GoingFullCircleBlog

Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ


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How God Grows His Children: Step Two

Dad-childBlessed are those who mourn, because they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:4, NASB

Mourning is the cry of a spiritual newborn drawing first breath in God’s world. Before we are reborn we live in sin, like a womb where everything exists for us alone. Then we are born into God’s kingdom, and we cry out in shock that we are no longer the center of everything. But our heavenly Father pulls us to his chest to embrace his newborn child. He lifts us up, wipes our tears, and assures us of his loving presence. Then he begins to feed us and help us walk toward spiritual growth. He comforts us when we are overwhelmed by this big world with its many unknowns. God cannot comfort those who are unwilling to mourn.

Learning to obey the heavenly Father is an ongoing process for his children. Every day we must offer our stubborn will to him again. There will be tears of mourning when we fall or when we are disciplined. And in those times, instead of demanding “God, get me out of this,” we must ask, “God, what can I get out of this? What will you teach me from this?” The comfort of God’s presence enables our obedience and trust. He is growing us in discipleship to send us on mission.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5, NASB

Children go to kindergarten to learn to share their toys, play with others, and obey their teachers. They learn not to hit other children or pitch tantrums. God teaches us gentleness as we learn to depend on him and love others as ourselves. He calls it his great commandment. Total dependence on our Father produces a gentle approach to life. He is growing the heart of a disciple who can love others as he loves us. Those who share gentleness with others are heirs to God’s kingdom.

Of course, the world does not see it that way. The world adores those who are brash and loud. But the gentle are adored by those who know them best. Gentleness does not mean we are forbidden to express strong feelings. But a gentle response to life should replace volatile reaction for a maturing child of God. That kind of gentleness springs from the assurance of God’s presence, and it frees us from the need to response to every threat—real or perceived. Be gentle today!

— Mark Powers

P.S. THIS POST MARKS ONE FULL YEAR OF POSTS ON THIS SITE!  Thanks for being a reader.  May God use what He has taught me to inspire and grow you as His disciple and missionary in your world.  Please leave a comment on what God has done in your life through this Blog.  Thanks.


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How God Grows His Children: Step One

Dad-childWhen he saw the crowds,

he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.

Matthew 5:1, NASB.

In Matthew 5:1–14 we find Jesus’ earliest teaching on the transforming process through which our Father grows disciples. This teaching is commonly known as the Beatitudes because the Latin word for blessing is beatus. The Beatitudes, the opening section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, are a pronouncement of blessing upon those who seek him. But Jesus’ words also challenged the very core of Judaism, the traditional religion of his day.

Jesus’ followers had only recently responded to his call to follow. They had watched his first miracles and had seen the crowds run to him, yet they were spiritual newborns in many ways. They were people like us trying to find the way to real meaning in life. Now Jesus gathered them to teach the life-process through which God grows us to spiritual maturity. This process mirrors 1 Peter 2:2 (HCSB): “Like newborn infants, desire the unadulterated spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it in your salvation.” The reward for submitting to God’s parenting is being blessed by him. Blessing includes happiness but goes deeper. Blessedness comes from knowing God’s peace and presence at the deepest level. True disciples live a lifestyle of worship and are blessed with an unshakable awareness of our Father’s presence, even in the hardest times.

He opened his mouth and began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:2–3, NASB

God created us for eternal significance, but we are born into this world with nothing except what he has given. We have nothing to offer our Heavenly Father that did not first come from him. But “God is love” (1 John 4:8, HCSB). Despite our poverty of spirit, he is a perfect parent and loves us to the fullest extent possible. Nothing we can do can earn more love since he loves us completely already. Yet we are born into this world with a sinful nature leading us to believe we are the center of the universe. A newborn demands instant gratification. A spiritual baby thinks everything should revolve around him or her. To take our first step to God, we must confess that we are spiritually impoverished.

We must not dare think that God’s process for growing disciples is a self-help program. It is far more radical than that. This first step means death to our sinful pride. Poor in spirit is not a state of depression but a place where our self-reliance is broken. Being broken by God hurts, but it is a hurt that leads to being re-made in our Father’s image. We must clearly see our sin through God’s eyes and repent of that sin. There is no way around it. Repentance is not just being sorry, it is being sorry enough to die to self and quit the sin. This first step came at the greatest cost to God—he gave his Son. God took your debt and paid it forever at the cross. And because of that, the kingdom of heaven is yours if you come to Christ as Savior.  — Mark Powers

 

 


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How God Grows Disciples: Introduction

Dad-childHow does God “grow us up” as his disciple? We want to make it complicated, but it really is very simple. The fruit of the Spirit produced in our lives is the evidence of true discipleship: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. These characteristics can only be produced by total surrender to God. We cannot manufacture them ourselves. They are the fruit of shachach and proskuneo, falling before God every day in total submission.

Discipleship is the ongoing process of maturing as a child of the Father. He calls us into relationship by the power of his Son. He leads us into discipleship through the presence of the Spirit. He grows us into spiritual maturity as the Spirit applies his Word to our lives. Discipleship is a process empowered by spirit and truth. The Bible calls it sanctification—being set apart and re-made as God’s own. “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6, HCSB).

How can God take an immature and selfish spiritual child like me and recreate me in his image? In their book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, Pete Scazzero and Warren Bird identify the levels of Christian spiritual maturity from infant to child to adolescent to spiritual adult. As a loving earthly father raises his children, so our loving heavenly Father raises us spiritually. He grows us through a maturing process that Jesus outlines in the Beatitudes. God’s goal is to mature us to the point where we can inherit the family business—his mission of redeeming the world. To do this we must grow to be spiritual parents, able to lead others to be born again and lovingly grow them into spiritual maturity.  In this way, we make disciples who make disciples.

Through his discipling process, God nurtures us to trust and obey him as our Father. Affection, discipline, teaching, and accountability all flow from that relationship. God, our Father, has appointed his Word as our textbook and the Holy Spirit as our tutor in the maturing process.

In chapter five of Matthew, Jesus gathered his new followers to teach them how God grows disciples. Join me here in the coming weeks as we study the discipleship process Jesus presented in the Beatitudes. Don’t miss a week! And may we apply the process weekly to our own lives. Are you ready? 1-2-3 GROW!

— Mark Powers

 


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A Prayer for Those Under Attack this Good Friday

 cross sun fullJesus, keep me near the cross. There a precious fountain,

Free to all a healing stream, flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross be my glory ever,

Till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.

Lord, I am under attack. I know this life is a battlefield between good and evil, but I am taking on enemy fire with no obvious route of escape. I confess that, in my panic, I can only cry out for you to send in air support or heavy artillery. But I hear your voice coming across the radio commanding me to hold my position. So teach me, Lord. Help me know how poor I am in spirit. Mourning my inability to save myself, I throw myself upon your mercy. Use this attack to bring me into a right relationship with you so that your Spirit may pour holiness out of my life in every situation. 

Near the cross! O Lamb of God, bring its scenes before me;

Help me walk from day to day with its shadow o’er me.

In the cross, in the cross be my glory ever,

Till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.

When your Son was on the cross for the sin of the world, he could have called for your rescue. But he remained in your will to his death. And from his death came life eternal. So, too, may the attacks of life produce your will in me. Lord, make me your disciple. — Mark Powers

 

“Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” Public Domain.