Jerry Dean and Raymond Woodward
Growing in every way more and more like Christ.
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (III John 2).
Prosperity is a buzz word among many in the Christian sector, and who among us does not want to prosper? In the above text, the Greek word for “prosper” is euodouasthai. Euodousthai is a compound word formed by combining two words: one meaning “good” and the other meaning “progress.” We could read John’s verse this way; “I wish above all things that thou mayest make good progress and be in health, even as thy soul is making good progress.” Strong’s Concordance defines euodousthai this way: “to help on the road, i.e. (passively) succeed in reaching; figuratively, to succeed in business affairs.”
John’s prayer for his friend Gaius was simple. He wanted Gaius to show good progress in his natural life through prosperity and good health, in proportion to the good progress of his spiritual life. A graph showing the prosperity of his natural man should show the same kind of growth for his spiritual man. Paul told us in Romans we each have a spiritual and a natural man and they are at war.
Whichever man you feed the most will be the strongest. Too often the spiritual man is starved while the natural man is fed with occupations and entertainment.
For so many, the pinnacle of their spiritual experience is found in the early days of their conversion. Their high-water mark was the day they received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. This was never God’s intention for his disciples. Peter instructed us to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). Paul said that we should “grow up into him in all things” (Ephesians 4:15).
Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). These hard-working disciples of Christ had left their first love. Notice, they did not lose it, they left it. Their priorities were misplaced. The Message says, “I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out. But you walked away from your first love, why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle” (Revelation 2:3-5).
Pastor Raymond Woodward put together a plan for spiritual discipline that will help us grow spiritually if we will incorporate it into our lives. With his permission I share it with you in this article.
When sin entered the world, God asked Adam and Eve two penetrating questions: “Where are you?” and “What have you done?” Therapists have been asking the same questions ever since. One question exposes the present and the other exposes the past. It is a principle of time that we cannot go back. But if we are willing to take an honest look at our present, we can go forward in a new way!
Where do you want to be? You never drift to “there” if “there” is worthwhile. What steps are needed to move us from where we are to where we want to be? The words disciple and discipline are from the same root. Remember, God is in the details.
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:42-47).
Let’s extract five discipleship habits from this passage and incorporate them into our daily lives so our souls will prosper and have good progress.
The plan is named GimmeFive.
1. PRAY UP (10 minutes every day)
“And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth . . . then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:25-26). The first people in the Bible who were called God’s people were not called Christians or Jews. They were those who “called upon the name of the LORD.” The origin and root of everything we are doing today began with people calling on God.
Forget North American Christianity. Forget the religion in which you were raised. Forget what you’ve learned by hanging around a Pentecostal church. There is some meat there, but there are a lot of bones as well. The Book of Acts church is the benchmark, the plumbline, the pattern for a relationship with God. “Call on me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3).
“I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies” (Psalm 18:3).
For six thousand years, Satan’s strategy to deceive the human race has been to keep people from calling on God. Be clever, be organized, plan, depend on talent and technology, but don’t call on God! The devil is not afraid of our best human efforts, but he really gets scared when we lift our hands, hearts, and voic-es to call on the name of the Lord.
The church was born in a prayer meeting! God still wants us to call on His name. Does it bother anyone that the church was born in a prayer meeting, but today prayer meeting is the most poorly attended service in most churches if they even have a prayer meeting? Some parents get upset because prayer is not allowed in schools, but they never bring their kids to prayer meeting at church. Prayer was not allowed in first century Roman schools, but the church called on the name of the Lord! The political figures of the first century were more corrupt than those of our day, but Paul did not wring his hands in worry. The church just called on the Lord! How can anything stop God’s purpose when the church calls on Him?
We blame these external situations for our problems to divert attention from our weak prayer lives. There is no worry about the world in the pages of the New Testament–the church was commissioned to CHANGE the world! How can anything stop God when His people let Him loose in His church?
