Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal Monthly
Themes: Discipleship, Family, Psalm 90
Volume 9 No. 509 January, 2019

II. This Month's Supplement: Discipleship

When We Follow Christ

God teaches us differently from men. They deal in peradventures and surmises; He with certainties - "Ye shall know the truth." ...

A Bondservant of Jesus

The passion of Christianity comes from deliberately signing away my own rights and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I will not begin to be a saint. ...

Big Assignments begin with Tiny 'Yeses'

God will never entrust someone with a big assignment who has not proved herself trustworthy in the small. ...

Faithful in the Little Things

Do you want to be used by God? Then be faithful in the little things. ...

Why Would God Want to Use Me?

Abraham was the first man chosen by God for a role in the plan of redemption. ...

Will Only a Few be Saved?

Start small, finish big. That seems to be God's motto. He begins salvation history with two people from what is now Iraq. ...

What Makes a Disciple?

What is a disciple? Technically defined, a disciple is a listener, a learner, or a hearer. ...

The Road of Discipleship

Like Paul, you are the Holy Spirit's student, and the knowledge you reap from Scripture should be changing your life. ...

Costly Discipleship

To pick up the cross and follow Jesus means to be willing to go anywhere and do anything for your Lord. ...

The True Nature of Discipleship

Growing in faith is something that can be served by others, but ultimately must be owned personally.

Who Were the 12 Disciples and What Should We Know about Them?

Twelve men responded to the call. They were Jews, uneducated commoners, and simple men of faith who gave up everything to be followers of Christ. ...

II. This Month's Supplement: Discipleship

When We Follow Christ

by F B Meyer

If ye continue in my word - John 8:31

1. We shall be approved as Christ' s disciples.

"Then are ye truly My disciples." Of some the Master asks, "Why call ye Me, Lord, lord, and do not the things which I say?" And He drives these from Him, saying, "I never knew you." His words are the supreme test - the fire which detects the ore; the winnowing-fan that finds out the wheat. Our treatment of our Lord's words discriminates us: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, is he that loveth Me.

2. We shall know the truth.

God teaches us differently from men. They deal in peradventures and surmises; He with certainties - "Ye shall know the truth." They talk about the truth; He gives us the thing itself, and we know because we possess. They deal with circumstances and externals; He with the heart and root of matters. They give to the mind and soul; He to the spirit. We know the truth, because the Truth is in us, and we are in the Truth. ,'We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true."

3. We shall be free.

"The truth shall make you free." Just as we are free from the terrors which belief in witchcraft and ghosts was wont to breed, because we know that the spirits of the dead do not haunt dark and dangerous places; just as we no longer fear the fatuous light over the marsh, or the death-tick, because science has attributed these to natural causes; so, as Jesus teaches us the truth about God, and the future, and the forgiveness of sins, and the broken power of Satan, and the impotence of death, we are delivered from the bondage of fear, and walk with God in perfect peace.

Source: Our Daily Homily

A Bondservant of Jesus

by Oswald Chambers

" I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me… - Galatians 2:20 "

These words mean the breaking and collapse of my independence brought about by my own hands, and the surrendering of my life to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself. God may bring me up to this point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot push me through it. It means breaking the hard outer layer of my individual independence from God, and the liberating of myself and my nature into oneness with Him; not following my own ideas, but choosing absolute loyalty to Jesus. Once I am at that point, there is no possibility of misunderstanding. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ or understand what He meant when He said, “…for My sake” (Matthew 5:11). That is what makes a strong saint.

Has that breaking of my independence come? All the rest is religious fraud. The one point to decide is— will I give up? Will I surrender to Jesus Christ, placing no conditions whatsoever as to how the brokenness will come? I must be broken from my own understanding of myself. When I reach that point, immediately the reality of the supernatural identification with Jesus Christ takes place. And the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable— “I have been crucified with Christ….”

The passion of Christianity comes from deliberately signing away my own rights and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I will not begin to be a saint.

One student a year who hears God’s call would be sufficient for God to have called the Bible Training College into existence. This college has no value as an organization, not even academically. Its sole value for existence is for God to help Himself to lives. Will we allow Him to help Himself to us, or are we more concerned with our own ideas of what we are going to be?

Source: Daily Reflections with Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest (The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers; 1992)

Big Assignments begin with Tiny 'Yeses'

by Sharon Jaynes

His master replied, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
(Matthew 5:21, NIV)

When people ask me how I got started in ministry, I tell them I started by writing for free publications for free for ten years. This is not what most people want to hear.

When I tell them I started by folding newsletters in the den of my home for several years, they seem crestfallen.

When I tell them I started out by cleaning the bathrooms in our first little ministry office, they seem confused.

"No, I mean how did you get started writing and speaking?" they ask.

"I'm telling you," I reply. "This is how I got started. Being faithful in the little things. By doing what God led me to do on any particular day."

I never had a big ol' dream to be a speaker and a writer, but that's what God had planned for me. I just put one obedient foot in front of the other and that is where the path led.

We don't obey God in the seemingly small assignments in order to get the bigger ones. However, God will never entrust someone with a big assignment who has not proved herself trustworthy in the small.

