THESE ARE THE DAYS OF COURAGE

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

These are the days for men to be men, to protect their families, to provide and encourage them.

These are the days for women to be present, nurturing, and creative.

These are the days to evaluate where you hope is. What are you counting on? Who are you trusting in?

Count on Jesus. Trust Him. In these days of courage you need more than what you have and who you are.

There is One who gave it all in a way you will never be called to do. Whose courage is beyond our comprehension. He is the one calling you to be strong and courageous, not to fear or be in dread. And you can do it because He goes with you and He will never leave or forsake you.

You are loved!

YOU ARE A BIBLICAL COUNSELOR

Dear Christian Sister,

We are all called to be Biblical Counselors.

What Do we as Biblical Counselors do?

We Help women apply the Word of God to their life situations.

Peter was very clear in 2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.

We have what we need to live godly lives and to help others in their walk with Jesus.

God is so good to give us the Holy Spirit to help us.

Holy Spirit’s Work in Biblical Counseling

We have hope from the Holy Spirit.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

In John 14:16-17 Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

The Holy Spirit is our Counselor and He gives us the ability to speak into other’s lives with His power. Counseling is the work of the Holy Spirit. He chooses His own times, means, and occasions for His work, always in accordance with Scripture.

If Christian counseling is not carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit it is not Christian counseling.

The Holy Spirit is the source of all true change in a believer’s life. Sanctification doesn’t happen without Him.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from one degree of glory to another. For this come from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians. 3:18).

The Holy Spirit expects Christians to counsel using the Word of God.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God maybe adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, Paul tells us that we need the Spirit to understand the works and words of God.

The Word’s Work in Biblical Counseling

Hope from the Word.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

“Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

And lastly,

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17).

This is not an exhausted list of Scriptures that speak about the word’s work in our lives, but it is a marvelous sampling.

So, dear Sister, you are a Biblical Counselor. What are your tools? The Word of God, applied by the Spirit of God through your words to another.

Sharpen your tools. Make sure before you speak to another the Word of God and the Spirit of God have done their work in you. Which means time in the word and prayer.

Know that when you speak the Word of God through the Spirit of God you speak precious words, powerful words, life-saving words.

And really, Biblical counseling is discipleship. It is walking with one another through this life to the next becoming more like Jesus as we go together.

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So go forth in faith. Jesus said He will go with you. What better company could you have?

You are loved!

GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES

Part 2

Finding Someone

How do I find someone who wants to enter into a discipleship relationship?

First, pray. Pray God will send you a woman to disciple. Remember, He is in control and He already has someone in mind.

Second, be on the lookout. She may be in your church, or work, or a neighbor.
Pray, watch, prepare, and wait.

How to Prepare

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Have a plan.

God is a planner.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations (Ps.33:11).

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand (Prov. 19:21).

So, imitate God. Be a planner and prepare for your meetings.

Part of planning is to structure your time together. If you don’t you might find your hour, or however long you are meeting, gets away from you and you haven’t cover what you planned to and it wasn’t Holy Spirit planned.

Many women like the 15/30/15 minute model.
15 in Catching up
30 in Bible study and application
15 Wrap up

Your First Meeting

The time has arrived, your first meeting. What do you do?

The first meeting is about getting to know each other – if you don’t already, but it is also about laying the ground rules.

What are ground rules?
You need to agree upon the details of your discipleship relationship so that later on there won’t be any misunderstandings or disappointments.

This is so important. I speak from experience. I had one relationship that got away from me because I didn’t do what I am urging you to do. She took control of the relationship because I didn’t lead us in clarifying what our relationship was going to accomplish. I didn’t clarify why we were meeting. She wanted to study a certain book together and I said okay before I knew what it was. When I saw it I realized it was voodoo disguised as Christian literature. Finally, I woke up. I had to restart and clarify and end the relationship because our goals were not the same. I repented to her and the Lord and determined with the Lord’s help I would never go through that again.

To begin this process of laying the ground rules, start by asking questions. This is how you find out what’s in her head, heart, what she is thinking and doing. I read once that the person who asks the questions controls the conversation. Prepare some in advance. That’s planning again.

Here is a suggested outline:

Agree upon the definition of discipleship.

Clarify what being discipled means.

