Today in the church we often hear the word discipleship. This is a word that has fallen out of use over the years but is making a comeback. Like everything in creation it runs in a cycle. This morning as I was reading 1 Thessalonians 2 I gained some understanding that I needed about a situation in my own life. Have you ever had a passion to serve in a certain area of ministry only to every time you take one step forward you end up going back two. Paul faced this problem; there are several times in scripture, that we see that he had a desire to go somewhere only to be hindered or turned away completely. We read that here in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18 of one such account:
17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. (ESV)
While the devil would never admit it God uses Him to do His will and His purposes. I know that might seem controversial but I believe it to be true. You see God’s chosen people have the strength through Christ to defeat the devil so when the devil is a hindrance it is to fulfill a purpose that God has for us. You can look through scripture it is not just something that impacted Paul. Moses desired to reach the Promised Land and David desired to build the temple and I am sure there are others you can point out. In every case you find they had a desire but for one reason or another it was not to be and God kept them from it.
However, now that I have said that this is where the issue of discipleship comes into the picture. While those with the desire to do it were not allowed to fulfill these callings each of them had a disciple that did. Joshua lead the people into the Promised Land, Solomon built the temple and Timothy went to Thessalonica.
1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (ESV)
God wanted someone to go and assure the people of Thessalonica that they were not forgotten. It was just not Paul. Sometimes in our own lives and ministries there are things we desire to do but there is always opposition to them. Maybe it is time we start focusing on developing that next person and helping them achieve what God has purposed in their own heart. Death is a certainty for us all. So my question for you today is this, “What will your legacy be?” Are you a disciple?
The best example of this was established by Jesus? While Jesus witnessed and spoke to large crowds everywhere he went this was not how he changed the world. His approach required that he spend his time one on one with individuals and a small group of men teaching them everything he could so that when he was gone the message of salvation would be carried to all the world. This is the model we have been given. Are you preparing your replacement? While there is no substitute for Jesus. We are his hands and feet in the world today and he has given us the responsibility to carry on the Good News to a world that is lost and dying with no hope. Sometimes that means sending someone besides ourselves but we cannot send individuals who are not prepared. I pray that something I shared with you helps you to think about your role in training the next generation to do the work that God has laid on your heart but has kept you from. Be blessed as you walk in the light of God’s Word.