Our parables series has been one of my favorite so far! So many of you have mentioned how this series has impacted you and your families! God is continuing to use these messages to transform our lives and to help us see ourselves in the parable. Praise God for the way He uses His Word to transform our lives!
This weekend, we will be taking a look at the parable of the wicked vinedressers. Jesus used this shocking story to show His audience how their attitude toward the True Cornerstone was impacting their eternity. They were rejecting Jesus and, as a result, God would take the Kingdom away from them and give it to those who would truly recognize Jesus as the foundation of our faith. The title of this weekend’s message is “CORNERSTONE.”
How do you see Jesus? What is your attitude toward the things of God? Are you saved? Don’t miss the message this weekend! Invite your friends and family to come along, too!
Introduction: “The best things in life are free.” True or false? True. How about “There’s no such thing as free lunch.” In other words, there’s nothing truly free in this life. Somebody has to pay for it. True or false? True. Which one is truer? Both are just as true. So also, when it comes to our salvation, it is a free gift. It doesn’t cost us a thing to be saved but it cost Jesus his life. No, you don’t have to pay anything for your salvation but salvation means that now you are a disciple of Jesus and everything you have belongs to your Master. Have you counted the cost of discipleship? In our series on the parables of Jesus, we will try to understand the cost of discipleship and that is the title of our message today–COST.
Luke 14 25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Question: Do you have an unfinished spiritual tower? Are you way over your head in a spiritual battle? Are you truly saved? Are you a disciple or just an uncommitted, wishy-washy fence-sitter?
Context: How do you picture Jesus 2000 years ago when he came the first time? Do you see him as a solitary figure praying in the Garden of Gethsemane? Do you see him with his 12 disciples? Maybe walking through the fields or sailing on the Sea of Galilee? Maybe you see him sitting on a mountaintop with a small crowd seated on the side of the mountain preaching the beatitudes. Listen once again to verse 25 “Now great multitudes went with Him.” Can you picture that? Imagine walking with the huge crowds of people at the state fair. It’s overwhelming to say the least! Now imagine that ten times worse and everyone is trying to get to one person! Why were they following Jesus? Of course, some like the disciples were committed to him. They had accepted the call to discipleship but many had not. They were following him for Food (Walking/Talking Cafeteria), Miracles (Mobile E/R), and Preaching (New and Different). Jesus being God knew that and he stopped, turned around, and declared—26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Does it mean that we have to literally hate our family in order to follow Jesus? Of course not. In Greek, when influenced by Hebrew and the Old Testament, the words “love” and “hate” can mean “choose” and “not choose.” For example: Malachi 1 2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the LORD. “Yet Jacob I have loved; 3 But Esau I have hated…” So also, Jesus wants us to pick him over any earthly relationship. By the way, this is not the first time that Jesus had made such a statement. In Luke 9 someone told him 57 “…Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air havenests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Illustration: My father’s testimony of leaving his family to follow Christ.
Application: How about you? Is some relationship getting in the way of discipleship? Why do you go to church? Will you sacrifice your spiritual life for friendship?
Something else in verse27 “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” There is an immediacy to this call. It doesn’t mean that you follow flippantly. It means go now. Just like the passage from Luke 9“Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God” and “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Illustration: Again, my father left that very night. If not, he would’ve stayed.
Application: What is keeping you from committing your life fully to Christ? Are you waiting for things to settle down? Are you waiting to have all your fun and then give what’s left over to God? Listen to what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 12 1 “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”: 2 While the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened, and the clouds do not return after the rain.”
Now Jesus gives 2 parables to show what lack of counting the cost and following fully looks like:
1. Tower Builder: We’re not told why the individual decided to build this tower. Maybe it was for agricultural purposes to watch over the fields or maybe it was for military purposes to watch the enemy. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that this awkward unfinished structure is standing now in the front yard that does nothing. Now it is a monument to shame. Listen to verse 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” They were probably saying things like “Are you going to hang clothes on it?” “Maybe you can tie your goats in it,” or “You should sell it. Oh wait, you can’t move it, can you?”Why did this happen? Because he didn’t count the cost of building—28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—”
Application: That’s how many peoples’ Christian journey looks like—a tower going nowhere! Is that you? To give another analogy, they have these half-baked, soupy, uncooked, and unfinished Christian life.
2. King on a Warpath: Unlike the last parable, the consequence of failing to count the cost in this parable is deadly. This king thought that he was big and bad with his 10,000 soldiers only to find out that the other side had 20,000! You’re about to get a whooping! Again, why did this happen? 31 “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.”
Application: That’s how many peoples’ Christian journey looks like—a defeated army. After all these years of playing Christians, the promises in the Bible still don’t work. Unfortunately, people blame God for those defeats. Is that you?
Question: Have you considered the cost of following Christ? Are you willing to follow him in order to be saved? Some people may ask at this point—“Isn’t this works salvation?” Don’t misunderstand. Following Jesus is always the work of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us. Listen toPhilippians 2 12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
We need to rethink what we have believed about getting saved. Listen to Ephesians 2 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.Are you willing to lay aside your old ways and step into the good works that God has prepared beforehand for you?
Invitation: Are you willing to get saved? Are you ready to be a disciple? Maybe you are already saved but you haven’t become a disciple, today is the day. Maybe you are lost, are you ready to do it the right way and be his disciple right from the start.
SUSTENANCE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: One of my favorite commercials on TV is the Snickers ad. They show people acting like celebrities when they are hungry and the tagline is “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” That’s so true. We feel sluggish and cranky, anxious and nauseous, when we’re hungry. So also, you’re not you when you are spirituallyhungry. Just as we need physical food to give us physical sustenance, we also need spiritual food to give us spiritual sustenance. Spiritual food is feeding upon Christ and it is not optional but essential for the Christian life.We will be taking part in the Lord’s Table today and this message is to remind us of the importance of daily feeding on Christ.
