Archive Page 2

08
Jul
14

Impressed

Yesterday, For lunch I went to Moe’s Southwest a Grill in Tuscaloosa. I was impressed. Not by the cleanliness of the restaurant, although it was clean. Not but the quesadilla, although it was good. Not by the location, although it was convenient. I was impressed with the employees. I know that what happens is part of their process. I know that they treat everyone the same by policy, but they really made me feel welcome. In fact, they said the same when I walked into the door. No sooner had I stepped in than a duet rang out, “Welcome to Moe’s!”

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This morning, as I think about Moe’s while eating a bowl of cold cereal . . . A breakfast quesadilla sounds good right now . . . I am thinking about the times disciples, the Church assembles. Are we as welcoming as Moe’s? Do we communicate how glad we are to see each other and any guests? Similarly, do we echo the employees of Chic-Fil-A telling each other, ” My pleasure!”?

The point is that the employees of Moe’s and CFA represent their respective employers and stores well. They put them in a good light. Are we as disciples representing our Master and His Kingdom in a positive light? Will you say, “It is a pleasure to serve you, welcome to church?

07
Jul
14

Four Principles for Discipleship

The word disciple or disciples occurs 268 times in the New Covenant while the word Christian or Christians occurs only 3 times.  We can safely conclude that discipleship is a vital part of our life for God. I go as far as to say that you cannot be a Christian if you are not first a disciple. That is why the last few posts concerned discipleship and why we continue that theme today.

Discipleship is not something we simply study about. Discipleship is more than learning about Jesus and memorizing scripture. A disciple is one whom emulates the life of Jesus, making Christ’s goals his own goals. This morning I want to share four principles form 2 Timothy 2 that are important to discipleship.

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. ipad 015No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:1-10)

 

  1. Be Strengthened by Grace. The phrase is in the present passive imperative case indicating the idea of “keep on being empowered” by grace.  Grace is the source of our empowerment. We are all sinners in need of the grace of God. When we remember that, we are more likely to focus our life of living for God and being gracious to others sinners who are also in need of the grace of God.
  2. Consistently Invest in the Lives of Others. “What you have heard from me . . . entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” To entrust is to make a secure deposit to invest. As I heard a college student and member of Tide4Christ recently say, “We are not containers of the Gospel, but a conduit through which God’s grace flows.” I learned from someone, I teach you, you learn from me and in turn teach others.
  3. Personalize Truths from God’s Word. “Think over what I say.” Some versions use the word, “consider.” The idea is to draw a mental picture in your mind. When I was playing basketball the coaches would tells us to envision the ball going through the rim and net before we took a free throw. Maybe the idea of thinking over or considering is to see yourself living for Christ and considering how you can live for Him 24 hours a day.
  4. Be Ready. Specifically, Paul is warning Timothy of the sufferings that he could face as a disciple. Sufferings similar to the ones Paul faced himself. Discipleship is not for the thin-skinned. Our patience will face testing. The road will not always be smooth. We must predetermine that we are completely committing our lives to Christ, no matter the trials to come.

The time is NOW to put these principles in action. Be like the enduring soldier, the athlete in training, and the hard working farmer. Invest in the cause of Christ. The greatest cause much larger than yourself. Invest in the well-being of others and faithfully follow the Lord.

- Scott

01
Jul
14

Disciples Reproducing Disciples

Being a disciple is not the end goal of discipleship.  Discipleship has a goal of its own: making more disciples. The Good News is not ours to keep or hoard. We are not simply containers of the Gospel, but a conduit through which God’s grace passes on to others. Consider 2 Timothy 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

In essence we have a ministry of spiritual reproduction.

In the first chapter of Genesis as God creates plants, fish, birds, and animals He creates them to reproduce after their own kind (Gen 1:11-12, 22). Then after creating man and woman, God gives them His first command, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the 100_1488earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28).

God’s first command to man is: Not to learn; Not about work; Not even about worship. God’s first command to creation is to reproduce.  As a disciples we are learners. As a disciple I am to work for my Master. As disciples we worship God in Christ. And as disciples we are to reproduce disciples. God wants a full SPIRITUAL NURSERY! Jesus last command to His disciples was to make disciples (Matt 28:19).

Take a moment to survey the first few chapters of Acts and you find disciples busy making disciples.

  • Acts 2:41 – 3,000 obey the gospel.
  • Acts 4:4 – the number of the disciples was 5,000.
  • Acts 5:14 – The number grew to the point we read not thousands, but multitudes.

Let’s take a step back for a moment and talk about biology and physical reproduction.  Not all animals can reproduce.  There are three hindrances to reproduction that have relevance to our discussion about disciples.  1) Immature plants and animals cannot reproduce. By immature I am referring to chronology. A young plant, a young animal, a small child is not physically able to reproduce. 2) No partner in reproduction.  It takes male and female to reproduce in the plant and animal world. A man cannot have a child on his own. 3) Disease hinders reproduction. There are diseases that damage reproductive organs.  There are emotional scars that can hinder reproduction as well.

These same hindrances affect Spiritual Reproduction.

  1. Immaturity - For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14).
  2. Not partnered with ChristJesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
  3. Poor Spiritual healthThe sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mark 4:14-19).

An unproductive spiritual life is an unfulfilled spiritual life. There is great joy in passing the Good News to others and seeing it bear fruit in their lives.

- Scott

30
Jun
14

Disciples and Our Example

I hear statements like that all the time. “It doesn’t matter what I say or do.” “What I am doing is my business, what others think is their problem.” “No one is watching me.” Really?  1 Corinthians 8:9, “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

The truth is someone is watching you. What they see in you influences them in what they think as well  as what they do.  What we say and do as disciples matters! And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:1-2). Ultimately, it is not enough to be right, others must think rightly about us. This is one reason setting a positive example is vital. We should to the best of our ability lives so that those around me have no need to call my motives into question. (cf. 1 Peter 2:12).

