Each week I have the privilege to sit down with a group of men in the chapel to discuss life and the gospel. During my time in settings like this, I’m reminded of the importance of discipleship. Though discipleship can take on many forms, however it always involves honesty, seeking advice, and Scripture, and someone willing to do all of the above. This time is essential in the growth of a Christian!
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes writes, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10). The Preacher here is writing about the benefit of working together. Two are also better than one as we live out our faith in Christ. We really need each other, though we often try to go at it alone. We really need reproof and instruction, though we seldom seek it out. This is why discipleship is so important.
Discipleship builds humility. Our temptation might be to think we know what is best for ourselves. But Proverbs says that a wise man will hear and learn, and will acquire wise counsel (Proverbs 1:5). So we can safely assume that an unwise man will not hear from others, will shut them down and will not listen, will lack understanding and will not acquire wise counsel. We need to resist the temptation to be wise in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:7). We must humble ourselves!
Discipleship also unites us with fellow believers. The body of Christ isn’t meant to simply exist for us to gather together on Sundays and then move along with our lives the rest of the week. God’s word paints a picture of believers doing life together (Acts 2:44–47). Seeking counsel and discipleship is one way to invite others into your life. And also discipleship equips us for faithfulness. We become faithful when we make ourselves available. In I Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells the church of Corinth to follow his example as he follows the example of Christ. Paul was in the process of raising up leaders in the church and through this discipleship process he wanted them his example. If we want those who we are in discipleship groups with to follow our example then we better walk in faithfulness. And for those who are struggling in this area can learn and be equipped by those who are faithful.
Discipleship needs to happen among Christians! I would never trade the times I have and have had with these men. I have learned so much and I pray they have received from me as well.
As we turn the page and begin a new year in our lives, I wonder, what this new year will hold. What new joys await us this next year? What challenges? What trials and heartaches? What new lessons? What dreams will come true, and what new ones will be birthed?
The great news is that God is the author of 2016! He knows each and every twist and turn that lay ahead both for you and for me. He has planned 2016 down to the tiniest detail—all with the goal of his glory and our good.
So when it comes to facing the new and unexpected, when the future seems frightening and uncertain, and when we come to a new and unfamiliar junction in the road of life, the best and greatest thing we can do is pray.
While the list of things we could pray for this year is endless, I’ve created a list to get us started. Will you join me in praying these things for ourselves and others?
- That we would know the love of Christ.This is one of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians. It is a prayer that opens our eyes to seeing Christ’s love in new and fresh ways.
“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:17-19).
- That we would love God’s Word.It was God’s Word that started this blue marble that we call Earth spinning and twirling in the darkness. It is His Word that brings life and sustains life. It is His Word that decreed redemption was accomplished when Christ cried out on the cross, “It is finished!” And it is His written Word that shows us the path of life.Scripture tells us all we need to know about who God is and what He has done for us in Christ. It also His Word that changes us and sanctifies us.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
Let us pray this year for hearts that love God’s Word.
- That we would desire Christ above all else.We cannot love God on our own. Left to our own devices, we would only love ourselves. Only God can bring our dead hearts to life, giving us hearts that love and desire to obey Him.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Eze. 36:36).
Let us pray this year for hearts that love Christ above all else. Let us pray for hearts that are dissatisfied with the fast-food offerings of this world. Instead, let’s pray that we would develop a taste for the rich and deeply satisfying love of Christ.
- That God would show us the idols of our heart.All the things we bow down to in our heart—the things that we love more than Christ—are idols. Success, affection, affirmation, money, possessions, family, jobs, can all be idols of the heart. Pray that God would reveal what idols stand tall on the altar of your heart. Pray that He would help you remove them and put greater love for Christ in their place.
- That we would be quick to repent.Martin Luther described the Christian life as one of repentance. As long as we live in this sin-stained world, we will continue to sin. Let us pray for hearts that are quick to repent. May we readily turn to the cross and apply what Christ has done for us, washing ourselves anew in His forgiving grace.
- That we would think less about ourselves.Tim Keller says, “The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” This year, let us pray that we would spend less time consumed with ourselves and more time thinking about loving God and loving others.
- That we would have gospel joy.Gospel joy is the joy that anchors us in the midst of the ferocious storms of life. It is the constant steady horizon in the swells of life. It stays with us no matter our circumstances. This is something I pray for quite often because I tend to notice the storm clouds and forget the sun shining above them. Gospel joy comes from knowing what Christ has done for us, who we are because of Him, and the eternal hope we have through Him.
- That we would love like Christ.Just as we can’t love God on our own, we can’t love others on our own either. We need to pray that we would have a love like Christ—the kind of love that seeks the best in others, takes the last place, serves, and sacrifices. The apostle John said that we love because God first loved us. This year, may we focus on the love Christ has for us, and may it propel us to love others as He loves us.
- That God’s will would be done.In the fictional Mitford book series, Father Tim would tell others that he was “praying the prayer that never fails.” Praying that God’s will would be done is the prayer that never fails. May we submit all our prayers and desires to God’s will, trusting that His will is perfect, holy, righteous, and good.
Portions of this post were originally written by Christina Fox at reviveourhearts.com
Ephesians 5:14 “for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
This verse spoke to me this morning as I read it. There are times in my life that when I feel like I live in a state of slumber, not physically but spiritually. In these times my spirit feels weak and disconnected or unplugged from its power source, God. This morning after a very stressful day in prison, I read this verse and my prayer was simply “Wake up my slumbering spirit God, so that I may receive from the Light who created me, formed me, and lives inside of me. May I become fully alive and responsive to God’s light. May the resurrection power of Jesus actively work in me and through me. God revive me, let me no longer live as if I was sleep walking, but allow me to be blessed and encouraged as I live for you.
God is reviving us. Lets no longer live as if we are sleepwalking. Lets be blessed and encouraged as we live for Him. I challenge you to self examine yourself and see are you really walking in the Light, living in peace, joy, and contentment. Or are you stressed by lives discouragements, asleep, in a state of slumber, and living in a carnal disposition. If we live in the customary neglect of self examination, we are in a state of slumber. “Awake O Sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Awakening from sleep, and arising from the dead, implies a repentance of sin and turning to God.