fired-up-matches-all-cylinders-exited-disciple-love-god-icoc

Are you Still a Disciple, wholeheartedly devoted?

We can remember the earlier days when we were on fire. Are we now more in love with God than before or has the romance subsided?

Falling in love with someone is sometimes more biology of atttraction that happens but staying in love is a daily focus that if you loose it your closeness starts dipping and before you know it you are just room mates trying to cope with the stresses of life and making a living. 

A scripture that comes to mind is:

“4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. ” – Rev 2:4

God is our most important relationship in our lives and if that one goes then what else matters, we just then live like all people on earth for earthly things.

Let’s look at some questions we should ask ourselves to make sure that God is always our first love.

Questions we should ask ourselves often to make sure we remain in the vine?

What is a Real Friend?

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity! – Ps 133:1

  •  Is your life good and pleasant?
  • What is your unity like?
  • Do you consider yourself to be part of God’s people?
  • If you do, you would live together in unity.
  • If you do not live in unity, you most probably are not part of God’s people but the devil.
  • God does say you must love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you. (Luk 6:27-28)
  • Do you:
    • Love your enemies?
    • Do good to those who hate you?
    • Bless those who curse you?
    • Pray for those who mistreat you?
  • Jesus did:
    • Love His enemies, it was me and you! (Rom 5:10)
    • He did good to us by dying on the cross for us when we were still in our sin. (1 Jn 3:14-15)
    • Jesus said “Father forgive them because the do not know what they are doing” when we cursed Jesus on the cross with our sin. (Luk 23:34Gal 3:13
    • He also prayed for us when we were crusifying Him with our sin. (Rom 4:25)

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thes 5:11

  • I love this verse!!!
  • Encouragement is all about love and building each other up is love put into action.
  • You encourage the people you love the most, isn’t it?
  • If I did not receive encouragement in my life, I would most probably have killed myself long ago.
  • That is why people commit suicide, they loose all hope due to lack of encouragement.
  • What does encourage mean to you? It means you give someone courage. 
  • Don’t we all need courage to face the world today?
  • How do we build each other up; by calling each other higher and giving hope of a better future and eternity!
  • They question is do you have the heart to do it for your friends, family and people who does not know God or have strayed from God?
  • I do pray that you will have the heart to love God first and people that same way you love God.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up. – Ecc 4:9-10

  • This verse is mostly used for married couples. Your weaknesses are complimented with your spouses strengths. That is why the Bible says the two become one flesh. You are a better person together than you are by yourselves. Appreciate the differences and do not let it devide you. 
  • Think about your best friend. You are most probably like peas in a pod. 
  • Even as close friend you can share your joys and disappointments in life. 
  • I think the point is here to help each other up when we fall. 
  • Are you there for your friends? Do you look at ways to help them up?
  • Most of the time we think we are superman and should not have any weaknesses and struggles. Our facebook profile looks like we are celebrities but back at the ranch there are some real problems.
  • Obviously this is written with a spiritual intent seeing it comes from the Bible.
  • Do you know how your friends are doing spiritually? Do I know how I am doing spiritually? Do I have a spiritual mentor? The Bible does say in Mat 28:20 to “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you”, that is the guys you have made disciples of and baptized. 
  • Do we have deep spiritual friendships or do we just drink and braai together and laught at the latest jokes?
  • I think the question in the end is do we really care about our friends?

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
    and the pleasantness of a friend
    springs from their heartfelt advice. – Pr 27:9

  • I went to a rose garden then other day for Mothers day. Then we started smelling the roses, my oh my was it awesome. I smelled a few roses in my time in my mothers rose garden but this was phenominal!!! You cannot describe in words what smells your nose pick up. While we were walking through the rose garden all of a suddenIy we smelled a drain that was pumping somewhere, what a bummer. My daughter commented: “That stinks mommmmm!!!”.
  • But I thought about the difference it brings to ones feelings, one is calm and serene like a women running in a lavender field and the other is like being trapped in a backward street with dumpsters all around me. Mannn!
  • Another verse comes to mind; “to some we are the smell of death to others the fragrance of life” – 2 Cor 2:15-17
  • I think this verse was written for women mainly (smile).
  • If it was for guys it would probably read: “braai and the smell of a camp fire brings joy to the heart.” 
  • Another way to determine if someone is really your friend is, do you listen to their heartfelt advice.
  • The question comes to mind why would they give you heartfelt advice? Isn’t it because they really love you and see how that advice would benefit your life and free you from the sin that keeps you captive. It is almost like seeing a friend in jail and the longing for him to be free.
  • If you do not love heartfelt advice then I think you do not love God any more if it is coming from a Christian wanting you to have closer relationship with God. 

