Sola gratia teaches that salvation is by the grace of God alone, with no mixture or iota of human work added to it. Sola gratia emphasise that all our good works must be surrendered. The cost to the disciple is his own self righteousness, and this is a high cost to pay and many will not give them up to pay this cost easily.
They go to church, attend services, pray when instructed, give and contribute offering to needs in the church, and through these and others, we receive good opinion of others especially the leaders. In all these, we refuse to emphasise self denial and sacrifice which are key for one to gain heaven. There are enemies to overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, and Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run.
Conversion is not putting a man in an arm-chair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict in which it costs to win the victory. First, the disciple must pay the price of his own self righteousness as explained earlier. Secondly, he must pay the price of those sins now cherish, by giving all of them up, and come to now know the joy of holiness rather than the empty mockery of sin. Thirdly, he must pay the price of his own understanding of life, of what it is all about and of what ultimately matters. He will be in the world, but not part of the world, and not of it.
The world must be despised and forsaken to follow Christ intimately. This is because a disciple cannot run his life and also have Jesus to run it for him, for Christ must be the Lord of all, or He will not be the Lord at all. Lastly, a disciple must pay the price of his own will, because that sinful, selfish will must be completely renounced, and replaced by the good and perfect pleasing will of God in Christ. You must give all. You cannot hold back even a fraction of a percentage of yourself.
Every sin must be abandoned. Every false thought must be repudiated. The Saviour is not looking for men and women who will give half of their life to Him, and half to the devil. The devil will surely take the half, but God will definitely reject the other half, because if God cannot have your all, He does not need a half of you. In order words, nothing less than unconditional surrender could ever be fitting response to His Sacrifice at Calvary. Christianity should not be viewed as an escape route from hell fire into a guaranteed and secured abode in heaven.
Rather, The Lord Jesus made stringent demands terms and conditions on those who would be His disciples, and many has overlooked these demands in these days of loafing Christianity. We can accept that fact that soldiers give their lives for patriotic reasons. And yet the words of The Lord Jesus are clear enough. According to William Macdonald , here set out below are the terms of discipleship as laid down by The Saviour of the world. This does not mean that we should ever have animosity or ill will in our hearts towards our relatives, but it does mean that our love to Christ should be so great that all other loves are hatred by comparison.
Not until we are willing to lay down our very lives for Him are we in the place where He wants us. Denial of self is not the same as self-denial. The latter means foregoing certain foods, pleasures, or possessions. But denial of self means such complete submission to The Lordship of Christ that self has no rights or authority at all. It means that self abdicates the throne. Or consider my true happiness as depending in the smallest degree on anything that can befall me outwardly, but as consisting altogether in conformity to Thy will.
The cross is not some physical infirmity or mental anguish; these things are common to all men. The cross is a pathway that is deliberately chosen. It was A. Any believer can avoid the cross simply by being conformed to the world and its ways. It was a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. It was a life of unselfish service for others. It was a life of patience and long suffering in the face of the gravest wrongs. It was a life of zeal, of expenditure, of self control, of meekness, of kindness, of faithfulness and of devotion Galatians. In order to be His disciples, we must walk as He walked.
We must exhibit the fruit of Christlikeness John. This is the love that esteems others better than oneself. It is the love that covers multitude of sins. It is the love that suffers long and is kind. It vaunts not itself and is not puffed up. It does not behave itself unseemly; seeks not its own, is not easily provoked; thinks no evil. Without this love, discipleship would be cold, legalistic asceticism. For real discipleship there must be continuance.
It is easy enough to start well, to burst forth in a blaze of glory. But the test of reality is endurance to the end. Any man who looks back after putting his hand to the plough is not fit for the Kingdom of God Luke. Spasmodic obedience to the scriptures will not do. Christ wants those who will follow Him in constant, unquestioning obedience.
The handles of my plough with tears are wet, The shears with rust are spoiled, and yet, and yet, My God! My God! Clever theologians can give you a thousand reasons why it does not mean what it says, but simple disciples drink it down eagerly, assuming that the Lord Jesus knew what he was saying. The man who forsakes all does not become a shiftless loafer; he works hard to provide for the current necessities of his family and himself.
But since the passion of his life is to advance the cause of Christ, he invests everything above current needs in the work of The Lord and leaves the future with God. In seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, he believes that he will never lack food and clothing.
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He cannot conscientiously hold on to surplus funds when souls are perishing for want of the gospel. He does not want to waste his life accumulating riches that will fall into the devils hands when Christ returns for His saints. In forsaking all, he offers what he cannot keep anyway, and what he has ceased to love. According to Derek Prince , there are four vital facts to show or prove that a believer is indeed a disciple of Jesus Christ. Thirdly, Jesus Christ manifests Himself to the disciple through the word of God as it is kept, obeyed and applied daily.
