1 + 1 = 2 2+2 = 4 These are equations that are always true. Here’s another equation that is always true:
Surrender to Jesus + follow him the rest of your days = Your best possible life (both here and the hereafter)
In Aug we examined the first part of the equation – Surrendering to Jesus which should be Act 1 of your story.
· If you want to live the best possible life and have the assurance of life beyond the grave then you must surrender your life to Jesus.
· But now we are in Act 2 of your story…you cannot stop at surrendering to Jesus (the essential first step) … Act 2 must be that you follow him the rest of your days.
There is a term that describes a person who follows Jesus. That word is disciple.
A Disciple is a one who follows another.
· there are all kinds of disciples in the world - Disciples of Dave Ramsey – financial strategy , Shaun T – Insanity, Ina Garten – chef
· and of course there were the actual disciples of Jesus – the 12. Peter, John, James, Thomas, Matthew…etc.
What we’re suggesting this month is that if you indeed want to experience your best possible life you must be like Peter or John or the others and become a disciple of Jesus. A follower of him. Not just a believer.
For the last two weeks Tim and Barry have explained what will happen to you when you determine to follow Christ…when you determine to become a disciple of his.
When you follow Jesus – when you are a day to day disciple of his two things will happen to you:
What happens when you become a disciple of Jesus?
1. When you become a disciple of Jesus your character will change.
a. your insides – your integrity – your makeup
b. Tim - you will become a different person
i. Zaccheus - A once greedy, untrustworthy, self-absorbed traitor of a man became repentant, generous and honest man as he determined to surrender to a follow Jesus.
2. When you become a disciple of Jesus your calling will be clarified.
a. your destiny – your purpose
b. Suddenly it makes so much more sense why these young men – these nobodies – went on to live out such epic, influential callings.
c. Barry - Discipleship is the very best way to develop your calling in this world.
So if that’s true – how should we go about it? How does one become and live day to day as a follower of Jesus?
How does one become a disciple of Jesus?
That was a question that was gnawing at the hearts and minds of our pastors about 4 years ago.
· About 4 years ago here at Grace the pastors were concerned that this was not happening…or not happening very well. We were not getting it right. Not enough people were surrendering their lives to Jesus and certainly not enough were following Christ.
We had some hunches about what was going on in the souls of our people that concerned us …and at that time REVEAL became available.
Here’s what the survey you took told us:
· belief and practice not lining up
· moral fiber was weak
· people were stuck spiritually
· many people were going through the motions spiritually without real passion and sense of calling
· people were begging for some to show them how to live
Nothing new to us but confirming. We decided it was time to do something about it.
1. We needed to reemphasize the surrender part
2. We need to find a way to get people to become disciples of Jesus.
It’s this second goal that we threw a ton of effort into.
· for months we labored over this
· scriptures…culture…best practices…and you
What came out of our months of study was what we are calling the Way of Discipleship
What we determined we would not do: sermon series, small group curriculum, book
We decided that this Way of Discipleship needed to be more intimate, more intentional, and more intense.
The Way of Discipleship is an intentional, time-bound relationship focused on learning and embracing 11 practices essential to following Jesus Christ.
It had to be one on one. One person inviting another person to follow them as they followed Jesus.
It had to be those two people engaged together for as many as three years learning, studying and embracing 11 essential practices in following Jesus.
· Jesus of course did this…
Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24
And the Apostle Paul did the same thing…
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
Last week Barry showed us how it worked with Paul and Timothy.
a. the very best way to help people follow Jesus was for one person to invite another person to follow them as they followed Jesus
o leverage their age, experience, dumb choices
o commit to a chunk of time – up to three years to meet together
b. He described how disciplers … Sometimes they walk ahead of us and show us the path to take. Sometimes they come alongside us and remind us of where we’ve been. Sometimes they stand behind us and send us off to do the impossible.
You become a disciple of Jesus by being discipled by another follower of Jesus.
· After the last two weeks we’ve had a number of people talk to Tim and Barry and contact other pastors saying…”that’s exactly what I need!”
So, next week I’m going to get insanely practical about how to find someone for you to follow or determine you will disciple someone you invite to follow you.
But today – I want to describe what you’ll do if you engage in the Way of discipleship…
· not just catching up with each other
· not just a cup of coffee and prayer requests
· not even just mentoring … sharing what you know about something
WoD is much more intentional in time commitment and much more intentional in content.
Let’s talk about the content. What will you study? What do you talk about?
In general, you together, for 3 years will work on your character and your calling.
Specially by focusing on 11 key practices of our faith…practices that Jesus himself taught his own disciples.
This is just how Jesus did it.
· he schooled his young disciples in surrender and trust, communion with God, generosity, evangelism, community, the Word of God, self-denial, moral integrity, justice, loving well, calling
Let’s use the image of a tree to represent you. the writer of the very first Psalm described people as trees.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:3
There are conditions in which people grow better than others…
How the 11 practices help form you as a healthy growing, producing tree.
(Slide 1 of the tree) – this is you the tree.
(Deepen Your Roots) – without a strong root system your tree will not flourish and likely die.
· the Practice of Surrender and Trust
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1
· the Practice of Communion with God
Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
· the Practice of Studying the Word of God
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
(Provide Stability) – trunk stabilizes the whole tree…makes it strong against weather and wind / storms of life
· the practice of Moral integrity
Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
· the practice of Self Denial
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-25
· the Practice of Spiritual Community
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
(Branch out and Bear Fruit)
· The practice of seeking the call of God
For we are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
· the practice of Justice and Mercy
If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Isaiah 58:10
· The practice of material generosity
Just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7
· the practice of loving well
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
· The practice of leading others to Christ
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23
Give them the assessment.