Recipe for Discipleship

Recipe for Discipleship

Encouraging Word

A recipe is a set of instructions for preparing something; a method to attain a desired end; a formula that produces anticipated outcomes. A disciple is a student that receives teaching and training. I suggest there are four active ingredients that make a Christian disciple: Focus, Follow, Faithful and Fruitful.

  1. Focus means to have clear vision; a fixed gaze; to look intently; to give your full attention to. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …” You need to beware of some hindrances to staying focused. They are distraction, detour, doubt and discouragement.   
  2. Follow means to move behind in same direction; to acknowledge authority; to conform to and comply with. A Christ-follower must submit to and stay close to Jesus as He leads. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says to “Follow Me.”
  3. Faithfulness is also an ingredient to discipleship. To be faithful is to be true, reliable, dependable and loyal. To be found faithful one must be dedicated, disciplined, determined and devoted. In II Timothy 4:7, the Apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
  4. Fruitful means to be productive; to cause results. Galatians 6:7 says, “. . . A man reaps what he sows.” There is a sowing principle that says: you reap what you sow; you reap after you sow; and you reap more than you sow. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the spiritual fruit that should be evident in the Christian’s life. It says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  

As a Christ-follower, make sure you have the spiritual recipe for discipleship that includes these ingredients: stay focused on Jesus; follow His lead; remain faithful; and be fruitful.

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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How Do You Define Living & Dying?

How Do You Define Living & Dying?

Encouraging Word

How would you fill in these blanks:  to live is ______ and to die is _______? To fill in the first blank, you must decide what you are living for. What is important to you? What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivates you? To fill in the second blank, you must determine your thoughts on death and answer the question, “After death, then what?” The Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21, filled in the blanks this way, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” To me that describes the Christian life.

We should no longer live for ourselves; but live for Christ. Matthew 16:24 says, “. . . If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Romans 12:1 tells us to offer our bodies “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…” And Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

To follow Christ, we must be saved (born-again), sanctified (set apart for Godly service) and filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Living for Christ must be our priority (what’s most important), our passion (what motivates us) and our principle (accepted rule of action or conduct).

For the Christ-follower; to die is gain. II Corinthians 5:8 says, “. . . to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” In John 14:3 Jesus says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” and in John 11:25 Jesus shares, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

I encourage you to get to the point where you can also say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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3 Basic Truths

3 Basic Truths

Encouraging Word

To me there are three basic Biblical truths that must be accepted in order to have a personal relationship with God and secure salvation.

  1. God Loves You. God’s unconditional love for mankind is the sole basis for salvation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son . . .”  Romans 5:8 points out,  “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  And I John 4:10 explains, “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
  2. Sin Condemns. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned…” And Romans 6:23 adds, “For the wages (results, consequences) of sin is death (eternal separation from God)…”  It is our sin that separates us from a Holy God. Dr. Charles Stanley, Pastor of First Baptist Church Atlanta says that today’s biggest deception is “that there are no consequences to our sin.”
  3. Jesus Forgives and Saves. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” Romans 6:23 also says, “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” and Romans 10:9 reminds us, “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

You will take one of two things with you beyond the grave. You will either take your sin (which brings separation from God) or God’s Son (who paid the price for your sin). Claim I John 1:9 which says, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Remember:  God Loves – Sin Condemns – Jesus Saves!”    

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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6 Steps to Staying Close to God

6 Steps to Staying Close to God

Encouraging Word

“You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:4

In this scripture verse, we find specific instructions on how to stay close to God. Six steps are mentioned that will enhance your relationship with Him.

  1. Follow. You begin by following God. To follow means to move behind in the same direction; to acknowledge the authority of; to conform. Jesus’ invitation to His disciples included the words, “follow Me.”
  2. Fear. Next, we are told to fear God. Fear here refers to having a holy reverence; awesome respect; to hold in high esteem; to worship. We need to get back to a “righteous fear” of God!
  3. Obey. A holy fear is followed by obedience. Obey means to follow instructions; adhere to; to put into practice; to be submissive. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
  4. Listen. To be close to God, you must listen to His voice. Listen is to give attention; to focus; to concentrate. We need to make sure we are listening to God and not the world, the Devil or self. The Bible says, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
  5. Serve. Closeness to God requires a servant’s heart. We are told to serve Him. To serve is to make yourself available; to give allegiance; to address the needs of others. Matthew 6:24 says we can’t serve two masters. Like Joshua, we need to decide that we will serve the Lord (Joshua 22:5).
  6. Cling. The last instruction given is to cling to God. Cling is to adhere closely; cleave; grasp; hold tight; remain attached. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you . . .”

If we follow these instructions, we will remain close to God and our relationship will be strengthened.

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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Who Is in Charge?

Who Is in Charge?

Encouraging Word

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, produced a pamphlet entitled, “4 Spiritual Laws.”  It mentioned that in each of our lives there is both a throne and a cross, and they both will be occupied. For Christ followers, Jesus Christ should occupy the throne, since He is our Lord; and our old nature (self) should occupy the cross. However, if we are not careful, self will attempt to come down off the cross and try to ease Christ off the throne of our lives.