When God invites you to join Him in His work, what you do next reveals what you truly believe. If you trust Him completely and follow His lead in the great dance of obedience, then you will experience the spins, twirls, and lifts of the glory life Jesus came to give. If you decide to sit this one out because of fear, then the chairs along the wall are positioned just for you to sit and watch the less fearful wow the crowd. But know this: The band is playing your song.

When God extends His invitation to join Him in the divine dance of obedience, the time to accept is at that very moment. We have about ten to thirty seconds before common sense talks us out of obeying God's promptings. The time to act is as soon as you sense the Spirit calling you to move.

When my husband and I took ballroom dance classes (We called it Dancing with the Scars), I remember complaining to the dance instructor, "How many times are we going to have to go over the one-two-three-four of the foxtrot? I'm tired of making these little boxes. I want to move around the room! I want to dip and swirl!"

"As soon as you learn to follow your husband's lead and master the basic steps," she replied. Only then will we move on to fancier moves."

As you live and move and have your being in Him, the places He will lead you will become more and more glorious as you learn to relinquish control and trust Him. Big assignments begin with a thousand tiny "yeses." Small steps of obedience become beautiful sweeping moves of faith.

But first…you have to take the little steps.

Let's Pray

Heavenly Father, forgive me for wanting the big assignments and not being faithful to do the seemingly smaller ones. Help me to remember that every time I obey You, even when the tasks seem insignificant, You smile and say, "Well done, My good and faithful servant."
I love You,

Now It's Your Turn

Read 1 Samuel 16 and note when David was anointed as king.

What did he do between 1 Samuel 16 and 1 Samuel17? (Hint: Baa Baa)

What did David do between 1 Samuel 17 and 2 Samuel 2? Just scan the headings.

And as they say, "the rest is history."

Are you ready to be used by God?

Source: Girlfriends in God

Faithful in the Little Things

by Greg Laurie

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.
- Luke 16:10

When I was a young Christian attending Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, I would listen to Pastor Chuck Smith and some of the other pastors and think, That is what I want to do. I want to serve the Lord like that. I want to speak.

I had been a believer for about three or four months when I went to see Pastor Chuck one afternoon. I sat down in his office and said, "I've been listening to you speak. I want you to know that I want to be used by God. Whatever you want me to do around here, I would be happy to do it."

I was kind of hoping he might say, "Greg, why don't you teach for me Sunday morning?" or something like that. Instead, he suggested that I talk to Romaine, another pastor at Calvary Chapel. (Romaine was a former drill sergeant in the Marine Corps.) So I went to Romaine's office and told him, "I want to be used by God."

"You do?"

I said, "Yes, I do. I want to serve the Lord."

"That's great," he said. "See that broom? See that tree? Start sweeping."

There was a pepper tree on the church property, which I believed had only one function: to drop leaves. I would sweep under this tree, and one minute later, there would be two hundred more leaves. I would sweep it up. Two hundred more leaves. That was all I did for weeks, even months. I just swept that tree and did little things around the church. But that was good. They were testing my faithfulness. Do you want to be used by God? Then be faithful in the little things.

Excerpted from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013
Copyright ©2014 by Harvest Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Why Would God Want to Use Me?

by James Montgomery Boice

The Man God Started With: Abraham - The Greatest Patriarch

Apart from Jesus Christ, Abraham is probably the most important person in the Bible. Abraham is a giant in Scripture - his stature is far greater than that of Moses, David, or Paul. These latter three were great men, and God used them in great ways, even giving portions of the Scriptures to us through them. But each of them would have agreed without qualification that Abraham was his father in faith.

In the early chapters of Genesis, we read of God's promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4). This was fulfilled physically and spiritually. On the physical side, Abraham became the father of the Jewish people, through whom the Messiah was born; he became the father of the many Arab tribes through his son Ishmael. On the spiritual side, Abraham has become the father of a great host of believers whose numbers are now swelled by Christians of countless tongues and nations.

No one can understand the Old Testament without understanding Abraham, for in many ways the story of redemption begins with God's call to this patriarch. Abraham was the first man chosen by God for a role in the plan of redemption. The story of Abraham contains the first mention in the Bible of God's righteousness imputed to man as the sole means of salvation (Genesis 15:6). Matthew includes the genealogy of Jesus in his Gospel in order to trace the beginnings of salvation back to Abraham (Matthew 1:1). Luke declares that the birth of Jesus occurred in response to God's promise to Abraham (Luke 1:68-73).

Great sections of the New Testament explain the spiritual significance of Abraham. An entire chapter in Romans refers to God's dealings with Abraham to support the doctrine of justification by grace through faith (Romans 4). Two chapters in Galatians refer to the life of Abraham to prove that salvation is apart from works (Romans 3 and Romans 4). One of the longest paragraphs on faith in the Book of Hebrews is devoted to the life of faith lived by this Hebrew patriarch (Hebrews 11:8-19). Faith stands preeminent in the life of Abraham.