Fourthly, the Father and the Son come into the life of the disciple and establish their enduring home with him through the infallible Word of God. Mark records: "He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons" Mark , Discipleship is the intensely personal activities of two or more persons helping each other experience a growing relationship with God. Discipleship is: being before doing, maturity before ministry, and character before career.
Discipleship occurs within an environment of loving accountability. For example, if necessary, an expectant mother can deliver her own baby. It's not recommended; but it's certainly not desirable. However, it has been done several times all over the world. In this wise, new born babes in Christ are not different.
They can be born without help, but they can't grow that way into maturity. So, effective discipleship must occur within an environment of loving accountability that is the precise atmosphere that should exist within the local church. Jesus personally raised the original disciples, and then turned that job over to His body, the church. Each of us functions as a cell in that body, dividing and reproducing over and over again as we participate in the growth process.
The body however requires more than the reproduction of cells to stay healthy. It needs antibodies to protect it from disease. Soon, they start affecting or infecting the cells around them. Before long, a tumour, a cancer or some other disease develops. The result would inevitably be fatal, if not for antibodies.
Antibodies are specialized cells that hunt down these renegades and destroy them before they destroy you. You don't have to think about it; it happens automatically in a healthy body. When renegade church members bring the infection of discord, disunity or immorality, the right cells automatically go to work fighting the disease. This is made possible when the body is healthy through effective doing and following of the Word of God.
The measure of a church is not the size of its membership roll, the structure of its staff or the extent of its programming. The measure of a church is the extent to which it fosters spiritual maturity in its people. Why is the church so critical today? Out in the real world, dirty and crooked games are being played; and lots of tricks and subtlety are in vogue, with lack of much truth. The church should be the one place where one can count on finding the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so the quest for God's truth should be the priority of what draws you to the church on Sunday mornings.
That is what a true and effective discipleship does to a Christian in an atmosphere where it is nurtured and allowed to thrive without inhibition. In addition, there's a relational side to this mathematical formula of distance equals speed multiplied by time, earlier mentioned above. Every part of our body is in dynamic relationship with all of it's other parts.
If one of our legs were to be cut off, how far could one walk? If one or two fingers is cut off from our wrist, how well could the hand write? It ceases to grow and develop. The hand moves only because it is physically connected to the rest of the body and, by means of the nerves, to the brain.
Everything is interconnected and functions as a unit. The church is a body that functions in a dynamic relationship. A church can't grow around one person because one person does have everything the person needs. That's why we see much emphasis on small groups in the New Testament, and this context facilitates encouragement, supervision, mutual support, mentorship and accountability.
Without it, the church is just a loose-knit association of individuals-- and the process of discipleship is short-circuited, defeated and becomes a monumental failure in the end. Discipleship is a progressive movement toward maturity. This is why we call some people ''mature'' and others ''immature. You wouldn't call a two-year-old immature when he plays with his food--that's what toddlers do!
However, by the time that youngster turns 21 or 22, his behaviour should have changed as dramatically as his body had done.
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He should have made continual progress toward maturity. Such trend should be expected at least as much from young Christians who are growing in faith. A new believer is bound to struggle and stumble at first, but as time goes by, those who were abusive should grow more gentle and tolerant. Those controlled by their passions, should grow more temperate. Those who lacked love should grow more caring and loving. Jesus' aim in discipleship is to make one look like Himself. Anthony Junior has many of my features, and the comparison pleased me. I hope Anthony felt likewise!
God wants to make that same comparison. He wants to look at Jesus and look at you and then look back at Jesus, and remark about the uncanny resemblance. Of course, as you grow to resemble Christ, you'll start looking less and less like the rest of the world. In fact, the time will come when the world will neither recognize you nor understand you.
Those who will grow into maturity must learn this: don't let the pressure to conform impede your progress toward the goal of spiritual maturity. The process of discipleship repeats itself once it is institutionalised. It is when you begin discipling others. The Apostle Paul summed it up succinctly. I Corinthians This verse could make us feel uneasy and question the rationale of following a mortal man! That brings us back to accountability in discipleship.
Let the truth be told, there is nothing wrong with following people, provided the person you are following is following Christ. This is the principle and how the process of discipleship works. If it stops with you, how will the faith be passed on?
The greatest danger facing a healthy, Christ-centered, Bible- teaching church is the temptation to get comfortable sitting on the truth. If what is taught does not change how you live, if it does not compel you to reach out to others, if it does not affect your community, your workplace and your home, the time you spent in the church was wasted and discipleship process has been broken.
Every genuine Christian should know that the truth that nourishes one can also paralyze one if not put to use. We need to look for opportunities to put God's truth to work by passing on what we have received. Let us remember what Paul told Timothy: The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
II Timothy Jesus taught Paul, Paul taught Timothy. Timothy taught reliable men, and so on. Each believer in that chain committed himself to the same process of spiritual development within an environment of loving accountability, and progressively moved from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity, ultimately repeating the process with others. The very survival of the church hinges on the answer.
