Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’


Who can be a Disciple-Maker? Why should we be a Disciple Making Church?

I want to ask you two questions, because these questions will be before us the next few weeks.

1.  “What is the difference between being a Christian and being a disciple?”

Is there a difference between a convert and a follower?

Is there a difference between a fan and a player?

  • One has seen, and another continually sees.
  • One has encountered, the other continually encounters.
  • The result is transformation. A follower becomes like the one he follows. A player becomes like his teammates (transformed by the coaches)

“We are not so much Christ followers as we are Christ admirers who happily listen to amazing stories about His life and His teachings, then go about our business without the principles imparted making an impact on who we are.”

2.  Why is Disciple-Making so Important?

  • Jesus told us to make disciples.
  • World Philosophy is overpowering.
  • People can be overcome in the wilderness.

Last week Ray looked at 1 Thess. 1. Pastor Ray told us about worldly philosophy that is so prevalent, and how the only way to rescue men from the world is not just to get them saved, but to intentionally make disciples.

Paul, Silas and Timothy were committed to making disciples. A simple belief was not enough to overcome the worldly philosophies that were bombarding the Thessalonians. Paul and his fellow workers realized they must invest time in the new converts to see them grow in Jesus Christ and be overcomers.

1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also with full conviction. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

The Thessalonians became friends with Paul, Silas and Timothy. Not just “sure is hot” “weather friends” but I am struggling with my faith because I’ve been out of work for a year kind of friends. Friends who are with each other in the trenches. Friends who pray together, who seek the Lord together. Friends who talk about problems with family together. Together, together, together. Discipleship is togethership.

George Barna states in his book, Growing True Disciples, “Almost every church in our country has some type of discipleship program or set of activities. Stunningly few churches have a church of disciples”, (Barna 2001, 21).

  • 88% of children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.
  • Approximately  2/3 of the members of Southern Baptist churches attend church only sporadically.
  • The average “evangelical” church in America wins 1.67 persons (less than 2) to Christ and their church each year for every 100 persons who attend that church.
  • 1/3  of church members state their greatest individual needs are not being met by their church.
  • Less than 50% of church members pray for 5 minutes at least twice a week.
  • Only 11% of church members have shared the gospel even once in the last year and 33% have never shared the gospel with anyone.
  • Most church leaders, when asked, cannot even define “Disciple”, and hardly any have been trained to “Make disciples”.[1]

“In a comprehensive study we conducted, we compared the beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors of believers and non-believers…. We concluded that it is difficult for non-Christians to understand Christianity since few born again individuals model a biblical faith (Barna, 63).

The Church in America is failing to live up to its promise; we’re not even coming close to fulfilling it…. Believers are largely indistinguishable from non-believers in how they think and live … If we hope to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals and in the nation’s culture, then we must increase our intentionality, our intensity and improve our strategies” (Barna, 13).

“Discipleship does not happen simply because a church exists. It occurs when there is an intentional and strategic thrust to facilitate spiritual maturity” (Barna, 29).

“My most recent research, described in Maximum Faith, shows how the vast majority of American Christians have denied God His rightful place on the throne of their lives. Our default response, driven by cultural expectations and personal preferences, is to withhold control of our lives so that we, not God, can reign supreme – all under the cover of being “good and responsible Christians.” More often than not, we treat God as our religion consultant and turn to the Bible as an emergency reference book.

Most Americans point to their typical faith practices – e.g., church attendance, Christianeducation involvement, personal Bible study, daily prayer, freely donating money to ministries, participation in a small group, etc. – as evidence of personal piety.

In essence, the born-again community has invited God to reside in our hearts, accepting the special gift of love and forgiveness that He offered, along with His promise of eternal salvation. Sadly, once we felt certain that we had His gift securely in hand, we abandoned Him and have continued to operate by the standards and values of the world, searching for earthly treasures and pleasures. That is why the research has consistently shown over the past two decades that the lives of born-again Christians are essentially indistinguishable from those of people who do not claim Jesus Christ as their savior. We may be “religious” but we are not truly transformed by our faith in and relationship with God. Only a tiny proportion of born again adults get beyond their profession of faith to experience the more robust and significant life that is available through Christ to His followers.

A major reason why few Americans experience the richness of the Christian life is that we do not know what to do beyond reading and memorizing more Bible verses, attending church services more consistently, donating money to worthy causes, volunteering a few hours at church, and discussing our faith in Jesus with family and friends.

And unfortunately, my research reveals that a majority of believers who figure out where the journey goes, and what it takes to maximize the opportunity God grants us by completing the journey to wholeness, instead choose to settle for a less complete and fulfilling life.

Jesus’ Altar Call

Jesus’ altar calls were different. His view of what it meant to be saved was different from the modern church’s feeble definition. Jesus qualified the true heart of repentance by the test of discipleship.

The rich, young ruler ran and stopped Jesus in the street. He inquired, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The Lord responded by sharing one of His favorite sermons written by Moses.

The young man replied, “All these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus then raised the bar of discipleship: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor” (Mark 10:17–22). Scripture is clear, this young man walked away sad.

The rich, young ruler was willing to be a convert, but he was not willing to pay the cost of discipleship. He wanted a religion that was convenient for his lifestyle apart from the lordship of Christ. His desire for convenient religion left him where it leaves every insincere person — sad and despondent.

Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Christ. This kind of discipleship becomes nothing more than an abstract idea, a myth that has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as a living Lord and Master. Without real discipleship there is trust in God, but there is not a genuine following of Christ. Cheap grace is a deadly enemy of the church.

As we go forward with forming “GraceLife Community Church” I hope you will see the need to form a church whose culture and core is intentionally built upon relationships which are growing together in Jesus Christ. After all, that is discipleship.

1 Timothy 1:12-20 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

A. Christ Values Faithfulness

  • 1 Tim 1:12-I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful

Christ doesn’t look for your leadership skills, or knowledge or athletic ability. God looks for one quality in disciple-makers-faithfulness.

  • What does faithfulness entail?
  1. Stick-to-itiveness
  2. Single eye
  3. Deep appreciation
  4. Common goal
  5. Not double-minded

B. Christ Appoints Sinners To Service

  • vs 12b-13 – appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief
1.  God’s mercy and grace transforms us with faith and love in Christ.

Why does God use sinners? He values broken vessels, so that the power is of Him. 

2.  God wants His grace to overflow from us to others.
  • vs 14 – and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus
3.  Grace always flows when we are emptied of self at the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:27-30 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

C. Christ Desires to Save Sinners

  • vs 15, 16 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem and wept as he saw thousands enslaved by sin, overcome by the world. He desired to gather her children up into his arms as a Mother Hen gathers her brood, but they would not come. So Christ saw that He could take fellow sinners, broken vessels, and use them to reach out to fellow sinners.

1.  Sinners are to be examples
2.  Patience and Endurance are on display in Discipleship

Not our patience or our endurance, but Christ’s. Christ endured to the bitter end for our sakes, and He runs alongside us in a marathon, not a sprint. His perfect patience is displayed when we come alongside other believers. His patience with us leads others to believe.

3.  Discipleship is based on transparent relationships rich in mercy.

D. Christ Desires Soldiers who Overcome

  • Vs 17,18 – To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.

When one is overwhelmed by their sins, they realize they need a Savior.
When two admit they struggle with sin, they realize they need an Overcoming, Conquering King!

1.  Discipleship takes believers and leads them along three prioritized paths:
    1. The first priority is a growing commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ.
    2. The second priority is a growing commitment to the Body of Christ, your face-to-face group of disciples.
    3. The third priority is a growing commitment to the work of Christ in your world. 

These do grow on each other, but they also must be engaged at the same time. You need growth in all three to stay healthy in your Christian walk. You need growth in all three to overcome the world.

The disciple-making church operates with a specific definition of discipleship to Jesus.

Jesus defined disciples as those who forsook all to gain all of Him! We can dumb down discipleship, but we will get what we ask for. If we ask for small commitment, we will get small disciples. If we ask for sometimes commitment, we will get sometimes disciples. A true disciple maintains his or her relationship with Jesus Christ 24/7, 365 days a year. A true disciple follows the King of Kings!

2.  Discipleship Grows Overcomers
  • vs 18b that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience

Luke 11:21-22 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.

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.”

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Is your life a contradiction to discipleship?

  • A disciple who does not grow, who does not have the purpose of growing, in their discipleship to Jesus is a contradiction in terms.
  • A stagnant or comfortable disciple is a contradiction.
  • A disciple who does not change and grow is a contradiction.
3.  Discipleship Does Not takes the Path of Least Resistance.

2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

4.  Disciples will have authority when Christ reigns

Revelation 2:26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,

Revelation 3:21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

E. Christ Desires to be our Helmsman

  • vs 19, 20 – By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Our life can be seen as a majestic ship sailing the oceans with its tall mast and sails filled with wind, gliding across the waves with the grace of its maker. Disciples sail the seas of life guided by the direction of our helmsman Jesus Christ. It is the trust and faith we have in him that allows our lives to be directed by His will.

Hymenaeus and Alexander followed Christ for awhile. For some reason, their faith faltered and they found themselves overcome by the waves of the world, and finally their lives were shipwrecked upon the rocks of the shore.

They rejected Jesus Christ as their guide and began to take control of their own lives. They cast the Lord “overboard” and took control of their own lives, steering as they willed. Sadly, their ship wrecked upon the shoals of this world.

Shipwrecks are caused by carelessness and indifference.  (Like the captain of the Cruise Ship that recently sunk) The seas of life are very treacherous, filled with hidden obstacles that can tear a hole in our hull. Only Christ can guide us safely through. Jesus knows every obstacle that will be in our path. The Lord knows what we need and He knows where we need to go. We worry about what is over the next horizon and how to survive the coming storms. Our hearts are filled with fear as the storms of life pound upon us and we cry out to the helmsman for relief. One who is a disciple has been trained in how to stay close to the Savior and interpret the signals He provides.

Hymenaeus and Alexander lost their faith. Their hearts were corrupted and they rejected God’s will and turned to their own desires. Paul declares in II Timothy 2:18 that Hymenaeus (and Philetus) “have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some” (II Tim 2:18 ). Their actions not only caused them to lose their souls but also impacted others whose faith was “upset.”

Should we be disciples? Most definitely. Can you be a Christian and refuse to be a disciple? I don’t see how.

Who can be a Disciple and a Disciple maker (they are one and the same)?

Any sinner who decides to be faithful to Christ and allow Him to lead his life, because you want to be an overcomer.

