December 2, 2008
By Dorie Meendering
Associate Pastor, Women’s Ministry, Resurrection Life Church, Grandville
What a challenge to stay on course through all the emotion of life! It’s important to remember that we are here because God designed us and put us here. We were God’s idea in the first place and He has a special place for us!
However, I Peter 5:8 tell us we have an adversary trying to devour us. He will try to make you feel discouraged and want to give up. But you have the ability to persevere because you have a personal guide, the Holy Spirit, who leads you every step of the way. So, why would you give someone else more power over your life than the Holy Spirit? If some situation has made you want to give up, you are led by the situation and not by the Holy Spirit.
Outlasting the Devil
You can always outlast the devil’s attack by “doing” the Word. The “Word” is usually quite different than how you feel but, it works! And, if the ‘Word’ works, why not do it?
Rom. 12:21 – overcome evil with good
I Peter 3:9 – bless so you receive a blessing
Matt 6:14 & 15 – forgive so you are forgiven
Phil 4:6 & 7 – pray and be thankful with your request
Rom. 15:13 – believe in the God of all hope and receive peace and joy.
Matt. 5:44 & 45 – do good when there’s opportunity
Prov. 2:1-7 – seek God for Wisdom
You do not have to understand everything that happens. “Wondering” can keep you from believing. If you have a divided mind, the Bible says don’t plan on receiving from the Lord. (James 1:6)
There is a Way of Escape
Remember, there is a way of escape so you will be able to bear what you are going through. (I Cor. 10:13) However, several things can block your escape. Take time to examine how your life is lining up with the Word of God. One of the most common things blocking our victory is a lack of forgiveness, or holding on to offense. Since God has forgiven us we are able, and expected, to forgive others. Sometimes the hurt took only 5 minutes but we give it the right to hurt us 10 more years. Why would we be so stubborn and continue to punish ourselves by making the choice to disobey God and not forgive? You should love yourself more than that!
Attack with Tenacity and Perseverance
Recognize who is trying to pull you off course. (I Peter 5:8). If you don’t recognize your enemy, you won’t know how to fight and take your authority to use the power of Jesus’ name. God, in His wisdom, has already laid out the only battle plan that will work and it is found in Ephesians 6: 10-18. Use these tools and choose to be immovable in your faith. Stand firm and don’t let your faith become shipwrecked!
You can outlast the devil!
November 2, 2008
Evangelism Needs Discipleship
By Pastor Brent Matzen, Resurrection Life Church, Grandville
A recent survey sited by Alister McGrath stated that “73% believed that clergy failed to prepare congregations for challenges to their faith.” He later went on to say, “There is a real need for an apologetic ministry within the church for Christians who are unsure about their faith.” Through effective evangelism the church today has seen millions come to acknowledge Christ, yet still three out of four people feel that they have not been adequately equipped to face challenges that arise against their faith. Although they may have responded to an altar-call, they have not progressed beyond that point. The greatest need we face in churches today is discipleship.
Billy Graham realized this need early in his career. He developed a program to transition people from new converts to devoted followers. Graham developed the 3-part system: sermon, counseling, and follow-up. Today, we might call these: evangelism, discipleship, and community. Graham’s son, Franklin, testified to the need for this in his work, Rebel with a Cause, where he recounts that twelve years after making a “decision” for Christ, he needed to be born again. Why did Franklin feel the need to be born again following his decision? Even though he acknowledged Christ, he never began to have a relationship with Him.
As leaders within the church, we have the responsibility to take people further than the altar. Look at Deuteronomy 4:5-6,
“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”
Here we see Moses, the spiritual leader of Israel, teaching the Israelites how to live a life of devotion to the Lord. They have already been redeemed-taken out of Egypt-but now they are shown how to go to the next level. Moses said he would teach the Israelites all that God had commanded him. At Sinai, God gave Moses the Law so that the children of Israel would know how to follow after Him. Interestingly, Moses points out that when the followers of the LORD keep His commandments, the other nations will see their fruit and call them wise and understanding for obeying God’s statutes. Which we also see in Matthew 5:16 when Jesus said “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
In the church today there are people who need to be taught how to follow God, not just profess Him. Questions such as: Why is it important to read the bible? How does one have effective prayer? What is the purpose of tithe and offering? And other topics such as: What bible translation to use, church history, water baptism, and speaking in tongues are areas that need to be taught giving biblical proofs to their validity for the church. Just as we spend time laying out the gospel for salvation, we need to make sure that we are properly discipling laypersons to go deeper into their relationship with God.
Discipleship comes in many ways. For some it is incorporated into weekend services, for others during their midweek services. Some churches have gone beyond the traditional set-up and have implemented bible schools and discipleship classes on additional nights of the week. Regardless of the methodology used, we need to make sure that each person who makes a decision to follow Christ is being taken to the next level. We should also strive to encourage them to grow deeper in their new found faith and equip them with the necessary resources. As pastors, we can prepare the members of our churches to be discipled by spending time with God, studying the Word, and growing spiritually. This prepares us to instruct others. As good shepherds, we protect our flock from the enemy not by fighting their spiritual battles for them, but rather by giving them the tools needed to defeat the enemy’s attacks for themselves.