Every Christian is both a disciple and a discipler in the context of his Christian relationships. We have the awesome privilege and responsibility both to be a teacher and a learner of what it means to be in Christ, walk in the spirit and live by faith. But even as an appointed discipler, we are still a disciple who is learning and growing in Christ through our relationships.
Conversely, we may not have an "official" responsibility to disciple anyone, yet we are a discipler. We have the opportunity to help our children, friends, and other believers grow in Christ through our caring and committed relationship with them as I noted earlier. A good counsellor should be a good discipler, and a good disciple should be a good counsellor. Biblically, they are doing the same role. Our level of maturity may dictate that we do a lot of Christian counseling.
In later sections, we shall briefly discuss the concept of discipleship counselling and mentoring and how it helps grow a Christian into maturity if its principles are incorporated into discipleship process in our churches. Most of them relate to the story and principles that led to phenomenal numerical growth in a specific church. It is inferred in all of the books that if other churches copy these principles, they too will experience this kind of growth.
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One of the main problems with this is that no two churches are identical. While some principles from these "successful" churches might be applicable and adaptable to our setting, what works in one church might not work in another. We also noticed that many church leaders floundered as they import the ideas in these books with little or no meaningful results. As I laboured on this study, trying to find the "secret" to church growth, I came across one book which laid it all out so clearly and so simply and could hardly believe what I was reading.
This book explained the church's origin, builder, durability, purpose and function. It challenged almost everything the modern church growth movement encourages and promotes. Instead of making the unchurched and unsaved feel comfortable, this book tells us not to be conformed to the world.
Instead of meeting for primarily evangelistic purposes, this book tells us to meet for the edification of the saints. Instead of marketing the church via worldly methods, this book tells us to neither love the world nor the things in the world. Instead of giving people what they want to hear, this book tells us to teach what God wants the people to hear. Instead of being program-oriented, this book tells us to be people and ministry oriented. I want to begin by defining what we mean by "church growth" citing authorities in this field.
Before we can look at how the church grows, we need to come to an agreement of what the "church" is. If the church fails to grow, it is a sure sign that life is not really in the church. The church as a living organism is expected to grow as growth is a fact that is certain in life. So without growth, the church starts to decay and eventually dies.
The Great Commission remains the heart beat of Church Growth. This third definition is more current and practical. Church growth is not something we do or produce in the church. Church growth is not the result of any program or plan. Church growth is the by-product of a right relationship with the Lord of the church.
Church growth is by definition a supernatural activity and thus is accomplished through the church by the Lord Himself. When Jesus founded the church He promised that He Himself would build the church. I align with this definition as Church Growth is a reflection of a right relationship with the Lord who commands the growth. Growth Partners, Vol. From these definitions, it became obvious that churches may be growing, but not healthy, so church growth involves the health of the church.
It is not being a perfect church, but a healthy, living and lively one. It is being free from sicknesses and diseases that are ravaging churches of today. It is being a thriving, vital, living, lively, growing and vibrant church. Such church will grow into Christlikeness in all areas such as evangelisation of its community to reach the unchurched and sinners, matured leadership that is spiritual and strategic in outlook, and absence of internal bickerings and politics that have decimated many denominational churches across the continent of Africa.
Akin-John, The outcome of Church vitality and health is a solid and good growth experiences, but where growth occurs without corresponding health, what we see is fickleness, shallowness and rapid growth that is hollow which might not endure. Secondly, there is spiritual growth — Those who are saved through evangelisation of the community are brought to the church to be discipled and assimilated into the body; and thirdly, sociological growth — This is having good image and positive relationship and relevance with the community where the church is located.
The fourth is material growth, which constitutes the material resources and equipments require for the church, whilst fifth is physical growth, which involves the human resources, properties and structures require for effective running of the church. Church growth is a practical study that critically looks at these eight areas in our churches to ensure vibrant and virile growth. The growth of the church could be rapid, gradual, silent or noticeable.
It could be natural or supernatural, for growth is the non-negotiable will of God for the Church on earth.
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Psalm , Acts , In our definition of church, the first part of it was that the church is made up of believers. The church consists of all those who believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Therefore, real church growth happens not when numbers increase, but when believers mature in the faith. If another year passes, and two more people get involved in the ministries of the church, then that church has just doubled again, even if there are still only 10 people in church.
This is true and Biblical church growth. It's not about numbers. It's about maturity and ministry involvement. Growth is not adding numbers to your church; it is helping those who come to the church become more like Christ and lives more obediently to Christ. Growth leaders should do everything with growth in view, discovering hindrances to growth and finding ways to surmount them. Most leaders shy away from taking some painful decisions and changes that are growth favourable, if they desire growth, these must be done promptly by abiding by the principles of church growth as discussed is subsequent sections of this study.