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – 1 Pet 4:8

  • An image comes to mind of two people in love, zhe looooove birds. 
  • They were going along nicely when one hurt the other; maybe an unfulfilled expection that is valid.
  • Would that hurt cause them to break up? Not if they love each other deeply!
  • The makeup after the breakup means they are willing to forgive one another.
  • Why would they do that? It means they realize that they too are sinners and have hurt other people most probably in the same way. Their love is a deep one; based not just the euphoria of feelings but a deep appreciation of their commitment and care.
  • You see deep love don’t just cover a sin but a multitude of sins.
  • Only those who love deeply can truly forgive a multitude of sins against them!
  • Do you love deeply like Jesus who forgave your sin?
  • Did Jesus forgive just one of your sins or multitude?
  • Are you like Jesus who you are trying to follow?
  • Should God only forgive that one sin or yours or all?
  • Why do we apply a different set of rules to people?
  • Remember if you cannot forgive, God will not forgive your sin!!!
  • Who do you need to reconcile with today to go to heaven?

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Col 3:13

  • Do you bear with your friends that have hurt you?
  • Do you forgive them if they have hurt you?
  • It says that you should forgive as Jesus forgave you.
  • There is a verse that says if you do not forgive other people’s sin, God will not forgive your sins. (Mat 6:14-15)
  • So the question here is, are your sins forgiven because you have forgiven other people who have sinned against you?
  • Or is your sins not forgiven by God because you refuse to forgive someones sin?
  • I don’t think you will go to heaven if your sins are not forgiven by God!!!
  • So you determine if you go to hell by not by forgiving people their sin. 
  • What does someone look like that has forgiven someone elses sin?
  • I think they will love them like Jesus loves us, meaning they will make every effort to be reconciled with them whatever it takes.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses. – Pr 27:6

  •  This is a very interesting scripture.
  • Obviously only Solomon in his wisdom can come up with something like this.
  • The question is do I have that wisdom?
  • So you can determine who your real friends are!
  • Who multiplies kisses and who is willing to wound you because they truly love you with a Godly love!
  • So the question is do you see wounds as negative or positive?
  • If you see them as negative then I would question your love for God.
  • If you see them as positive then you are truly a wise man / woman that knows your friend’s love for you is more concerned about your eternal destiny than the possibility for him to loose your friendship which is real love!

14 A despairing man should receive loyalty from his friends,
even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty. – Pr 6:14

  • This makes me think of Job and his friends that was trying to encourage him. 
  • Even though Job did not abandon the fear of the Lord, but his friends was accusing him that he did something wrong to deserve this punishment from God.
  • Normally we loose hope when we take off our eyes of God when going through tough situations in life, because with God there is always hope. 
  • So when someone leaves God we should still keep in contact with them as our friends to encourage them with our lives. 
  • So do you pull back from your friends when they in your opinion leave God?
  • Remember Jesus called Judas friend even after Judas kissed and betrayed Him. (Mat 26:50)
  • Remember God has made you a watchmen for men if they leave him to bring them back and warn them to repent. Even your own salvation is on the line. (Eze 33:7-8)

28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
    and a gossip separates close friends. – Pr 16:28

