Disciples; January 29, 2018

Isaiah 50:4 The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

We are remarkably stubborn much of the time, but God doesn’t give up on us. He does provide all that we need to be as He intends for us to be, if we will just accept it. It is significant to me that the Japanese translates this verse a little differently, saying “a disciple’s tongue” in the first line and “listening like a disciple” in the last line. We tend to have a very fuzzy image of just what a disciple is, and in consequence we fail both in making disciples for Christ and in living as disciples ourselves. It can be helpful to realize that in Japanese the word for disciple is the same as that for apprentice. An apprentice is to do everything their master tells them, but most especially to watch their master and learn to be like them, doing the same things, eventually with the same skill. That image leads us to one of Jesus’ most mind-blowing statements: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) That is the picture of a disciple. It doesn’t take much meditation on that to realize how far we have to go in our spiritual growth! Paul gives us two words of encouragement in this area. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) We shouldn’t be anxious about it, but we need to keep pressing in to take hold of all that God intends for us, again just as Paul said. (Philippians 3:12)

My honest first reaction in reading this verse was that it described me, but then I immediately recoiled and thought, “How conceited is that?” However, God has indeed worked in me over the years, and today I waken early every morning, with my first thought being to have this time of fellowship with my Lord like I’m having now. I am deeply grateful. I am far from perfect, but I think to some degree I could be described as a disciple, and I have indeed made a few disciples for my Lord. Yesterday in the service I was deeply encouraged when one believer testified how recently the Word seems to jump off the page into her heart. That’s the kind of disciple I want to raise up! Likewise, a younger believer who had been wandering for a while is showing clear signs of returning firmly to the path. That too is very encouraging. I am to trust that God will and indeed does use me to draw people into a right relationship with Him, and give Him all the praise and glory.

Father, thank You for this Word this morning. Thank You for pointing out to me recently that You didn’t send us out to make church members, but to make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) Help me be more and more faithful as Your disciple myself, making disciples as You desire, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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