Ask her what she thinks it means. Why and for what reason are you meeting?

Address any misunderstandings now to avoid a lot of problems later.

You might also ask:

What do you want from me?

How do you see our relationship? Tell her your vision. Hopefully, they are the same. If not, discuss how you might reconcile the two. If you can’t, in love, decide not to pursue your relationship.

Is there a specific area of your walk with the Lord you would like to work on?

If I see sin in your life or poor judgement, how do you want me to handle it?

Are you committed to spending sometime during the week on what we are going to be studying?

Are you able to commit to a certain time and day to meet together?

If you have time (if not, save it for the second meeting) ask her about her salvation experience. How she came to know the Lord. Don’t take anything about them for granted. They may be a member of the church but not a Christian. You may think they are quite spiritual because they are involved in this ministry or that, when in fact they are still babies in the word busy playing with blocks instead of learning to read. In other words, they are immature in their faith.
Determining their spiritual maturity level will help you plan how you can best help her grow and what to study in your time together.

Ask her to tell you about her church background. In what ministries has she served? What does she love about going to church? Is there anything that makes her uncomfortable about church?

In your meeting you will need to cover the following.

  1. Tell her about yourself. If you have time (if not save it for the second meeting), give her a brief testimony of your salvation.
  2. Talk about what you will study together.
  3. Be sure she has your contact information.
  4. Clarify when you will meet again.
  5. Ask her how you can pray for her.

Deciding if it’s a good fit

If what she is looking for is not what you hope to offer, then the relationship is probably not a good fit. But, if in your first meeting, you make agreements and you can see she is serious and excited about being discipled, then you will find great joy and motivation to pour out into her life.

Bible Study Materials

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In Titus and 1st Tim., Paul is very strong about sound doctrine. He tells his two young disciples, that they must teach the Christians sound doctrine so they don’t float off in error or be seduced by false teachers.

You also must do the same.

It is God who grows us.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:7-11).

Discipleship is about letting the word transform us. It is the word that changes us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not our words but the Lord’s words.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

If you are going to go through a book of the Bible, for someone new to the faith or an immature Christian I suggest you go through the book of John or Mark.

For someone a bit more mature try Colossians or Philippians.

If you use a Christian book, be sure it is Biblically sound. There are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there.

Emphasize meeting daily with Jesus in His word. This will keep other voices from the multitudes of the world sources at bay. Watch for world philosophies and lies that might be influencing her.

Conclusion

If you do this for a few years you will have some wonderful experiences, but you will also have some unpleasant ones as well, but just remember, discipleship is about relationship.

Relationships can be messy and sometimes painful because we are all fallible creatures. We live in a fallen world and sometimes we get smashed by it.

We want to be sensitive to the world in which our disciples live, their particular circumstances and concerns, their struggles with sin and their need of Jesus. We want to remember we are all becoming, on the way to, being transformed into the image of Jesus.

The main thing is to lead the women we disciple to see Jesus as their greatest treasure.

Take hold of my hand
Don’t let me fall behind
Keep me by your side
all of the time.

GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES

Part 1

Christian women make disciples. That is what we are called to do.

Why? Because Jesus said so.

I like simple answers, don’t you? Really, that is all we need to know,

But, so that we see it in Scripture look at Matt. 28: 18-20
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

He promises His authority and presence to those who disciple: for the good of others and the glory of God.

All right, fine. But, how?

Glad you asked, because that is what I want to talk about. How we go about making disciples. In this lesson we will look at:

  1. Jesus’ plan to make disciples.
  2. Our enabling to make disciples
  3. Our goals in disciple making

Then next time we will cover:

  1. Finding someone to disciple
  2. Your first meeting

Get your coffee and let’s go!

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Jesus’ Plan

What is Jesus’ great strategy for changing the world?

Make disciples! One at a time.

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

That is the discipleship process. First we are followers or disciples and then we fish for men or become disciplers.

There is a progression to his model.

At His first miracle, turning water into wine, the disciples did nothing. They just watched and John 2: 11 says, “They believed in Him.”

As time went on He involved them more and more.

He involved them in the feeding of the 4,000 and 5,000. They passed out the multiplied food and gather the left overs when everyone was full. He didn’t give them the authority to multiply the food but to serve.

