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Related to Mike's questions on discipleship I have a question triggered by the way Jesus sent out the Twelve in yesterday's section from Matthew. Should we take this as a model for discipleship training programmes today? Or was it a unique circumstance because it was Jesus Himself and the Twelve?

In our daily newspaper (de Volkskrant) yesterday there was an article describing the programmes and strategies churches are using to try to get some kind of base established in new housing areas in The Netherlands. Most of the approaches are rather low key efforts to get involved in the newly forming communities by providing services such as child care facilities, or 'spiritual centres'. They are often cautious about mentioning God or Jesus up front.

It seemed quite a contrast to Jesus' approach with the Twelve where he sent them to "announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!" (NLT) And if their message was rejected in a place, they should just move on.

Should our discipleship training be like that? If not, why not?

Blessings,
Andrew

Andrew-You raise a good question. However, did he not send pairs out that totaled 72 as well as sending out the 12? Be that as it may what we see here are people being healed, the dead raised, then if they wonder (signs and wonders?) about what is going on they ask the apostles/disciples questions abut their belief. When we get to the story of the Woman at the Well, in the 5th chapter of John we see her doing the same thing, kind of, when she runs back to town and tells them, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? (4:29). The disciples/Apostles are sent out as ambassadors or emissaries of Christ.

When the townspeople come back to the woman after going to see this man, they say,

Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.(4:42).

What the disciples did and the woman also was give their hearers an opportunity to “taste” of things to come.

Psa 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good! How happy is the one who takes shelter in him!

Fabulous call and great insight. More things to think about.

It's a good point that Andrew raises regarding how we are to disciple people today, and how we are to go about making the kingdom of God known to people.

My son Adrian has just come back from 3 months serving at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles where Erwin McManus is the pastor. McManus teaches rather convincingly that the highest value in the Christian life is servanthood which is a byproduct of an even higher value--LOVE!!! My son has been part of intense, intentional discipleship efforts but what he discovered in LA, and what was affirmed was the need to serve our world. In Adrian's words, "Christians talk too much, and they study way too much without it ever making a difference in anyone else's life."
In many parts of the world believers have lost lots of credibility so we need to earn the right to be heard. My son has been one to share the words of the gospel rather overtly but he discovered and experienced a great freedom in knowing that it's okay to just serve people with a 'cup of cold water' as Jesus taught in Matthew 10:42. Christians are long on words often and short on deeds. I think our younger postmodern generation is demonstrating that people will come to believe while they are involved in serving with us. In others belonging comes before believing.

I'm not sure how this is relevant to Andrew's comment about the work in the Netherlands, but if the motives of the people serving is to bring something of the kingdom values in a more tangible way than words, so be it. As francis of assisi said, Preach Christ always, use words when necessary. When a community of believers serve without drawing attention to themselves I wonder if something deep isn't awakened in them that eventually leads to the Saviour. Perhaps that is the way forward with our private and corporate witness.

If anyone is interested check out adrian's website www.thescienceofechoes.com as well as his blog with insights from LA and MOsaic www.xanga.com/chlorinekillsme

Mike, thank you again, for providing this environment to engage the Word and to engage with God's people whom we may never meet until we get to Heaven.

Greetings All...as someone who is just dialing into your blog for the first time I am afraid I might be bringing something up that you guys kicked around and put to bed weeks ago. But you all seem like a gracious bunch, so here goes...apologies for being blasphemous right off the bat. God seems to have chosen deceit to build his kingdom. Abraham used deceit to acquire riches from kings by pawning off Sarah as his sister.Ditto for Isaac. Jacob's deceit with Esau is well documented. This is the foundation on whom God has chosen to build his Kingdom and deceit seems to be a central theme. Every OT story I ask myself "What does this story tell me about God's "personality?"...I find the persistent deceitfulness a bit disturbing. I am sure my skeptical non-Christian friends in my men's group starting next week will find this curious as well. God's richest blessings to all, especially to Mike and my Euro and UK bros and sisses.

Welcome, FishermanDave!

The key thing I take away from the utter and depraved humanity through which God chooses to work is this: that God chooses to accomplish His will and purpose through we humans, faults and all. In so doing, God demonstrates his sovereignity and glorifies Himself (as He should!).

How completely this story of Abraham's descendants points us to our need for God's grace! And how beautifully it demonstrates that God gives us His grace, despite ourselves.

That God uses us - not only despite, but even through our faults, failures, and inherently evil ways - should give us the proper perspective of humility, that apart from God, we can do nothing. It should also give us great hope, that with God, anything is possible!