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’”

II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Also, I Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” The Apostle Paul goes on to say in Galatians 5:16-17, “But I say walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh set its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things you please.”

We must decide, “Who is in charge?” Are we going to submit to the Lordship of Christ, place Him on our throne and serve Him; or are we going to allow self (old nature) to come down off the cross and usurp Christ’s rightful place on the throne?

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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Faith In Action in 2018

Faith In Action in 2018

Encouraging Word

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen.” Faith is the foundation that hope is built on. Hope is the desire for good, accompanied by anticipation and expectation. Hope helps provide meaning to life. The struggles of life can be overwhelming when there is no hope. Hope helps provide the motivation to continue when you feel like giving up. And where there is no faith or faulty faith; hope will be difficult to find.

Faith involves, belief, trust, confidence and dependence. Faith is a powerful thing. Faith is the foundation that forms your belief system. Your belief system determines your values and convictions. You use your convictions to help make choices and decisions in life. Your life style (how you live your life) is conditioned by what you believe and the object of your faith. Belief should mean “by life”; in other words, if you don’t live it, then you don’t believe it.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  God needs to be the object of our faith. We must place our faith solely and completely in Him!

If we say we believe in God then we need to live like there is a God; knowing that God is real, alive and well- realizing that God is holy, sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present. He is infinite, eternal, immortal, infallible and immeasurable. He loves us and adopts us into His family as we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Almighty God becomes our Heavenly Father. Praise the Lord!

Let me encourage you to walk by faith and not by sight. Place your faith in God and live out your faith as a “Christ follower.” Put your faith in action in 2018!

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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Is the Lord your Shepherd?

Is the Lord your Shepherd?

Encouraging Word

A shepherd and his sheep have a very close relationship. The shepherd is responsible for his sheep. He provides for them by meeting their needs of food, water and rest. He protects them since they cannot defend themselves. He leads and directs them on the path and to the place he has for them.

According to John 10, we learn some things about the special relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. John 10:3 says that the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and he leads them. In John 10:11 it says the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

What do we learn about the sheep? John 10:14 says the sheep know the shepherd and he knows them.  John 10:3 says the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd. In John 10:4,5 it says the sheep follow the shepherd as he goes before them. The sheep will not follow a stranger. The sheep learn to trust the shepherd.

Psalm 23 points out that we need to make sure that the Lord Jesus is our shepherd. Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd…”  This emphasizes a close, personal relationship. Romans 10:9 says that we need to confess Jesus as Lord of our life.

As sheep, we must know the shepherd. Not just “know about” Him, but know Him! (Philippians 3:10) We must listen (hear the voice) of the shepherd. We need to follow (obey) the shepherd and trust Him completely.

Jesus, the good shepherd has laid down His life for us, His sheep (John 10:11). I encourage you to make sure that the Lord is your Shepherd!

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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The Untouchable, Touched by Jesus

The Untouchable, Touched by Jesus

Encouraging Word

One of my favorite biblical accounts is recorded in Luke 5:12-14 in which Jesus heals a man with a serious medical condition.  Luke, a physician, described the man as one “full of leprosy,” meaning it was in an advanced stage. In Jesus day, this infectious disease made one religiously and socially unclean.  Lepers were ostracized and quarantined from society. No one wanted them around. They were considered the “untouchables.”  Leprosy was debilitating and caused one to feel helpless and hopeless. The leper was at a point of despair with no place to go and no one to turn to; until he saw Jesus.

Apparently, the leper had heard about Jesus and had faith that Jesus could do for him what others could not. Luke records that when the leper saw Jesus, he fell on his face in worship and implored Him saying, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” What Jesus did next just blows me away. Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing, be cleansed.” You were not supposed to touch a leper! Jesus didn’t have to touch him. He could just have said the word and the leper would have been healed. Yet, He touched this “untouchable!”

You see there is no sin too bad; no person too evil; no problem too big; no sickness so severe; and no one beyond God’s reach. If you will come to Jesus in faith, submitting to His will; He will touch you and make you whole. I’m reminded of the Bill Gaither song, “He Touched Me.”  It says, “shackled by a heavy burden; beneath a load of guilt and shame; then the hand of Jesus touched me; and now I am no longer the same.” I pray that Jesus has touched your life and made you clean and whole.

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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Visible Faith

Visible Faith

Encouraging Word

Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen. And Hebrews 11:6, goes on to say that without faith it is impossible to please God. Romans 10:9 adds, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” From these verses we see that faith is the foundation and a necessity to become a Christian!

Can faith become visible? I believe the answer is “yes!”

In Luke 5, we have the account of the healing of the paralytic. Jesus was teaching and the friends of the paralytic, who were carrying him, could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd. So they went up on the roof, removed the roof tiles and lowered the paralytic down to where Jesus was. In Luke 5:20 it says, “And seeing their faith, . . . .”  Jesus saw their faith through their actions.

James 2 tells us that genuine faith produces works (activity).  James 2:17-18 says that faith without works is dead. Faith is made visible through works. Also, Matthew 5:16 shares, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Ephesians 2:10 also adds, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Genuine faith produces Christian activity. Faith and works go together. Christian works make our “faith visible.”

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

 

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