No Good in Abraham

It is impossible to understand Abraham's faith without realizing that there was nothing in Abraham that commended him to God. God does not look down from heaven to find a person who has a bit of divine righteousness or a bit of faith and then say, "Oh, isn't it wonderful! I've found somebody with a bit of faith. I think I'll save him." When God looks down from heaven He sees that all men are without faith, and He passes a universal judgment: "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Romans 3:12). That included Abraham.

This truth is reinforced by another. Abraham came from a family of idol worshipers, and was undoubtedly an idol worshiper himself. This truth is clearly stated in at least three places in the Bible.

In the last chapter of the Book of Joshua, the aging leader delivers a final spiritual charge to the people of Israel. Joshua begins by reminding them of their pagan past.

Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the river [the River Euphrates] of old, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods. And I took your father, Abraham, from the other side of the river, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac...Now, therefore, fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river, and in Egypt (Joshua 24:2-14).

The passage is a black-and-white statement of the fact that Abraham was chosen by God from the midst of a pagan ancestry and that he and Terah had once worshiped false gods.

The same thing is said by Isaiah: "Hearken to Me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord; look unto the rock from which ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which ye are digged. Look unto Abraham, your father, and unto Sarah, who bore you" (Isaiah 5:1-2). The whole thrust of these verses is that there was nothing in the ancestry of the Jewish people that could commend them to God.

The third passage that reveals the truth about Abraham's ancestry is a story from the life of Abraham's grandson, Jacob. Jacob was a schemer - even his name means "supplanter" - and his underhandedness made his brother angry enough to want to kill him. Jacob was forced to flee for his life. Where was he to go? Jacob did what many people do when they are cast adrift by life - he went back to his roots. For Jacob, that was in Mesopotamia, the place from which his grandfather Abraham had come. There Jacob associated himself with his uncle Laban. In time, he married both of Laban's daughters, Leah and Rachel, and came to own a large share of the family's sheep and cattle.

As time passed, bad feelings arose between Jacob and Laban, Jacob decided to return to the land of Canaan, choosing a moment when Laban was away on business. When Laban returned, his nephew, his daughters, and much of the property were gone.

The household gods also were missing. Laban set out in pursuit. When he overtook the band that Jacob was leading, he chided Jacob for this action and accused him of having stolen the idols. A search was made but the idols were not found. Jacob's wife, Rachel, who had stolen them, had hidden them in her camel's saddle. This story in Genesis 31 shows that Abraham's relatives still owned and cherished idols at least three generations after God had called Abraham out of Mesopotamia.

God's Choice

It was Abraham whom God chose to be the father of many nations. But why did God save Abraham? The answer is simply that this was God's will. In Deuteronomy 7, Moses tells why God chose Israel to be the nation through which He gave the law and would one day send the Saviour. We read, "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people. But because the Lord loved you..." (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).

Why did God love them? Because He loved them. Why did He choose them? Because He chose them. This is not human logic; it is divine logic. It is the logic of grace.

This is the way God loved Abraham, and the way God loves us. We are like Abraham. There is nothing in us to commend us to God. And yet God loves us. Just as He sought Abraham, He seeks to draw us into fellowship with Himself.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, the apostle tells how Jesus had come to His own people, the Jews, but they had not received Him. And yet some did - both Jews and Gentiles - and John writes that Christ gave to all who believed authority to become the children of God.

As John wrote these words, however, he seemed to know that some would say, "But, you see, God gave them authority to become children of God because they had faith within; it was because they believed." Lest someone retain a false impression, John adds quickly that these "were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). John knew that no Christian ever made the first move toward God; he knew that salvation originates in heaven.

This is unpopular teaching, and men and women have always hated it. They hated it when Isaiah reminded them that nothing in their ancestry commended them to God (see Isaiah 51:1-2). They hated it in Christ's day. We are told that from the time Jesus began to teach that "no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father...many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him" (John 6:65-66). People hate it when this Gospel is preached in our own 20th century. And yet, in spite of the hatred of men, it is true. No man ever seeks God.

God's Call

Abraham's faith was preceded by God's call. God called him when he was without faith and promised to bless him. As a result of this encounter, Abraham believed God and set out on the journey to Canaan. Actually, the call to Abraham came twice, once when he was in Ur of the Chaldees (Acts 7:2-4), and once, years later, when he was in Haran.

The Bible says: Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee; and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him (Genesis 12:1-4).

Abraham's departure from Ur was the first evidence of his faith in God and in God's promises.

What is faith? Faith is simply belief, and all men have the capacity for it. They demonstrate it every day of their lives. Saving, faith is believing God and acting upon that belief. Abraham had saving faith because he believed God when God revealed Himself, and he acted upon his belief by setting out for Canaan immediately.

There are many mistaken views of faith. One links faith to credulity. This is the view that faith is belief without evidence. But God provides evidence, and He does so overwhelmingly. In Abraham's case the evidence was an appearance of God so striking that it got the patriarch and all his family and possessions moving out of their homeland into a land which they had never seen. In our case, the evidence is the biblical account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the way that God called Abraham, God calls all who become His children. God comes to us when we are hopelessly lost in sin and without knowledge of Him (Ephesians 2:1-7). This is a universal fact in the spiritual biography of Christians. God's call comes first. And our response is nothing more than belief in God and in His promises.

