Ref: Deeper Life Ministry , Workers Retreat Message.
Luke 9:23, 24; John 8:31; Acts 5:40-42; 20:24
Christ’s followers are also known as ‘disciples. We become His disciples by first of all, coming to Him (Matthew 11:28). Then we continue with Him by following Him (John 8:31). Then we steadfastly consecrate unto Him, setting ourselves apart for Him, devoting our entire being to Him in a firm, fixed, established, constant, manner ((Acts 20:24), and remaining single-minded in our service for Him (Mark 3:14). All Christians should be consecrated in the sense of being fully devoted to God. Christ has bought them at the price of His blood and they belong to Him. In one of His valedictory addresses to His disciples, the Lord stated unequivocally that in the last days, one of the signs would be-abounding iniquity and abating love (Matthew 24:12) This is what is happening today in the Church of the Living God and sadly even among workers and leaders and pastors in the Church. The once fiery and zealous soldiers of the Cross are now cold, half-hearted, and shallow in their love for Christ and His work. Our passion for souls has seriously nose-dived; our eyes are no longer wet with tears but dry even in midst of the masses who are hurrying to a Christless eternity. The Lord said that it is only those who endure till the end who shall be saved. This message is a wakeup call for all of us who call ourselves workers in the vineyard of God to re-examine ourselves whether we are truly in the faith, and whether we are holding fast our first love or not, and to revive, renew, rejuvenate, and reinvigorate our consecration as true Disciples of Christ.
1. Reasons for the Slackening Consecration of Followers of Christ
2. Recipe for Strengthening our Consecration as Followers of Christ
3. Record of Steadfast, Consecrated Followers of Christ.
1. REASONS FOR THE SLACKENING CONSECRATION OF FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
Matthew 24:12; John 6:66; Matthew 26:57,69-74; 13:22; Hosea 7:8,9; Revelation 2:4; John 21:2
When David was insulted by his eldest brother Eliab, after he had enquired about the bragging Goliath, he said, ‘What have I now done? Is there not a cause?’(1 Samuel 17:29). There is a cause when you see believers and workers in the vineyard of Christ now dragging their feet in God’s service. There is a cause when you see leaders, ministers, and old time workers, now doing God’s work as if they are being compelled- unenthusiastically and without a sense of urgency. There is a cause when there is a state of inertia, lethargy and lack of passion for souls among Church workers and the general congregation. There is a cause when leaders and workers are removing the sacrifices which they once bound to the horns of the altar and we do not see sacrificial service again. The reasons are:-
i. Following afar off like Simon Peter ii. Double-mindedness and half- heartedness iii. Mixing with the world like Ephraim iv. The cares of this world v. Loss of the first love vi. Forgetting our consecration made at Bethel vii. Giving self-more room, than Christ, in our hearts. viii. Allowing the ‘spiritual fowls’ to remove our sacrifices from the altar by not driving them away (Genesis 15:11). Once we discover the causes, we must not just fight the symptoms but fight the disease of backsliding itself. How do we renew our flagging consecration?
2. RECIPE FOR STRENGTHENING OUR CONSECRATION AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
Revelation 2:5; Isaiah 40:28-31; Romans 15:4; Proverbs 27:17; John 6:66-69; Matthew 10:37-39; 1 Kings 19:4-8
Once we realize that our consecration or commitment to the Lord is no longer steadfast and strong enough to stand the test of time, we should immediately take steps to renew it. There is the need to come to ourselves like the prodigal son and admit that we are not what we used to be. When we discover that the zeal of the Lord is no more consuming us; when we realize that we no longer give costly service to God, we should return to where we lost the first love and pick up the pieces again. i. We should learn from how people like John Mark and Simon Peter bounced back after briefly dropping their consecration. ii. We should draw near those who are on fire for the Lord and are passionately pursuing the perishing to rescue them. This will inspire us to re-fire for the Lord. Iii. We should pray fervently and listen to messages on entire consecration, holiness and sacrificial giving. Iv. We should receive motivation from the reward promised by God for those who steadfastly follow and serve Christ. John 12:26; 1 Corinthians 15:58. v. We should keep the fire burning. John was a burning and a shining light. (John 5:35) The fire of zeal continued burning in his life. The fire of our consecration will burn when we have, and keep the initial fuel. We must stoke the fire continually through personal study and personal prayer. vi. We must remove the things that will not help the fire to burn continuously—wrong associations, negative attitude and idleness. When there is nothing to cook, there will be no motivation to keep the fire burning. vii. Always have something to do for Christ. C.H. Spurgeon said: ‘Set yourself on fire and people will be eager to come and see you burning.’’
3. RECORD OF STEADFAST, CONSECRATED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
Genesis12:1-4, 5,9; Joshua 14:7-11; Joshua 24:14,15; Jeremiah 35:1-16,19; Ruth 1:15,16; Acts 20:24; John 6:68,69; 2Timothy 4:7,8
There is a cloud of witnesses, from the Scriptures, whose tenacity of purpose and steadfast consecration to God, give us a great challenge and inspiration to also follow Christ with an unflinching courage and consecration. I. Abraham-Called at the age of 75 by God unto a place He would show him,he spontaneously responded to the call by leaving his country and city of origin…’’and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan: and to the land of Canaan they went.(Gen.12:5b) He was focused. He was single-minded and committed to the call. ii. Caleb had remained consistent, 45 years after he and Joshua had gone on a reconnaissance mission with 10 other spies to the land of Canaan. His strength had not abated, his candour had not dwindled and his passion to serve had not diminished. At 85, he was ready to still fight and conquer giants. Iii. Ruth faced an uncertain future as a young widow following an aged widowed mother-in-law to Judah. But her eyes of faith were on the God of Israel and nothing could move her to turn her back on Naomi. iv. The Rechabites held on to the faith of their fathers Jehonadab and Rechab. Not even the respectable prophet Jeremiah could make them drop their conviction. v. The Apostles had no one else to follow apart from Jesus Christ their Lord and Master. vi. Paul. He fought the good fight, finished his course and kept the faith. From his first appearance as the ‘young man Saul’ till he was called ‘Paul the aged’ he never removed his hand s from the plough.’ These worthies of old toiled for the Master and have gone to their rest and rewards. Vii. When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of Fiji Islands, the captain of the ship tried to turn him back. ‘You will lose your life and the lives of those with you, if you go among such savages’, he cried. Calvert only replied, ‘We died before we came here.’ WHAT ABOUT YOU? Can you die for Christ?