So Why Should a Church be committed to being a Disciple-Making Church?

  • Because we owe it to Christ.
  • Because it allows Sinners to reach other sinners
  • Because it allows Grace to overflow in our lives
  • Because it produces Overcomers
  • Because it keeps us ship-shape.
  • Because we will be drawn into the power of Christ for our every-day lives.

[1] (Barna 2001)


The Biblical Process of Discipleship

Peter was no stranger to failure and success in his discipleship journey.  As a result of the lessons he learned, he is able to describe for us the discipleship journey we will encounter.  Disciples become partakers of the divine nature of Christ through the Word (precious promises). Through the power of the Word we escape the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (the desire for things apart from God). To enjoy this “divine nature” (Paul calls it the ‘fullness of Christ’) we must diligently pursue the seven stages of discipleship that Peter lists. We must diligently seek to “ADD” these things to our life.  He concludes in verse 8, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The end result of being a disciple is abounding in Jesus Christ and abounding in the fruit that knowing and abiding in Him brings!

Seven Stages of Discipleship – II Peter 1: 4-8

Step One: Repentance & Faith
John 1; Luke 3
New Life in Christ becomes reality through conversion wrought by Holy Spirit through faith – FAITH
Step Two: Enlightenment & Guidance
John 2-5
Once that change becomes reality, the disciple begins learning how to “put on Jesus Christ” – VIRTUE
Step Three: Growth in Christ
Luke 4-6
 
The disciple grows more and more into the fullness that God has for him in Jesus Christ.  – KNOWLEDGE
Step Four: Ministry Development
Luke 6-9
 
The inward transformation of Christ’s Word begins to become an outward reality of righteousness that results in ministry to others. – SELF-CONTROL
Step Five: Testing
John 6-8 (Understand how God uses ‘death of a vision)
Ministry will always involve “fiery trials” (I Peter 4:12) These build endurance and work to reveal the power and glory of Christ in your life. (Rom 5:2-3) – STEADFASTNESS
Step Six: Ministry in the Power of Christ
Luke 10-19, John 9-12
The disciple ministers with a greater awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit, whether as a leader or a worker. The ministry is of and through Christ, not the disciple’s natural abilities. – GODLINESS
Step Seven: Fruit through the Fullness of Christ
Luke 20-22, Acts 2,10, John 15
 
The Word continues to manifest the fullness of Christ, resulting in greater love for those around him, and a heart for the needs of the world. Other disciple’s are birthed and the Word continues to profit as God pleases. – LOVE

Seven Stages Explained 

A.  Stage One – Repentance and Faith in Christ

Brings new (changed) life through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit

1)   Grief over our sins against God brings repentance unto salvation. 2 Corinthians 7:10

2)   Repentance produces a change which results in turning toward God Acts 26:20

3)    Repentance has two facets.

  • „ From God. The work of ‘regeneration’ which results in our inner man becoming alive to God and our ‘old man’ or nature being put to death. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Titus 3:5, Eph 2:4-5
  • „ From Man. Our response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit which produces inner change and keeps us growing in Christ.

4)    Those unwilling to change or submit to the Holy Spirit cannot be discipled.

5)    Baptism is a revealer of one’s willingness to repent before the Lord. Acts 2:37-38

B.    Stage Two – Enlightenment & Guidance

Learning of the One who gave me new life. Matthew 11:28-30

1)    The Christian Life is meant to be an “exchanged life.”[1]

What Do We Exchange?

What we give up

What we get in return

Our sin

2 Cor. 5:21

Christ’s Righteousness

Wrath of God

Rom. 5:1

Peace with God

Condemnation (Hell)

Eph. 2:6,19

Father’s House (Heaven)

Death

Gal. 2:20

Life

The Old Man

2 Cor. 5:17

The New Man

Law

Rom. 7:4-6

Grace

Our weakness

1 Cor. 12:9-10

His Strength

Our Impurity

Heb. 10:21-22

His purity

External morality

Eph. 1:4

Holiness of God

Self strength

Is. 40:31

God’s Power

Tribulation

Eph. 2:14

Peace

Defeat

1 Cor. 15:57

Victory

Sorrow

John 15:11

Joy[2]

2)    We are to put on Jesus Christ. Romans 13:14, Galatians 3:27

3)    We are seated with Christ, which is to say we rest upon Christ. Ephesians 2:6

4)    Disciples learn to live every aspect of their lives in the faith of Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:20

5)    Disciples can derail growth in Christ by acting or trying in the flesh. Romans 8:4-8

C.    Step Three: Growth in Christ

Participating with Christ to build His Body

1)    The whole body is built up as we grow in Christ.

Ephesians 4:14-16 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

2)    As you grow in Christ, so will your desire to participate in the ministry to His body-the church.

3)    Jesus was always giving His disciples an opportunity to get involved in ministry to others. (The feeding of the 5,000 & 4,000, the sending forth into the towns to preach the Kingdom of God, his very call in Matthew 4:19)

4)    The Life of Christ in us is not to be a Lake (because it becomes the Dead Sea). It is to be a River, flowing from Christ through us to the thirsty.

John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”

5)    Growth in Christ involves Character building, being conformed to Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

D.   Step Four: Ministry Development

The Righteousness of Christ manifests itself outwardly in ministry to those around you.