Perhaps someone says, "Well, that may be right theoretically, but I just can't believe."

I disagree. You believe men, don't you? Every time you keep an appointment, sign a contract, ride a bus, read the newspaper, or do anything that involves other people, you show faith in some person, sometimes one whom you have not even met.

In the same way, you can believe God. He is more trustworthy. The Bible says, "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater" (1 John 5:9). What does God ask us to believe? He asks us to believe that we are lost without Him and that He has done everything through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ to save us both for this life and for the life to come.

When Faith Is Weak

Someone may say, "Oh, I am able to believe in the sense that you have been explaining, but my faith is weak. I could become a Christian, but I am afraid that if I do - if I start out with God as Abraham did - I'll falter." Of course you will falter. But salvation depends not on the strength of your faith but on God's overwhelming faithfulness to you.

Abraham faltered. When he was in Ur of the Chaldees, God called Abraham to go to Canaan. Ur was in the Mesopotamian river valley, east of the great Arabian desert. Canaan was west of the desert and bordered the Mediterranean Sea. To obey God's call, Abraham had to leave Ur, travel north along the great Euphrates River, cross the northern end of the Arabian desert, and pass down along the Lebanese highlands, entering Canaan from the north. Abraham began the 1,000-mile journey in the best of faith. And yet, at the end of Genesis 11, we find that Abraham stopped at Haran, a little town in Syria hundreds of miles from Ur but still several hundred miles from Canaan.

Abraham stayed at Haran until his father died. When Abraham started once again for Canaan, he was 75 years old. Was Abraham strong in faith? Not at this point in his life. But God's promises were not withdrawn.

From God's point of view, the years in Haran were wasted. Abraham learned no new lessons there. And that happens to us. Times come when we stop and sit down spiritually. We must not sit too long. We must confess the emptiness of such moments, yield to God's repeated calls, and let Him lead us into all the blessings He originally intended.

The Second Call

God had called Abraham once and he obeyed. Then Abraham disobeyed and stopped at Haran. Years later God came again, calling, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee; and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing" (Genesis 12:1-2). God called Abraham a second time, and He calls us a second time also. God always persists in His calling.

This truth is found many places in Scripture. It is found in the story of David. God called David to be the political and moral leader of Israel, but David fell into sin. He stayed in Jerusalem instead of participating in a battle. While in Jerusalem he saw Bathsheba, enticed her, and made love to her. When he learned that she had become pregnant, he attempted to cover his sin by having her husband killed. And yet, God did not cast off King David.

Instead He came to him through Nathan to expose his sin and lead him to repentance (2 Samuel 12). God came a second time to David.

When God first called Jonah, He said, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me" (Jonah 1:2). Jonah lived in Galilee near Cana, and the way to Nineveh was east. Did Jonah go east? No, Jonah went west! The Bible tells us that Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish, for which he sailed from the Jewish port of Joppa (Jonah 1:3).

At this point in the action, God sent a storm. Jonah ordered himself to be thrown overboard by the sailors. He was swallowed by a great fish and was later vomited out on dry land. He was on the shore, right back where he started from, when God came to him to repeat His original commission, "And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time" (Jonah 3:1). These are the most beautiful words in the entire story: ". . . the Lord came unto Jonah the second time."

So it will be with us. The word of the Lord comes to us once, twice, and, if need be, a hundred or a thousand times. He calls us to follow Him. We are so prone to stop. We have many Harans, Bathshebas, or ships to Tarshish. And yet, God calls again and again.

God's Faithfulness

Where do you stand? It may be that you have never responded to God's call the first time. If God is prodding you to believe, if you feel unhappy as you are, if you are looking for something better in life, if you are questioning the truths of Christianity, this is God's working. You must yield to Him. You must trust Him.

Perhaps you have stopped at some place in your walk with God. Perhaps God has given you a command to do something and you have put it off, a step to take and you have refused. You prefer to be where you are. The fullness of blessing is never going to come to you until you obey God and do what He has set before you. You will never improve on His instructions.

Perhaps you are one to whom the Lord is now coming a second time. Take great joy in that. Respond to Him. And rejoice that you serve a God who will not abandon the work that He has once set out to accomplish (see Philippians 1:6).

© Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Inc. All rights reserved.
Source: Today's Topical Bible Study

Will Only a Few be Saved?

by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Start small, finish big. That seems to be God's motto. He begins salvation history with two people from what is now Iraq. When planning to raise a really big family, why start with an elderly couple who've never been able to have kids? But this is precisely what God does. He turns the sterile Abram and Sarai into Abraham and Sarah, ancestors of a worldwide family which still celebrates their memory nearly 4,000 years later.

In God's plan, this family was to turn into a mighty nation. An unlikely candidate for greatness, this "nation" was birthed out of a rag-tag band of Abraham's descendants who'd been slaves for hundreds of years. A poet once wrote "how odd of God to choose the Jews." But after 40 years of desert camping, they entered their promised land and eventually became a mighty kingdom.

