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Discipleship 101

The Way Less Traveled

For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:14

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. John 10:9

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:4-6

It stands by the path as an invitation. A gate so simple you might miss it. No flashing lights. No charlatans or sales pitches. Many have walked right past it. Many have come so close to entering. And many have entered, but fearing their own failure and the hardships of the journey, do not go much beyond the gate. I am, of course, speaking of the cross. It is the most offensive message to people, especially good people. You have sinned and must repent. You have someone who took the punishment of your sins for you, but you must return and enter through this gate to find life. This is the gate religious people will not go through, because they are already righteous. They see themselves as healthy. This is the gate only those who need a doctor will go through, because they see their need for help. This is the gate for the enemies of God who want to find peace. And…this is the gate to a pathway. See, for all its power, for all its beauty, for all its pathos, the cross is just the beginning. The followers of Yeshua walked in a “Way” together that led to great persecution and abundant life.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.’ Isaiah 30:21

‘This is the way, walk in it…’

The “Way” is not something you would choose out of conventional wisdom. It does not look wise or even “good” from the outside, especially if you think you’re a pretty good person. It also does not look good to those who equate better social standing, personal gains, and riches with God’s way. This Way costs everything and only makes sense after you have paid in full–fully committed to the path He set up for us. It is the same path for all of us although we may all have different experiences coming into it and along the way. I want to show you this Biblical pathway so that when you see the different junctions and temptations you will not get discouraged and turn back. This is not a pathway I made up out of my own imagination. This is the same “Way” the people of Israel took out of Egypt, where the spiritual and natural collided for them. In the same way, I pray your spiritual and physical world collide. Where are you on this narrow way?

The Promise

The “way” starts with an encounter with God. As He promised, He will do it. It is the same promise for all of us. You will be part of something wonderful. You will be a part of a family as numerous as the stars and sand on the shore that loves you and that is governed by a God who loves righteousness and justice. You will be brought in by blood to become a child of God and an inheritor of a land that we can only imagine in our wildest dreams. And the Promise, though it may be far off, is worth waiting for.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20-21

The heart of faith in this season says: Yes Lord, I receive your promise for me and my family. I believe all that you have promised will come to pass, even if I do not see it in my lifetime. If that happens, one day you will bring me back to life and I will see it with my eyes.

The Marking

There was a circumcision of the skin and heart, where the spiritual and natural world collide. You are marked for God. You willingly undergo a cutting away that marks you different, that marks you His. This is your cut heart when you are invited into the covenant. It is the offense of the knife of God’s piercing love. You are seen. You are exposed. And you are wanted. What needs to be cut away from your life for you to be fully His?

Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17

The heart of faith in this season says: Expose everything. Cut away everything that you need to. I want to be known and seen by you. I am dirtier than I even know. I want to be in your family. Cut your mark on me for life. Anyone who sees me intimately will see that I am yours.

The Blood-Stained Door

Who has not felt the tyranny of slavery. For so long, the demons made more noise than God in their ears. Their religion was all a stubborn cry for deliverance, a hope for freedom. And when the time was right, God delivered and made a way out for them. It needed blood. More specifically each household had to paint the doorway with blood. For every deliverance, there is an entering in, a coming under the blood of the Lamb. This is the first step out of slavery, not the culmination of freedom. Those under the blood of the Lamb find mercy, and death is no longer pursuing them. They are safely under God’s protection by blood, though you might still feel afraid. But all the noise is for your deliverance. Those who will not enter into the blood stained door will never even start the journey of the way. And for us, the blood-stained door is the cross. Your family can cover your home, come out from the world, come into the door, and be saved. Have you tried other paths or entered through repentance/return and the blood of Yeshua?

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will come in and out [from the world] and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:9-16

The heart of faith in this season says: Yes Lord, I will mark my door boldly with the blood of the Lamb. My fear of you outweighs my fear of man, in reverence for your ability to save and deliver. I come under the blood of the Lamb, your promise and provision for my salvation. I cannot save myself. I turn to you. Save me.

The Leaving

After deliverance, then, you leave. You leave everything you know. You cut ties with your sinful practices, witchcraft, and all other gods. You leave and follow. Not just spiritually but physically. Your house, your luxuries, your position in society, your place in Egypt. This is an invitation open to whoever is willing to hear it, but all God’s people can leave Egypt. There is nothing for you there. If God is moving out, and making a way for us, we must follow. There is no other option. To stay means living under the wrath of Pharaoh and going back into slavery when freedom awaits. Leaving is our personal victory over fear of man, fear of loss, fear of the future. We put our trust in God’s pathway and we pack up and prepare to leave. You will experience great joy and also great internal conflict over the unknown. Have you left Egypt?

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Matthew 17:29-31

The heart of faith in this season says: Yes, I will go for the sake of the gospel.

And then you leave Egypt, your season of slavery and culturally embedded idolatry.

