Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Time to Grow Up! (Part 4 of 6)

This week we will begin to look at Dr. Robby Gallaty's specific approach to discipleship. Up until now he has explained the importance of discipleship. Starting today we will begin looking at the various elements of discipleship. Dr. Gallaty uses the acronym C.L.O.S.E.R. to help remember the various elements.  This week we will look at the first two elements "Communicate" and "Learn".
(You can click these links to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series)

Chapter 5
Perhaps you have heard the phrase "prayer changes things". I have heard this phrase many times in my life and have even seen it on posters and bumper stickers. We often pray as if we can manipulate God. However, this chapter starts off making a very good and clear point for us to remember: prayer changes me!  We aren't convincing God of anything in our prayer time. He is convincing us of His goodness and power and love and willingness to work in our lives. He transforms us as we meet with Him in prayer.

Many think that a "good" prayer is one that is worded eloquently and delivered fluidly in public. However, Christ revealed that the best prayer is done privately and is deeply personal. It is simply communicating with God, but don't forget: communication is a two-way interaction. It is not just SPEAKING to God, it is also LISTENING to God.

You can read Jesus' outline for praying in both Luke 11 and Matthew 6. Six components of the model prayer that Jesus gave are outlined and the reader is encouraged to apply those components in his own personal prayer time. What a better way to learn to pray than from the model set forth by the Savior!

In addition, the concept of using a prayer journal is introduced in order to reinforce the expression of praise as part of your prayer time. As you add requests to the journal and then you witness answers, then a natural response will be praise. The prayer journal helps our forgetful minds remember the good things that God is constantly doing for us.  This chapter gives practical instructions for how to use and make entries in a prayer journal.

The remainder of the chapter explains the place and importance of being persistent in prayer, praying privately, making prayer a priority, spending time in public prayer, being very specific in prayer, being confident in God when praying, praying constantly and eliminating distractions that may take away from valuable time in prayer with God. 

Prayer is of utmost importance and is given its proper emphasis in this Growing Up book. I hope it will receive equal emphasis in your life. If you're not sure how to start, buy a copy of Growing Up and begin learning how to pray and watch your relationship with God flourish!

Chapter 6
Chapter six explores the discipleship element of "Learn". Its focus is on the need to study the Bible. Many people avoid studying the Bible because they do not feel they can understand it. This is an effective tool of our enemy Satan. If he can keep God's Word out of God's people by convincing them that it is too difficult to understand, then the world will be full of weak and ineffective Christians. However, Christians must recognize this as the lie that it is and take up the responsibility to learn God's word and apply it to their lives so that their fellowship with God can be made ever sweeter.

As believers we have a wonderful gift from God: the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14). Each of us is filled with His presence at the moment of salvation. It is He who gives us understanding of God's Word. That understanding does not come all at once, but only as much as God desires to reveal to us at a time. I have been a Christian for 34 years and have not even scratched the surface of all the things that God can teach me from His Word. I am constantly amazed and in awe of what God shows me from the scriptures. He will show you too (1 John 2:27).

Dr. Gallaty outlines the Inductive Bible Study Method which includes observation, explanation and application. Observation simply inquires about what the text says, explanation looks into what the text means, and application seeks to discover how the text applies to your life.  The key to understanding any and all of these is the context of the passage.  What do the verses before and after the passage in consideration say? Who is the original audience? What is the surrounding circumstance or spiritual climate of those to whom it was written?

As you read about how to "dig in" using this tool, you will be armed with valuable information that will help you get over that hump of feeling intimidated by the scriptures.  God's Word is His revelation of Himself. It's His way of allowing us to know Him personally. He wants you to know Him, so don't be afraid of going deeper in your studies. Pray first. Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you understand. Ask Him to reveal things to you and to give you wisdom to know what resources to seek.

If you haven't done so yet, order a copy of Growing Up: How To Be A Disciple Who Makes Disciples. Get started in this most vital relationship. Not only will it benefit you, but you will be preparing yourself to mentor others in the future that are right where you are now.  

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

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