God is not interested in our excuses. He just wants to know whether we will continue the long line of people calling on the name of God. Do you long to see God break loose in His church? Do you love the presence of God? If you don’t crave the presence of God, it doesn’t matter what doctrine you believe, you are not a New Testament Christian.
The New Testament Christians did all of this by instinct; if we don’t have the same inborn instincts, we may be a club but we are not a church. God’s people call on the name of the Lord.
2. READ UP (One chapter a day)
“The just shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38). “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Make a habit by reading the Bible every day at the same time. Feed your spiritual man with the heavenly manna.
“And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them” (Deuteronomy 17:19).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
3. SHOW UP (be faithful to church and prayer meetings and special services)
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
How faithful is “faithful”?
If your car started one out of three times, would you consider it faithful? If your paperboy skipped Wednesday and Friday every week, would you call to complain? If you failed to come to work five or six times a month, would your boss call you faithful? If your refrigerator quit for a day now and then, would you excuse it and say, “Oh well, it works most of the time”? If your water heater greeted you with cold water one or two mornings a week, would you consider it faithful? If you missed a couple of mortgage payments in a year’s time would your mortgage holder say, “Oh well, ten out of twelve isn’t bad”?
“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of because God is the most important thing thy lord” (Matthew 25:23).
4. GIVE UP (your time, talent, treasure)
“Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, and said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it.” (Nehemiah 2:2-5)
Nehemiah could not sit idly by in comfort while the city of Jerusalem (capital of Israel) was in worse shape than the city of Shushan (capital of Persia). It bothered him enough to do something about it. Nehemiah said, “Everything is going great in my secular job, but that’s not enough if God’s work isn’t going even better.” His burden affected him so much that the king noticed and asked him about it, and Nehemiah didn’t cover it up. “Yes, God’s work is more important to me than my secular work.” “Yes, God’s kingdom comes before your kingdom.” “Yes, I need to give some major time to the Lord.”
Where are the Christians who are concerned more about the house of God than their own house? More concerned about the work of God than their own work? More concerned about the kingdom of God than their own kingdom? More concerned about the future of the church than their own financial future? Does God have any Christians like that anymore?
It used to be that when people found salvation they immediately told their employers, their sports teams, and any relatives or guests that happened to drop in, “I don’t do Sundays and I don’t do Wednesday nights. I go to church because God is the most important thing in my life!” Today, people get a job and tell their church, “I don’t do Sunday nights and I don’t do Wednesday nights; I don’t do prayer meetings, and I don’t do special service nights.” Yet, these same people are able to arrange vacations, getaways, and time off for anything they want to do. They often spend the equivalent of a forty-hour work week sitting in front of their television or their computer, but they have no time! What does that say to God about their priorities?
Nehemiah said, “I was a cupbearer to the king of Persia, but I want to be a wall builder for the king of heaven. I’ve enjoyed tasting the wine hundreds of times in the atmosphere of the royal court, but I’m disturbed that the walls of God’s city are in disarray and no one seems to care. Take this goblet and give me a hammer!”
The 80-20 rule is said to apply in most churches. Simply stated it means that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. The 80-20 rule is not apostolic!
“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify god in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
“And let the beauty of the lord our God be upon us: and establish make permanent thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” (Psalm 90:17).
5. BUILD UP (church, family, and at least one friend)
Church: Our superintendent’s vision is to Double in a Decade (7 percent annual growth). We count people because people count!
Family: Teach a home Bible study in your home. My family matters!
Friends: Show the gospel and share the gospel. Invest and invite!
Build relationships that turn into friendships. If you invest and then invite, they will show up. We will do everything possible to make Christianity relevant to them when they do show up.
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
We overestimate what we can do in a day, but we underestimate what we can do in a year.
The challenge is going out to every Apostolic man: “Gimme Five!” Will you accept the challenge?
The above article, “Gimme Five,” is written by Jerry Dean and Raymond Woodward. The article was excerpted from Apostolic Man, Fall 2008 issue.
This material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.