Principles are natural laws and fundamental truths. When you obey them it is to your benefits, and when you disobey them it is to your own disadvantage. They are timeless, universal and produce predictable outcomes. They are not practices or values and it operates with or without our acceptance for they are external to us. They are guidelines for human conducts that are proven to have an enduring permanent values. Anything or action not based on principles no matter how long will soon die.
What Principles does for us is that: It guides — A true guidance to follow, it guards — From error, whims and deception, it gauges — A kind of measure of performance and it grows - helps growth qualitatively and quantitatively. It was Phil Van Austen that said. Transferring memberships between churches is "recycled" man-made growth. Church growth experts have opined that most crisis ministry church members can be disruptive to church routine and require a lot of time and attention.
However, highly legalistic churches don't view the "crop" in crisis harvest fields to be very worthy of harvesting. It is important to note that Church growth requires the church to be all things to all people. God has a unique purpose and plan for each local church, so He is doing special work in each church, and the church leaders should find where God's special construction site is for their local church and go to work there.
If we want our church to grow, we should work where God is already working in our midst. The more a church grows numerically, the more it must engage in discipleship. Hence, Church growth is discipleship. The best form of discipleship is "on-the-job" ministry service to the unsaved and to those in crisis. Disciples of Christ must get beyond the comfortable walls of the local church and go out into the world where people are hurting and searching for forgiveness and a fresh start in life. The local church cannot grow if it seals itself off from the world for fear of being "tainted" by sin.
We have the whole armour of God to help us be in the world but not be of the world. Ephesians Churches should look for ministry partners such as prison fellowship, community Christian service agencies, and other congregations of like minds to provide exploitation of the growth opportunities that abound in their communities.
Christ's local church is not a business, so church leaders are to be spiritual role models, reflecting the light of the Holy Spirit to the congregation and a dying world. The local church must not use the devices of the world entertainment, material wealth and comfort, power, slick marketing gimmicks, autocratic management to run itself and promote its interests. The church must emphasize outreach to the unsaved over in-reach programmes to the comfortable congregation. Therefore, discipleship focus- church leaders must encourage and empower members to get away from the church for outreaching ministry activities.
When we seek to control people, someone goes out the back door of the church every time a new member arrives through the front door. The Bible is meant to be applied, not merely studied in an atmosphere filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Austen posited that the wrong church growth tools as used by some churches are numerous. They include pressure, competition, guilt, and entertainment. He proffered the right church growth tools to be used as follows: prayer, sanctification, discipleship, outreach, sacrifice, discomfort, sorrow, compassion, diversity, Bible-applying as members continue to grow into maturity.
There are foundational church growth insights that are applicable in whatever culture across the world. Whether it is a church of 20 or 20,, these principles will help leaders to invest the talents God has given them to the church, so that when the Master returns there are fruits to show for the grace received in ministry. Time, money, staff, and even the prayers become increasingly inward- focused. The result, not surprisingly, is that the church stops growing.
This happens through programming, prayers, budget, staffing, and evaluating all the church's ministries on their contribution to increasing the number of Christian disciples. Principle 2 talked about using the social networks as the vehicle. He called this a "silver bullet" that any congregation can use to reach more people: non-Christians come to Christ and the church primarily through relationships with Christians.
To apply this principle, we need to encourage each person in our church to list their unchurched friends and relatives in the community. The average Christian can list at least four or five. Next, we encourage members to pray specifically for these people. Third, we should encourage members to invite one of these people to an appropriate church- related event in the next six months, and in addition, remind members that they may be God's only connection to these unreached people. Rather, they are thinking, usually about something of immediate interest: their jobs, friends, health, kids, finances, hobbies, and so on.
So if the gospel of Christ is really relevant to all aspects of our lives, we need to show unreached people how it is relevant to what's on their minds. Then, in a microcosm of the disciple-making process, he talked about water that would cause her to never thirst again. He urged leaders not to start with your agenda, but, start with theirs and they will be eager to listen to our message.
They are looking for a greater sense of balance and ways to manage priorities. They are looking for authentic relationships. They are looking for spiritual answers to their unfulfilled "hunger. They are looking for help through transitions. Friendships, he said is the ingredient, for if people have friends at church, they stay. If they don't have friendships, they won't stay. According to one study, new members who stay beyond their first year made an average of seven new friends in the church, while those who dropped out made fewer than two. How can church leaders and members identify receptive people in their social networks and in communities?
It is through life-transition events which is one important way. This is because significant changes in people's lifestyle move them toward spiritual receptivity and such changes may be controlled events like marriage, divorce, relocation, retirement, or uncontrolled ones death of a spouse, medical crisis, job loss. Therefore, we must encourage our members to be cognizant of transition events in the lives of people in their social network, and respond with genuine Christian love.
