Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17–20)
Do you want to know how to become great where greatness really counts—in the kingdom of heaven? Obey and teach the commandments. Jesus was speaking to the multitudes seated on the mountain near Capernaum. He said that opposing, breaking, or ignoring the commands makes one small in God’s sight. But whoever obeys the commands and teaches others to obey them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus here was referring to the commandments of the law and the prophets as well as the principles He was teaching (Matthew 5:17).
When Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, He added these words: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We have given strong emphasis to evangelistic preaching of the gospel, but because the church has been lax on teaching the commandments, it is weaker and less effective than it should be.
When I was in South America to set up pastors conferences for World Vision, a Methodist bishop in Brazil said to me, “Our church is like a sack with two mouths. As fast as new people come in, others slip out.” In Chile one pastor said, “Our church is spreading like prairie fire. It flares up quickly, but just as soon it dies out.” Many pastors were not well trained and had no solid foundation for ministry. As a result of our conferences, pastors heard strong preaching from men like Richard Halverson, who later became chaplain of the Senate, as well as from strong leaders in their own nations. They experienced examples of good preaching and training on how to preach the Word convincingly. They also learned from teaching and practice the value of strong praying and obedience to the commands of Christ. Winning lost people to Jesus is vital, but “teaching them to obey” all He has commanded builds resilient, durable churches filled with kingdom-focused disciples.
These South American churches are not different from many in the rest of the world. Simply learning about how to disciple, however, is never enough. Good discipleship takes extreme commitment, time, effort, and much prayer on the part of church leaders. Then, the seed of the gospel must be planted in good soil and watered with the teaching of the Word, especially the teaching of the commandments and prayer. These things are not always easy to implement into the life of a church body. But when these things are firmly established, the church will grow and flourish.
Lord Jesus, I love Your commands. Help me not only to obey them, but to teach others to obey them. Lord, I know that I can only do this through the power of Your Holy Spirit at work within me. Bring into my life those who are ready and willing to be taught Your commands. Give me wisdom to teach Your commands with grace.
–Adapted from Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life by Norval Hadley. This book is available atprayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise Jesus for being “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Thank him for always being with you regardless of your circumstances. Confess your weakness and inability to escape certain temptations. Commit your way to the Lord’s total control. Ask for his help today to overcome sin in your life.
Pray that believers will be strengthened to recognize God’s voice and reject the enemy’s lies and tricks “in order that Satan may not outwit us” (2 Cor. 2:11).
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend
Encountering Jesus is also available on Kindle and Nook. One Kindle reader said: “While I knew (know) of Jesus biblical commands, I did not really know how to translate them into my life on a daily basis. Norval Hadley’s book showed me how. It will put energy into your prayer life.”
Connection is sponsored by Prayer Connect Magazine.