spiritual
formation
school boy

Confidence in Christ

As I walked into the classroom to take my final college exam, I remembered a quote I had memorized earlier, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Knowing that I had been diligent to study throughout the semester, I felt confident that I was prepared. Interestingly, those who had stayed up all night cramming for the exam were exhausted and lacked the confidence that I enjoyed.

As Christ followers, we are instructed to walk in confidence in Christ. The writer of Hebrews instructs us to “approach the throne of grace with boldness” (Hebrews 4:16), and “don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward” (Hebrews 10:35).

So, how do we gain confidence in Christ?

1. Fully trust God to supply your needs. When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you received everything you need for salvation and service.

We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ. — 2 Corinthians 3:4

​Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? — Job 4:6 (ESV)

2. Ask for confidence through prayer.

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. — I John 5:14-15

3. Obey God.

So that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep His commands. Then they would not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not loyal and whose spirit was not faithful to God. — Psalm 78:7-8

For this is our confidence: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with God-given sincerity and purity, not by fleshly  wisdom but by God’s grace. — 2 Corinthians 1:12

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9

4. Spend time with confident Christ followers.

When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. — Acts 4:13

Becoming confident Christ follower really is about small efforts repeated day in and day out: taking baby steps of faith, believing that God hears and answers our prayers, living holy lives, confessing sin when we mess up, developing spiritual habits, and spending time with people who spend time with Jesus.

Meeting Of Support Group

Christ-like Compassion in Daily Life

Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” —Matthew 9:35-38 (HCSB)

In this week’s passage, we find Jesus teaching, preaching, and engaging compassionately with people. Revealed are two visible actions of Christlikeness—telling others what we know about Jesus and serving them by praying and meeting their spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. For many Christ followers, just the thought of doing these actions brings fear and leads to missed opportunities for spiritual growth.

Consider teaching and preaching. All of us have a story to tell of how Jesus came into our lives and how that has changed the way we live. This is the starting point of sharing the Good News—simply telling others what we know about Jesus and how He has changed our lives.

Also consider further engaging compassionately with people. The instructions are right before us.

1. Look around. Ministry starts by opening our eyes to opportunities around us. If you see someone with a need, do something. Times of celebration and crisis are great places to start as they are open doors to conversations, service, and ministry.

2. Demonstrate compassion. Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within his or her own frame of reference. Jesus laughed, cried, celebrated, and grieved just like us. He felt compassion, which led to action.

3. Pray. In prayer, we find courage and confidence to meet opportunities before us. In conversation with God, we realize that He will equip and empower us to fulfill that which He called to do. Prayer is often the place of decision. Here we discover our role in ministry opportunities; Is it the time to focus only on prayer, or is it time to take action in addition to prayer?

4. Serve. Beyond prayer, this is when the action takes place. It is where faith intersects with life. This is moving beyond the knowing and feeling and doing what God has already equipped us to do.

I often wonder why those who profess Christ make following Him so difficult. Look around, tell others what you know about Jesus, demonstrate compassion, pray, and serve. This is moving forward toward a Christ-centered life.

follow me

Follow Me

Have you been called by Jesus? When did it happen? Where were you? What did He say? How did you respond? Who have you told?

Matthew tells us that Jesus inaugurated His public ministry by issuing two significant calls to those who would follow Him. These calls transcend time, apply to each of us today, and are found in in Matthew 4:17-23.

1. First is the call to salvation. In Matthew 4:17 we read, “From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!’”

Answering the call to salvation is the first step on a person’s journey to follow Jesus. This step is taken when we accept the truth that…

1. God rules. The Bible says God created everything, including you and me, and He’s in charge of everything. (See Genesis 1:1, Revelation 4:11, and Colossians 1:16-17.)

2. Man sinned. We inherently disobey God. The Bible calls this sin, and sin separates us from God. The punishment? Death. (See Romans 3:23 and 6:23.)

3. God sent Jesus. He’s the perfect solution to our sin problem, rescuing us from the punishment we deserve. It’s something we, as sinners, could never earn on our own. Jesus alone saves us. (See John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, and Acts 16:30-31.)

4. We respond in repentance and faith. All you have to do is believe in your heart that Jesus alone saves you through what He did on the cross. Repent from self and sin, then turn to Jesus. Tell God and others that your faith is in Jesus. (See John 14:6 and Romans 10:9-10,13.)

2. Second is the call to service. Reading in Matthew 4:19, “‘Follow Me,’ He told them, ‘and I will make you fish for people!’”

Following Jesus means that His personality and deeds naturally flow out of us where we live, work, and play. Simply put, we will act like Jesus acted, say what Jesus said, and do what Jesus did.

So you might ask, what did Jesus say and how did Jesus act so that I can follow Him today?

In Matthew 4:23 we read, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”

Jesus was concerned about people’s spiritual and physical well-being. He told people about God, how to enter His kingdom, and how to live as kingdom citizens. He ministered to people by loving them, praying for them, and by meeting their physical needs.

Like the first disciples, Jesus is calling us to follow Him, to tell people what we know about Him and to love and serve others by meeting their needs.

spiritual
formation
grapes 1 (vine and fruit)

Called to Connect

It was late Thursday evening. Jesus and the disciples were making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, knowing that His crucifixion was at hand. Passing by the temple, they saw a huge golden grapevine carved over the entrance. Jesus offered words of commission and comfort to His disciples…

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”  —John 15:1-8 (NASB)

So how does one abide in Christ? Jesus gives us two approaches in John 15:7. First, He says, “My words abide in you.” For Christ followers today, this is done by reading, studying, meditating, and memorizing God’s Word. Second, He tells us, “Ask what you will.” This reference is to communication with God, which is best done through the disciplines of prayer, journaling, fasting, and solitude and silence.

Beginning with simply reading God’s Word and talking with Him in prayer, these spiritual practices form the foundation of abiding in Christ. By developing habits in the deeper disciplines, we remain connected to Christ and therefore find ourselves connected to the vine where we are in a position to bear much fruit.

Here are five practical and simple suggestions for the journey:

1. Read the Bible daily by downloading and following the JourneyOn Today Bible Reading Strategy.

2. Spend some time in prayer following a prayer guide.

3. Memorize Scripture by copying a memory verse onto an index card or sticky note and place it on your desk at work, the dashboard of your car, or on your bathroom mirror.

4. Start a new journal recording things you are learning, feeling, and doing on your journey to be like Jesus.

5. Ask someone to be your spiritual friend. Meet them for coffee or lunch to talk about ways they stay connected to Jesus and what do they see Him doing in their lives.