John 6 53Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”
Question: How is your spiritual nutrition coming? Are you daily feeding upon Christ and his word? Do you know Christ as your Savior? Is he your king?
Context: Typically, when we observe the Lord’s Supper or the Communion (in some traditions known as the Eucharist or the Holy Sacrament or even the Mass), we turn to either the end of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, and Luke 22:19-20) where the last hours of Jesus with his disciples are narrated or to I Corinthians 11:23-25 where Paul gives instructions on how to observe the Lord’s Table. In these passages we encounter Jesus having his final meal with his disciples on the night before he was crucified. During this meal, Jesus gave a very familiar tradition, the Passover Meal, a whole new meaning. Sometime back I preached a message on this subject from I Corinthians 11 in which I explained how the bread was the unleavened Passover Bread that Jesus relabeled as his own body that would be broken for them. Then, there were 4 cups at the Passover Meal and Jesus rebaled the third cup, the Cup of Blessing, as the Cup of the New Covenant in his blood. I’m not sure how much the disciples understood what Jesus meant at the time but they obediently ate the bread and drank from the cup that he passed to them. You can only imagine how difficult this must have been for the disciples! Imagine if I were to show up at your Thanksgiving Meal and pick up a turkey leg and say, “this is me!” Their old customs and biblical traditions were radically altered by their Master but by faith they obeyed him and received it. Only later on, they understood the true meaning of what Jesus meant.
Why did Jesus do this replacement of the Unleavened Bread with his body and the Cup of the Blessing with his blood at the Last Supper? Jesus was telling his disciples that by eating the bread and drinking the cup they were going to share with him in his substitutionary existence. In other words, they were now going to be connected with him in his suffering and death. This does not mean that they were physically going to suffer, bleed, and die along with him. They were going to be spiritually connected with him as he would suffer, bleed, and die for them. You may think – “Man, this spiritual connection stuff must have been too deep for them!” Not really. This was not a problem for the Jewish people. This is how they saw the Passover Meal through the ages. When a Jewish person participated in the Passover Meal, he/she had to view himself/herself as if he/she was personally leaving Egypt on the night when the final plague was struck. They had to visualize themselves as if they were there on that night, even if that was a hundred, thousand, or several thousand years later. They had to sense the fear and by faith receive the Meal. The difficult part was that Jesus told them that he was the bread and he was the Passover Lamb. He wanted the disciples to understand their spiritual connection with him as he suffered, bled, died, and was buried. This is the heart of the Christian life.Listen to what Paul says in Colossians 3:3“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
By the way, this spiritual connection was not just meant for the first disciples but for all disciples through the ages, including you and me.Listen to what Paul told the members of the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11 23For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the samenight in which He was betrayed took bread; 24and when He had given thanks, He brokeitand said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25In the same mannerHealsotookthe cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drinkit,in remembrance of Me.” By the way, this is also true about baptism. While Communion is our corporate connection with Jesus, baptism is our individual connection with Jesus. Listen to Romans 63Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Listen carefully: There is no other religion like Christianity where the founder is connected beyond time to every person who has received him and every person who has received him is connected to each other. This changes the way I treat saved and lost people. With both, I have to remember that Christ is in me.
I know some of ya’ll are thinking – “I don’t know about all this connection stuff.” Let’s go back to the passage we read at the opening of this message. John 6:53Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Why did Jesus say that?Back up to verse 52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”If that wasn’t clear enough, he said it again in verses54Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. Jesus will not leave any part of him behind. We’re not God and will never be but we are part of the family of God.55For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” We’re connected! 57As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. What’s their reaction to all this?60Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 61When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Whatthen if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, andtheyare life. 64But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.Judas may not have been the only one. 66From thattimemany of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
WOW! Which group do you belong to? Are you feeding daily on Jesus and his words? Are you saved? Are you connected with him and others who are in Christ? Are you seeking to bring others to be connected with Christ?
This weekend, as Pastor Shah is traveling, we will hear from several men who are going to share what God has laid on their hearts. It is such a blessing to be part of a church that is filled with godly leaders and teachers! These messages will encourage and challenge us to live out our faith and to make Christ visible in our daily lives.
Pray for Pastor Shah, Nicole, John, David, and the rest of the team as they are traveling. Be sure to follow along with them on social media as well to see their trip and to let them know they are being prayed for back home.
Join us for worship this weekend. Invite your friends and family to come along, too!
WHEN YOU ARE WHERE YOU DON’T WANT TO BE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: Have you ever driven past a herd of cows grazing in a field and seen that one cow sticking its head through the fence, nibbling in the pasture next to it? Why? Is there not enough grass on its side? Is the grass any greener or tastier on the other side? Not really, but, for some reason, the cow thinks that the grass must be better on the other side. That’s where we get the expression – “The Greener Grass Syndrome.” We humans do the same thing. We say things like— “I hate it here,” “I can’t wait to get outta here,” “It was so much better back home,” or “If only I could be here or there, I would be so much happier.” Today’s message is titled – “When you are where you don’t want to be.” It’s for people who feel stuck because of job, family, finance or something else and sometimes they even blame God for their predicament. Here’s a question: Have you stopped to consider that maybe where you are is actually God’s blessing in disguise?
Psalm 137 1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. 2We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. 3For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requestedmirth, saying,“Sing us oneof the songs of Zion!” 4How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?
Question: Are you in a foreign land? Have you hung up your harp? Have you lost your song? Do you think that God has forgotten you? Are you saved?
Pray: Holy Spirit – help us to see our exiles from your perspective. Save those in sin.
