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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Consistent Discipleship - Paul Strengthens the Churches

Consistency is a very important when it comes to the ministry. The word consistency means being reliable and dependable with a expectation of rational persistence to maintain steady, unchanging, undeviating, and a unfailing ambition to complete a task. The Christian walk has a task. It is to make disciples. The Great Commission is for all believers to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20). Spouses are to grow each other into disciples. Parents are to raise their children as disciples. Neighbors are to raise their neighbors as disciples. Teachers are to raise their students as disciples. Pastors are to raise their sheep in their flock as disciples. The overarching goal of discipleship is to supremely glorify God in the lives of others. The task for every believer is to faithfully live for Jesus in such a way that demonstrates to others the pleasure of knowing Christ, giving them a thirst for the Living Water (John 4:13-14). Piper says, "The Lord is revealed for who He really is when we cherish him as infinitely valuable and satisfying." This describes the lifestyle of the Apostle Paul. Paul had a heart for discipleship. He says in Colossians 1:28 that is it "[Christ] we proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ." In the book of Acts, I have read something awesome that Paul does after his missionary trips. He goes and strengthens the churches he planted. (Acts 14:21-23; 15:36, 40-41; 18:23)

1. Acts 14:21-23, "After they had proclaimed the good news in that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch. They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.” When they had appointed elders for them in the various churches, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the protection of the Lord in whom they had believed."

2. Acts 15:36, 40-41, "Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing...Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches."

3. Acts 18:23, "After he had spent some time there , he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples."

Paul goes to the churches to do something. Maintain a consistent discipleship among the churches he started. He cared about those souls in those places and wanted to go visit them and disciple them with a spirit of exhortation. His desire was not to simple just teach them, but to grow them in their faith. He was a vessel of encouragement for hurting hearts. He was an instrument in the Redeemers hands to work in the hearts of the saints. His job was not to come and drop a theology proper discourse or seminary session on eschatology, but to simply be a consistent discipleship leader who came to comfort, encourage, and grow the faith of the believers in the church.

Therefore, as believers, our great calling is to make disciples. Look at the example of Paul and how he helped those believers. Make it an effort to encourage others and help them with their struggles. Strengthen the faith of those who are doubting and have fear. Be a consistent friend who is there for others in order to mature them in their faith and help them become a cross-bearing follower of Christ who can therefore go and make disciples. This leaves us with this question - who are you discipling? Are you obeying the command of Jesus Christ?

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