But God had bigger plans still. This nation was not to hoard the treasure, looking down their noses at the rest of the world. That was the Pharisees' mistake. No, they were to be a priestly people destined to bring salvation to all. This salvation was to come once again from the least likely of places. Galilee? What good could come from a land of hillbillies and fisherman? They spoke with an accent so thick that you could cut it with a knife (see Matthew 26:73).

Do you see a pattern here? The best and brightest, the biggest and the strongest - like Pharaoh, Goliath, and Caesar - these are not chosen. Rather, it's the least likely to succeed, the little, ordinary people. That way, no one can take credit and no one can lose heart. No one is qualified and no one is disqualified. Even the all-stars can get in on it if they'll step off the pedestal and humble themselves before God.

So all are called to be saved and find their place among God's people, the Church. The only One who could earn salvation has already done so, and shared it with all of us as a free, undeserved gift. That's what the word "Catholic" means - grace and membership are unrestricted, universal, for the "whole" world rather than some exclusive, elite club.

That means everybody is going to heaven, right? I mean, how could a loving, large-minded God send anyone to hell? He doesn't. God's heart is large but as this Sunday's Gospel (Luke 13:22-30) points out, the door to heaven is narrow. Jesus is that door. No one comes to the Father except through Him. The map to the door is widely published. The Father issues regular, personal invitations. But people still need to accept the invitation and walk through the door. Apparently many choose not to. Some won't enter the door because they've been offended, even scandalized by one of the doormen. Others won't enter because it is too narrow-minded to insist that only this door is the right one. Some are really busy and put it off till things settle down. There are many reasons. But there comes a moment when the journey is over and the door closes and locks. Wherever you stand at this moment is where you'll stand forever.

That fact that you were baptized is no guarantee that you are now on the inside. Neither is the fact that you once accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

But we went to Mass every Sunday ("ate and drank in your company"). But we went to Wednesday night prayer meeting and bible study ("you taught in our streets").

Actions speak louder than words. Your words may cry "Lord, Lord" (Matthew 7:21) and your lips may sing hymns every Sunday. But what does the "body language" of your actions say? What side of the door you stand on is not a choice that is made once, either on the day you confess Christ or the day you are baptized. It is a choice that must be made every day up till that last and final day.

You can't know when that day will be. Here's the question you need to be concerned with - where do you stand right now?

What Makes a Disciple?

by Greg Laurie

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed."
-John 8:31

What is a disciple? Technically defined, a disciple is a listener, a learner, or a hearer.

But there is a difference between a student and a disciple. For example, let’s say that you’re in elementary school, junior high, or high school. You’re a student. You’re there because you have to be. You don’t have a choice.

Then you get a little older and decide to go to college. You decide what your major is. You have a great interest in that topic and want to learn everything there is to learn. You transition from being a student to a disciple in that you actually want to go to class now. You want to get the information. You take the time to be a student of someone who knows more about the topic than you do.

Let’s apply that to the Christian life. Are you a disciple, or are you a student against your will? If you treat a church service like being in class, and you don’t really want to be there, then you won’t get much out of it. You have to come as a disciple, a learner, as someone who wants to be taught.

Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

In the Bible, the idea of a disciple is someone who listens to a person who has full knowledge. That listener is drinking in every word, marking every inflection of the voice, absorbing every detail. They can’t get enough. It is attention with intention.

That is why Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” In other words, “Pay attention to what I’m saying.”

There is no question that we need anointed preaching and teaching. But there is a need for anointed listening too.

Copyright © 2017 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

The Road of Discipleship

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Scripture: Galatians 1:11-17

After Paul's conversion, he disappeared into the desert for three years, during which time the Holy Spirit instructed him in the ways of God. He emerged, ready to communicate divine truth.

The Lord speaks to believers so that they will comprehend the truth, conform to the truth, and communicate the truth. These same steps form a roadmap to discipleship. What happened during Paul's desert years was only the beginning of a life-long process--God renewed his mind and transformed him into the image of Christ. For the apostle, that change began with connecting his rich biblical knowledge to the revelation that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

Paul knew Scripture thoroughly, but the truth that Jesus was the promised Messiah made him reconsider the foundation he'd been trusting. Everything he knew about God had to be reevaluated in light of this new information. Paul had a history of wanting to please God, so the Holy Spirit no doubt found him a willing pupil.

The apostle's spirit had to be shaped according to the Father's will. And the Lord kept working on him long after Paul left the desert and began his ministry. Every person who reads his letters is a witness to the work of God in a submissive man.

The Lord's discipleship roadmap looks similar for every believer. Like Paul, you are the Holy Spirit's student, and the knowledge you reap from Scripture should be changing your life. Be like the apostle in this way to become a disciple maker by sharing what you learn with others.

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. (c) 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Costly Discipleship

by Jim Burns

He called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
--Mark 8:34-36

To pick up the cross and follow Jesus means to be willing to go anywhere and do anything for your Lord. It means that you want God to do His will in and through you. There is a cost to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, but the end results are well worth it.

