipleship program” going within a year after coming to my present church, Pleasant Prairie. But we were only 3 years removed from a tragic ‘split’ that nearly destroyed a church that had been there for 36 years at the time. The people were not ready for a discipleship program that did not meet the need to rebuild their emotional being. There were emotional scars of bitterness and unforgiveness that needed attention before discipleship could begin. Inward hurts hinder the ability to look upward and outward!

God has recently burdened me that it is time to more clearly define the mission of our church. God has been sending some great men and families our way, but we need to have a clearly defined discipleship path. Our church is ready to stand and embrace discipleship as our core value, but I do not want it to be a “program”. Discipleship does not automatically have a “feel good” component that builds excitement. Most Christians seem to view discipleship as something for Paul’s and Timothy’s, people who serve in a major capacity. Even leaders in the church seem to shy away from intentional discipleship. Too often Christians are ‘comfortable’ where they are at. Convenience and comfort are often core values of most American Christians.

The Holy Spirit was leading me to preach on the Life of King David. He is a great example of a man of God. There is no more transparent life in the Bible than King David. But the Holy Spirit was also burdening me with the need for a clearly defined discipleship path in our church. For some reason He led me to the ‘last saying’ of King David in 2 Samuel 23:5. I won’t get it to it in this writing, but through this, the Holy Spirit is revealing some awesome revelations about discipleship and how the church can embrace it, accomplish it and even have a “feel good”  component at the same time. 

So the next few posts will be the “Laying of the Foundation” of what I am calling “David Discipleship”. We don’t often associate King David with discipleship, but I believe his life is the very definition of discipleship, beginning with the revelation of His last words.

Now to bend and tie the “re-bar” of David Discipleship:

If the church is not to be about “programs” but about making disciples, what is a disciple? 

Disciple: One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another. In the New Testament, the word is Mathētés. Here it means more than a mere pupil or learner. It is an adherent who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct[1]. The general designation of mathētés was given to those who believed on Christ. Jesus clearly defines disciple in John 8:31: (ESV) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples”.

What is Discipleship?

If a disciple is an adherent of another person’s teachings, what is discipleship?

A consensus of definitions produces this: Discipleship is the process of learning about the teachings of another, internalizing them and then acting upon them. Most discipleship programs focus on the learning process, with the emphasis on knowledge.

Peters Perspective on the Discipleship Process

Peter turned out to be the most dynamic of the early disciples of Christ. He had learned a great deal after spending three years at the feet of the Master Teacher. Yet when it was time for the rubber to meet the road, Mighty Peter failed, and denied his Master in a dramatic fire. Where was that knowledge then? What good did his earlier confession do at the moment when it mattered most? Peter sheds a glaring light upon what a discipleship program should be about.

2 Peter 1:1 (ESV) Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…

2 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV) 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge (epignosis)[2] of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge(gnosis) …

Peter’s Insights into Discipleship:

1. Equal Faith <–> Righteousness of Christ

  • Discipleship grows from Faith that is provided by the righteousness of our Savior Jesus Christ. That faith makes each believer equal in the sight of God. That equality is not based upon knowledge, but upon the righteousness provided us by our God and Savior Jesus Christ!

2. Growth <–> Relational Knowledge

  • Our growth in life and godliness is by His divine power and only through knowing Him in His glory and excellence.

3. Growth <–> Precious Promises

  • Our growth is only by His divine nature becoming our nature through the power of the Word and His precious promises.

4. Growth <–> Focus on His Virtue becoming our Virtue

  • Discipleship must focus on His Virtue becoming our Virtue. We first add virtue to our faith, and knowledge to virtue.

VIRTUE is the Greek “areté” which denotes in a moral sense what gives man his worth[3]

Why is Virtue Important to Discipleship?

There are four synonyms to Areté in the Greek according to Zodhiates…

  • dóxa – glory;
  • dúnamis – power;
  • chárisma – gift;
  • ōphéleia – usefulness[4]

Virtue is a quality that is difficult to define, but definite in its impact. From the synonyms we glimpse the power of this little word. Here is my humble attempt at a definition.

Virtue is the strength of the character of Christ internalized into my life as I follow Him. Virtue brings worth and value to my life. Without His virtue I am weak and ineffective.

Virtue grows from an obedient relationship!

Discipleship programs are not effective if their focus is primarily upon knowledge (ginosis). It must be knowledge that grows from a personal on-going relationship with Jesus Christ Himself! (epiginosko). I know far too many graduates of Christian Schools and Colleges that display little if any of the life of Jesus Christ. A surprising number no longer go to church. Knowledge is not enough to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Look at Judas. He had three years of instruction from Jesus Christ, and yet there was no changed life!

Discipleship is Life-Changing only if it is Life-Giving!

Discipleship must lead believers into a life that is above the natural, a life that is empowered by the Righteous Life of Jesus Christ. His virtue of LIFE becomes our virtue by our dying.

We Have No Virtue worth Propping up

Discipleship is not a self-improvement course. It is not a way of “improving” your Christian walk! We are ugly before we are saved, we are ugly after we are saved. The only beauty we can ever have is the beauty of Jesus Christ.

COULD YOUR HEART PASS THE HOLE IN THE WALL TEST?

God told Ezekiel to dig a hole in the King’s wall. He was startled by the abominations being committed by the ‘supposed’ righteous leaders of Israel.

Ezekiel 8:8-13 (ESV) 8 Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. 9 And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” 10 So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. 11 And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. 12 Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ” 13 He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”

No matter how ‘spiritual’ we pretend to be, or how much ‘Bible knowledge’ we possess, no one can pass the “Hole in the Wall” test. Our hearts are full of abominations through sin. The harder we try to be a good disciple, the further we alienate ourselves from the heart of God! The heart of God is centered around the virtue of His Son, Jesus Christ! The only virtue worth having is not man-centered but Christ-centered!

Discipleship finds all that we need in Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NIV) 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Discipleship which focuses on knowledge will always lead to pride and self-effort. Discipleship which focuses on virtue will always lead to humility and dependence.

Therefore I define Discipleship as:

Discipleship – “the intentional process of making the virtue of Christ my own, through submitting to His Lordship and Direction, and the daily Hope of Gaining Christ”

Discipleship is simply gaining by trading (diapragmateúomai)[5];

The King will demand an accounting of what you have GAINED by trading

Luke 19:15 (ESV) When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.

I believe we will be judged at the ‘bema seat’ and our judgment will simply be an accounting of what we traded to gain for the sake of becoming like Jesus Christ! We will be judged for how we ‘gained’ Jesus Christ! Christians are to be about the business of trading their lives to gain Jesus Christ!

Paul said it best in Philippians 3:8: Philippians 3:8 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

So the ‘re-bar’ of discipleship is the Virtue of Jesus Christ! Any substitution or absence of His virtue will result in a foundation that is weak and doomed to fail.

Our Hope of Glory is Christ IN me

Colossians 1:27 (ESV) To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 936.

[2] Epígnōsis: In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement. When used as an obj. (Eph. 1:17; 4:13; Col. 1:9, 10; 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1; Heb. 10:26; 2 Pet. 1:2, 3), it shows the relationship of the learner to the object of his knowledge (2 Pet. 1:8). Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 624.

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 252-251.

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 252.

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “megauploaddiapragmateúomai”.