Philippians 1:9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The need for the “Exchanged Life” will be apparent as you minister, for regardless of the capacity in which you serve, the work must be of God!

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

1)    Who makes a good partner in the ministry of the Gospel?

  • One who follows Christ – Matthew 4:19
  • One who learns of Christ – Matthew 11:28
  • One who knows the power of the Cross in their life – 1 Cor 1:17-18
  • One who in weakness depends totally upon Christ – 1 Cor 1:26-29
  • One who knows intimately Jesus Christ and Him crucified – 1 Cor 2:1-2
  • One who glories in his weakness so that he can know the grace and power of Christ – 2 Cor 12:9
2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2)    Who makes a bad partner in the ministry of the Gospel?

  • One who puts his confidence in his flesh (talents, abilities) – Phil 3:3
  • One who sets his mind on fleshly things – Romans 8:7,8
  • One who cannot control his tongue – James 3:5-6
  • One who does not submit to authority – 1 Peter 2:13
  • One who holds a high opinion of himself (pride) – Romans 12:3
  • One who has bitterness – Hebrews 12:15
  • One who has temporal values – 1 John 2:15, 1 Cor 10:7
  • One who has moral impurity – Hebrews 12:16, 1 Cor 10:8
  • One who has broken relationships due to lack of love for others – 1 John 4:19-21

E.    Step Five: Testing

Learning to depend upon Christ

Jesus said “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). The chosen picture those followers who have the favor of God because they have responded to His discipline. Between the calling and chosen status (being favored as a son), there is always discipline. That discipline takes the form of testing and trials. You must expect it, you must endure it if you are to be “chosen.” Even Paul remarked on many who had turned back from the Lord, because their love for this world weakened their resolve to endure.

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.

1)    Expect your resolve to follow Christ to be tested and tried.

1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

2)    Understand trials and tests prove the genuineness of your faith and result in Christ being glorified.

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.

3)    Learn to welcome trials as close friends. (Count it all joy)

James 1:2 When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. (Phillips translation)

4)    Understand that when God is working supernaturally, He works “death of a vision” in our life.

Death of a Vision

This means he will give us a “vision” of what He wants us to do, but due to events, that vision seems to die. This is how God works:

  • „  Abraham – Promised to be a great nation, then spent 25 years waiting for a son, then asked to sacrifice his son.
  • „  Joseph – Dreamed of being great, then 13 years in Egypt as a slave, much of it in jail.
  • „  Moses – Wanted to free his people, then 40 years in hiding
  • „  David – Anointed the future king of Israel, then 10 years on the run from Saul
  • „  Paul – Called to be a messenger to the Gentiles, then spent years in obscurity in Arabia
  • „  The Apostles – believed Jesus was establishing a Kingdom, but that dies with Him on the Cross.

F.    Step Six: Ministry in the Power of Christ

Learning that all ministry is of Him, through Him and for Him

1)    Jesus did not minister in power until He endured testing

Luke 4:1-2 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil… Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee

2)    Ministry must be done in the Power of Christ, and not in the power of the flesh.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

3)    Faith is never to be in man, but in the Power of God

1 Corinthians 2:3-5 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

4)    Anyone who ministers is only a conduit for the power of God

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the Excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

G.   Step Seven: Fruit through the Fullness of Christ

Learning that bearing Fruit is His responsibility, not mine

1)    Bearing Fruit is a natural process of abiding on the Vine

John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

2)    Discipleship is all about Fruit from the Fullness of Christ

Philippians 1:9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

3)    The Purpose of the Gospel within us is FRUIT and GROWTH

Colossians 1:5-6 Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,


[1] the exchanged life is Christ living His life through us, rather than us trying to make life work through our own efforts and resources. It is made possible by the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6-8)


How can I be effective in my prayer life?

  • The desire to pray reveals God’s presence in our lives. Our concern for our prayer lives is evidence that God is at work in our lives and that we are (to some extent at least) responsive to him. How many of us were concerned about our prayer lives before we came to Christ? Thank God for this evidence of our regeneration.
  • Expect aversion to prayer due to our sin nature. We should not be surprised or fall under accusation when we feel extreme aversion to prayer. This shows us that our sinful nature is still operative, and is not a reliable indicator of our spiritual health. We should disregard such feelings and choose to communicate with God (Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would).
  • God accepts us fully in spite of our poor prayer lives, and he is committed to patiently teach us how to pray (Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God).
  • In EVERYTHING give thanks. Phil. 4:6,7 connects the peace of God with thanksgiving. As we present our requests to God we must also thank him for his loving sovereignty and faithfulness. Prayer with thanksgiving for God’s loving sovereignty will allow our hearts to rest in Him. Unless we temper our petitions with this, we tend to become self-focused, worried and anxious. Doubts and bitterness can come crawling into our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Understand Why We Should Pray

We pray because we realize we can not live this life on our own. We must see our needs. We must see the needs of our family and friends. We must see the needs of our country, our schools, our government. If we have no needs, we will have no prayer life. If we know we have needs, then we need to know how to pray for those needs. We must see ourselves before the throne of God! Grace should be our daily meal, grace that can only be obtained at the Throne of God!

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Understand What We Should Pray

Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

  • Pray for those who have hurt us, or have caused us grief, or have abandoned us, that we will continue to love them and desire God’s grace for their lives.

