Lesson 1 Part 4 – Three principles to guide discipleship training (Video)

This is the fourth video of our Lesson 1 discipleship training. It addresses important truths for growing in the Christians life. It also looks at three essential principles that will guide the remainder of this discipleship training.

What is God’s response to the proud?

“Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, none will go unpunished.” Proverbs 16:5

This verse really hit home with me today. God detests or loathes (“abomination”) those who are “proud in heart.” Pride is what led Lucifer or Satan, the most beautiful and intelligent of all God’s angels, to rebel against God and establish a rival kingdom (cf. Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:11-19). If that is not enough reason to avoid pride, then know that no proud person will “go unpunished” even “though they join forces.” This last phrase literally means “though they are hand to hand.”

An example of this unified effort of proud people is seen in the making of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. When the people of the world tried to preserve their unity and make a name for themselves by building a magnificent tower whose “top is in the heavens” lest they “be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:1-4), the Lord came down and “scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth” by confusing their “language” which held them together (Genesis 11:9). God had instructed the people to “fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28; 9:1), but they rebelled against God’s will and placed their security in a large city and tower. God confused their language to force them to do what they were unwilling to do – “fill the earth.”

This spirit of Babel can be seen in the early church in Jerusalem. When the early church in Jerusalem refused to obey Jesus’ command to spread the gospel beyond Jerusalem (Acts 1:8; 2:1-6:7), the Lord allowed persecution to scatter them “throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (Acts 6:8-8:4).

The Lord Jesus has commanded all Christians to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone” (Mark 16:15) and to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19). When believers place their security in large gatherings of Christians instead of in the Lord Jesus Christ and refuse to go to the lost, He may bring difficulties into their lives to persuade them to obey His command to go to the lost people of a different culture or nation.

It is much better to obey the Lord than to act independently of Him. God is not against large churches. But He is against the proud who refuse to obey His commands. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). When pride fills our hearts, we are declaring war against God.But please understand this: No one has ever won a fight against God and no one ever will.

Just ask the kings of Egypt (Exodus 1-14) and Babylon (Daniel 4-5). They were proud men who thought they had built their kingdoms on earth and no one could destroy them. They viewed the God of the Bible as a powerless deity or as a figment of one’s imagination. Each of them learned the truth of Proverbs 16:5 the hard way. “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, none will go unpunished.”  

Those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ can also be filled with pride. When James wrote his letter to Jewish believers, he also warned them of the pitfalls of pride. James’ readers were engaged in fighting with one another because they proudly gave in to their selfish desires much like the world (James 4:1-3).  James warned them and said that their friendship with the world was “enmity with God. Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). If we commit adultery with the world, God is not going to sit back and do nothing. His “Spirit Who dwells in us us yearns jealously” for God’s bride (James 4:5). He does not want to share His bride with anyone, especially this world.

So what does a jealous God do with His children when they proudly commit adultery with the world? He “resists the proud” (James 4:6a). God opposes His children who proudly attach themselves to this world. Why? Because such pride imitates the king of pride – the Devil who exalted himself above God (Isaiah 14:12-14). The only solution is for believers to “humble” themselves before the Lord to experience an outpouring of His “grace” (James 4:6b).

How do we humble ourselves? First, we must “submit to God” (James 4:7a). We do this by recognizing our own weaknesses and stop fighting with God. We then yield to God as our ultimate and final authority. Second, we “resist the devil” (James 4:7b) by speaking Scripture to him just as Jesus did in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-10), and then the devil “will flee from you” (James 4:7c) as he fled from Jesus (Matthew 4:11). Third, we “draw near to God and He  will draw near to” us (James 4:8a). We do this through repentance – “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8b). We live in a world that calls wrong right and right wrong. Those are expressions of pride.

James says to “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). When we sin against God we are to agree with Him that it is sin. The world downplays sin and rejects personal responsibility. But Christians are to do the opposite. We must take sin seriously as God does and stop blaming others for our sinful choices. I like what one author writes, “God’s elevator to the top always starts with a trip down.” Humility leads to exaltation. Pride leads to humiliation.

If you are like me, however, the daily news reports make it seem like the proud and the wicked are growing in numbers and unity, with little or no punishment for their behaviors. It seems that right is wrong and wrong is right. Truth is no longer important. But listen: God is not done yet. He remains faithful to His Word.And He says that those who are proud in heart are an “abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, none will go unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5).