The Crossing Through Water and Receiving the Law (God’s Ways) and for us, the New Law of the Spirit (Who write His Law on our hearts)

Like the Israelites that walked through the Red Sea, We are reborn miraculously into freedom. We are the ones who come by water and blood. There is a baptism, a public and permanent cutting off from our past and setting us apart for the future fulfillment of the promises of God. We are coming into our new identity, not as slaves, but as sons and daughters, being born again.

Immediately after, we are faced with our first wave of panic as we thirst for water. He makes fountains of His Spirit burst out of a dry land. We meet God as our healer and we are filled with the Spirit. And we receive His law. For the children in the desert, they got the ten commandments on tablets of stone. Since the Holy Spirit was poured out by Yeshua, we received the New Law of the Spirit written on our hearts. We begin to overflow with love for God because we are filled by His love. By Yeshua, and from His Spirit, we enter into a renewed, fulfilled covenant with the Jewish people and Him for the salvation of the nations and for His name. And we receive His definition of right and wrong. We hear the invitation again to throw away any idols that came with us and to rest in a lifestyle of honor and love for God and other people, and to receive that honor and love for ourselves. We accept and yield to His ways being higher than ours and we stop accusing Him, receiving Him as our righteous judge. Have you left your own law and accepted His law and the commands of Yeshua as good and right?

The temptations in this place are a pull back to what you just left, continued idolatry, worship of known things rather than the Almighty, rejection of God’s servant, rejection of God’s definition of good and evil, preference for a person’s voice instead of God’s.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to complete. Matthew 5:17

The heart of faith says: Yes, Lord, I receive your Spirit. I hear and accept your ways as true and I will only teach what you teach. I have no teaching or spiritual insight apart from your teaching. Whatever I thought was good must yield to you. Whatever I thought was evil must yield to you. I resolve to only live by your measures and laws of righteousness, not my own law. I surrender my judgment to your judgment. What you say, I will accept as Truth. I come under your authority. I surrender every right to go my own way because your way is better. I surrender my good ideas to yours. I surrender my projects to yours.

The Desert Journey

From here we are invited to move into learning reliance on the leadership of God. We experience God’s power, the miraculous, and the temptation to return to Egypt. Based on whether we choose stubbornness/complaining or obedience/yielding, this will be a short season or a life-long season. Some may even die in this season of life, never experiencing the victory of entering into all God has for them, because they never fully surrendered to the leadership of God. Have you surrendered to the leadership of God?

The temptation is to grumble and complain, against God and His leaders. They could never really let go of the fear of the future and the idolatry of the past. They are full recipients of God’s mercy and deliverance, but their hearts still hardened by God’s ways and what He is asking them to do, which is to obey Him without questioning His ways, character, or motivations, and then be brave and enter the Land of Promise. What is keeping so many people in the desert? Fear.

The heart of faith says: Lord, I resolve to stop grumbling against you, even in my heart, and to discipline my heart to trust. I will trust you. Even if I ask, “How long, Lord?” Let it be from a place of faith. You have announced my victory before I was born, and have plans to accomplish your purposes for me, which are good and which give me and my family hope and a future.

The Invitation to Enter the Promised Land

If you can just be brave and believe God long enough to cross over, the scary part will be over. On the other side of the crossing is Jericho, the place where you find HE FIGHTS YOUR BATTLES against your enemies FOR YOU.

The temptation is not to cross over.

Many will not.

Crossing over means you are moving from a season of training to taking territory, which is exciting, but it means you will face giants. Timing is important here. We only move when He moves, like He taught us. If we don’t, we might wander around longer without coming into all God had lined up for us. He will bring us back to another opportunity, but maybe not in this generation. Will you cross over from training to taking territory?

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world! John 16:33

The heart of faith says: Yes! Let’s GOOOOOOO! We are following you now just like you taught us. You parted the Red Sea. You provided water and manna, and our shoes never gave out. You are our King and mighty warrior. You will fight for us.

The Battle for the Land

In this season, we see Israel fighting for their birthright, and a study of how the Israelites battled is very telling. When they made God their King, they won, and when they fought without Him, they experienced devastating losses. All territory in the spirit and on earth, must be taken on spiritual grounds. The invitation was to let God fight for them and live a life under His kingship, but humans crave human leadership that they can see, and worry about how we look to the world. Were they considered strange? Yes. Were people scared to deal with them? Yes. Israel wanted a human king. The temptation in this season is to set up human systems of structure and governance. Overcoming that temptation means declaring the leadership of the Lord and proceeding to only take the territory He is telling us to take, in what order, according to His strategy—not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit. Have you chosen Him as your King over all human leaders and His country as your citizenship?

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:36-37

The heart of faith says: We will not be scared of the things that look too big for us. You told us to be here. And now we are here. You are the one who takes territory for us. And your Kingdom is not of this world. Tell us when to fight. Tell us how to be still and watch your deliverance. Tell us your strategy that moves us in peace, into to greater peace in your kingship. We go from strength to strength under your leadership. You are building a Kingdom and a house for us.