Context: The psalm we just read comes from a very low point in the history of God’s people. The year was 587BC and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had for the third time attacked Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Not only did he utterly destroy Jerusalem, the Temple, the palace, the houses, the walls, and every important building but he also took the Jewish people with him 700 miles east to Babylon. They were broken, defeated, and captives in a land they had never seen. What was their response?Listen again to Psalm 137 1“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. 2We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it.” Their song tells us that they had become hopeless, discouraged, apathetic, and had lost their desire to worship God. What do you do when you are where you don’t want to be? 3 things:
I. STOP BLAMING GOD.
Look again at the words of Psalm 1373For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requestedmirth, saying,“Sing us oneof the songs of Zion!” The Babylonians were not mocking them but asking God’s people to share their worship songs with them. The people of Israel/Judah were known for their passionate worship songs to God. Listen to their response – 4“How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?” Don’t misunderstand. They were not being pious or standing up for the Lord’s honor. They were actually being bitter against him. They were being sarcastic here. They were being passive aggressive. They were refusing to sing praises to God because they were mad at God.
Application: There are people here who are just as resentful and bitter against God because he didn’t do something for them. They’ve lost their song. They have no desire to praise God. In fact, they are even passive aggressive when they talk about God.
The Jewish people in exile had forgotten that it was their sins and choices that had caused them to lose their land.They had broken all God’s commandments. They had fallen into idolatry and rebellion. Their kings had practiced child sacrifices. One of them had even burnt the Word of God. Instead of turning towards God, they had turned towards Egypt for help.They had forgotten how God had given them many chances to turn but just like their brothers and sisters up North, they had become stubborn.
Application:Are you blaming God for your situation? Stop blaming and start repenting.
II. START BLOOMING WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.
What was God’s answer to his people? As these people in exile were moaning and pouting, one day two men showed up from Jerusalem with a letter from Jeremiah the prophet.Listen to Jeremiah 29 4Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and dwell in them; Meaning: Yes, I have sent you into exile because of your sins. You’re gonna be here for a while. Starting unpacking.
Application: There are many people under the sound of my voice who are still living out of boxes. They will not commit to the job/house/church that God has given them. They are always looking over the horizon to the better place. It may not be sin that has brought you here but start unpacking. God has brought you here.
“plant gardens and eat their fruit.6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.”Meaning: Stop looking down upon the land and people around you. The land is not evil and the people are not beneath you. Stop being superficial with them. Get to know them.
Application:Are you constantly negative about your job, community, or church. Have you been keeping people at arm’s length? It’s time to change.
7 “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”“Peace” refers to the health of the society which comes from the spirit of God. It is not enough to get involved in your community events. It is more important to do something about the spiritual needs of your community. Pray for the people around you. Share Christ with them.
Application:Many people who are listening to this message might say “I’ve been here all my life. I’m not in exile.” It’s your attitude that shows that you are in exile. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourselves, bloom where God has planted you, reach out to the people around you, and share Christ with them.
By the way, stop listening to bad advice. Jeremiah 29 8For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. 9For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.
Application:Stop listening to Ahab, Zedekiah, and Shemiah. They will do you no good.
III. STAY FOCUSSED ON GOD’S PROMISE.
Listen to Jeremiah 29 10For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”
Application: Every trial has a lifespan. What Satan will do is that he will try to convince you that your trial will never end. He will try to fill you with fear and doubt and discouragement. Don’t listen to him.
Instead, listen to verse 11:“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Many people claim this as a life verse but they fail to consider the other things.
Was that it? 12“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13And you will seek Me and find Me,when you search for Me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity.” As tough as the exile was for the people of God, it was a blessing in disguise. (Chart by J. B. Tidwell)
1. The Jewish people were constantly trying to be like their neighbors
1. The Jewish people became a separate people.
2. They worshipped many gods.
2. They gave up idolatry completely.
3. They could care less about the Law.
3. They began to study the Law.
4. They had no interest in gathering for worship and study of the word.
4. They established the synagogues in every town and city as a place of worship, prayer, praise, and study.
5. Judaism was just a formal religion.
5. Judaism became a personal religion.
6. They could care less about winning souls.
6. They became a missionary people to all the nations.
7. They refused to repent of their sins.
7. They learned the blessing of repentance.
8. They could care less about the coming of the Messiah.
8. God placed a longing in their heartsfor the coming of the Messiah.
Listen carefully: I have been through many exiles in my life. One thing I have learned – If you let God do His work in your life, your exile may be the best thing that ever happen to you. It will make you more like Christ. Do you know Christ?
KINGDOM HERE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction:Since I’m preaching on the kingdom of God, I went looking for some king jokes and this is what I found. Caution: They’re really bad – When is a stick like a King? When it’s a ruler; What’s the diagnosis when a King has back problems? An aKING back; Why did the King put a bank machine in his castle? So, he could make Knightly deposits; Why did the King go to the dentist? To get his teeth crowned; What does the King do after he burps? He issues a royal pardon. Those are really bad! This morning we will see how the gospel that saves us is the gospel of King Jesus and that is not a laughing matter. In fact, a gospel without a king is no gospel at all. It’s a false gospel. We’re in our new series on the true gospel and what it means. As we read our scripture today, pay careful attention to a certain phrase that’s being repeated.
Matthew 4:23“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preachingthe gospel of the kingdom…”
Matthew 9:35“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preachingthe gospel of the kingdom…”
Matthew 24:14“And thisgospel of the kingdomwill be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Mark 1 14“…Jesus came to Galilee, preachingthe gospel of the kingdom of God, 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, andthe kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”
Question: Did you catch the common phrase? “Gospel of the Kingdom.” For some reason we have dropped “of the kingdom” and retained only the “gospel.” As I mentioned earlier, a gospel without a king is no gospel at all. Jesus is not just your Savior, he should also be your king. Is he your king? Does he call the shots in your life? Are you saved?