Church leaders are to develop specialized ministries that focus on transition events, and then craft workable plan to share God's unconditional love with people during these windows of opportunity. He manifested a glimpse of His Divine calling at age 12 and later used the rest 18 years to get ready for ministry. He understood that preparation time is not a wasted time, and that private preparation leads to public manifestation. God will have to make you very well before He can use you. The worth of your preparation will be the greatness of your manifestation.
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He believed in the church and was a committed member of the church. He partook in the Sabbath worship. He submitted Himself to be led by the Pharisees and Sadducees of His day. He assembled with other worshippers. He considered the work so seriously that He had to resort to protracted prayer first and foremost.
He equally maintained this habit throughout His ministry Mark. He built His work on prayer and by prayer. He taught that the church must be a true house of prayer Mark. He was clear on His purpose and saw the vision clearly. He knew that He came to save the world and to destroy the works of the enemy. He was conceived by The Holy Spirit Luke. He preached and prayed by the empowerment of The Holy Spirit. He did not do anything in the absence of The Holy Spirit. He went to the religious leaders of His days and learned from them. He asked questions and answered questions. He came to John the Baptist to be baptized of Him.
He humbled Himself to be mentored and introduced by those before Him. He knew that HE needed the platform and influence of these leaders to launch out His Ministry. He gave honour unto whom honour is due John. He lived to fulfil The Scriptures. He rebuked and fought sin in the lives of those who want to follow Him. He often visited them to see how they are doing. He kept those who came to Him. He assimilated new members through proper follow-up and integration.
He did not lose anyone through carelessness as He kept His backdoor closed. He was at home with thousands and with two and three also. While He held the big meetings for awareness and impact, He held the small meetings for impartation, transformation and equipping. He used homes and every available place to teach, share, pray and affect people one on one.
True church growth calls for both temple and house meetings. He called for people to be transformed from within and to become transformers. He called for people that will be true light and salt in the world. He placed Heaven in their hearts as the ultimate. Nor did He raised 12 noon Christians — Heavenly minded and earthly useless. He emphasized heaven and hell so much that nobody is in doubt of their existence. And that your character, behaviours, lifestyle and choices will definitely determine where you will end up — heaven or hell Mark.
He masterfully kept all those who came to Him. Even, He loved Judas and warned him till the very end. He did not lose anyone carelessly. He administered and managed the ministry and the disciples very well. Without imbibing this principle, how can we build a truly glorious church today?
Jesus laid so much emphasis on faith. He emphasized faith as the key to walking with God and doing great exploits for Him Matt. He built a people of strong faith in The Lord. He encouraged them to have faith in God, His word and His power. He encouraged them to manifest faith to touch God for themselves and others.
Faith to do the impossible, draw down the Power of God and bring blessings to others is what Jesus ingrained in His disciples. He went everywhere to seek and save the lost. He spends and was spent for it. He used open air crusades, village outreach, banquets with high society people, healing services Matt. He used every occasion and opportunity to evangelize and win the lost. He was always on the move and totally committed to it. He planned and strategized for outreach. Even though public address system had not been invented then, yet He used the water —echo as His public address system. He rode on the young calf and used whatever will illustrate His message better Luke.
He blessed and built people for The Lord. He was not one-sided. He preached The Gospel of The Kingdom, taught people deeply about the truths of Kingdom lifestyle and then blessed their sicknesses and diseases. While He was reaching many and drawing crowds with HIS healing and miracles, He was also raising few through deep teachings and discipleship. He did not build His ministry on the crowds, but on those few disciples that obeyed His teachings. He was practical, relevant and need-meeting. He did not preach religion, but demonstrated the heart of God that cares and meets people at their point of needs.
He loves fruitfulness and fruit bearing. HE encourages planning and working for growth. He did everything with the motive of growth, impact and fruitfulness. He demonstrated growth attitudes all the time. He does not want an empty house. He does not want a fig tree without fruits Luke.
He wants results and growing in His work and people. The church that Jesus met was deep in religious rituals, traditions of men, man- made philosophies, idolatry and demonic infiltration. Insomuch as love grows in you, so in you beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul. Learn to pray to God in such a way that you are trusting Him as your Physician to do what He knows is best. Confess to Him the disease, and let Him choose the remedy. Let your old age be childlike, and your childhood like old age; that is, so that neither may your wisdom be with pride, nor your humility without wisdom.
Love has hands to help others. It has feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. This is what love looks like. No man has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget in his own ease the service due to his neighbor; nor has any man a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God.
Order your soul; reduce your wants; live in charity; associate in Christian community; obey the laws; trust in Providence. Prayer is not merely expressing our present desires. Its purpose is to exercise and train our desires, so that we want what he is getting ready to give us. His gift is very great, and we are small vessels for receiving it.
So prayer involves widening our hearts to God. Seek not abroad, turn back into thy self for in the inner man dwells the truth. Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. The Almighty does nothing without reason, though the frail mind of man cannot explain the reason. The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them.