Matthew 6:9-13 Pray then like this: “Our Father 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 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

  • Pray for the Name of God to be upon our life, our family, our church
  • Pray that God will use us to accomplish His will in our church and our community.
  • Pray that we will forgive all those who have hurt us or have hurt ones we love.
  • Pray that God will deliver us from evil and the evil one.

Matthew 9:38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

  • Pray to the Lord of the Harvest, that He will send fellow laborers

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

  • Place our desires at the Cross and trust and believe we will have them!

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

  • Forgive any and every offence or anyone who has caused your grief.

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

  • Pray that we do not faint or become discouraged and weak.

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

  • Pray always, and watch, and desire to always stand before the Lord

Romans 8:26  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

  • Pray with the Holy Spirit as your guide and even your voice.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

  • Pray for others, that they would be reconciled to God. We all know unsaved and Christians alike who need to be reconciled.

2 Corinthians 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

  • Pray that we would receive the gift that empowers us to fellowship with Christ as He ministers to the saints, and that we would undertake that ministry with Him. I believe the greatest need of our jaded USA is reaching the saints that no longer walk in the Grace of God because of the failure of fleshly churches and believers.

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

  • Pray with all prayer and pleadings as the Holy Spirit prompts us. Pray for the saints.

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

  • Pray that our love will abound more and more

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

  • Pray that we will be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, that our spiritual understanding will be opened to see our circumstances from God’s point of view.

Colossians 4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

  • Pray that God would open doors for us to bring witness of Jesus Christ to our lost friends and neighbors.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

  • Pray that we will be faithful to God’s calling, and that He would use us to fulfill the good pleasure of the good He wants to accomplish, and that our efforts will be clothed in faith and His power!

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

  • Pray that the Word of God would have a smooth highway in our lives (no potholes or roadblocks), and would be glorified through our lives.

1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

  • Pray that our prayers are without any doubts or fleshly desires, but that they are based on the Holiness of God.

Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

  • Pray that we will live and speak with honesty

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

  • Pray in the Holy Spirit, that we will be built upon our most holy faith.

Understand Effective Praying:

“Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will on God, or for bending his will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to his. It is by prayer that we seek God’s will, embrace it, and align ourselves with it. Every true prayer is a variation on the theme `your will be done.'” (John R. W. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: The Epistles of John (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1983), p. 185.)

We can be confident that God will grant our requests only when our requests are according to his will (see 1 Jn. 5:14,15). We are free to ask for whatever we wish, but unless scripture explicitly states that our request is God’s will, we cannot be confident that God will answer in the affirmative.

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Don’t get bogged down in trivia

“Most of us . . . get bogged with down with trivia: Jane’s sinus trouble, Ben’s discouragement, Mary’s problem with her mother-in-law . . .  All of these may be important, but prayer, like warfare, calls for strategy. It is said of Napoleon that he would watch the development of his battles from a vantage, quietly analyzing the situation while he watched. His key general would watch with him. ‘That farm,’ he once said to Marshall Ney, ‘that farm that you can see on the ridge there. Take it. Seize. Hold it. For if you can, the battle is won.’

In praying for the Ephesians, Paul was aware that if the key to the whole battle was won, lesser skirmishes would sort themselves out rather easily. Smaller problems are so often symptomatic of larger issues . . . Prayer must be directed to that which is the key. It concerns itself with strategy, not with tactics . . . If therefore one thinks that Paul’s prayer is spiritual and not practical, it is a sign of how blind he is to what life is all about . . . “  (John White, Daring To Draw Near (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977), p. 137.)

Strategic Prayer Requests:

  • More practical insight into scripture so that you can apply it to your life (Col. 1:9,10).
  • Better understanding of what God has given you in Christ (Eph. 1:16-19) and how much God loves you (Eph. 3:18,19).
  • Greater love for other people (1 Thes. 3:12) and better discernment on how to love them effectively (Phil. 1:9).
  • Opportunities for witness and the courage and wisdom to make the most of those opportunities (Col. 4:2-4*; Eph. 6:19,20).
  • Spiritual empowering and protection for ministry (2 Thes. 2:16-3:3).
  • Exposure of attitudes that are counterproductive to your spiritual growth (Phil. 3:15; Ps. 139:23,24).
  • Wisdom to understand what God wants to teach you through adverse circumstances that are in your life (Jas. 1:5).
  • That God may raise up more workers (Matt. 9:36-38).

You never see Jesus wasting time with anthills. Jesus focused on mountains. Our prayers should focus on great obstacles being cast into the sea, so that the Will of God can be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven!


Are you ready to Give up and Grab Hold? The plow is sitting out in the field. It needs someone to grab hold and help steer. God provides the power, but He needs faithful disciples to grab hold. The decision to become a Disciple of Jesus Christ is not a decision you make lightly. Nor is it a decision you can forget about and go on your merry way. David had made a decision to follow God, follow so closely that God’s Heart would become David’s heart. God never let David forget that decision. God used test after test to reveal those things in David’s heart and life that were getting in the way of his Discipleship decision. If you make such a decision, God will do the same to you.

God seeks to accomplish three things in the life of a Disciple. Those three things are revealed in Jer 9:24. They are “hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah”. He delights in these three things. These three things are His “good pleasure.”  As Paul wrote: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.(Phil 2:12b-13). If a disciple is to understand anything about God, it is that He will constantly be working in your life to accomplish these three things, for they are His “good pleasure.” If we are to boast in anything, it is only that we know and understand God, that He delights in these three things.