Context: A few weeks back, when we were in our series on discipleship, I preached a message on the importance of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven in the preaching of Jesus. I shared with you that more than a hundred times he mentioned it during his ministry. Unfortunately, we have ignored this kingdom aspect in the gospel message. Now we have a gospel which is more like an insurance policy rather than a deed of surrender. It is more like a nonbinding contract rather than an unconditional submission to the king.Don’t misunderstand: The gospel does bring great joy and freedom but it’s through obedience to the king that we have this joy and freedom. Unless we get this “kingdom” idea back into the gospel, discipleship will never happen. It will always be optional to obey God and follow him. So, 3 things that we need to understand about this kingdom gospel:
I. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS A SPIRITUAL AND INTERNAL CHANGE.
Background: As I’ve mentioned before, the Jewish people were very familiar with the concept of the kingdom of God/heaven. It was God’s sovereign rule over the whole world. They saw it as indirect and limited at the present time but they believed that one day in the future it would be direct and eternal. It will put an end to all wickedness and bring glory, justice, and righteousness to his people Israel. But, when Jesus began his ministry, he preached – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) This was very confusing and frustrating for them because their world was still being run by the Romans and the tax collectors were still collecting taxes and the prostitutes were still prostituting and there was no physical evidence of the rule of God. If that wasn’t confusing enough, when the Pharisees asked Jesus when this kingdom would come, he replied in Luke 17 20“…The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21nor will they say, “See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Some translations have it as “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” In other words, it’s aready here. What did he mean by that? Several things: One, he was referring to himself. The kingdom is where the king is and he the king is here. Second, he was telling them that this kingdom is not external but internal. They couldn’t see it but it was here. To explain this, Jesus often used parables – “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field…The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal…the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls…” (Matthew 13). His purpose in using parables was to conceal the meaning from those who opposed him and to reveal the meaning to those who believed in him. Bottom Line: The kingdom of God/heaven is very real but it is internal and spiritual and visible only to those who believe in Jesus the King and submit to him.
Application:The gospel has not changed. It is the same gospel of the kingdom that Jesus preached. It is not external and visible but internal and invisible which then manifests in the external and visible. Has there been an internal and invisible change in your life that now manifests itself in the external and visible?
II. THE KINGDOM OF GOD DEMANDS SUBMISSION TO KING JESUS.
Background:Unlike our gospels today, Jesus’s gospel demanded submission to him and his words as the requirement to enter into his kingdom:
Matthew 21:31“Assuredly, I say to you (chief priests and elders) that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.” Trusting in self-righteousness will not work.
Mark 9:47“if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” Reluctance to let go of sin will not work.
Mark 10:25“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Trusting in earthly treasures will not work.
Matthew 7:21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Giving lip service will not work.
Luke 9:62But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Hesitation to follow Jesus the King will not work.
Luke 18:17“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Stubbornness to obey Jesus the King will not work.
John 3:3Jesus answered and said to him (Nicodemus), “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Unwillingness to let God remake us will not work.
Don’t misunderstand:This does not mean that you have to be spotless before you can come to Jesus. If that were possible, you wouldn’t have to come to Jesus. What it does mean is that you have to be willing to do whatever the king demands of you when you come to him. It may take years for you to be free from certain sins and struggles but the willingness is there from day one. By the way, it’s the Holy Spirit who helps you to become willing.
Application:The gospel has not changed. It is the same gospel of the kingdom that Jesus preached. It demands total and complete surrender. Have you done that? You might say – “that’s so hard!” Here’s a question: “Are you willing to be made willing to surrender?”
III. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS A LIFE-LONG JOURNEY OF RESTORATION.
Background:Sometimes Christians find it confusing that Jesus talked so much about the kingdom in the gospels but the apostles writing the rest of the New Testament do not talk about the kingdom. Actually, they did but they used other terms and language.
Romans 6:4 “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
2 Corinthians 5:17“Therefore, if anyoneisin Christ, he isa new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Galatians 6:15“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”
2 Peter 3:13“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a newearthin which righteousness dwells.”
Revelation 21 1“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…5Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Here’s the point: The Kingdom Gospel is a life-long journey of being set free from the bondage and damage of sin and restored to the glorious and gracious rule of God. The more you and I understand that, the more we submit to him, the more we become disciples, not less.
Are you willing to surrender to King Jesus? Are you willing to re-surrender to King Jesus?
DISCIPLESHIP – INTERCESSION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: Have you ever had to get someone to intercede for you? That word “intercede” is a Latin word that’s a combination of “inter” = “between” and “cede” = “go.” Intercede means “to go between for someone.” I had to get someone to intercede for me back in 1994. I was a junior in college down in Georgia working security. It was the start of the new semester and the guy working with me came back from making his rounds and said, “Man, there’s a new girl on campus and she’s real pretty! I’m going to marry her.” Later I went for my rounds and saw this new girl and I could see why he wanted to marry her. She was pretty. She was walking down the steps from the gym. I remember that like yesterday. That girl doesn’t remember that. Few months later we met and we talked here and there. I wanted to ask her out but I didn’t know how to go about doing that. So, I asked my friend Dan to help me out. He could have said no or asked her out himself but he didn’t. He interceded for me. Long story short, we were married a year later. What does this have to do with discipleship? We can pray to God anytime for our needs and desires. But God also loves to hear from our friends as to what we need and desire. That’s intercession. In fact, intercession is a very vital part of discipleship. That’s our message today.
Philippians 1 9“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,11being filled with the fruits of righteousness whichareby Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Question:What do all those passages have in common? They are passages on Intercessory Prayers, where we pray not for ourselves but for others. Who intercedes on your behalf? Who are you interceding on behalf of? Do you understand the importance of Intercessory Prayers? Are you saved?
