Keep an Uplifted Spirit through Discipleship

I can’t think of a better way to keep an uplifted spirit than through discipleship. As Christians, it’s what is expected of us. But many of us may think that being a disciple is something out of reach; something reserved for pastors, church ladies, and elders. Or, we may think of the twelve disciples who went out into the world spreading Jesus’ Word, and were responsible for much of the New Testament (heady stuff to live up to!). But before we become concerned that others may be better equipped for the job than we are, let’s look at what discipleship really means.

For us as Christians, to be a disciple is to be a follower and student of Jesus. In John 8:31-32 (NIV), Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

It’s about first drawing closer to Him; committing to a personal relationship with Him. Then when we ‘walk as He walked,’ we inspire others to do the same. It’s not about being “holier than thou” or an “expert.” Even some of the “original twelve” didn’t get it right at first (in Matthew 8:23-27, the disciples questioned Jesus’ abilities; in Luke 22:54-60, Peter, fearing persecution, denied he even knew Jesus; and in John 20:24-25, Thomas doubted that Jesus had returned until he saw the scars in His hands).

To strengthen our faith, in order to become better disciples, it seems we have to first develop the discipline to do as Jesus did. We can begin to mirror His behavior by:

  1. Consecration. If the first thing we do in the morning is to turn to the (insert media or vice here), it’s time to break the cycle! (Matthew 6:33; Phillipians 4:8)
  2. Praying daily (Philippians 4:6-7).
  3. Reading and meditating on The Word daily: to be a student, you’ve got to open The Book! (Deuteronomy 17:19).
  4. Keeping God’s Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17).
  5. Being a “doer of The Word” (James 2:26; 1Corinthians 7:17-24).
  6. Fasting (Isaiah 58:6).
  7. Controlling what we say (James 1:26): even Jesus spoke in parables.
  8. Giving our testimony.  Our successes on the journey will inspire others (Psalm 19:7). 

Finally, I think my favorite passage, Romans 12:1-2, says it best: 

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Through His Will, and with Jesus as our teacher, yes, we become disciples – and our own lives can become a reason for others to believe.

The​ ​W.A.Y. – ​How​ ​Do​ ​You​ ​Share​ ​The​ ​Good​ ​News? 

Television, the internet, and social media can take a large share of our lives.  But have we become too busy to share the goodness of God with others?  Please join Westa.org and the West Angeles Youth Bible Study Group as we explore the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman church, and its impact upon how we spread “The Good News”. 

 For the past two months our Youth Bible Study group (The W.A.Y.) has been dissecting Paul’s letter to the Roman church. The Book of Romans is arguably one of the Apostle’s most popular books of the New Testament. In fact, we could learn a lot about Paul, and his position on Jesus, God, and His people, from just reading verse 16 of Chapter 1, in which he states: 
…For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes–the Jew first and also the Gentile – Romans 1:16 (NLT). 
At first glance, one may think that Paul is simply excited about this Good News, or Gospel, and how it makes us right with God, but what one may not realize is that like any good rapper or poet, Paul is using word play in the opening lines of his letter to strengthen his argument, and to get his point across to his audience in a way they could understand. 
 
 You see, to those living in Rome, whenever they heard of this word Gospel” (“Good News,” “Glad Tidings,” or “Good Message”; euangelion in Greek) it was usually in reference to: 
the Roman Emperor (i.e. Tiberias, Augustus, or Nero),  
● the status of the emperor as Supreme Ruler and conqueror of the then known world,  
● the emperor’s many victories, accomplishments and building projects, or 
● the vitality of the empire itself. 
 
However, when Paul used this term, “Good News” (Gospel), his goal was to make it known that he was referring to the true ruler and King, Jesus the Christ, whom through his own battle (sacrificial death), and triumph (resurrection) offered victory to those who would come to believe on His name and build His kingdom.  
In essence, Paul very intentionally “jacked” a term that he knew was very common to his audience, and reassigned it to the subject of his letter — Jesus, the true Crowned King. Paul realized that he was serving One who was far greater than that of Caesar, and who had the power to do what Caesar in all of his accomplishments could never do — offer salvation to the believer — and in that, and in Him, there was nothing to be ashamed of. 
I challenge you and your family to discover ways in which you can, boldly and unashamedly, profess the Good News of Jesus Christ to those in your communities, schools, and social media platforms. Discuss ways in which you can live your faith out loud, and empower others to do the same!
In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

Remain In His Grip!

By Minister Donnie Briggs


Donnie Briggs is the Youth Pastor of West Angeles Church Of God In Christ, where Presiding Bishop, Charles E. Blake, Sr. is Senior Pastor.

If you have a unique way that you share the Good News of Jesus Christ with friends or with the world, share it with us below, or on social media!

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Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake: The Denial of Self

Do you want to know the qualities needed for true success in life? How to grow in character? What does it means to deny yourself? Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake shares his own story of  challenges he faced as a young man, and the humble beginnings of the church in his November 27, 2016 sermon titled, “The Denial of Self.”