God used every test that David faced to grow and develop these three things in his life. These three things are the very foundation of God’s Kingdom here on Earth, of Jesus’ Kingdom during the millennium, of the Kingdom that the Church has been charged to usher into this world.

You may doubt the significance of these three things. I hope not. Ever since the Holy Spirit revealed this to me, the Word of God has shouted at me with LIFE! 40 years I have been in the Word, and I just last year saw this. I don’t find anyone teaching this on the internet or in writings. I believe it is truth God wants for our age.

David revealed their importance in Psalm 106.

Psalm 106:1-5 “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His loving-kindness is everlasting. Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, Or can show forth all His praise? How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times! Remember me, O LORD, in Your favor toward Your people; Visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, That I may glory with Your inheritance.”

A. They are the Grounds for Praise and Thanksgiving!

1.  Give thanks for His ‘hesed’ (loving-kindness, unfailing love)– it is everlasting
    • His hesed is the basis of His mighty deeds and bountiful praise. We do nothing to earn it or deserve it.
    • Justice is something we must covet, guard, desire, submit to. It is not of us but of God.
    • Requires commitment of heart, soul and strength. 24/7 diligence.
2.  Keep mishpat (Justice) and you will enjoy blessing
3.  Practice (accomplish) tsedaqah (Righteousness) at all times

B. They are the Grounds for Favor and Salvation!

God’s Steadfast Love (hesed), Justice (mishpat) and Righteousness (tsedaqah), when embraced and exercised, will empower disciples to:

1.  See the prosperity (well-being) of the chosen (Result of hesed changing our Heart’s Desire)
2.  Joy in the gladness of Your Nation (Result of mishpat bringing God’s design into our House and Dependants)
3.  Glory with Your Inheritance (Result of the Victory of Righteousness that produces the Hope of a Godly inheritance)

The rest of Psalms 106 is a revelation of what happens when we resist hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah.

Psalm 106:6-48 We have sinned like our fathers, We have committed iniquity, we have behaved wickedly. Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known.

Psalm 106:8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

God saved them for the sake of His Name.Yet look at how they resisted Him:

  • They quickly forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel, But craved intensely in the wilderness, And tempted God in the desert.
  • Thus they exchanged their glory For the image of an ox that eats grass.
  • They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt, Wonders in the land of Ham And awesome things by the Red Sea.
  • Then they despised the pleasant land; They did not believe in His word, But grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the LORD.
  • Therefore He swore to them That He would cast them down in the wilderness, And that He would cast their seed among the nations And scatter them in the lands.
  • They joined themselves also to Baal-peor, And ate sacrifices offered to the dead. Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, And the plague broke out among them.
  • They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah, So that it went hard with Moses on their account; Because they were rebellious against His Spirit, He spoke rashly with his lips.
  • They did not destroy the peoples, As the LORD commanded them, But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, And served their idols, Which became a snare to them.
  • They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood.
  • Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds.
  • Many times He would deliver them; They, however, were rebellious in their counsel, And so sank down in their iniquity.

Nevertheless He looked upon their distress When He heard their cry; And He remembered His covenant for their sake, And relented according to the greatness of His loving-kindness.

Even in Judgment He Loved them because of His Name! Discipleship is simply the following of God’s Name with all our heart, soul and strength!

He also made them objects of compassion In the presence of all their captors. Save us, O LORD our God, And gather us from among the nations, To give thanks to Your holy name And glory in Your praise. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the LORD!

The Journey through the Wilderness provides us everything we need to learn about what will prevent us from becoming Disciple’s of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew’s being led by Moses constantly resisted God, and so refused to advance in hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah. 

But before we look at their example, we must see what God did when David humbled himself and cried out to God amidst the ashes of Ziklag…

David Hasaq’d himself in Jehovah Elohim

Last week we left David “hasaq(ing)” himself in Yahweh Elohim. Instead of becoming angry at God because of what had happened, David humbled himself, confessed his sins, and reached up to God, counting on His hesed, committing himself to following His justice and claiming His righteousness!

1 Samuel 30:7

David then called for the Priest, Abiathar, to enquire of the Lord with the Ephod. God gae instruction to pursue the raiders, and God assured David he would overtake them and rescue all of their families. God then led them to find an Egyptian slave who had been left behind due to a divinely appointed sickness. He gave David the intel they needed. They pursued and found the Amelikites scattered and revelling in their good fortune. They were easily defeated by David and his men. And as God had promised, nothing was lost, not even one toe nail of their families and possessions. In fact there was great spoil taken over and above what they had lost.

David and his men, their wives and children returned to Ziklag, and even divided things evenly, even with the men who had been too discouraged to pursue. (This represents a principle of Victory-it benefits everyone, especially those disciples who are weak with discouragement, or are simply feeding or working in the nursery, teaching the kids) Following the Lord in victory brings strength and bounty to all.

I want us to realize (as we’ll see), that with God, Victory results in Righteousness. Righteousness results in Victory. When even a few stand in Righteousness, the whole is benefited. When no one stands in Righteousness, the whole suffers terribly. However, only one kind of Righteousness is truly Victory. That is the Righteousness that comes from God alone. Righteousness which is by Faith alone. There is no room for self-righteousness or self-effort.