Pray: Holy Spirit – Teach us to pray. Teach us to pray for others. Help those who have never prayed the sinner’s prayer to call on the name of Jesus and be saved today.
Context:For a long time, I had been praying that God would show me how to lead the people at Clearview to become more than just hearers of the Word and to become grounded in the truth, grow spiritually in Christ, walk with integrity in public and private life, and become fruitful in winning others to Christ. The answer came through years of studying the Bible, talking to experts in the field, observing what successful churches were doing, and a lot of trial and error. This series on discipleship has been that answer and it’s been exciting to see how well it’s been going. In this final message in this series, I want us to look at a very important ingredient of discipleship – Intercessory Prayer, praying for the needs and desires of others.
If there is one person in the New Testament who took discipleship seriously, it was Paul. He prayed for those he partnered with in the gospel. I want us to look at his prayer for the Philippians in Philippians 1starting in verse9.Before we do that, let me ask you – How is your prayer life? Do you pray daily? Before we can intercede for others, we need to “cede” our own selves to God. The word “Cede” also means “to yield” or “formally surrender” ourselves. Prayer is the act of yielding and surrendering ourselves before God.It is humbling ourselves before God and acknowledging that we need him every day and without him we’re nothing. It is telling God that only he can give us what we need and then thanking him for what he has done for us. Do you pray daily? persistently? Do you pray believingly?
7 things to keep in mind when interceding for others:
9“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more…”
Love– What is very interesting here is that there is no object given for the love. Paul does not say “your love for God may abound” or “your love for each other may abound.” He is talking about comprehensive love in every area of life. He is praying that their whole life would be marked by love – for God, for Jesus, for each other, for the truth, for those in the ministry, and for those who are lost. But, Paul has much more than a hint of love in mind here. He wants them to be overflowing with love.
What we understand from this is that love is not some human effort. It is something that God has to pour supernaturally into our hearts.He has to make it abound and overflow. Love is the mark of a disciple. Listen to what Jesus said in John 13 34“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Paul declares in1 Corinthians 13:13“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of theseislove.”
Would you agree that what you and I need more than anything in this world is love?I Peter 4:8“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for“love will cover a multitude of sins.” That’s why we need to pray that each of us will overflow with love. Like a torrential rainfall washing away all the leaves, pine straw, and dirt from the pavement into the drain. More love, More coverage of sins.
But this is not some sentimental emotional high – 9“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge. . .”
Knowledge –The Greek word is not “gnosis” but “epignosis.” When the word is used with “epi,” the idea is one of knowledge of God, knowledge of Christ, knowledge of the Word, knowledge of sin, knowledge of the work of the Spirit, and knowledge of being conformed to the image of Christ. In other words, this knowledge is not information but conformation to the likeness of Christ. It is understanding the work of God in our lives.
Would you agree that what you and I need is this understanding of how God is working in our lives? Without this understanding it is so easy to get discouraged and start doubting.
9“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment…”
Discernment –This is a word found in the LXX translation of the Proverbs. It implies practical living and making judgment calls in difficult situations. Yes, we are to love and be aware of who we are in Christ but there’s no “sloppy agape” here. Again, there is no clear object here so it can refer to both doctrinal discernment and daily discernment. Recognize that someone is not teaching the truth and recognize that someone is about to pull wool over your eyes. Jesus said in Matthew 10:16“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Being a Christian means being gracious and forgiving but not gullible and foolish.More than anything, it is recognizing when someone is pulling away from God.
9“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10that you may approve the things that are excellent…”
Choose what matters – The Greek word “dokimazein” is used in other contexts for the testing of the quality of precious metals or money. It means choosing the best. Romans 12:2“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove whatisthat good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Daily we need to pray that our kids will not settle for the good enough or the mediocre things of life but the better and the best that God has for them.
“…that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…”
Pure and Blameless– Life is full of snares and temptations. Stay away from sin and finish well is the prayer. So sad to see people mess up in the final minutes of the game of life. They get comfortable and arrogant and that’s when they get struck down. Luke 2231“And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may siftyouas wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail. . .” But the word for “offense” is not restricted to personal failing but it also implies the failing of others. Here’s the question: “Is what I’m doing going to make someone else stumble?”
11“being filled with the fruits of righteousness whichareby Jesus Christ…”
Fruit of Righteousness– Paul is not talking about self-effort here. He is talking about the promise that Jesus made to his disciples in John 15:5“I am the vine, youarethe branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”When we abide in Christ, the Holy Spirit produces the righteous conduct in us that no amount of self-effort can ever produce. Paul gives us the list of them in Galatians 5 22“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control.”
“…to the glory and praise of God.”
Glory and Praise of God –Ultimately, God should get the glory and praise from our lives.
These are the 7 elements of intercessory prayers. This is how you pray for others. This is how you pray in the Inner Circles. Warren Wiersbe said, “Perhaps the deepest Christian fellowship and joy we can experience in this life is at the Throne of Grace, praying with and for one another.”
Are you willing to be an Intercessor for others? James 5:16“Confessyourtrespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Are you praying? Have you prayed the sinner’s prayer? Are you saved?
DISCIPLESHIP – RESTORATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: Have you ever observed how ants help other ants? Once a worker ant finds food, it makes its way back home leaving behind a pheromone trail (chemical scent) that helps the other ants find their way to the food. In some varieties of ants, if a warrior ant gets injured in battle against an enemy, like the termites, the other ants will carry him back home. Now compare this with crabs. Throw a bunch of crabs in a bucket and you don’t need a lid to keep them in. If one tries to climb out, the others will pull him back in. Ants pull each other up. Crabs pull each other down. What does this have to do with our series on discipleship? In the Christian life, we don’t need people who will pull us down. We need people who will pull us up. We need others to encourage, guide, and pray for us when we lose our way. It’s called accountability. Unfortunately, most Christians act more like crabs than ants. Today’s sermon titled “Restoration” is going to help us understand true accountability.
