Mentoring Minutes

TO MAKE A DISCIPLE, YOU MUST BE ONE!

A disciple is one who studies and then models whoever is Lord in his/her life.  A disciple is one who disciplines his/herself according to the principles or standards of his/her Lord.  A disciple is one who practices the disciplines of his/her Lord.  

Discipleship begins with whoever is your Lord/lord and…in the mirror.  It doesn’t begin with telling others about your Lord/lord but learning from your Lord so that when you begin to share about who your Lord is, you are actually living out a lifestyle that reflects that of your Lord’s! 

Scriptural historians have determined that there was somewhere between 1 – 2 years between Jesus calling His disciples (Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16; Luke 5) and sending them out (Matthew 10; Mark 6).  Historians also set the time between the Apostle Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 and him publicly proclaiming the Gospel in the Jerusalem synagogue (Acts 9:26-29) was approximately 3 years (he proclaimed it briefly in Damascus after His conversion). It was another 10+ years before he is sent on his first missionary journey having been set apart by The Holy Spirit with Barnabas to do so (Acts 13).

Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, …go and make disciples of all peoples… In order to make disciples we must first be disciples.  In a previous article, “So You Got Grace, What’s Next?” I talk about this command being to all of us as Christ followers not just to trained experts.  In the original language (Greek) it also means, “as you go along the way” emphasizing that it is much more about our lives than it is just telling people about Jesus (we need to do both).  If our lives don’t match up with our words we may do more damage than good when it comes to “making disciples?”

First Be A Disciple

So what does it look like to be a disciple of Christ?  There are many commands in Scripture that point to what it means to be His follower or disciple.  I know we don’t like the word “commands” but that’s what they are and this was fully expected by the writers and understood and responded to by those who originally received the letters we’ve come to know as The Bible.   We should take them just as seriously to honor our Lord!

I want to focus on 2 commands that I believe lay a strong foundation for living out the rest.  We’ve already discussed that the 1st and 2nd (and 3rd) greatest commands deal with loving God, loving who we are in Christ so we can love our neighbors.  We need to begin where God begins as we shared about His priority and order when it comes to commands and love.  But, you may ask, “How do I get there?”

Living Sacrifice – Our Reasonable Response

Paul told the believers (disciples) in Rome what it means to be a follower of Jesus after all that He’s done for us (Romans 8 – 11). “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your reasonable act of service (worship). Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2. 

Three things we are called to in this passage:

  1. Give my body (self/life) back to God as a living sacrifice as this is the “reasonable” response to what He’s (Christ) done for me;
  2. Don’t conform to the world’s way of doing things, but;
  3. Transform my way of thinking and living in line with His Word.

As we respond “logically” (reasonably) to what He’s done for us, we choose to think in line with His Word rather than follow the culture.  In so doing we begin to recognize and live out His will in a way that others can see it, test it and realize it is from Him as well!  That’s what disciples look like…and it takes time to mature in this and as we do others begin to see more and more of our Lord!

Modeling Our Lord – Humility

One of the other key “ingredients” to being His disciple and rubbing off on others as we go along the way is that of Humility.  In another letter Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:3-5

Look what Paul does here…he clearly gives us what it looks like to live as a disciple and emphasizes that we should do so because in this way we are modeling our Lord:

  1. Don’t be selfish
  2. Don’t be vain (prideful)
  3. Walk in humility – place others above yourself
  4. Don’t just look after yourself but look after others
  5. This is the mindset that comes from our Lord…build your relationships according to His design!

One Paul, One Timothy in Your Life

Following the Biblical teaching, we are to study and work to be Christ’s disciples and we are to do it in relationship with Him and one another.  Looking first to Christ as our Lord we then should find at least one person more mature in the faith than us to be a “Paul” in our life and at least one who is younger (less mature) in the faith that can be a “Timothy” that we pour intoWe should always be being discipled by one more mature and be discipling at least one who is less mature, growing together in The Lord.  