David also shared the Victory with all those who had strengthened him along the way.

1 Samuel 30:26-31 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, …and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to go… saying, “Behold, a gift for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD “

David was back and battling against the enemies of the Lord! He wanted Judah to know it, that they could count on him when it came to battles against the enemies of the Lord. David was also showing his thankfulness to God and the people who had been a source of encouragement all those years.

When we are zealous for the Lord, we will be zealous in our gratitude for those who encourage us.

Unto the elders of Judah—These were the persons among whom he sojourned during his exile, and who had given him shelter and protection. Gratitude required these presents.[1]

1 Samuel 31

Meanwhile, a real battle was raging on Mt Gilboa, between the forces of Saul and the Philistines. The Philistines prevailed. Saul’s sons, including Jonathon, were killed. Saul was mortally wounded, and fearing what the Philistines would do to his body, fell on his own sword after his armor bearer refused. When the Israelites saw their King dead, they knew the battle was lost, and fled. The Philistines took over the area, and

The Philistines, finding Saul and his three sons among the slain, strip them of their armor, which they put in the house of Ashtoreth, cut off their heads, send the news to all the houses of their idols, and fasten the bodies of Saul and his three sons to the walls of Beth-shan, vv. 8-10. Valiant men of Jabesh-gilead go by night, and take away the bodies; burn them at Jabesh; bury their bones under a tamarisk tree; and fast seven days, vv. 11-13.[2]

2 Samuel 1

An Amalekite comes to David, and informs him that the Philistines had routed the Israelites; and that Saul and his sons were slain, vv. 1-4. And pretends that he himself had despatched Saul, finding him ready to fall alive into the hands of the Philistines, and had brought his crown and bracelets to David, vv. 5-10. David and his men mourn for Saul and his sons, vv. 11, 12. He orders the Amalekite, who professed that he had killed Saul, to be slain, vv. 13-16. David’s funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, vv. 17-27.[3] Look how David honored Saul and Jonathan:

2 Samuel 1:23-27 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, And in their death they were not parted; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. “How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful Than the love of women. “How have the mighty fallen, And the weapons of war perished!”

Here is David, expressing a heart that holds no bitterness for the way he had been treated. Here is a grateful heart, a heart that is submissive to God, and so he can praise King Saul with an upright heart. God’s hesed was certainly at work in David’s heart!

2 Samuel 2

David, by the direction of God, goes up to Hebron, and is there anointed king over the house of Judah, vv. 1-4. He congratulates the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead on their kindness in rescuing the bodies of Saul and his sons from the Philistines, vv. 5-7. Abner anoints Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel; over whom he reigned two years, vv. 8-10. David reigns over Judah, in Hebron, seven years and six months, v. 11. Account of a battle between Abner, captain of the Israelites, and Joab, captain of the men of Judah; in which the former are routed with the loss of three hundred and sixty men: but Asahel, the brother of Joab, is killed by Abner, vv. 12-32.[4]

After 10 years of being on the run, going through every test a disciple could imagine, David is ready to reign as King. The Kingdom is still divided. Abner has put one of Saul’s sons as King over the Northern tribes. But for the next 7 years, Saul’s house will decline, while David’s will increase.

Why did David Succeed where Saul Failed?

It began as a young shepherd who fell in love with God and His Law. As he meditated on the Law, God brought all these wonderful insights into his life. He observed and learned the Ways of God.  The Law became the Psalms. The statutes became testimonies of God’s Word in David’s life! David saw the importance of hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!

Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

David’s very life became a testimony to God Law and the mishpat that it contains. “The mishpat of the Lord is true and righteous, more to be desired than honey, or even fine Gold. In keeping His mishpat there is great reward,” and Victory!

Have you made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as His Disciple?

I am not talking about your decision to ask Him into your heart. I am talking about your decision to abandon everything this world offers, and cling totally to Jesus Christ.

  • NASB Luke 14:33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
  • NLT Luke 14:33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
  • ESV Luke 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

You say “I need to hang on to my possessions to use them for the Lord. After all, who is going to provide clothes for the naked, food for the hungry and water for the thirsty?”

  • Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

If that is the reason you place such great store on your possessions, you are sadly mistaken. God knows the motives of your heart. He sees the greed, the lack of trust that is revealed by what you cling to. Whatever you do for the Lord, the test will be “did you do it because you are a disciple, or did you do it because you feel guilty?, or you feel it helps you, or it makes you feel good?” If you do anything for the Lord while clinging to your possessions, you have already lost your reward. The only way to keep the reward of Jesus Christ is to be a Disciple, and serve because He is Lord!

  • Matthew 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

That was the reason He told that group of ‘do-gooders’ to “depart, I never knew you!” They were doing good, they were saying “Jesus things”, but they had never given themselves completely to Him.

Are You Ready To Give Up and Grab Hold?

Understand the Lessons of the Tabernacle and the Wilderness Journey:

A. God’s Hesed is in the Centrality of the Ark

1.  Ark of the Covenant.-Law was added as a witness against them.

Deuteronomy 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

2.  Covered with the golden lid- kappōret – the mercy-seat.

Exodus 25:21-22 And you shall put the mercy-seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

The Ark was the testimony of God’s Covenant with His people, symbolic of His protection, provision, and blessing. Through the mercy-seat God could have a personal relationship with sinful man. It symbolized His unfailing love to a very fallible and failed man.