Galatians 6 1“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you whoarespiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5For each one shall bear his own load.”
Question: Who is holding you accountable? Who do you have in your life who is spiritually mature enough to restore you in a spirit of gentleness? Are you pulling others up or down? Have you ever asked Christ to pull you out of sin? Are you saved?
Context: As I’ve said before, it’s been awesome for me to see the response to this series on discipleship. Some have already started their Inner Circles and some are getting ready to start. Typically, most people have no problem with most of what I have been explaining.
W for Witness – yes, it’s important to have a testimony and share your faith.
T for Togetherness – yes, it’s important to go to church and hear the Word and join in Sunday School and small groups.
E for Established in the Word – yes, it’s important to get in the Bible.
R for Reproducing Disciples – yes, it’s important to “Go and make disciples.”
The one that people struggle with is A for Accountability – no, I don’t want to share my business with anyone. Most are okay with coming to church and being part of the congregation. Some are even okay with going to Sunday School and Small Groups (Circles at Clearview) and getting into community. But, Inner Circles tend to intimidate some people. Actually, I’m surprised how well the concept of inner circles has been received by most people. But, if you are one of those who are intimidated by that concept, I’m going to try to clear up some misunderstandings about it in this message. Having said that, please don’t talk down about it. Pray for those who want to do it. What may look to you like an ugly, uncomfortable vest may be a lifejacket for someone else. You may not be drowning but they are. Please don’t talk them out of putting on the life-preserver.
I’ve already preached a message on how Jesus valued accountability, how he sent them out in pairs (two by two) and how the early church followed the same pattern. In the brief time we have today, I don’t want to convince you again of the importance of accountability. I simply want to clear up some misunderstandings by explaining how accountability works in the Inner Circle. Basically three:
1. Don’t confuse Sunday School and Small Groups with Inner Circles. They’re wonderful and very essential for developing T for Togetherness. You get to know each other, share in each other’s joys and sorrows, and learn the Bible. But, the real test is “are they making disciples?” The answers is “No.” Disciples who make disciples is the goal.
2. Don’t confuse One-on-one mentoring with Inner Circles. Jesus met with people one on one. He met with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman by themselves. He even had a deep conversation with Peter after he rose from the grave. These were times of great spiritual benefit to these individuals. Some like the Samaritan woman even got saved through it and maybe Nicodemus too. I’ve met many times with people one on one and it’s great. But, there are some limitations to one on one meetings. In other words, there are some important benefits to meeting in a group. Listen again to Ecclesiastes 4 9Twoarebetter than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. . . 12Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” In other words, if two is good, three is even better.” Why is an Inner Circle better? 8 Reasons (I’m getting these from Robby Gallaty):
i. Avoid the ping pong match. How are you? Good. Did you have a good week? Yep. .
ii. One on one is difficult to reproduce. The mentee never feels equal to the mentor.
iii. A group of two tends to become a counselling session. Instead of a time of spiritual growth, it becomes a problem solving, therapy session.
iv. A group of three to five has built-in accountability. If one fails to do the assignment, the others are good motivators to challenge and encourage.
v. A multiplication strategy is exponentially faster than an addition strategy. Keith Philipps in his 1981 book “The Making of a Disciple” presented a chart comparing discipleship with evangelism. If one person were to reach one person every day for the next 16 years (he actually calculated for 32 years), that would be 5,840 people. Now if a person would disciple one person a year for the next 16 years, that would be 65,536 people. Then, Greg Ogden in his 2016 book “Transforming Discipleship” expounded it even further. If we went by the Inner Circle Model, in 16 years, that would be 43,046,721 people. I know that all these figures are ideal world assumptions. But, unless we go this way, there’s no way that we will win our community and our world for Christ.
vi. A one-on-one group can be intimidating. It is very hard for people to talk about their personal lives and struggle one on one, especially men.
vii. You grow as a group. Christian life is not an individual sport. It is a team sport. The boys and I have been watching the World Cup Soccer tournament. It’s amazing to see the reaction when a player makes a goal. The whole team comes running and jumps on him! So also, in discipleship, we grow as a team.
viii. Jesus discipled in groups. I’ve repeated this time and time again with how Jesus worked with the disciples and the Inner Circle with Peter, James, and John.
3. Don’t confuse biblical correction with control and condemnation. A major reason that many people are reluctant to join an accountability group or the Inner Circle is because they think that now they have to give an account of everything they do to someone. They assume that they are inadvertently turning over their freedom to someone else. This is just not true. Here’s a great illustration:Most of us have a lead foot. We like to drive a little above the speed limit. What happens when you see a police, sheriff, or state trooper car? We slow down and check our speedometer. Why do we do that? Is it because we don’t want to cause a wreck or break the law. I doubt it. We don’t want to get stopped, get a ticket, have to go to court, and have our insurance go up. The police car forces us to stay within the law. What if we didn’t have any police cars. Would we still do what is right? Maybe some of us but most won’t. Accountability is like that police car. It forces us to stay away from sin. Galatians 6 1“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” The goal is not control or condemnation but biblical correction or restoration.It is not pushing your personal convictions on others. Robby Gallaty said – “Accountability must be couched in grace. Avoid narcissistic, self-improvement regimens that turn grace into law.” Listen to verse2“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”
Illustration: John Bradford was a pastor, a reformer, and later became a martyr. Tradition has it that when he would see convicts being taken to be executed that he would say under his breath “there but for the grace of God go I.” In other words, “the only difference between that convict and myself is the grace of God.” If all of us can believe that we are only 1 or 2 steps away from that man or that woman behind bars, what a difference it would make in how we treat people. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am. . .”