I recently heard of a business executive who said, “I spent my entire life climbing the corporate ladder only to find when I got to the top that my ladder was leaning against the wrong building. I have wasted my life with trivia.” Are you passionately pursuing Christ? Don't waste your life in a trivial pursuit when you have at your fingertips, the Lord of life to guide you into greater depths and a more meaningful lifestyle.

To be a disciple of Jesus means to pursue Him like the pursuit of a lover and the passion of a romance. Christ is worth your every thought and breath. In Him you will find your reason for living. Remember that He gives you His Spirit but wants you to give Him your body, mind, and soul.


1. Reread Mark 8:34-36. What does it mean for you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus?

2. What will it cost you to truly be a disciple of Jesus? Are you willing to pay this price?


Matthew 10:38; Luke 14:27

For more information and resources please visit

The True Nature of Discipleship

by Dr. James Emery White

Discipleship matters.

The goal is not a crowd, but rather a core of committed Christ followers who are fleshing out the life of Christ at work, in their marriage, their parenting, their finances, their thinking, their politics, their…

… everything.

To borrow from Abraham Kuyper, there is not an inch of any sphere of my life that Christ does not say, “Mine!”

But what is the nature of discipleship?

There seem to be two schools of thought. The first holds that discipleship is all about ongoing investment. Whether classes or seminars, sermons or small groups, everything is designed to “feed” the Christ-follower. The language used to describe and promote this understanding of discipleship puts the entire emphasis on someone or something, doing discipleship to someone else. The one being discipled is seemingly passive. In other words, discipleship is something received.

The other school of thought is less about feeding and more about training. There is an old line that says, “Give me a fish, I eat for a day; teach me to fish, I eat for a lifetime.” So rather than providing an ongoing pipeline for biblical teaching (present though that may be) the overarching goal is to teach people how to become Bible students themselves.

So which is the true nature of discipleship?

The answer lies in the word itself.

The word “disciple” is from the Greek word “mathetes” and literally means “learner.”

Stop there. Re-read.


This puts the action firmly into the lap of the one doing the learning. The point is that you, as a disciple, are to be actively learning. It is your responsibility to take up the mantle of self-development.

And yes, this suggests a teacher is involved.

And yes, we talk about someone going to college to receive an education.

And yes, Jesus seemed to fill the teaching/equipping role by inviting 12 men (and more than a few women) to do life with Him for three years.

And yes, they were called “disciples.”

But reflect on those early followers: Theirs was an invitation to learn, not to enter into a passive process of being fed. We certainly know that not all of the twelve went to school on Jesus. One in particular didn’t seem to learn much of anything. If discipleship was simply something done to you, Jesus failed epically with Judas.

(I wonder if Judas ever said he needed to follow another rabbi where he could be better “fed” and thus grow better spiritually than he was under Jesus.)

Growing in faith is something that can be served by others, but ultimately must be owned personally.

This is decisive. Too many followers of Christ view discipleship as something that is done to them and for them – akin to a personal enrichment program. Yet the writer of Hebrews made it abundantly clear that people who keep getting “fed” in this way are in arrested development. Once out of infancy, they should no longer need to be fed, but instead be feeding others (Hebrews 5:11-13).

But even more disquieting is how we have missed out on what it is we should focus on learning. The back-half of the Great Commission exhorts us to teach new believers to obey what Christ has commanded. This is the essence of the content of discipleship.

And what has Christ commanded?

To live our lives in mission to the least and the lost.

In other words, what we are to be learning is increased love toward others and increased faith for the task of serving them. We are not to be in search for a feeding station that creates a culture of dependency and endless demand for head-knowledge, but instead for a learning environment where an active life of faith is stretched and encouraged.

I know, knowledge is needed. Doctrine matters. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. But that transformation only happens when what is in the mind translates into obedience to serving the widow and orphan, and reaching out to the hell-bound and skeptic.

So discipleship is enhanced through practical teaching, learning the personal disciplines of prayer and Bible study, engaging in ministry, engaging in relationships that bring challenge and opportunity, and welcoming circumstances that demand the essence of commitment and obedience.

In other words, faith is stretched by being in the game where you are admonished by teachers/leaders, investing in connecting with God through prayer and the Scriptures, putting yourself on the front lines of the cause of Christ, mixing it up with other Christians who sharpen you as iron against iron, and being led by God into unique situations that challenge you at the deepest of spiritual levels.

That’s not passive, but active.

It’s something that can be served, but never delivered.

It takes a church, but only goes so far as the person is willing to be,

… a true learner.

James Emery White

About the Author

James Emery White is the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His forthcoming book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian Culture, is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Source: Church and Culture

Who Were the 12 Disciples and What Should We Know about Them?

by Allyson Holland

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named apostles.
(Luke 6:12-13)

Twelve men responded to the call. They were Jews, uneducated commoners, and simple men of faith who gave up everything to be followers of Christ. Jesus spent three years training these men to be leaders. Jesus’ plan was to eventually have the disciples take over and carry on the work He had started.

The Twelve Disciples (Apostles): Who Were They?

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. (John 14:16)

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew (Nathanael); Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus (James the Less), and Thaddaeus (Judas, son of James); Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.
(Matthew 10:2-4)

Peter and Andrew

And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

Peter and Andrew--Sons of John, were born in Bethsaida. They later settled in a home together in the town of Capernaum. They were fisherman and worked alongside James and John. They were companions and had probably known each other for years.