Persecution in the Land

Territory is not easily won and kept. We are fighting for gaining AND KEEPING physical and spiritual territory. But our enemy is still trying to steal, kill, and destroy. Jericho was won with worship. A proclamation on instruments, the trumpets and the shouts of praise, a war cry enacting the strategy of God. His Kingdom is coming here, the Promised land was a foreshadowing of how territory will be taken. It mat not be physically His until He returns, but spiritually, we will take territory, over the enemy of souls. Satan will not win. We will fight for the spiritual walls of the cities to fall at His feet, not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit. The walled-off hearts will be exposed to the King of Love. The nations that see Him coming will surrender willingly because of His power.

Those who do not want to yield to Him will make war on those who want to take territory. Yeshua says these will mainly be religious leaders who will think they are serving God by imprisoning, beating, and killing you. Yeshua taught us to not retaliate, but instead to forgive and bless those who persecute us. This is the way.

The temptation is to not completely obey the Lord, to leave some sinful things remaining, to have “mercy” when God says to cut off and to hold grudges that lead us into godless arguments and cycles of vengeance. The temptation is to take spoils of war for ourselves instead of destroying it, counting it loss. The temptation is to forget, even in one generation, what God has done for us. Are you taking territory by His strategy or yours?

Yeshua said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, and who spitefully misuse you. 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 5:44-46

The heart of faith says: I will not fear the arrows that come by day or night, or the sickness around me, for you are a shield around me. You are my refuge and my trust is in you. I will praise you and worship you as you continue to sustain us even in continued attacks. I will obey you meticulously as you give me grace, which I know you will, because you have given me everything I need for live and godliness by your power, to your own glory and goodness.

The Possession and Peace of God’s Kingdom

Taking possession of the land under the Kingship of God was about the allocation to the tribes, specific responsibilities for regions to the families of God’s big family. Caleb waited for His territory for 80 years. Finally it was granted, and he saw the results of his faith in his old age. His faithful, wholehearted feet touched the soil of the promise. He conquered in faith because he believed God had promised his victory. And so will we.

We will not clear the earth of all the wicked kings. They will rise against the Messiah one day, but the promised land for us is coming when Yeshua returns. And yet, there is a possession of regional territory and authority that we are told to hold by intercessory prayer and worship. And there is a Kingdom of peace that rules even now in the hearts of the people who follow this good King Messiah, Yeshua.

The temptation is to create physical spaces of dominion where God wants us to take our places in spiritual dominion (by our authority in Messiah) on the walls of cities and people groups in worship and prayer, fighting not people and governmental authorities, but operating in the realm of spiritual authorities, principalities, and power. In preaching a pure gospel boldly and without shame, and in proclaiming God’s word over our territories, our eye are open to what He is doing there…what He is doing in our own hearts and families and neighborhoods. We move as He would move in that place, providing refuge, peace, and safety for others following Him in the Spirit of Yeshua Messiah as we were trained to do upon our deliverance from our own Egypts, leaving our old lives and not demanding a human king, walking in His authority and purposes for redeeming the world. In doing so, we as the growing body of believers also could meet very real physical, emotional, and communal needs of our towns and cities, even at the systemic level. But first, we take our place on the walls in prayer and worship. We proclaim the same invitation to freedom we were given as if it were life itself, because it is! Have you obeyed Yeshua in going with Him to disciple the nations, teaching them to obey what Yeshua commanded and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Have you accepted the invitation to your position in in the territory of the Kingdom? If not, what’s holding you back?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

The heart of faith says: Lord, You alone are King. But what have you allocated as my family’s territory or responsibility to care for and steward? What is on your heart? Am I dreaming your dreams or my own? Where do you need people. Yes, Lord. I will take my place on the walls of this city that you have assigned me to. I will watch for your return. I will pray on behalf of the harvest there. I will fight in the Spirit, and I will worship in Spirit and Truth until I see you coming on the clouds. My eyes are watching to see your word fulfilled for Israel and the nations.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38

Where are you along the Way?

I’m only asking because there was a time when I thought I was in the promised land when I had not even left Egypt. John Bunyan wrote about all the ways a pilgrim can fall and be dissuaded from the Way: despair, legalism, pride, flattery, pleasures of riches, apathy, hopelessness and depression, and I had fallen into just about all those things because I was not obeying Yeshua, I was simply following the idea of Him. Now that this has changed for me, but I want to tell you that this WAY of YESHUA is even MORE full of delights in God.

My advice, from someone who is not finished but more certain of the path, sit at the feet of Yeshua and ask Him to teach you. Start obeying His actual commands. Take ground. Take territory as He takes you in at His pace. For every temptation faced, there is a complete victory and deeper intimacy with God waiting on the other side of your faithful obedience and endurance until the end.

Above everything. endure.

Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.37 For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay.38 But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him.39 But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by faith preserve the soul.

Hebrews 10:35-39

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