The child of many prayers shall never perish. An old Christian, to Monica, mother of Augustine. The love of God is the first and great commandment. But love for our neighbor is the means by which we obey it. Since we cannot see God directly, God allows us to catch sight of him through our neighbor.
By loving our neighbor we purge our eyes to see God. So love your neighbor and you will discover that in doing so you come to know God. The most profound essence of my nature is that I am capable of receiving God. This joy in God is not like any pleasure found in physical or intellectual satisfaction. Nor is it such as a friend experiences in the presence of a friend. But, if we are to use any such analogy, it is more like the eye rejoicing in light. No misfortune can disturb it. It obeys only [God] and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery.
Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee. Two works of mercy set a man free: forgive and you will be forgiven, and give and you will receive. We are Christians and strangers on this earth. Let none of us be frightened; our native land is not this world. We may pray most when we say least, and we may pray least when we say most. What can be more excellent than prayer; what is more profitable to our life; what sweeter to our souls; what more sublime, in the course of our whole life, than the practice of prayer!
When God crowns our merits, it is nothing other than his own gifts that he crowns. When God is our strength, it is strength indeed; when our strength is our own, it is only weakness. Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure, there your heart; where your heart, there your happiness. Whoever seems to himself to have understood the divine scriptures in such a way that he does not build up that double love of God and neighbor has not yet understood.
You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. If you are a baptized Christian, you are already a minister. Whether you are ordained or not is immaterial. No matter how you react, the statement remains true. You may be surprised, alarmed, pleased, antagonized, suspicious, acquiescent, scornful, or enraged. Nevertheless, you are a minister of Christ. Francis O. John Ayscough. Life is what we are alive to. It is not length but breadth… Be alive to… goodness, kindness, purity, love, history, poetry, music, flowers, stars, God, and eternal hope.
Maltbie Babcock. When I want to speak let me think first. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? If not, let it be left unsaid. When Christ came into the world, peace was sung; and when He went out of the world, peace was bequeathed. Francis Bacon. Gratitude is not only the dominant note in Christian piety but equally the dominant motive of Christian action in the world. Such gratitude is for the grace that has been shown us by God. A true Christian is a man who never for a moment forgets what God has done for him in Christ, and whose whole comportment and whole activity have their root in the sentiment of gratitude.
John Baillie. What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God. Monica Baldwin. The best thing to give your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity. John Balfour. Save some before you spend, spend less than you earn, and honor the Lord by your tithing.
There is one trouble with full-time angels; they are completely unpredictable and you cannot send out for one. That is why part-time angels are so important. Part-time angels like you and me. Lee Ballard. We know that people we love are both good and bad, but we expect strangers to be one or the other. Russell Banks. Too many of us have a Christian vocabulary rather than a Christian experience. Charles F. A cardinal was approached one day in the cathedral by a very excited young priest. What should we do? I walk through it almost with difficulty, as through thick grass and flowers.
More people have been brought into the church by the kindness of real Christian love than by all the theological arguments in the world, and more people have been driven from the church by the hardness and ugliness of so-called Christianity than by all the doubts in the world. William Barclay. The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ. The word grace emphasizes at one and the same time the helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God.
The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word. There is only one way to bring peace to the heart, joy to the mind, and beauty to the life; it is to accept and do the will of God. Donald Grey Barnhouse. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Karl Barth His summation of his enormous knowledge of theology. They crucified him with the criminals. Do you know what this implies? Christian community is manifest wherever there is a group of people close to Jesus who are with him in such a way that they are directly and unambiguously affected by his promise and assurance.
These may hear that everything he is, he is for them, and everything he does, he does for them. To live by this promise is to be a Christian community. Karl Barth. The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them. Bernard M. The bread that you store up belongs to the hungry; the cloak that lies on your chest belongs to the naked; and the gold that you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor. Basil of Caesarea. What is the mark of a Christian?
Faith working by love. One of the most lasting pleasures you can experience is the feeling that comes over you when you genuinely forgive an enemy — whether he knows it or not. Do not let us fail one another in interest, care and practical help; but supremely we must not fail one another in prayer. Michael Baughen. Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.
Sidlow Baxter. Spend your time in nothing you know must be repented of; in nothing on which you might not pray the blessing of God; in nothing which you could not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed; in nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act.
I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men. Richard Baxter. Joseph Bayly. People in general, Christian people in particular, tend to divide sins into two categories: their sins and our sins. The Bible, of course, knows no such distinction. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie. A helping word to one in trouble is often like a switch on a railroad track, an inch between wreck and smooth-rolling prosperity. Henry Ward Beecher. A man that does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good. A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs, jolted by every pebble in the road. A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden.