Here are three observations about examples:

  1. Examples are Powerful Agents of Change. Children learn behaviors and attitudes from the example their parents set. Teens often model their style after their peers. Paul tells Titus, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8).
  2. Examples Motivate. We all get discouraged and wonder if we will survive. Yet, when we look at those around us who are living faithfully we see in them areas we can emulate. Paul tells the Thessalonians, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7).
  3. Exemplary Lives Bring Credibility. Do other Christians respect me? Do they see my walk with God as a reality? Do they know I believe what I say by the way I live what I proclaim? Remember these words: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. . . . Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:12, 16). Our actions preach what we practice, no matter what we proclaim with our lips.

The truth is simple. You are a role model to someone.  You do set an example.  The question is, what example do you set? Does your daily life lead people toward or away from Christ?

- Scott

26
Jun
14

Discipleship: Lesson Three

loveAs we continue to look at discipleship, we look at Jesus’ last full night with His disciples. The last night of Jesus freedom before the cross would prove to be a night of sadness. Sadness as Jesus foresees the trauma, pain, and suffering He is about to endure. Yet this night is significant. Jesus has this night to pass along an important lesson to His disciples.

John records the events nearly 60 years later. Can he still taste the last Passover Meal he had with Jesus? Does he still smell the spices? Does a tear roll down his cheek as he recalls the love Jesus demonstrated? Jesus loved His own to the very end! (John 13:1-12).

Who was going to serve? The disciples were arguing on the way to the meal. They argued over who among them was the greatest (Luke 22:24-27). As they sat at the meal reclining face to feet, no one stooped to the role of servant and washed feet. After all, to voluntarily wash feet was to admit you were not the greatest, but the least.

Jesus picks up the towel and clothes love with humility. His humble service demonstrated love. This is not the message of the world. Society screams; “Me first!” “My way!” “My own thing!” Or “My personal time!” Disciples should say: “You go first.” “You take the last piece.” “Let’s do it your way.”

Humility shows love to those inside the family (spiritual and physical).

This love also reaches out. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (John 13:20). The word recieve carries the idea of taking someone into your circle. Accept whom Jesus accepts. Welcome whom Jesus welcomes. Receive whom Jesus receives. Take in whom Jesus takes in. Do we? Are we? We should!

The enemy of acceptance is exclusiveness. This was the mentality of the Pharisees.  There is nothing wrong with having a groups of special friends, but have the attitude of, “There is always room for one more.”

Love accepts those who are looking to be disciples.

There are also those who are our opposition. They fight against us. Jesus washed the feet of Judas and honored him at the meal, buy passing the soaked bread to him. Jesus judiciously made a loving effort toward Judas. He was working, hoping, praying, and urging Judas to change. Sometimes we look with prejudice at those outside of our group. We think they will never change. We say they have always been the way they are. We think they are not worth our effort.  Thankfully, someone looked at me, reached out to me with love and I changed. Someone reached out to you and you changed too! (Col. 3:5-7).

Reach out to others.

- Scott

24
Jun
14

Discipleship Lesson Two – Courage

“And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” (Act 8:1-3). Growth came at a great cost to these early disciples.

prayerOne promising young leader Stephen became a martyr, “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:54-60).

People were ANGRY at them. Enemies of Christ were putting family and friends to DEATH. Parents watched as persecutors threw children in PRISON. Children saw the same happening to their parents. The PERSECUTION was severe!

Being a disciple was not easy for these early followers. How did they respond? What would they do to survive?

They Preached But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.” (Acts 4:19-21). And “those who were scattered went about preaching the word,” (Acts 8:4). What they did to get them in their situation is what they kept doing.

Consider Hebrews 10:32-34, “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” WOW! These early disciples “joyfully accepted the plundering of their property!”

Discipleship requires COURAGE!

Today many Christians (disciples) hush when called names. The world tells us that to talk about their lifestyle negatively is a hate crime; to say what they are doing is a sin is judgmental. In our politically correct society we become CAUTIOUS instead of COURAGEOUS.

I close reminding you what God told Joshua: “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” Joshua 1:6.

- Scott

23
Jun
14

Discipleship: Lesson One

Over the next few posts, I will be sharing the basic outline of a series of lessons on discipleship.  These are the lessons were are studying together at Central Church of Christ.  Our aim is that we grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

  • Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
  • Acts 11:26, “And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”
  • John 15:8, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

Often we ask people if they are Christians. Often we try to teach people to be Christians. But why do we seldom ask if someone is a DISCIPLE of Jesus? To make my case stronger consider that the New Covenant uses the words Christian or Christians three (3) times and uses the words Disciple or Disciples 268 times. Here is the point: I cannot be a Christian if I am not first a Disciple.

  1. We become Christians by the new birth of baptism (John 3:5), but discipleship is a process of discipline – of education and training. “Go make disciples.” Many want to be a ABCD0014Christian but never become a disciple. Many want a Savior, nut not a Lord and Master.
  2. A disciple is a spectacle to the world.  Jesus calls His followers light. “”You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”(Matthew 5:14-16). People will notice our faith. We cannot hide our true nature of discipleship. You cannot hide a lighthouse! Like the moon reflects the sun, we should reflect the light of the Son.
  3. A disciple endures.  “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22). Our race is one of endurance, not to beat any competition, but to run until the end.
  4. Disciples sacrifice for the Teacher. The bottom line is to ” . . . seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness . . .” (Matthew 6:33). Do I truly seek Him first? Do I give God and His people my best?

Be a disciple. Be a sacrificing, enduring, spectacle, made in the image of Christ.

- Scott




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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, used by permission, all rights reserved.

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