God made a covenant with His people. He was building a Nation, centered around the theme of REDEMPTION, bringing them into a Promised land, a land of milk and honey, a land where He would be their God, their King, their protector, and provider. It represented a victorious land, a land where the enemies of the Lord would be vanquished. Those enemies represented the flesh, sin and Satan.

B. God’s Mishpat is in the Centrality of the Tabernacle

1.  Wherever the Hebrews would go, God’s Justice was to reign as the Law of the land.
    • His justice would guide everything
    • Tent of Meeting became the Tabernacle located in the very heart of the Hebrews.
2.  Justice was centered around the Word and Worship of God.
    • Justice is not Political but Moral.
    • Morality comes through a change within, not from without. True Morality is not legislated.
3. The Tabernacle represented the mishpat of God. It was in the center of the 12 tribes.

As the Lord lays out in detail his design for the Tabernacle, he says, “Set up this Tabernacle according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain” (26:30). The word translated here as “pattern” is, in Hebrew, mishpat, which ordinarily means “justice” or “ordinance.” The unusual use of mishpat in this verse underscores the authority of God’s design. Moses and the Israelites were to be guided by the divine pattern when they set up the Tabernacle[5].

4.  The Temple was designed and built according to the “mishpat” of God.

1 Kings 6:38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.

 The high priest wore a pouch called the breast piece of justice, containing the Urim and Thummim by which decisions were obtained from the Lord (Ex. 28:30). Doing what was right and just in the Lord’s eyes was far more important than presenting sacrifices to Him (Gen. 18:19; Prov. 21:3, 15).[6]

  • He executes justice [mishpat] for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146:7–9
  • The LORD your God . . . defends the cause [mishpat]of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:17–18
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8

C.  God’s Righteousness is Seen in His Victories!

Deuteronomy 6:24-25 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’

God promised His people Victory in everything they did, if they followed His mishpat. He termed this victory “Blessing” He assured them that Blessings would pursue them, the image being of a linebacker pursuing the quarterback, only in a good way.

1.  Righteousness is Victory from the Lord, from His Strength

The oldest meaning of tsedaqah, as judged by its use in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-31), appears to be ‘victory’.

Judges 5:11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.

1 Samuel 12:7 Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers.

When God and Israel mutually fulfill their covenant obligations to each other, a state of righteousness can be said to exist – that is, things are saddiq, ‘as they should be’.

2. Israel’s triumphant victories over her enemies were seen as proofs of the sidqot ’adonay (Victories of God)

In other words, God has bound himself by covenant to ‘make things right’ for his people, and to do so by acting unilaterally on their behalf. It’s true, the “range of meaning” of the word tsedaqah incorporates other meanings, but this meaning is particularly stressed in the Old Testament. .[7]

3.  Righteousness was Promised in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute mishpat and tsedaqah in the earth.

The strongly soteriological overtones of the term tsedaqah can be illustrated from a number of passages in which ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ are practically equated, particularly in many passages within Isaiah:

I will bring my tsedaqah near, it is not far away, And my salvation will not be delayed. (Isaiah 46:13)

How Then Should We Pray?

Isaiah 5:7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment (mishpāṭ), but behold oppression (miśpāḥ), for righteousness (ṣedāqâ), but behold a cry (seʾāqâ)[8]

We should be as the widow woman who came everyday to the unjust judge. She cried out for JUSTICE! In Isaiah 5, God looks for justice (mishpat) but sees only mispah or oppression. God looked for righteousness (tsedaqah) but found people crying (tseaqa). It is a play on words, for God sees the opposite of what He desires on earth. The word for “cry” is the same word in Genesis 19:13, which depicts the outcry against the sin of Sodom against the Lord. God is searching our country, hoping to find justice and righteousness, but instead He hears the cry of the oppressed and the sinful.

Genesis 19:13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

What Should be our Response to Jesus’ plea for Disciples?

We should literally transfer ownership of everything we own, every dream we have, every hope in our heart, and lay it all at the foot of Jesus Christ. He is Lord, and we should hold nothing back. We should then cry out to Him to see Justice and Righteousness here on earth as it is in heaven! We must confess our fleshly attitudes, our bitterness, our temporal values and our moral impurity. We must get rid of every ‘besetting’ sin or habit or item that will hinder us from pursuing hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!

Lift up the Name of God in your Life, You House and your World!

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

When we resist the Grace of God, we hinder God’s hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah from working in our lives. When we resist the Grace of God, we are being like the Jews in the wilderness, who were overcome in the wilderness, because they failed to believe God’s Word, failed to trust completely in God, and failed to obey God. They failed the Discipleship Test. The following chart illustrates how the Father of Lies works through our stubbornness and sinful resistance of God. Satan even has counterfeit hesed, mishpat & tsedaqah, based upon man’s wisdom and man’s self-effort. Satan does not want us to Honor the Name of God!

Our only decision should be to join the battle of the Name of the Lord! He needs our full and undivided support! He needs us to join Him in fighting the Father of Lies. He needs warrior who are Mighty in Spirit, exercising hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!


[1] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 30”.

[2] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 31”.

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

[4] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2 Samuel 2”.

[6] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 687.

[8] James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “6818”.


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”.