After about a year and a half of ministry He picked the 12 out of His followers and sent them out 2×2 to preach, heal and cast out demons. He gave them the authority (and with that came the power) to do those things. He didn’t give them authority to multiply food or calm the storms. He asked of them to deal with individuals.

That is all He asks of us. No big miracles … nothing big … nothing flashy …just talk to someone else humbly, simply and tell them about Jesus, who He is and what He commands.

So, discipling is making followers or disciples into fishers of men or disciplers and that requires progress in their spiritual growth.

Watch for progress in spiritual growth and maturity in your disciple. If you are not seeing any … you will need to re-evaluate what you are doing and if you should continue the relationship. It may be her goals are different from yours. And we will talk about that more later.

Our Enabling

Be in the word, be in prayer, stay repentant, then you will walk in the Spirit and the Spirit will give you the power and equip you to do what Jesus has commanded you. Really, it is that easy. Doing it is our daily sanctification struggle. But, the Spirit will make you fit to disciple and give you the freedom to jump in with both feet.

A lot of that freedom comes from knowing our God is sovereign.

To say that God is sovereign is to say no one can thwart His purpose and plans.
When we say God is sovereign we are saying he has a right to run the universe, anyway He pleases and He is under no obligation to anyone to give an account of what He does.

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases (Ps. 115:3).

God doesn’t work randomly. He doesn’t have a Plan B.

I say all of this to give you confidence.

Discipleship is God’s idea. He planned it and He planned for you to disciple certain women.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).

So, not to panic. He has our backs.
(Daniel 4:35; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Psalms 115:3; Acts 15:18; Ephesians 1:11)

Our Goals

Goal 1. Making disciples that love, trust, and obey Jesus.

If you remember nothing else — please remember this. You may use an entirely different process than I am outlining and that is great as long as the end result is your disciple is growing in love, trust, and obedience to Jesus.

Jesus said in Luke 6:40: “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.

I am reminded of my first-born grandson. When I was around him, he was attached to me like we were Velcroed together. He had to be constantly physically attached to me. Of course, I loved it. That is how we want ourselves and our disciple to be: in constant contact with Jesus.

If your discipleship relationship becomes about you or them, it is off tract. It is to be about Jesus, our great Savior and Redeemer.

Check yourself once in a while. Who is the object of your meeting? If it is not Him, repent, make a course correction and go on.

Goal 2. Build a relationship of caring and trust.

You want her to know you are her sister-in-Christ coming alongside her to point the way in love, because together you are going to follow after Jesus.

She needs to sense you have been with Jesus and you can take her there.

It will look a little different for each of us because we are individuals, created by our Creator to be different. We have different personalities, gifts, and abilities.

But there are some things we can all do that will help create trust and an environment of safety.

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Confidentiality

Never share what they share, with anyone. I don’t even share with my husband. We made that agreement. If there is unrepentant sin, and she is a member of your church ask an Elder in your church how you handle the confidence, but using no names until you know how the Elder would have you proceed. If your disciple can’t trust you, you have lost the right to disciple her.

Listen With Discernment

Discernment means to recognize something that is hidden or obscure.

Pray that you will learn to listen with spiritual discernment. Pray, “Lord Jesus give me spiritual ears.”

Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment, to read between the lines, so to speak. I want to hear not only what her words are saying, but how she is saying them, what is her facial expression giving away?

I want to know what is really going on in her heart.

Love Her

Love is not trying to protect her self-esteem. Love is telling her the truth. Love is encouraging, exhorting, rebuking.

Love is encouraging her in doing the right things.

Jesus always said what was best for people in the long run. He never whitewashed anything. He called sin, sin and told people to not do it anymore. He told them what was wrong with their hearts.

To the rich young ruler in Mark 10:21 we are told: Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus loved him by telling him the truth about himself.

Pray: for her, your relationship, and your meetings.

We are God’s emissary in this woman’s life.

Through prayer I ask God to give me discernment about her spiritual condition and her spiritual needs. As I meet with her, I must be in constant prayer. I ask the Lord for discernment to know if she is involved in the discipleship process. Is she growing? Is she truly sharing her needs, concerns, thoughts, doubts, or fears? Or, is she putting on a mask and only showing me her “holy” side? Does she trust me?