  • This is a bit of a tough verse, because it exposes the culprit.
  • We normally see a perverse person as like paudophile or like a repeat sex offender.
  • We don’t see someone who is disagreeable, angry or gossips a lot as a sex offender.
  • No we think they have a strong personality, driven or an information agent of the community.
  • There is always two sides of the story, but bad news travels 6 times faster than good news.
  • Or like the one guy said, if you do a good job people might tell 2 people but if you do a bad job people will tell 10 people.
  • You might even say we are more inclined to listen to bad news than good news.
  • How would you feel if some other friend gossips about your best friend and you loose them. You will be really upset, wouldn’t you?
  • Be part of the good news, not the bad news.
  • Just don’t take part in that gossip which is a sin. Phone the person in question find out how it is really going and encourage them. They might be going through a tough time.
  • I know our church has gone through a split because or pride and unforgiveness, don’t be the perverse person but be the healing agent that forgives like Jesus did your sin and move on without holding a grudge.
  • You might just be that friend that gives them hope.
  • Have an awesome day!!!

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Rom 12:10

  •  So what does the word devotion means: love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity.
  • So am I enthusiastic to love my friend?
  • Do you love to get together and encourage your friend?

16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? – Gal 4:16

  • Loving someone always involves telling the truth.
  • If you do not love s
  • It is like my daughter stealing sweets, when we went to the shop. If I care more about her feelings than the truth, she will end up in jail one day. 
  • Someone deeply you would not care telling them the truth.
  • The truth hurts, especially when one does not want to change to live up to the truth!
  • It becomes like  bad news that nobody wants to hear.
  • If the truth seperates you as friends, you are actually not real spiritual friends but superficial ones.
  • Sharing the truth with each other is a test if your temporary worldly friendship can grow into a eternal spiritual friendship. 
  • The one that shares the truth differentiate who is the faithful and faithless one is. 
  • I do pray that you are my eternal real friend!

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – Jn 15:12-13

  • Most probably one of the most challenging verses in the Bible!
  • To love like Jesus loved.
  • Mannnn, we struggle loving our family and friends; what about strangers and even our enemies?
  • So Jesus’ standard of love is wayyyyy up there!!!
  • When is the last time you heard about somebody was martered and put to death gruesomely because or your mistakes and wrong doing? Never, maybe a dad tried to save his family and was killed in a robbery.
  • It is one thing when someone is forced to die but for someone to do it willingly? That is unheard of.
  • Why would someone lay down their life for you? It is the most unselfish act you can do because you love them and would rather have them be safe and live than you live.
  • Mostly we think about dying for someone. What if you were to keep on laying down your life for someone on a daily basis?
  • Let’s make it practical, what does that mean laying down my life on a daily basis to love someone spiritually closer to God?
    •  Well first I think how can you spiritually encourage someone.
    • Being there for someone to give them faith in God and not the situation.
    • Sometimes in life we are in the survival mode, life is tough. So when you give someone just hope for tomorrow that might encourage them.
    • I think to remind someone that they are special to God and that God has a great plan for their lifes, it might not be the one you dreamed about.
    • “This too shall pass”, remember success is temporary and failure is not final. When you are in the middle of a hurricane life could not be worse but in 5 minutes the sun will come out for you. Don’t get discouraged by your circumstances they will soon change by the grace of God. 
    • What is the bigger picture? To be successful on earth or to get to heaven? Sometimes we are not close to God to realize what it is really all about!
    • So what is life’s big questions for you? Have you answered them with the facts or is your emotions getting the better of you? Read you Bible and ask a friend to help you understand it. Even Paul a highly trained spiritual man needed someone to share the gospel with him and to encourage him to follow what God said.
    • What will change someone’s attitude about life today and help him have hope? With God there is always hope!

17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. – Pr 17:17

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. – Jb 2:11

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31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Luk 6:31

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20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. – Pr 19:20

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24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. – Pr 22:24-25

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20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. – Pr 13:20

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5 An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. – Pr 14:5

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12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Col 3:12-14

