Final Words

04/09/2013

 
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A final farewell, a parting word before passing away, a long hug before a sending off... whatever the case may be, the last exchange we have with someone we love has a tendency to push its way into our most treasured memories.

These tender moments are often captured by photos, journal entries and tearful retellings around family dinners for years to follow. They become almost hallowed, and sacred, forever etched in our memory.

Jesus' final words to His disciples were cherished in this way. He parted with a simple encouragement to those He loved most. Those simple words burned into the soul of all who heard them, likely accompanied by tears as they watched Him disappear into the clouds above. Those last, choice words were told and retold, written and distributed, celebrated and circulated until the whole globe hailed those final statements as The Great Commission.

Matt 28:19 NKJV "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." The Old King James Version puts it like this, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..."

I looked up that action word, "teach." It's Strong's Greek number 3100, mathetueo. Defined as follows: 
1. To be a disciple of one, to follow in his precepts and instructions.
2. To make a disciple, to teach and instruct.

This explains why it was later translated in the NKJV as "make disciples"... but the phrase, "make disciples" doesn't really capture the full meaning of mathetueo. That is only half the picture. This word doesn't carry one meaning or the other. The combination of points 1 and 2 equal the full meaning of the word. It could be translated, "go and be a disciple, who will also make disciples in all nations."

Mathetueo, in its truest sense, is a word that embodies a continuous process, an ongoing cycle. It is not an event, or an accomplishment, or an action that has a start and an end. It's easy to box the Great Commission into a small check list, and be proud when we can cross it off. I have gone to nations. I have made disciples. Done.

But that's not it. The Great Commission was to "go and mathetueo." Go and be apart of this process of being trained and training others, be a disciple and disciple others. It's much like the word "flow."

If a creek is to flow, water is always rushing from upstream, and always running downstream. It is the combination of the coming and going that brings current, that IS flow. If either the input from upstream, or the output downstream stops, then there ceases to be a flow. Mathetueo is the same concept, in choosing His final words to man before ascending to Heaven, Christ chose a word that embodies a constant receive and give process. It's a lifestyle of learning and teaching, of being instructed as well as giving instruction.

This is the Great Commission. Not just to make a disciple, but to plug into a lifestyle of always learning and growing, and being mentored by someone older and wiser. Accompanied by continual giving, teaching, mentoring and pouring out into others! It is this flow that sustains the Church from generation to generation, it is this process that upholds the hope of the Gospel from era to era. It is this lifestyle that maintains and passes the torch of faith through the ages.

If you think about it, God engineered human biology to operate the same way. For our race to continue, we must be parented, and we must parent. We must be conceived, born and raised, and do the same! And that is how mankind continues! All of us fit into that process. And so it is with the Kingdom of God. We all are to "mathetueo," to flow, to live a lifestyle that is always receiving and always giving.

This ongoing way of living was so important to Christ, He chose this concept to be His final words. Jesus, as God, was not short on words, or unsure of the best thing to say. He was fully aware of every possible word in every language of man to say exactly what needed to be said. And out of all the options in the world, He chose those simple words to leave a lasting impression upon mankind. Millions of believers, over thousands of years, in hundreds of nations, tribes and tongues, have collectively agreed that these last words were the deliberate and decided selection of language by an all-knowing God to relay to man His highest priority and greatest commission.

I am going to adjust my lifestyle, to be a true, Great Commission lifestyle. I acknowledge that I have not arrived, or apprehended, but will humbly be a learner all the days of my life. And in doing so, I will impact and influence many men and women of God around me. Sounds great to me! Won't you join me? Let's let our lives truly realize and exemplify Christ's exhortation to humanity. They were, after all, His final words.

 

Trivial as Water

04/02/2013

 
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We tend to categorize the various aspects of life, from highly vital, to seemingly inessential. Water, food and sleep are high up there on most people's list of crucial things to include in the daily routine. While entertainment, sweets, and pleasure tend to fall lower on the list of priorities, as life could continue with out them.

It seems like we Christians do the same with our faith. Things like church attendance or abstinence from various vices are of great importance to our spiritual life. While other things, like fasting or daily scripture reading, tend to fall to the wayside as being inconsequential.

Probably the most notable example of this, that I've noticed, is the habit of prayer. Most Christians say prayer is important, and probably send up a couple requests or thanks each day. But that's not what I'm talking about. I mean the habit of devotion, true dialogue and communication with God.

The routine of pouring out one's heart before the Lord, or a habit of dwelling and communing with Christ, that has become shockingly uncommon among professing Christians. Somehow the practice of continual intercession and devotion to the Lord has slipped it's way onto the inconsequential list! As if our faith can survive without it!

How deceived we are! Prayer is so necessary. To even think that a life saturated in prayer is remotely comparable to a life that only dabbles in it, it's so far from the truth! It's black and white, night and day. The result of prayerlessness is weighty and obvious, while the reward of a life spent in prayer is equally as obvious and significant. Both have great impact on the life of a believer, neither should be disregarded as trivial.

The power of prayer and of prayerlessness are equally great, and greatly underestimated. Both of these opposing habits have an enormous and substantial influence on the life and outcome of believers today. Neither habit is without great consequence.

Consider this: Scripture commands us to pray (I Thessalonians  5:17; Philippians 4:6-7).

If prayer is a command, then prayerlessness is breaking the command. If prayer is obedience, then prayerlessness is disobedience; making prayer right and prayerlessness wrong.  Prayer would then be aligning myself with the will of God, while prayerlessness would be rebelling against it. If prayer is the will of God for me, then wouldn't that make prayerlessness is the will of Satan for me?

It makes sense to me! Just like water, being God's will for you, brings life. So being parched, Satan's desire for me, eventually brings death. Think of it!

Prayer acknowledges need. Prayerlessness ignores need.
Prayer is humble, asking for help. Prayerlessness is proud, refusing help.
Prayer looks to God. Prayerlessness looks away from God.
Prayer is dependence on God. Prayerlessness is dependence on self. 
Prayer is energizing. Prayerlessness is draining. 
Prayer is empowering and life-giving. Prayerlessness is powerless and deadening. 
Prayer brings momentum. Prayerlessness brings us to a halt.
Prayer is action. Prayerlessness is passivity. 
Prayer makes us aggressive and strong. Prayerlessness makes us timid and weak. 
Prayer propels us forward. Prayerlessness pushes us backward.

It's mind-blowing to think that I ever thought the choice to pray or not to pray was irrelevant or nonessential! When it, in all reality, makes all the difference in the world!

Just like a week without water would be detrimental, so it is of prayer. It is the difference between life and death; between success and failure, triumph and defeat! It cannot be glossed over or shrugged off! Don't make the mistake to disregard it as a minor or petty element of everyday life. 

Prayer is as trivial as water! The presence of water is life. The absence of water is death. And it doesn't take long for either choice to makes it's impact. 

Prayer belongs on your highest priority list, your "Most Vital & Absolutely Essential for Survival" list! It's presence will be your salvation. It's lack will be your ruin.

Psalm 42:1 "As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God."

Let's draw near and drink deep today!