Peter and Andrew were early followers of John the Baptist. It was Andrew who first introduced his older brother Peter to Jesus when they were in the wilderness with John. (John 1:40-42) It is thought that they became spiritual followers of Jesus at this time. Once Peter was introduced to Jesus they left John and became followers of Christ.

1. Peter

Also known as Simon, Simon Peter, or Cephas (Rock), Peter was a gregarious, natural leader, and an obvious spokesperson for the twelve. Peter’s name is mentioned far more in the New Testament than any other of the disciples. He was the older of the two brothers and the only married disciple. (Luke 4:38) His wife was known to travel with him when he was on mission. (1 Cor. 9:5) His assignment was to bring the Gospel to the circumcised. (Gal. 2:7)

Peter is well known for denying Christ three times after Christ was arrested. After his own arrest many years later he requested to be crucified with his head down. He didn’t believe he was worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. He died a martyr’s death in Rome during the reign of Nero. Some speculate around the same time as Paul was being beheaded.

2. Andrew

An early disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew, and John, the Son of Zebedee were present when John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35) Andrew was the first to follow Jesus and his enthusiasm was evident as his desire to introduce his older brother to Jesus revealed what was already in his heart—a deep love for God.

He was not a dominant person next to his outspoken brother. He was a passionate preacher and shared the gospel boldly and was a significant contributor to the early church.

Andrew died a martyr’s death. He faced crucifixion with boldness and courage. He said, “Oh, cross most welcome and longed for! With a willing mind, joyfully and desirously, I come to you, being a scholar of Him which did hang on you, because I have always been your lover and yearn to embrace you.”

James and John—Sons of Zebedee

There is some evidence that Zebedee was a man of affluence. He was able to hire enough servants to help with his fishing business. (Mark 1:20). In Scripture, James is listed before his younger brother John, yet he remains somewhat obscure except for the fact he is part of Jesus’ inner three. John is much more in the forefront of what is happening during the three years of training with Christ. James and John were both known for being men of intense passion and fervor. Because of this Jesus nicknamed them the Sons of Thunder. (Mark 3:17)

3. James

James is the elder brother of John. He is a rather quiet part of the team of disciples in that we don’t read much about him in Scripture. As part of Jesus’ “inner three” he was permitted to be present along with Peter and John when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37), he witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 17:1), and he was in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus. (Mark 14:33)

James was the first disciple to be martyred (he was beheaded) and the only disciple to have their martyrdom recorded in Scripture. (Acts 12:1-3)

4. John

Known as the “disciple Jesus loved,” he was also a part of the inner three. (John 3:23) He wrote a large portion of the New Testament—The book of John, 1, 2, and 3 John, and the book of Revelation. He wrote more about love than any other New Testament author. His close proximity to Jesus taught him much about love.

He was exiled to the island of Patmos under Domitian, but after his death, John was allowed to return to Ephesus where he governed churches in Asia until his death at about A.D. 100.

5. Philip

“The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, Follow Me.” (John 1:43)

What do we know about Philip? Almost nothing. Although a Jew, we only know him by his Greek name, Philip. A heart for evangelism, he was anxious to tell Nathanael the One foretold by Moses and the prophets had been found. (John 1:45) They were close companions and possibly studied the Old Testament together.

Philip was stoned and crucified in Hierapolis, Phrygia.

6. Nathanael

Also known as Bartholomew, Nathanael came from Cana in Galilee. (John 21:2) He expressed some local prejudice about Nazareth. (John 1:46) Jesus recognized how sincerely his love for God was from the beginning when He said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47)

Nathanael may have preached in India and translated the book of Matthew into their language. He was beaten, crucified, and beheaded. He died as a martyr while serving the people of Albinopolis, Armenia.

Jesus Chose Ordinary Men

What we know to be true about Jesus is that He chose ordinary and unrefined men. They were the commonest of the common. They were from rural areas, farmers, and fisherman. Christ purposely passed over the elite, aristocratic, and influential men of society and chose mostly the men from the dregs of society. That’s how it has always been in God’s economy. He exalts the humble and lays low those who are proud.

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, Follow Me! And he got up and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9)

7. Matthew

Levi, the Son of Alphaeus, Matthew was a tax collector--the most despised people in all of Israel. They were known for taking extra money from the people of Israel to pay off the Romans and to pad their own pockets.

Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisee’s saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, Why is he eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners? And hearing this, Jesus said to them, It is not those who are healthy that need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Mark 2:16)

Matthew brought the gospel to Ethiopia and Egypt. Hircanus the king had him killed with a spear.

8. Thomas

Usually nicknamed “Doubting Thomas," Thomas was also called Didymus, meaning The Twin (although a twin brother or sister is never mentioned in the Bible.) He was an outspoken skeptic to the point of being known as a pessimist. No details are given about Thomas in the first three Gospels other than the mention of his name. John’s first mention of Thomas is in John 11:16. Lazarus had died and the disciples feared for the life of Jesus and themselves if they were to go back to Bethany. Thomas speaks up. “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16 NASB) Here we see the character quality of courage and loyalty to Christ, a quality not often attributed to Thomas.