Hi Fisherman Dave,

Greetings from the sunny Highlands of Scotland ;-)

In addition to agreeing with CB, it also occured to me regarding Jacob and Esau, that Jacob, inspite of dreadful character, valued his inheritance, while Esau despised it. In both Malachi and Romans, God says "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated". If we love our inheritance - eternity with Jesus - then it doesn't matter what our character is regarding God's love for us. That doesn't mean that there aren't consequences to our actions and that God won't discipline us - just look at Jacob! But God's love is not withdrawn or diminished, and his purposes are not thwarted.

I actually spoke on this very topic at our church this morning. You're welcome to listen to me at http://www.madetopraisehim.com/item/333 and leave any comments (including concerns / disagreements that may help me to further develop my thinking).

I'm so glad that God used Jacob, and therefore I can be confident that He can use me :-)

Mark

Genesis 31:17-32:12

So much “stuff’ and so little time to dwell on everything that pops out at me going through the text: Lett’s see, there is fleeing to avoid confrontation but the confrontation catches up with Jacob; household gods, where are they and who took them; a treaty called for by Laban only because he was confronted by Jacob with his duplicitous actions (when you can’t respond change the topic and don’t ask for forgiveness call a truce); and now Esau is coming with an army of 400 men, or so it appears. This is a very busy passage but what really caught my eye and my interest this read though was Jacobs finally calling out to God in prayer for protection.


Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, you said to me, 'Return to your land and to your relatives and I will make you prosper.' I am not worthy of all the faithful love you have shown your servant. With only my walking stick I crossed the Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Rescue me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, as well as the mothers with their children. But you said, 'I will certainly make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand on the seashore, too numerous to count.' "
(Genesis 32:9-12 NET.)

For the first time Jacob faces his fears, doubts, and holds them up to God in the light of His promises. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he brings up to the forefront of his memory what God had told him twenty years before. God has spoken to each of each through His Word and to our hearts. He has laid out the paths He has planned for us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 2:10), our job is to find that path. It thrills my heart to know that I have access to a God, a true god that never gives up on me or disposes of me when I fail to maintain and keep my part of the covenant. God is truly faithful when I am faithless.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Fisherman Dave,

God's Kingdom existed already - it is holy and sinless. Being covered in the blood of Christ allows us entry, but we were and always will be sinners. We don't build the Kingdom, we just spread the news of the Kingdom and its message. (This is my interpretation, and if I am wrong - please someone correct me.)

In Gen 12 Abram had revered God, consulted God and built two altars. then famine hits, and instead of consulting God in prayer and supplication - Abram decides to go to Egypt. After his expulsion from Egypt, Abram's first stop was back to the last altar he built and called on the name of the Lord. A FULL CYCLE.

As to gaining wealth through deceit? Well, Abram is responsible for a lot of people, pharoah does not believe or worship the one true God, pharoah is seperated from some of his wealth, and Abram and his group benefit. God's plan will go ahead, even with the individual sins of the participants. Abram's tribe might have needed this jump-start to ensure growth.

I am a little over my head, so I will stop here. Ramona has a good post on this topic on Jan 5th.


Re: Matt 11

11:2, 3 By now John had been imprisoned by Herod. Discouraged and lonely, he began to wonder. If Jesus were truly the Messiah, why did He allow His forerunner to languish in prison? Like many great men of God, John suffered a temporary lapse of faith. So he sent two of his disciples to ask if Jesus really was the One the prophets had promised, or if they should still be looking for the Anointed One.
11:4, 5 Jesus answered by reminding John that He was performing the miracles predicted of the Messiah: The blind see (Isa. 35:5); the lame walk (Isa. 35:6); lepers are cleansed (Isa. 53:4, cf. Matt. 8:16, 17); the deaf hear (Isa. 35:5); the dead are raised up (not prophesied of the Messiah; it was greater than the predicted miracles). Jesus also reminded John that the gospel was being preached to the poor in fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 61:1. Ordinary religious leaders often concentrate their attention on the wealthy and aristocratic. The Messiah brought good news to the poor.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. 1997, c1995. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

My recollection is that almost all Jews expected a King/Messiah. The exception was the Samarians who were expecting a teacher/Messiah. Regardless there was sharp division in Jesus' time (and today) on whether he was the Messiah, and later on whether he was the Son of God as He declared.

In John's Gospel there was always some who "belived in Him" and others who thought Christ an imposter, liar, or worse. Even a great number of his disciples left him because of "hard" teachings.

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

PS small wonder that Christ made it over to Samaria.


Luch,

Thanks for your comment. It gives a broader context and helps me with my questions.

Greetings,
Andrew

Regarding yesterdays question about fictional books about Biblical characters, etc.: I have six (6) books by Lois T. Henderson: Abigail, Hagar, Lydia, Miriam, Priscilla & Aquila & Ruth - Abigail I read in 1981 & the rest in 1983. I don't even know if these are still in circulation, but they are excellent historically correct & fiction. I have Lord Foulgrin's Letters by Randy Alcorn (which I have yet to read).

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