Invitation: Do you pull people up or down? Have you been pulled up by the grace of God in Jesus Christ?
DISCIPLESHIP – IMPLANTED by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: Do you know someone with selective memory? Parents, do you have kids with selective memory? They can’t remember where they put their homework but they can remember all the weapon combinations of Fortnite. Ladies, does your man suffer with selective memory? He can’t remember that the kid’s birthday party is this weekend (which you’ve told him 10 times) but he knows exactly when his favorite team is playing and who will be in the starting lineup. Confession time: I’m one of them. We say, “My memory is not what it used to be.” To be honest, our memory is just fine. We remember what we really care to remember. What does this have to do with discipleship? When we get saved, God’s Word is implanted in our hearts. It is the truth of God that comes in where there was only darkness, deceit, and death. This implanted Word now creates a hunger for the external Word, the Bible. In fact, it’s vitality is depended on it. This is where scripture memorization comes in. It feeds the implanted Word. Without the external word coming and dwelling in us, the implanted word can do only so much. Memorizing scripture is a vital part of discipleship. But, when you tell people that, they often claim that their memory is no good. Our memory is just fine. We remember what we really care to remember. In this message titled “Implanted,” we will learn why and how we need to memorize scripture.
James 1 19So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Question: How important is the word of God in your life? How often do you read it? Are you a disciple? Are you saved? Has the Word been implanted in your heart?
Context: In the past few weeks I’ve heard from many of you that you are starting an Inner Circle (D-group) or you are praying about joining one. It’s awesome! Some of you still have some questions as to how it’s all supposed to work. Let me quickly recap:
The incentive for this series on discipleship is Matthew 28:19,the Great Commission of Jesus – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. . .”That statement by Jesus is not a suggestion. It is a command that has to be obeyed. In other words, not to go and make disciples is to disobey God.
The question that follows is “What is a disciple?” Based on scripture, we came up with the goal of discipleship in the acronym WATER = WITNESSES + ACCOUNTABILITY + TOGETHERNESS + ESTABLISHED IN THE WORD + REPRODUCING DISCIPLES. I’ve preached a message on each of these elements.
Next, we looked at the importance of disciplines or habits in discipleship – Evangelism, Confession, Weekly Church Attendance, Daily Bible Intake, and Discipling. Without discipline, there is no discipleship.
Next, we looked at the pathways to get to discipleship. We need to follow the model of Jesus in how he moved people from the Crowd to the Congregation to the Community to the Inner Circle. True discipleship happens when the circle is small, 3-5-member gender specific closed group that is by invitation only to believers. It meets weekly for a period of time and then each member replicates, as God leads.
What happens when they meet? Study the Bible, Memorize the Bible, Ask questions of Accountability, and Pray.
Last week we learned how to study the Bible at the simplest level – Read the Word, Understand the Word, and Apply the Word.
In this message, I want to focus on Memorizing the Word. As I mentioned, when people hear about the importance of memorizing scripture, they dismiss it with “my memory is horrible” “I’m too busy” “I read the Bible and that’s enough” “You don’t have to do that to be a Christian.” Let me first tell you why it is important to Memorize the Word:
Scripture Memory was a distinguishing mark of the Old Testament saints: Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
Scripture memory was the secret to success in life: Joshua 1:8“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”Clarification:The Bible talks about meditating on the Word rather than memorizing the Word. Meditating is taking a passage and ruminating on it, thinking on it and committing it to memory. When we talk about scripture memorization, we’re not talking about mindlessly memorizing a passage like for an exam. Psalm 1 1“Blessedisthe man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2But his delightisin the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” By the way, this meditation is nothing like the transcendental meditation of eastern mysticism or yoga. They talk about emptying your mind, quieting your soul, and letting peace, happiness, and wisdom come from within. Jesus said in Matthew 15:19“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”
Scripture memory was a safeguard against the pitfalls of life: Psalm 37 David says, 30“The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. 31The law of his Godisin his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”
Scripture memory was an internal armor against sin: Psalm 119:11“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
Scripture memory was the source of joy to God’s people: Jeremiah 15:16“Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”
Someone might say, “All that is just Old Testament. In the New Testament, it’s all the Spirit.”Actually, the New Testament assumes many of the habits and ways of thinking of the Old Testament. Remember, the first Christians were Jewish believers. They wrote the books of the New Testament through the Holy Spirit but within their Old Testament worldview. Many of the truths in the New Testament assume that you are memorizing Scripture. I don’t have time to give all references but here are just a few:
Jesus memorized Scripture. How did he respond when Satan tried to tempt him? He said to him, “It is written” and then quoted scripture. We think it’s because he is God and he already knew it. He was also man who as Luke said in Luke 2:52“increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Jesus expected his disciples to remember his words. John 8:31“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If youabidein Myword, you are My disciples indeed.”That’s referring to both the Implanted Word and the External Word.
Paul commanded the believers to remember Scripture. Colossians 3:16“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom . . .”
Paul listed the Word as our only weapon in spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:17“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The writer of Hebrews explains the continuous inner working of the Word in us. Hebrews 4:12“For the word of Godisliving and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
There are many other references but listen to what Chuck Swindoll said,“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture…No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”
So, how do you go about memorizing scripture? There are many techniques out there but basically there are 2 mediums: Use the old-fashioned index cards or use an app. At the end of the day, you still have to memorize. Here’s my challenge to you: Every time you want to look at your phone, look at your memory verse first.When you join an Inner Circle, the scriptures are already assigned, which helps a lot, and then the accountability keeps you committed. If you do it alone, it’s very easy to give up.