Finally, this should begin in our homes as spouses and parents.  Moms and dads be the “Paul or Pauline” in your children’s live as they are your first and most important “Timothy(s) or Timothena(s).”  If we are modeling Christ to them then He is not only encouraging and blessing them, He is growing us!  This is how we build His family, The Church, by being and making disciples first in our own! 

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Have you accepted Christ as Savior and stopped there?  God has so much more in store and it begins with our obedient response to take what Christ has done in us (made us holy) by giving it back to Him as a living sacrifice…die to our selfish desires for His sake and glory!

Love and Lordship…Action Item – During your quiet time with The Lord this week ask Him to show you where you are surrendering to Him and the areas of your life that you’ve not been willing to sacrifice to Him for His will.

Where’s Your Treasure? That’s Where You’ll Find Your Heart!

How many of you know what Jeremiah 29:11 says?  You may not be able to recall it immediately but in the next couple of lines as it is revealed you will probably say to yourself, “Oh, yeah.”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Did you say, “Oh, yeah”?  I can’t count the number of feel-good sermons I’ve heard on this Scripture and that’s not a bad thing.  The only problem I’ve found is that the number of messages I’ve heard on the next 2 verses I can count on one hand…with 3 fingers left over.  Now I’ve certainly not heard all the sermons preached throughout history but I think you’ll see my point.

SEEKING AND FINDING THE LORD

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.   Jeremiah 29:12-13

You probably are already catching on but before I expound on these verses let me make 2 quick points…1) These words are not written to individuals, they are written to the nation of Israel (God’s people), and; 2) The best interpretation for us would be that these are words to Christ’s Church (His people) today. 

Since The Church is made up of individuals and relationships, then we can certainly pray the promise of v. 11 but we also must personally and collectively follow through with what The Holy Spirit expresses in vv. 12-13.

That brings us back to the focus of this article.  All of us desire God’s best plans for our life, family, churches and communities…or at least we should as Christ followers.  However, most of us latch onto the declaration made in v. 11 and pay little attention to our responsibility in receiving that promise. 

God desires to give us an incredible hope and future, one translation says “an expected end” or one that we believe in by faith and know it will be good.  Here are 3 things that we must do in order to receive all He has promised:

  1. Call out to Him – share your heart, hurts and hang-ups with Him.  He already knows.  He just wants you to experience His presence, which is ultimately greater than His response to any of your cries.
  2. Come and pray to Him – find a place and time every day to meet with Him and make your requests known.  In the process you’ll come to know Him more and He will reveal who He has created you to be and His plans for you.  He hears and responds.
  3. Seek Him with all your heart – receiving His promises and all He has in store begins with seeking Him.  God makes it very clear that the way that we find and know Him is by wholeheartedly seeking Him.  Half-hearted attempts won’t work.  Doesn’t mean He won’t answer but we simply can’t get to know Who He Is if we’re only giving a partial effort to do so.

The most incredible gift in this is that receiving His promise is AWESOME…but seeking and knowing Him is far better!

GETTING ALL YOU NEED

Jesus summed it up this way in the Sermon on the Mount.  After teaching on futility of worry and anxiety in Matthew 6:25-32, He sums it in v. 33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Our Creator, Savior and Lord knows that we will never be satisfied with anything, even everything, in this world because it is fleeting and superficial.  The only way we can be fulfilled is in knowing Him!  The awesome news is that He has made Himself known in Jesus and in His Word by His Spirit and He has made Himself available for us to seek, know and love Him and that changes everything!  The question is, will you seek Him with all your heart?  Will you seek His Kingdom (remember Kingdom always include His Kingship/Lordship) and righteousness first and above everything else? 

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest, Oct 3, We can ever remain powerless, as were the disciples, by trying to do God’s work not in concentration on His power, but by ideas drawn from our own temperament. We slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him.

You can know Him!  Don’t miss out.  Spend some time every day in His Word, in prayer and seeking/asking Him to show you Who He Is.  But remember you have to do it with all your heart.  When you do, He will show up!

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – It has been said that you can tell where a person’s heart is by looking at 2 things:  checkbook and calendar.  What do these 2 items say about your relationship with God?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Take inventory in your own heart/life and see where you are with God and how you are seeking to know and love Him.