This verse does not say when the punishment of the proud will take place. But the Bible tells us it could occur in this life (Nehemiah 9:9-11; Ezekiel 18:4-32; Acts 5:1-11; Romans 1:18-32; 13:1-7; James 1:14-15) or in the life to come (Malachi 4:1; Romans 2:1-11). One thing is for sure, the proud will not go unpunished. Those who proudly refuse to believe or trust in Christ alone for their salvation will experience eternal punishment in the lake of fire (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Revelation 20:15; 21:8). God will see to that. Our responsibility is to keep our eyes on “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25).

Multiplying followers of Jesus – Part 3

“And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.” John 6:11

When I hold a basketball in my hands, it is merely a basketball, but when the same ball is in the hands of Michael Jordan, it turns into collegiate and professional championships. Put a golf club in any of our hands, and it is merely a golf club, but when you place that same golf club in the hands of Tiger Woods, it turns him into the best golfer in the world. A paintbrush in my hands results in an average picture if I paint by numbers, but when a paintbrush was placed in the hands of Renoir, it turned into incredible works of art. How is it that the same instruments and the same tools can bring about such differing degrees of results? It all depends upon who is holding them and how they are being used.

In John 6:1-13, we learn what can happen when we place what we have in God’s hands. The Lord Jesus commands His church in Matthew 28:19 to “make disciples of all the nations.”  We have learned so far that if the Lord is going to multiply disciplers of His grace and truth, we must admit that we have a need (John 6:1-7) and assess what we already have (John 6:8-10). Today, we will also learn that we must ALLOW GOD TO TAKE WHAT WE HAVE AND MULTIPLY IT (John 6:11-13).

This little boy’s lunch was not much (John 6:9). Five small barley loaves and a couple of sardine-sized fish – about the size of a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Now, I’m sure in a crowd that size someone else had a bigger and better meal. But it was this little boy who admitted his need to give, assessed what he already had, and then offered it to Jesus.

Let’s look at what happens when what we have is placed in Jesus’s hands. “And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.” (John 6:11). Imagine you are among those disciples distributing the food. You start handing it out on the front row. Just a token piece. But at the end of the first row you notice that nothing in your hand has gone away. You still have as much as you started with in your hand. As a matter of fact, it seems to be even larger.

As you get to the second row you are starting to give out bigger pieces. You are getting bolder now because the food in your hand is not decreasing. By the time you get to the third row, you are doing everything you can to get rid of the food and you cannot get rid of it. By the last row you have given away more than you could have carried, but you still have bread and fish in your hands. So you go back to the first row again and start giving everybody all they can eat. Suddenly, you realize that something supernatural is happening – for you can feed as many as you want and still the bread and fish will not go away! All you have to do is give it away to make it stay.

Imagine that Jesus sends you back into this crowd of twenty thousand people and you fill twelve laundry baskets with leftover food! How would you feel? Do you realize that is exactly what happened when Jesus’s disciples gathered the leftovers? 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.’ 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:12-13). If you were a disciple, what would you learn about Jesus by gathering up that much bread? He is One Powerful Person – powerful enough to meet everyone’s needs if we would give Him what we have. We can have little and it will remain little as long as we keep it. But if we have little and give it to Jesus — He will multiply it.

This miracle shows us what can happen when we place what we have in God’s hands. Young people, you may think, “I’m too young, there’s nothing God can do with me.” That is not true. What do you have that you can give to Jesus so He can meet the needs of others? Your time? Your talents? Your cell phone!?! God can even use you to introduce Jesus to people who do not know Him. Nor can you adults say, “Well I don’t have anything to offer,” or “What I’ve got isn’t very much.” Nonsense! This boy had a happy meal… a small lunch… five barley loaves and two sardines. That is not even potluck material at our home church, yet he was willing to place it in the hands of Jesus. He said, “Here, Lord, take it and use it.”

God does not expect you to solve all the problems in your church or in your life. But He does expect you to place yourself in His hands, and leave the rest up to Him. It is like the Greyhound bus motto, “Leave the driving to us.” Place it in God’s hands and let Him take care of the rest. Twenty thousand people went home that day challenged, renewed, and refreshed in part because of the faithfulness of one child. I want you to think about this — how many people will be fed, clothed, loved, encouraged, introduced to Jesus Christ, and discipled in your city or town and beyond because of your faithfulness to give Christ what you have?Sometimes all God wants is for you to be willing. Will you give what you have to Jesus?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, this is such a powerful reminder of what You can do with what we have if we will simply place it in Your hands! Some of us may think or feel that we have nothing to offer You to meet the needs of others. But if you can use a little boy’s lunch to feed thousands of people, you can use whatever we have to meet the needs of people around the world. Lord, I know I have blind spots in my life. If there is something that I have that You want to use to spread Your gospel message around the world and disciple those who believe in You, please show me so I can hand it over to You to multiply followers of You for Your glory! In Jesus’s matchless name I pray. Amen.