At Clearview, we expect our kids to memorize scripture in Sunday School, Blaze, and Awana. But, when they grow up, we assume that they don’t have to do that. How tragic!
Personal Testimony:Growing up, we had bible verses everywhere in our home. Those verses have protected and guided me to where I am today. I want the same for my kids. So, I am willing to do it still. We remember so much useless information. Imagine what memorizing Scripture will do for you.
Is the Implanted Word in you? Is the External Word in you?
DISCIPLESHIP – PATHWAYS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: Every summer I speak at a camp in Bryson City, near Cherokee, to the western part of our state. Our kids have been going to this camp for about 16 years and many of our church kids now go every year. It’s a beautiful place in the Smoky Mountains! While there, the kids get to choose an outing like horseback riding, gem mining, tubing, hiking, etc. Several years ago, I decided to join the kids and go hiking up Alarka Falls. It’s a gorgeous 200 ft tall water fall that cascades down the mountain. The hike is up the side of the falls. If you’re a hiker, it’s moderately difficult. It’s not bad but they didn’t tell me that it would get steep towards the top. I was in the back of the group and we were getting closer to the top. I stopped to get some pictures and then when I got back on the climb, everybody was gone. I could hear them but I could not see them. Then it happened – I got stuck. My feet starting slipping on loose rocks and I had to dig my fingers into the dirt to hang on. All I could think of was Cliff Hanger with Sylvester Stallone but it was nothing like that. Finally, one of the counsellors realized that I was missing and she came back to check on me – “Do you need any help Mr. Shah?” My answer – “Oh no, I’m just resting. But, just in case, how did you get up there?” She told me to put my foot here and pull here and so on. I said – “I guess that’s one way to get up there.” Long story short – I made it and it was well worth it! Here’s the point – “I needed someone to show me the pathway on how to climb to the top.” So also, when it comes to discipleship, it’s not enough to know the goal and importance of discipleship. We also need to know the pathways on how to get there.That’s the message today.
2 Timothy 2 1“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Question: Paul told Timothy to show others the pathways of how to walk with God. Who do you have in your life who has or is showing you the pathways of how to walk with God? Do you know the pathways of discipleship? Who are you helping on the pathways of discipleship? Are you a disciple? Are you saved?
Context:As you know, Jesus commanded us in the Great Commission in Matthew 28 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” We created the acronym WATERto represent what a disciple looks like – WITNESSES + ACCOUNTABILITY + TOGETHERNESS + ESTABLISHED IN THE WORD + REPRODUCING. When all 5 of these work in tandem, we are the disciples Jesus called us to be. Unfortunately, there are obstacles. We need certain disciplines to overcome these obstacles. Last weekend, we looked at 5 such disciplines: Discipline of Evangelism, Discipline of Confession, Discipline of Church Attendance, Discipline of Daily Bible Intake, and Discipline of Discipling.“Without Disciplines, there is no Discipleship.”
The next question is – what are the pathways we need to take in order to become disciples? Let’s go back to the acronym WATER. No pathways needed for W (Once you can articulate your testimony, it’s simply looking for opportunities to share your faith. Neither for T (Once you realize the importance of moving from the crowd to the congregation – church – and from the congregation to the community – Sunday School or Bible Study – it’s not that complicated). But A – Accountability, E – Established in the Word, and R – Reproducing Disciples require some pathways, some help in taking the next steps. I’ve been sharing some of these things throughout the series but now I want to deal with them in depth.
Let’s start with the Pathways for Accountability: Once again, think back to those concentric circles – Crowd, Congregation, Community, and Inner Circle. Robby Gallaty (I’ve learned a lot through him) calls the last one D – groups. Preaching helps but it cannot do it all because it’s only a one-way communication. Sunday School and Bible study help but they cannot do it all because they are more evangelistic or too study oriented and too many to hold accountable. An Inner Circle is a 3-5 member gender specific, closed group that exists by invitation only to believers and meets on a weekly basis for a determined period. The ultimate goal is for each person to become conformed to the image of Christ by growing in the Word and then replicate the process. It requires confidentiality, confrontation, and confession. You have to be careful here. Robby Gallaty says – “A quick word of caution: you must wisely discern to whom you will make yourself accountable, carefully guarding whom you allow to speak into your life. Never seek spiritual guidance from unspiritual people.”
A good verse to help us here is Galatians 6 1“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you whoarespiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5For each one shall bear his own load.”Meaning: We are to help one another but ultimately, we are responsible for our actions.
How do you start?
Pray (Just like Jesus before he picked his disciples)
Decide (Believers who have a desire, are determined, and have a demeanor to learn)
Ask (Not “I want to disciple you,” but “would you like to join for Bible Study, Scripture Memory, and Prayer on a weekly basis for a few months.)
Prioritize (You have to take it seriously)
Replicate (Don’t get stuck but remind the group members to start thinking about who they would like to include in their group)
What happens when each accountability group or Inner Circle meets? (Taken from Robby Gallaty, Growing Up: How to be a Disciple who makes Disciples)
Study the Word together.
Hold each person accountable for Scripture memory by reciting the previous week’s passage before the group.
Ask accountability questions of each other. Hold each person accountable for achieving their goals. For example, “How is your relationship with Linda? You mentioned last week that you were working on the way you spoke to your wife.”
Pray together before departing.
In the next couple of messages, I will deal with how to study the Word and how to pray.
I know that some have already made up their minds that they will not do this. Others may start but not stick with it. Keep in mind that this is biblical– 2 Timothy 2 1“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Are you a disciple? The Communion is for those who are saved –Luke 22 19And He took bread, gave thanks and brokeit,and gaveitto them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20Likewise He alsotookthe cup after supper, saying, “This cupisthe new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
Are you ready to take the pathway of discipleship? Are you a disciple? Are you saved?