It is the most joyous day of the whole week. All men are tempted. There is no man that lives that cannot be broken down, provided it is the right temptation, put in the right spot. Anxiety in human life is what squeaking and grinding are in machinery that is not oiled. In life, trust is the oil. Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven. Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. Find out what your temptations are and you will find out largely what you are yourself.
God washes the eyes by tears until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more. If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere. In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich. Let the day have a blessed baptism by giving your first waking hours and thoughts into the bosom of God. The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day. There is no thought, feeling, yearning or desire, however low, trifling, or vulgar we may deem it, which, if it affects our real interest or happiness, we may not lay before God and be sure of sympathy.
His nature is such that our often coming does not tire him. The whole burden of the whole life of every man may be rolled on to God and not weary him, though it has wearied the man. To speak painful truth through loving words- that is friendship. What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin. Jim Beggs. Each of us has a capacity for God and an ability to relate to him in a personal way.
When we do, he brings to us pardon for the past, peace for the present, and a promise for the future. Ralph S. On the last day, when the general examination takes place, … charity will be the whole syllabus. Robert Bellarmine. David Ben-Gurion. Let me find thy light in my darkness, thy life in my death, thy joy in my sorrow, thy grace in my sin, thy riches in my poverty, thy glory in my valley.
Arthur Bennett. How desperately difficult it is to be honest with oneself. It is much easier to be honest with other people. Edward Benson. Nicolas Berdyaev. The question of bread for myself is a material question; but the question of bread for my neighbour, for everybody, is a spiritual and a religious question. Nikolai Berdyaev. George Bernanus. Bernard of Clairvaux. Nothing but the name of Jesus can restrain the impulse of anger, repress the swelling of pride, cure the world of envy, bridle the onslaught of luxury, extinguish the flame of carnal desire- can temper avarice, and put to flight impure and ignoble thoughts.
Wherever you are, pray secretly within yourself. If you are far from a house of prayer, give not yourself trouble to seek for one, for you yourself are a sanctuary designed for prayer. If you are in bed, or in any other place, pray there; your temple is there. Bernard of Clairvau. We might as well get right to the point.
Bruce Bickel. We are called to show the gospel. James E. Biles, Sr. Try it. It works. Just imagine everyone you meet is trying to bring happiness and joy to your life. And then try to do the same for them. Rich Biller. If you ever find happiness by hunting for it, you will find it, as the old woman did her lost spectacles- safe on her own nose all the time. Josh Billings. One-half the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough. Attention to detail is the secret of success in every sphere of life, and little kindnesses, little acts of considerateness, little appreciations, little confidences…they are all that are needed to keep the friendship sweet.
Hugh Black. Henry Blackaby. Faith does not eliminate problems. Faith keeps you in a trusting relationship with God in the midst of your problems. Jesus, the ultimate model for the Christian life, did not rely on His own best thinking, but depended completely on His heavenly Father for wisdom in everything. Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do?
The answer is yes- all the time! If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world. Thomas Blackaby. All this adds up to the meaning of peace.
It is the gift of Christ. Oscar F. Each dawn holds a new hope for a new plan, making the start of each day the start of a new life. Gina Blair. Charles E. The answer to all these questions is the same: Every day! John Blanchard. I give it as my testimony that there is a marvelous therapy in thanksgiving. If you are holding something back from God, then God is holding something back from you.
It is impossible to be too preoccupied with God, and it is only as we fill our hearts and minds with him that we become melted out of our likeness and moulded into his. The Christian who is truly spiritual revels as much in his ignorance of God as in his knowledge of him. Nice guys may appear to finish last, but usually they are running in a different race. Ken Blanchard. The phone rang in the office of a Washington D. No sorrow touches man until it has been filtered through the heart of God. Joseph Blinco. He wants us as covenant partners, not as automons or slaves.
Donald Bloesch. When we pray, it is far more important to pray with a sense of the greatness of God than with a sense of the greatness of the problem. Evangeline Blood. James Montgomery Boice. If you want to know God as he speaks to you through the Bible, you should study the Bible daily, systematically, comprehensively, devotionally, and prayerfully. Erma Bombeck. If the Father has the kingdom ready for us, he will take care of us on the way.
Andrew Bonar. Similarly, if we follow close after the Lord, we would easily see the footsteps along the way, but if we try to follow afar off, we would find it difficult to know the path of His will. In order to grow in grace, we must be much alone. It is not in society that the soul grows most vigorously. In one single quite hour of prayer it will often make more progress than in days of company with others. It is in the desert that the dew falls freshest and the air ifs purest. Horatius Bonar.
The more fully that the gospel is preached, in the grand old apostolic way, the more likely is it to accomplish the results which it did in the apostolic days. Prayer is such an ordinary, everyday, mundane thing. Certainly, people who pray are no more saints than the rest of us. Rather, they are people who want to share a life with God, to love and be loved, to speak and to listen, to work and to be at rest in the presence of God.