His devotion to Christ is further displayed when Jesus told the disciples that He was going to go away and prepare a place for them. “And you know the way where I am going. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” (John 14:4-5) Thomas didn’t want to be left behind. And then Thomas’ love for Jesus and his desire to see and touch before he believed and then his declaration, “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28)

Tradition strongly suggests that Thomas started the Christian church in India. Some suggest being run through by a spear killed him, ironically, similar to Jesus being pierced by a spear.

9. James the Less

He is the son of Alphaeus (Luke 6:15). His mother’s name is Mary (Mark 15:40) and he has a brother named Joseph (Matthew 27:56). Except for a few details about his family, there is nothing more mentioned about him in Scripture. Maybe this is why he is referred to as James the Less in Mark 15:40. What is important to remember is although James was somewhat in the background, he was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve disciples. He was trained and used by Christ in a powerful way to further the Kingdom of God. He was a valuable team member.

Tradition says he was crucified in Sinai or possibly stoned to death in Jerusalem.

10. Simon the Zealot

Simon was probably a political activist in his younger years. Why would Jesus choose someone with this background?

“It is amazing that Jesus would select a man like Simon to be an apostle. But he was a man of fierce loyalties, amazing passion, courage, and zeal. Simon had believed the truth and embraced Christ as his Lord. The fiery enthusiasm he once had for Israel was now expressed in his devotion to Christ.” -Twelve Ordinary Men

There is some speculation about what happened to Simon. Tradition says that after preaching on the west coast of Africa, Simon went to England where he ended up being crucified in 74 AD.

11. Judas, son of James

The eleventh name on the list of disciples is Judas. Also known as Jude, Thaddeus, and Lebbaeus, Judas lived in obscurity as one of the Twelve. He did ask Jesus a question in John 14:22, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” Judas seemed overly concerned with this question. Christ responded by saying He would reveal Himself to anyone who loved Him.

Most early tradition says that Judas, son of James, a few years after Pentecost, took the gospel north to Edessa. There he healed the King of Edessa, Abgar. Eusebius the historian said the archives at Edessa contained the visit of Judas and the healing of Abgar (the records have now been destroyed). The traditional symbol of Judas is a club and tradition says he was clubbed to death for his faith.

12. Judas Iscariot

Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him. (John 6:70-71)

The Traitor. Nothing is known about Judas’ background. His encounter and call by Jesus is not recorded in Scripture. He was not from Galilee--that much is known. He obviously became a follower and stayed with Jesus for three years. He gave Christ three years of his life, but he certainly didn’t give Him his heart, and Jesus knew this. Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15)

“The other eleven apostles are all great encouragements to us because they exemplify how common people with typical failings can be used by God in uncommon, remarkable ways. Judas, on the other hand, stands as a warning about the evil potential of spiritual carelessness, squandered opportunity, sinful lusts, and hardness of the heart. Here was a man who drew as close to the Savior as it is humanly possible to be. He enjoyed every privilege Christ affords. He was intimately familiar with everything Jesus taught. Yet he remained in unbelief and went into a hopeless eternity.” Twelve Ordinary Men

About The Author:

Allyson Holland is a lifestyle blogger. She writes for The,, and She has been a guest author for Ally suffers from RSD/CRPS. She is passionate about God’s redemptive work in the lives of those who suffer with physical and emotional pain. Ally is a former Director of Ministry to Women and former board member for Thrive Ministry.

Source: Today's Topical Bible Study

Malankara World Journals with the Theme: Discipleship

Malankara World Journals with the Theme: Discipleship

Volume 8 No 478 May 4, 2018
Theme: Discipleship

Volume 8 No 456 Jan 12, 2017
Theme: Discipleship

Volume 7 No 421 June 16, 2017
Themes: Cost of Discipleship, 2nd Sunday After Pentecost

Volume 7 No 416 May 19 2017
Theme: 4th Sun After New Sunday, Discipleship

Volume 7 No 393 Jan 13 2017
Theme: Calling Disciples

Volume 6 No 371 Sep 7 2016
St. Mary and Discipleship

Volume 6 No 351 May 27 2016
Theme: Discipleship, Eternal Peace

Volume 5 No 289: June 5 2015
Sword, Peace and Discipleship

Volume 4 No 245: November 7, 2014
Theme: Discipleship - Taking Up Your Cross

Volume 4 No 224: June 20, 2014
Theme: Discipleship - Challenges and Sacrifice

Volume 4 No 220: May 24, 2014

Volume 3 No 154: August 1, 2013
Theme: Evangelism/Discipleship

Volume 3 No 145: May 30 2013
Theme: Cost of Discipleship

Volume 3 No 140: May 2 2013
Focus: Christian Persecution And Discipleship

Volume 3 No 120: Jan 17 2013
Theme: Discipleship

Malankara World Journals with the Theme: Servant Leadership


Malankara World Journal is published by
Copyright © 2011-2019 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.