“There was one period in Georgia when I was working on my master’s degree. I had to take a full-time job as a janitor in the public schools of Atlanta. Worked 40 hours a week and took home $45 a week. I went to school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., then I worked from 3 p.m. until midnight, cleaning classrooms in the public schools. I slept from midnight to 7 a.m., then did some homework and other work.

“This was a time of hardship, but later on, more sacrifice and self-denial was required. All West Angeles made my first year as pastor was $12,000 total. The secretary had to be paid. The janitor had to be paid. The bills had to be paid. The musicians had to be paid…all out of that $12,000. But it took all that to make me, and it took all that to prepare me. Now, 47 years later, I can look back and say, ‘It was worth it all.’

“The Church of God In Christ exists in 82 nations of the world.  There are more than 12,000 churches, 250 bishops; it is a world-wide denomination. Look at your neighbor and say, ‘Don’t hate…celebrate! If God is blessing West Angeles, and you bless West Angeles, then God will bless you too.”

-Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

 

The Denial of Self

Mark 8:34- Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

“It was RD Hitchcock who said, ‘Of all sorts of earthly good the price must be self-denial. The lower must be sacrificed for the greater; the coarser must give place to the finer. Every step toward progress is a sacrifice.’”

“The secret of all success is to know how to deny yourself.”

“Men…must deny themselves some present pleasure in order to obtain some future benefit.”

“If the farmer eats or sells all that his ground produces, he’ll have nothing to plant for the next season.”

“The woman who’s about to bear a child has to practice self-denial…She must face much difficulty, much discomfort, and much pain.”

“The investor…must invest his money in areas where the money will grow and bring a financial return.”

“Even the athlete…denies himself of relaxation until after he has obtained the victory. He explains his sacrifice by saying, “I’m training for the contest.”

“The manner of self-denial is something that many young people have great difficulty dealing with and accepting. Everything they want, they want now.”

“It’s unfortunate that some people spend everything they get…Look at your neighbor and say, ‘Lay something aside for the future.’”quote-sacrifice

“Look toward your neighbor and say, ‘Hey Neighbor: most of the great things in life are attained after a period of self-denial.’”

“Many young people don’t have time to go to college. They just want a job now, so they can get some wheels and buy some rags.”

“When you marry, you’ll find yourself needing more than you can make.”

“You find many folk acting like they’re something instead of being something.”

“Listen: clothes don’t make the man woman there are many thing s in life more important than clothes.”

“Here you come looking sharp: all vogue; and also, all vague.”

“You’re dressed up, but your house is falling apart.  You’re dressed up, but you can hardly pay your bills.  You need to reevaluate things, before God turns the tables.”

“You look like a millionaire, but you can’t pay your tithe…I told you I was going to need a praying church!”

“I know how cool it is to be cool; how together it is to be together, but if you don’t build a foundation everything will fall apart.

“Is there anybody in here who knows that God can turn the tables?”

“Young folk: the best things in life are attained after a period of self-denial. I know how cool it is to be cool; how together it is to be together, but if you don’t build a foundation everything will fall apart.”

“Get a good education. Choose a good profession that will be in demand. Prepare yourself for that, and your moment will come.”

“Don’t look for some short cut in life; don’t look for the easy way. The easy way seldom exists.”

“For every good thing accomplished, some bad thing will have to be rejected.”

“Jesus Himself was a pattern of self-denial. The Son of God looked down on our predicament and saw that we were separate from God who is a source of life and source of blessing…He came down to this pitiful earth to die in our places.”

“Jesus did not have to die on the cross, but He let God’s will replace His will. Will you raise your hand and say, ‘Lord, thy will be done?’”

“Death is just a doorway into the presence of almighty God; a doorway into eternity.”

“If you make the sacrifice, if you pay the price, then God will take you higher than you’ve ever gone before.”

“This is what it means to deny yourself: to let God’s will replace your will. To give up all right to yourself…to totally reorient your life toward God.”

“Self-denial is removing ‘self’ from the throne of your life.”

“Look out on the earth: whatever bad thing you see, self-will is responsible for it.”

“The will of God leads us on a path to God; the will of self leads us a way from God and in the opposite direction.”

“We must either deny God and follow self, or deny self and follow God.”

“Why do we fail to witness? Because we’ve not denied ourselves. Why do we fail to pray and praise God like we should? Because we’ve not denied ourselves. Why do we fail to serve God and to give to the work of God? Because we’ve not denied ourselves.”

“There’s nothing wrong with things: you just can’t let them come before God.”

“God has to be first: first in your mind, first in your heart, first in your will.”

“Tell your neighbor, ‘My due season is on the way!’”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – Mark 8:34-36, John 3:16, Romans 10:3, Proverbs 14:12, 2 Timothy 3:12 , Isaiah 40:30-31.


Please CLICK HERE to purchase this entire sermon titled, “Denial of Self”on West Angeles Video on DemandTo purchase this entire service on CD or DVD, please visit the West Angeles Emporium.

Psalmist Nikki Potts ministered to the West Angeles congregation on November 27, 2016. Watch her sermonic selection performance from 2015 at West Angeles COGIC below:

 

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