Roberta Bondi. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Do not desire to be strong, powerful, honoured and respected; but let God alone be your strength, your fame, your honour.
In Jesus the service of God and the service of the least of the brethren were one. Much that worries us beforehand can, quite unexpectedly, have a happy and simple solution. Things really are in a better hand than ours. The hungry need bread and the homeless need a roof; the dispossessed need justice and the lonely need fellowship; the undisciplined need order and the slaves need freedom.
We are silent at the beginning of the day because God should have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep because the last word also belongs to God. Take that gift God has entrusted to you, and use it in the service of Christ and your fellow men. He will make it glow and shine like the very stars of heaven. John Sutherland Bonnell. Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified; mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life, and peace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Book of Common Prayer. A religion that is small enough for our understanding would not be big enough for our needs. Corrie ten Boom. Dear Jesus, how foolish of me to have called for human help when You are here. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees. Every experience God gives us, every person he puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see. Four marks of true repentance are: acknowledgment of wrong, willingness to confess it, willingness to abandon it, and willingness to make restitution.
I am eighty-five years old and I am so thankful that I am able to continue the work I love. God has a plan for every life. All of us are called to be the light of the world wherever He places us. We are within His perfect guidance when we trust and obey Him. A tool does not decide where to work. It is the Master who decides where it is to be used. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
If a bird is flying for pleasure, it flies with the wind, but if it meets danger it turns and faces the wind, in order that it may rise higher. If a care is too small to be turned into a prayer it is too small to be made into a burden. If all things are possible with God, then all things are possible to him who believes in Him. If Jesus were born one thousand times in Bethlehem and not in me, then I would still be lost.
In the center of a hurricane there is absolute quiet and peace. There is no safer place than in the center of the will of God. It would seem, after having been a Christian for almost 80 years, that I would no longer do ugly things that need forgiving. Yet I am constantly doing things to others that cause me to have to go back and ask their forgiveness.
There is nothing anybody else can do that can stop God from using us. We can turn everything into a testimony. To pray only when in peril is to use safety belts only in heavy traffic. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you. We can all get to heaven without health, without wealth, without fame, without learning, without culture, without beauty, without friends, without ten thousand things. But we can never get to heaven without Christ. When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles.
When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He Himself will give us the love with which to do it. We are neither factories nor reservoirs of His love, only channels. When we understand that, all excuse for pride is eliminated. When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus.
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. It does not enable us to escape evil. It makes us unfit to face evil when it comes. It is the interest you pay on trouble before it comes. You can do more than praying after you have prayed. You can never do more than praying before you have prayed. Corrie Ten Boom. Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking.
"I was glad when they said…let us go into the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1
First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again- until you can scarcely distinguish which is one and which is the other. William Booth. The chief dangers that confront the coming centuries will be religion without the Holy Spirit; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and heaven without hell.
Ruth Boorstin. To have a God who is almighty, all wise, all good and merciful to go to as your constant friend, as your continual benefactor, as your safeguard and guide, it should- it must- sweeten every bitter drought of life. Elias Boudinot. By prayer, the ability is secured to feel the law of love, to speak according to the law of love, and to do everything in harmony with the law of love.
Let prayer nourish your soul as your meals nourish your body. Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty. The story of every great Christian achievement is the history of answered prayer. To pray is the greatest thing we can do, and to do it well, there must be calmness, time, and deliberation. Friendships are fragile things, and require as much care in handling as any other fragile and precious thing.
Randolph S. Men substitute tradition for the living experience of the love of God. They talk and think as though walking with God was attained by walking in the footsteps of men who walked with God. William Charles Braithwaite. Brakkenstein Community of Blessed Sacrament Fathers. If God had wanted to be a big secret, He would not have created babbling brooks and whispering pines.
Robert Brault. Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. Brendan To King Brude. When I was a little boy on the sun-bathed prairies of southern Illinois, a year seemed interminable- it moved forward on leaden feet.
Now the years pass like the flash of sunlit bubbles on wind-tossed waves, as though they must hasten and lose themselves in that eternity when time shall be no more. And yet what an unspeakable gift of God is a year! Who can compute its value or estimate its worth? Samuel Logan Brengle. Dear God, Be good to me.
The sea is so wide, and my boat is so small. Be aware that most people are operating on a very condensed version of the Ten Commandments: the part about murder. Mark Bricklin. From our limited vantage point, our lives are marked by an endless series of contingencies. We frequently find ourselves, instead of acting as we planned, reacting to an unexpected turn of events. We make plans but are often forced to change those plans. But there are no contingencies with God. Our unexpected, forced change of plans is a part of His plan.
God is never surprised; never caught off guard; never frustrated by unexpected developments. God does as He pleases and that which pleases Him is always for His glory and our good. Jerry Bridges. God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. One thing we may be sure of, however: For the believer all pain has meaning; all adversity is profitable. You're hungry for guidance and encouragement.
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