There are two key elements to discipleship. First, we invite people into relationship with God by sharing the Gospel with them. Second, we invite people into discipleship by inviting them to engage in community. I promise you that no person has started a healthy relationship with God without someone along the way inviting them to church and into the community of the believer. There may even be people out there that you come across where the ability to invite people to church comes up naturally in conversation. I want to extend an invitation to friends and family and lots of different people because I know that if they’re not in a community of believers, they’re not being discipled.
When a good friend of mine, Daniel, invited me to the House of Prayer through simple invitation as a friend, I began to walk in the calling of God for my life as I was discipled. I came to the community and experienced the presence of God and it marked me as a college student. This was ten years ago. Each of you have the ability to be that “someone” that catalyzes discipleship and growth for others in a way that compels them into their calling. I can assure you that real discipleship will not happen unless we begin to extend invitations to those that don’t know God and have a place to worship and fellowship with other believers. That is the context in which real discipleship takes place.
We need to be bold about our invitation because it could make the difference in a person’s life between whether they go to heaven or hell. It could be the difference whether they stay right where they are or whether they grow in their Christian faith. It’s the power of a simple invitation.
I want to challenge each of you to not just be spectators when it comes to community gatherings but to actually invite people to come and to be proactive in ministering to them and discipling them. Jesus said to “Go into all the earth,” and He wasn’t just meaning full-time ministers or missionaries go into the earth. He was commanding every disciple to be a disciple-maker. One of the most basic and easiest actions for us to do as a lifestyle is to invite others to come along with us.
Each of us, myself included, have lots of relationships with and come across lots of people that don’t know Jesus. The simplest thing that we can do is invite them into a place where they can respond “yes” or “no” to the invitation. You know, for my first few semesters of college, before my friend Daniel, no one (that I can remember) had invited me to church. Think about that for a minute. Who was the last person that invited you to come to their church? Do you know? It is such a rare thing. You have the ability to be the person that extends that gift to someone.
If you commit to developing a culture of invitation, it will radically change your life. It will drastically transform your church services. Jesus came to minister to the sick and to the broken, and His desires have not changed. That’s still who He wants to touch. All that He’s asking you to do is be His mouthpiece, His hands, and His feet. He gave you the charge to go and make disciples by inviting them to the Gospel and inviting them into community. It’s a very simple process. The worst that could happen is they say, “Nah,” and then you can invite them again. I want to charge you to participate in that way where inviting people is your normal behavior, and give them the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is longing for the opportunity to get at dry, barren hearts. Give Him that opportunity by extending a simple invitation, and believe that He will do something miraculous. When people get in a church environment, the Holy Spirit moves with conviction and they connect with other believers. It is within community that people are meant to be discipled.
How many of you would like to see fifty people get saved this year? It’s realistic. There are 52 weekly services every year. If you invite ten people per service, and one person comes and gets saved every week, it will happen. This is a realistic number. You have relationships and influence with people that your pastor or other church community members don’t know. You can be the person that stands next to them and answers their discipleship questions.
Many of us have heard stories of the supernatural occurrences where the angel comes or someone wanders into church and gets saved. However, MOST of us come because we were invited by someone who took the bold step to ask us into community. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to even go to the movies by myself! How much more is it unlikely that a person, even a person that thinks about going to church, will come without an invitation? They will come because you invited them.
If you’re reading this right now, I want for you take a moment and think of one person that you might want to invite and I want to pray with me for them:
“Lord Jesus, I ask that you would give me an opportunity to invite them to come and partake of Your presence and partake of the body of Christ. Let them come and hear the Gospel. I pray that You give me boldness and the opportunity. Let there be an ease on the interaction. I ask that they would come and that their lives would be transformed. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
This week began by praying, as a part of my regular prayer list, for the fear of the Lord for myself, my wife, and my three daughters. This caused me to consider, “What factors contribute to a healthy fear of God?” Firstly, one key to a healthy fear of God is a revelation of His Holiness. In the absence of this we tend to consider God to be much like we are, and this certainly diminishes our awe of Him. He is Holy, which literally means, “totally other than.” If the angels who see Him most closely perpetually declare “totally other than” concerning Him, how much more ought we realize that He is infinitely beyond our loftiest thought of Him (Revelation 4:8, Psalm 50:21). Secondly, we must cultivate an awareness of His justice. To rightly fear the Lord, we must consider our personal day of accountability in which we will each stand before God and be evaluated for every inconsiderate word (Matthew 12:36) and even the smallest act of kindness (Mark 9:41). Neither will be forgotten, both will have impact upon eternity in terms of reward or of suffering loss (1 Corinthians 3:15). Across our culture we see the consequences of lives that lack the fear of God. They are evident in the pursuit material gain, temporal pleasure, and by so many who carry a deep seated attitude of rebellion against authority. We ultimately do not honor parents or governments because we do not fear God (Romans 13:1). Last week, I welcomed my third little girl into the world, and so today as she is a week old, I am considering the future blessedness for her little life if bathed in prayer for the reverential awe and holy fear of God.
Here is how my family (and yours) will be blessed if we acquire a Holy fear of God:
I. Intimacy & Affection:
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. – Psalm 25:14
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; – Psalm 103:11
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10
Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. – Psalm 25:12
How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. – Psalm 31:19
Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. – Psalm 34:9
Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. – Proverbs 14:26
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. – Psalm 145:19
David was just a young shepherd boy, the youngest of eight sons, forgotten and unseen by his father. It’s easy to imagine his days in the fields, silent and slow, in time with the steady rhythm of the sun across the sky. But as he learned to shepherd his flock of sheep, David learned to tend the heart of God in the place of worship and adoration.
Even at a young age, his heart of extravagant devotion was beautiful before the Lord. As David was serving faithfully in the wilderness, watching over his flock, God was removing Saul from the place of leadership and proclaiming through Samuel, “The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14). The Lord was looking for more than a king to command, He was looking for a king who championed His heart. He found that in David.
David’s love for God was cultivated in the secret place, the wilderness. There is nothing that confronts the tantalizing pull of ambition and recognition like the hiddenness and obscurity of the secret place. As worship leaders, the wilderness is God’s grace to us. It is our chance to live before an audience of One, to learn that His approval really is always enough.
The wilderness is also our opportunity to perfect the most precious gifts that we can offer to the Lord. These gifts are 1) a sincere heart, 2) listening ears, and 3) a steady gaze.
The one who embraces these values has embraced the spiritual posture of a prophetic worshipper. The one who lives these values is on a collision course with God Himself, for God cannot resist the lovestruck heart that is fully dependent, leaning into His will and seeking His face.
As we cultivate these three simple but potent values, we will learn to tend the heart of God through awe and wonder.
The Three Values of a Prophetic Worshiper
1. A Sincere Heart
1 Samuel 16:17 “Do not look at this appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
2. Listening Ears
Psalm 130: 5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
3. A Steady Gaze
Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.”