As part of the church we are meant to have influence in the world; we are to be agents of change - how are we doing?
Many years ago, when I was still a young woman, I was seated at table with a mature, highly respected and much-loved minister from The Congregation of Yahweh in Jamaica; we were indulging in ‘table talk’ and had been there for hours. We were discussing gifts and calling, when she told me, “After my salvation I said to Yahshua, ‘Sir, what is my work to be?’ and He replied, ‘Your work is to be blameless!’” We gazed at each other thoughtfully, and there was a moment of deep silence. “What,” she asked eventually, “do you think of that?” What indeed! It has recurred in my memory as a regular challenge for almost forty years. At the time, however, I looked at my dear friend with something approaching awe. I knew she was a prophetess, the evidence was there in her life and ministry – but to be blameless, was that possible? What a high calling! I came away from that meeting with a heightened admiration for this devoted minister of Yahweh.
It was not long, however, when the Scriptures started to come alive in my heart as I devoured them with my eyes! This was not just a calling for Tavita Barrett of Jamaica this was a requirement of discipleship. Understanding began to unfold when I found this scripture, “You shall be blameless before [Yahweh]…” (Deuteronomy 18:13 NAS). Astonished by what I saw I checked with the Authorised Version and read, “Thou shalt be perfect with [Yahweh]…” Things began to slot into place as I thought about the frequent calls to perfection which echo throughout the Scriptures. Yahshua Himself said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 KJV).
The definition of a disciple is this: ‘One who follows the opinions and teachings of another, believes in all his ideas, is a pupil to all his doctrines, tries to copy him in everything and be just like him.’ Our life’s work and greatest challenge, is to grow more and more like Yahshua every day. He said, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40 KJV). What a promise - but how to be perfect? Perfection, sanctification, holiness – these words should be found habitually on the lips and in the thoughts of those who are aspiring to be disciples of Yahshua, who are longing to have His likeness engraved upon their hearts. The apostle Peter wrote, “He gives us everything we need for life and for holy living. He gives it through His great power. As we come to know Him better, we learn that He called us to share His own shining-greatness and perfect life” (2 Peter 1:3 New Life Version). This is the ‘how?’ It’s all there for us, we need to apprehend it! The power is in the sacrifice of Calvary, and we receive cleansing and purity when we trust in Yahshua for our salvation. His, and only His, is the power that enables a perfect life here and now. Ours is the job of appropriating all that is offered and ensuring that we walk before Him blamelessly and in ever-increasing holiness. Paul wrote, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of [Yahweh]” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NAS). As I understand it there is something here that disciples are expected to do for themselves!
A life of discipleship demands a variety of disciplines in order for us to arrive at that “…really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of [Messiah’s] own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fulness of the [Messiah] and the completeness found in Him” (Ephesians 4:13 Amp). The primary meaning of the word ‘discipline’ is ‘training or a way of life aimed at self-control and obedience’ (Oxford Dictionary). A soldier in any of the armed forces around the world has such self-control and obedience thrust upon him/her by the rigorous expectations and often ruthless training of the army concerned. An unruly, disobedient soldier will not be tolerated, since this could put lives at serious risk during war or other emergencies. The General of our army is the King of Love and so it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that His followers are actually fighting a war, and that disobedience and/or sloppy, lazy habits could put themselves and others at risk! He won’t shout and bawl at us like a sergeant training new recruits – and neither will His ministers, when they find themselves training His people. But let us never forget that we need the discipline and obedience of a regular army if we are to win the last great battle, and that the only person who can ‘thrust it upon us’ is our own self!
Self-discipline begins with the basic things of a spiritual life: Bible reading and prayer. These are habits that need to be cultivated by a new believer and maintained by seasoned believers as a lifeline to the heart of the General. It is imperative that each one of us has a personal and intimate acquaintance with Yahshua; this is the bedrock of every successful disciple. Regular fasting with prayer is a discipline that opens the heart and sensitises the spirit to hear from Yahweh, whilst long fasts can increase dependence upon Yahshua and promote incomparable closeness to Him. Fasting should not be something we regard as an ‘emergency’ tool. It will make a great difference to the inward nature if we bind it into our regular discipleship disciplines. As disciples we are obligated to set ourselves to seek for Yahweh with all our heart. Your minister can only encourage you to do this – the incentive has to come from within, no-one can do it for you.
Another meaning of the word discipline is, ‘a branch of instruction or learning’. For example it would be correct to ask a university student what discipline he was studying. As believers and disciples of Yahshua we may have different disciplines (ministries and callings), but they will all have one aim, ‘the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up [Messiah’s] body (the church)’ (Ephesians 4:12 Amp). Whatever we have been gifted to do will make a difference in the Body of Yahshua, so it is fitting for us to be the best that we can be for His sake. It is necessary that we make ‘full proof’ of our ministry even as Paul instructed his son in the faith, Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5). Various versions of this scripture help us to understand that Paul was urging the young man to fulfil all that Yahweh had given him to do and to perform his duties with excellence.
When Yahweh calls us to a specific task then it is up to us to find the most effective way to do this for His glory and for the greater benefit of His People. If you feel your calling is to be a singer or a musician – then take some lessons and learn from experts how to make the most of what Yahweh has given to you. If you are called to preach then take advice as to how to prepare sermons, how to be effective in communication, how to bring His Word to His People in the most effectual way – these things do not happen, necessarily, just because we are called to do it. If you are called to be a shepherd of Yahweh’s people then sit at the feet of those with experience and learn how! This is one of the highest privileges Yahweh can give to a man or a woman, and it is a demanding job requiring multi-tasking abilities alongside huge stores of discipline, patience, wisdom, understanding and discretion.
What is the discipline to which you are called? Take time in the University of Heaven to be trained to be the best that you can be. You will often find the University of Heaven will lead you to places of training and learning on the earth – but when you find His place for your training you will also find a heaven on earth. Make those talents work so that there is an increase in what you have been given! The successful servants in the story Yahshua told (see Matthew 25) put their talents to work and increased what they had been given. Observation and experience over the years has taught me that talents can be enlarged and enriched through use and training; men and women are responsible to Yahweh for what they do (or, indeed, don’t do) with what has been given. Be diligent to fulfil all that you have been given to do in the best way possible.
There are two disciplines in the University of Heaven that are compulsory for all disciples – those of obedience and submission, and we will not function fruitfully until we have been exposed to intensive training. The ordinary journey of life ensures that we each receive frequent opportunities to practise and grow in these disciplines. My advice to all believers is to learn to align your inner self to the will of Yahweh however that presents itself. It is perfectly normal for the human spirit to kick when things don’t seem to be going the way we thought they should or would personally choose; perfectly normal for there to be an inner struggle before we bow to what seems to be inevitable, but I must learn to make His will my will. Aligning oneself with the will of Yahweh can take hours, days, months, or even years depending on a variety of personal issues, lifestyles and preferences, it’s not how long it takes that matters, but that it eventually happens! We should cultivate both our inner self and our personal relationship with Yahshua until we bend flexibly under the winds of change and know the joy of total submission.
“Let your hearts therefore be blameless and wholly true to [Yahweh our Elohim], to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments” 1 Kings 8:61 (Amp).
For just as each of us has one body with many members...