Saved! For What?

Did you know that there are 2 sides to salvation…God’s and ours? We can do nothing to save ourselves but we have a very clear responsibility in salvation.

Everyone loves to hear about God’s Amazing Grace…how sweet the sound! It does sound great and it is amazing! But God’s Word has a lot more to say about salvation than simply what He’s done for us.

The other side of salvation…our side…is all about God’s purpose for our lives once we accept His free gift of grace in salvation and how we can live most fully and freely according to His purpose, design and pleasure!

Don’t know about you but I want that! I know that I’ve been saved for Eternity with Him but I want to know what that looks like now. The great news is that we can know! It’s called sanctification and while it’s not easy because of the world we live in, it is every bit as amazing because it is His plan and will for our lives in Christ.

So what is sanctification? What is our part in salvation?

Sanctification is essentially holiness. When something or someone is holy or sanctified it means that he/she or it has been set apart for a special or specific purpose. God’s plan is not just to give you eternal life with Him. He has a special plan for you right now…that’s sanctification.

It’s also why it is so important that we spend time growing as His disciples, seeking to know and love Him more fully. Only when we follow through on the seeking, knowing and loving Him can we know who we are and walk in the special purpose that He takes great pleasure in fulfilling in and through us!

Let’s see what His Word says about being set apart for His plan and pleasure.

God’s Masterpiece and Purpose

God makes it very clear in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church and to Christ’s Church today exactly what both sides of salvation look like. Here we see His role in salvation that we’ve talked about in previous articles, podcasts and videos…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Thank you, Lord! But He goes beyond this to plainly describe our purpose in salvation…literally sanctification, in v. 10 – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Handiwork literally means “masterpiece!” He has created you and in salvation has recreated you in Christ as His masterpiece for a specific, special plan just for you!

Our Response

Paul tells believers in his letter to the Philippians that we have a responsibility (an obedient response) to His gift to us…

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

There it is! We are to respond with reverent awe and fear in 2 ways:

  1. By walking in obedience
  2. Continuing to work out the salvation God has put in
This is sanctification. But this begs the question…how can we work out what He has put in if we don’t spend time to know Who He Is, what He has given us and how He desires to work in and through us?

Bearing Fruit, Not Producing It

John 15 describes what it means to abide in Christ and let God, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in and through us. Here are 5 Truths that are evident in the lives of those who have been saved and sanctified in Christ:

  • Christ is the Source (Vine); The Father is the Vinedresser (Gardener) – (v.1)
  • We are branches that bear fruit…not produce fruit. Any branch that does not bear His fruit is cast away (v. 2)
  • We are to be pruned by the Vinedresser (The Father) – pruning means to be cut back and cleaned up to become stronger to bear more fruit (v. 2-3)
  • We are to abide in The Source, Christ (The Vine) – abide means to endure or remain despite trials or hardships of weather, predators and pruning
  • As we abide in The Vine (Christ) we bear more fruit. Apart from Christ (Vine) we can produce nothing.

God has not only saved you in Christ, He has set you apart as His masterpiece for His special purpose. Are you trying to produce for His Kingdom? Learn to rest, endure and grow in Christ and you will see His fruit coming through you for His Glory!

This does not mean that you are to sit back in your La-Z-Boy chair and say to God, “Ok, get to it, produce fruit in me!” It means you recognize His Gift, work diligently to know Him and allow His Truth and will to be lived out through your life to others. He will produce more fruit for you to bear, as you remain a faithful branch in Christ!

If you’re willing to seek, know and love Him, you will learn what it means to live sanctified you can get rid of the burden of “success” and learn to “bear His fruit” for His good will and pleasure!

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Salvation and Sanctification…God’s free gift in Christ and my discipleship response in living out what He has set me apart for? Am I living for God’s good pleasure? Is He having His way in and through me?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Spend some time this week in the Scriptures found in this article and ask The Lord if you’ve been taking His salvation for granted? Also ask Him to reveal to you what He has saved you for and how you can bear His fruit more fully in your life and relationships?