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  • “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.” – Eze 33
    • So God see me as a spiritual watchman for your nation which mine would be the Afrikaans speaking people of South Africa.
    • God wants me to hear His words and act like a prophet for the nation. Most probably almost like Moses did for the Israelites when he took them to the promised land. Man, that sounds like quite a big job! No pressure!!!
    •  So God wants us to warn wicked people. It is tough just to talk to a normal person, but the wicked?
    • So what should be the message to the wicked guy? I should “speak out to dissuade them from their ways”.
    • If I do not do that, God will hold me accountable for their sins. Mannn that is intense!!!!
    • Warning them is even a salvation issue, because God says that if I do warn them and they still do not respond I will be saved.
    • So is this duty that God calls me to have an option, I don’t think so!
    • The real question is do I do it? Will I be saved?
    • So that should be my daily task to warn people!
  • 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” – Heb 10:24
    • Why would God use the word, spur?
    • I think it is like a horse that is standing still or walking very slowly. It needs that jolt to get it going in a purposeful direction. 
    • So inertia is a universal phenomena. The meaning of inertia “a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.”
    • So even a spiritual man needs to be spurred on to love and good deeds, it will not happen by itself!
    • Soooo, taking our previous scripture into account. 
    • We need to look out for fellow men God has placed in our lives. 
    • If we do not have them on our hearts, do we really love them?
    • If we do not spur them on, we do not love them even if they have been our friends on facebook for the last 20 years.
    • So it takes effort, intention and obedience to God to care for our fellow man.

To the Church in Laodicea

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the doorand knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me – Rev 3:14-20

  • So Jesus says He knows our deeds, it tells me that it is important to Jesus what deeds we do for Him (verse 15)
  • So at one time they had been warm for Jesus because they had become a Christian before and lived fully for Jesus.
  • But now they have become lukewarm, some people will say they backslid. 
  • Backsliding, also known as falling away or described as “committing apostasy”, is a term used within Christianity to describe a process by which an individual who has converted to Christianity reverts to pre-conversion habits and/or lapses or falls into sin, when a person turns from God to pursue their own desire.”
  • I assume someone who is lukewarm; his attention became divided and he began to love the worldly ways / sins again. 
  • If I can think of an example; it’s probably like a married man or woman getting unfaithful to their spouse and sleeping around. They are not 100% happy with what God has given them. 
  • After all, it is God who brings us together in marriage. (Mark 10:9)
  • God further says that the consequences of your lukewarm relationship with him will lead him to spit you out of His mouth. 
  • Back to our example; I assume that the man or woman is going to find out about your affair and then kick you out of the house. (verse 16)
  • I think your opinion, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’” an attitude of  arrogance is not going to count in your favour in the end because you are not going to judge yourself, but God is going to.
  • So why is God’s opinion, “But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”, going to count and that’s why he wrote the passage for us in the Bible.
  • What you are actually saying is that God should be happy with the fact that you have now taken a concubine for yourself and no longer love him 100%, but only say 50%. If your job only pays you 50% of your salary, are going to be happy; I do not believe so. (verse 17)
  • Why do you chastise your children, because you love them and you know that their deeds do not hold a good future in place for them. I think it is the same with God, He loves us very much and therefore we must repent.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Mat 28:18-20 

  •  What would you say is your purpose in life?
    • Have a great job?
    • Comfortable life?
    • Big house?
    • Receive honor from your work colleagues?
  • Does God love us with a Spiritual Love?
    • “39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Rom 8:39
    • 12 For you bless the godly man, O Lord; you protect him with your shield of love.” – Ps 5:12
    • How precious is your constant love, O God! All humanity takes refuge in the shadow of your wings.” – Ps 36:7
  • What do you think is God purpose / goal of His love in life?
    • 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Tim 2:3-4
    • 10 For the Son of Man (Jesus) came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luk 19:10
    • 22 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;for I am God, and there is no other.” – Isaiah 45:22
  • Is it important to you to help your friends know and love God, how will I know?
    • Do you share your faith on a daily basis?
    • Do you invite people to your Bible Discussion on a weekly basis?
    • Do you invite people to the church service weekly?
    • If we add up each question above counting 33% each what would you get?
    • What if there is 3 major things you need to do at work and you fail at all 3 of them in a week, what would your boss say?

16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” – 1 Tim 4:16

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” – Jn 13:34-35

You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the worldmeans enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” – Jms 4:4

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Mat 28:18-20

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24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Heb 10:24-25

20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” – 2 Pet 2:20-21

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