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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Making Disciples--Part 2

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. Mark 3:13-14

Previously Jesus called these 12 men, but now He will designate them into a position of leadership as His apostles who will begin building His Church on earth. Jesus called them up "higher" to a mountainside. They came. Jesus will take His leaders higher--closer to Him. Jesus knew that "followers" must become "leaders" because He would be leaving the earth to return to His Heavenly Father. He would invest His time and presence with these chosen ones to make them disciples and multipliers. He chose them, trained them and sent them forth. This required His commitment, time and presence. The cause was worth it. These taught, trained and equipped leaders would advance the cause of Christ in the world. Jesus had a "small beginning" with these chosen ones. These 12 men would become an intimate circle of friends who would be special to Jesus and He to them. If these chosen ones were to carry out His commission, He must invest Himself in them. Spending time and teaching those who want to be leaders is the core of disciplemaking.

The Apostle Paul who replaced Judas spent time with the elders (leaders) to teach, train and equip them in the ways and knowledge of Christ so they could carry on the work of building Christ's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Rabbi Paul was in Ephesus for three years going from house to house teaching, warning and weeping with believers night and day in spite of the opposition of the Jews. (see Acts 20:18, 31) Paul gave top priority to building, maturing and multiplying believers. Disciplemaking was the core of Paul's ministry. He didn't just give an hour a week to those he was training. he spent an extraordinary amount of time with them. Paul was bound to Christ as His bondservant and bound to others in the advancement of the kingdom of God. God and His Kingdom were first in Paul's life. Paul taught through his words and his life. Paul wanted leaders who could minister effectively independently of his presence just as Jesus did. Paul poured himself into those at Ephesus, so much so that they wept when he was leaving to go to Jerusalem. As Jesus focused on His twelve leaders, Paul focused on the elders of the various churches. The elders were those who would dedicate their time and lives to the cause of Christ. This would be a daily commitment. Paul knew that he was not permanent in any place, so his impact would rest on those he has trained and left behind. This is not a new precept. God commanded the leaders of the Israelites to pass down all that they had learned of God to the next generation.

Unless the quality of training is very high and the recipients totally committed, the further downsteam it goes to the next generation. The Word, character of God and commitment to His cause gets more watered down and the water polluted. Christ and Paul warned of this.

Christ and the Apostle Paul put tremendous value in making disciples. They, of course, also had men and women who were willing to spend days and hours with them in order to learn and be trained. They spent more than one hour on a Sunday. They were totally committed as a willing bondservant of Christ. The cause was worth their all. God and His Kingdom were first in their lives.

Spiritual babies need spiritual parenting. Paul was a spiritual parent. Spiritual mothers and fathers are a tremendous necessity in any Church. Paul loved the new believers in every Church he established. They were in his heart, his prayers and his life. He taught, disciplined, warned, spent time, loved and prayed for them. Paul acted as both a spiritual mother and father to them. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8: As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Paul loved and cared for those he ministered to like a mother and father would their little children. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory. vv11-12 Paul was not afraid to call them to growth and maturity. He challenged them to become all that God has called them to be. Paul wanted those he taught and trained to live lives worthy of God who loves them.

Spiritual mothers and fathers must train person-to-person because each individual has different needs and is in a different stage of growth. There is a price to pay for spiritual disciplemaking parents. First, a spiritual mother or father must be trained and walk in the ways of Jesus. Then they must be willing to give whatever time and love it takes to bring a spiritual son or daughter to a deeper knowledge of Jesus and His ways. A spiritual investment must be made in another's life. Touching the life of another and bringing them to spiritual maturity is so rewarding that the whole Church of Jesus Christ should be running to it. Those who invest in another will share in all the glory of the eternal rewards reaped through that life forever! The Apostle Paul said to the growing Christians he had trained, "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." 1 Thess. 2:19-20 A changed and matured life in Christ was Paul's glory and joy. Jesus gave His all on the cross "for the joy set before Him." Jesus knew that His suffering and sacrifice on the cross would bring new spiritual life to all who believe in Him, and would send the power of the Holy Spirit to help them carry out all that He calls us to do. This was His joy through His suffering. He saw what His suffering would accomplish. Transformed spiritual lives was worth everything that Jesus was and has. It was His privilege to pour out the love and grace of God through His suffering so humanity could receive new, spiritual, eternal life. Love was His motivation. Joy was His reward. He met the deepest need of every human being at the cross. What the first Adam-- who was originally created holy and without sin-- lost, Jesus gained for all. He took the wrath of God for the sin of the whole world so we could be restored to the same honorable position with God before sin entered in Genesis. Just as Christ gave Himself in love for us, our love must express itself in giving ourselves fully to Him and into His service to others. (1 John 3:16)

The Apostle Paul held back nothing from those he taught. He said that he withheld nothing that was profitable for them because he loved them. This included correction, discipline and warning. He constantly fed them the whole Word of God. Paul fully loved those he was teaching, training and equipping as disciples of Christ!

Father, I pray that you would put a desire in the hearts of your people to put You first in their lives. I pray that you would put a hunger and thirst for a deeper and closer knowledge of Your precious Son Jesus. I pray Lord that you would put a hunger and thirst in their hearts and minds for your Anointed Word that shows them Your character and Kingdom as well as the kingdom of darkness that comes against them. I pray, Lord, that You will make your Church the victorious Church that You intended, and that You would prepare your people as a glorious and holy Bride ready to meet and wed Her Husband. All this I pray in the precious Name of Your Son Jesus. In Him we live and move and have our being. Amen

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