Am I truly sharing with her, or do I have a mask on? Am I interceding for her?

Are we studying the right book, Bible passage?

Those are the things you need to be in constant prayer about.

Your disciple needs to sense you have been with Jesus.

Next time we will talk about finding someone to disciple and your first meeting with her.

Remember, you are loved!

Embracing Life’s Seasons: The Example of Ruth

Lesson Two

Got coffee? Donut? Let’s go.

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Chapter 2

In Bethlehem, Ruth gleans (walking behind the harvesters and collecting the leftover grain – very hard work) in Boaz’s (a very close relative) fields.

Ruth 2:5-7

  1. Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”
  2. And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.
  3. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

Boaz extends his protection over her.

Ruth 2:8-9

  1. Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women … Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”

Ruth is amazed! She is a foreigner – a MOABITE at that, a historical enemy of Israel. She asks him why he is being so kind to her. And Boaz says:

Ruth 2: 11-12

  1. But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.
  2. The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

He gives her food to eat and he makes sure his workers drop extra grain for her. Ruth tells Naomi about him and Naomi is thrilled.

Ruth 2:20 – 22

  1. And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”
  2. And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’”
  3. And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”

So, we close this section of Ruth with the last verse of the 2 Chapter.

Ruth 2:23

  1. So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

Discovery

Ruth is still in the season of widowhood, but what other season or seasons do you see in these passages?

In her season of taking care of Naomi, what enabled Ruth to lay down her life for another? What enabled her to put their concerns before her own?

Ruth was a hard worker according to verses 7 and 23. She gleaned from sunup to sundown to feed herself and Naomi. No whining, moaning, or swooning. What impression do you think this make on Boaz and the other workers?

Summary

Ruth has now entered at least two new seasons of life. Last lesson we saw her go through marriage, not able to have children, and widowhood. Now, once in Judea she is living with Naomi and has taken the role as caregiver and bread winner. She has entered the work force probably for the first time. Seeing a way that God is providing to care for Naomi and herself, she initiates going to work. God providentially leads her to the field of Boaz, a relative of Elimelech to glean the leftovers of the hired pickers. This was God’s law to provide for the poor or those passing through who needed food. She is well treated, but it is hard physical, back-breaking work.

Everyone seems to be impressed with Ruth’s work ethic. The foreman, when asked by Boaz who Ruth was, said, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest” (Ruth 2:6-7). And later we are told she gleaned until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. This wasn’t just a part time job. Gleaning wasn’t something she did when they were low on food. She worked diligently to store up food for the future and her work ethic was a witness of her character. Would she have found favor with Boaz if she was lazy and griping about the hot sun or her feet hurting? No, she would not.

Caregivers are those who lay down their lives for another. They set aside their own agendas, feelings, and needs for the welfare of another. This is what Ruth is doing for Naomi. Their neighbors, friends and family are witnessing Ruth’s godly character through her sacrificial love for Naomi.

Ruth is learning and obeying the word of God. Surely, this commandment was foremost in her mind.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).

Also, as we covered in Lesson One, she was surely meditating on Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:34: loving God and loving people.

Her descendant would say, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

The people in Bethlehem are seeing Ruth as a kind, loving, and hardworking daughter-in-law through these hard seasons of working outside the home and taking care of another.

Application

Marriage Childlessness Widowhood Working Caregiver

Many of us have been in each or all of these seasons. We all have our own stories to tell. My prayer is that your story includes love and loyalty to God and family, and faithful commitment to those who rely on you to care for them, and a strong work ethic. If your story is like mine, it took some time to reach a fully committed heart that could say: “Life is hard, God is good, glory is coming, so I will stand fast in Your grace” (my paraphrase of John Piper’s quote).

Friends, if you are widowed or divorced, and have the responsibility of being the caregiver and provider for your children or your parents, remember Ruth’s story. Face life in the presence of God, in faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, lay down your life for them and God who is rich in mercy will repay you.

What does it mean to lay down your life for another?

If you find yourself in a season of caregiving, what have you learned from Ruth that might help you to lay down your life for another?

How is your work ethic? Is it a witness for good in your work place?

If you are not already laying down your life for another, what plans can you make now to prepare for that?

Jesus will care for you as you care for others. Lay it all down at his feet.

You are loved

Lesson 3 out soon