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Monday, September 19, 2011

Making disciples Part 3

Jesus taught by example and Word. He wanted His disciples to imitate Him. Jesus' disciples saw His love, compassion, sympathy, comfort, miracles, feeding, healing, setting free, correction, etc. He said to His apostles, "You must testify, for you have been with Me from the beginning." John 15:27 These chosen twelve had seen all that Jesus had done--His actions, words and deeds. Therefore Jesus tells them to testify of Him.

Jesus had a zeal for His Father and His Kingdom. John 2:17: His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your House will consume Me." Jesus' disciples remembered Psalm 69:9 where this was written. Jesus' apostles were Jewish and well-schooled in the Law and the Prophets. They saw that Jesus was fulfilling this scripture. Jesus wants us to also have a zeal for Him and His Kingdom. Zeal is a burning desire to please God and serve Him in order to advance His glory and His kingdom in the world. Zeal is more than just interest. It is a passion to do the work God has called us to do through His Son Jesus. The Greek word for zeal means "mold" or "pattern." Jesus is our mold and pattern.

J.C. Ryle once wrote: "Zeal in Jesus is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. It is a desire which no man feels by nature--which the Spirit puts in the heart of believers when he or she is converted to Christ--but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others that they alone deserve to be called 'zealous.' A zealous man in Jesus is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing and that one thing is to please God...and to advance God's glory."

Paul was zealous for the Law and killed Christians before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. (see Acts 22:3) God turned Paul's zeal for the Law into a zeal for Christ and His Kingdom. Paul pleaded with the believers in Galatia to "become like me, for I have become like you." Gal. 4:12 The teachers of the Law were trying to turn these believers in Christ back to the Law. Paul said in Galatians 4:17-20, "Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you." Paul was warning the church at Galatia that the teachers of the Law were trying to bring them back to a zealousness for the Law. He said that it is fine to be zealous but be zealous for Christ who fulfilled all of the Law and the Prophets. Paul was zealous in his desire to form Christ in these newborn followers of Jesus. A person who is zealous for Jesus and controlled by the Holy Spirit needs no Law to cause him or her to live a righteous life. Because Paul lived with Jesus as His Example, his example paved the way for his disciples to become like him and multipliers also. Disciplers and leaders must exemplify the qualities of Jesus if we are to multiply. Our intimate union with Christ will bring others to Him. Jesus said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." Mt. 9:37 Abiding in Christ, obeying and applying His Word, and reaching out in Christlike love will reach the ripe harvest field--the world! When we operate in the fruit of the Holy Spirit, Christ abides in us because Jesus had the fruit of the Holy Spirit in its fullness. Our intimate union with Christ will bring others to Him.

Jesus must be our complete focus. (see Luke 14:33) Our commitment to Him and others must be renewed daily. Jesus wants to bring us up! He wants to take us from our earthly nature to His nature. He will send His fivefold ministry gifts to His Church to do this. The devil wants to bring us down into the pits of the dirt of the earth/world, but Jesus wants to bring us up to a closer and dearer walk with Him. Jesus lives in the highest place and wants us to join Him there. When Jesus taught His disciples, He always called them up to a higher place with Him. Jesus' revelation knowledge of Himself and His Father's Kingdom will always be for the purpose of raising us up spiritually so we are drawn closer to Him through His ways.

What are the spiritual qualities of disciple-makers? We need only to look to Jesus for the answer.

Grace and Truth -- A disciple-maker must be led by God's grace and truth because Jesus is God's grace and truth. 2 Timothy 2:1: You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" As Jesus discipled and taught His own, Timothy was taught by Paul and wanted those he taught to share the truth with others. Grace and truth are the result of spending time in prayer and diligent study of the scriptures. Grace is also given to the humble. Disobedience can neutralize the operation of God's grace and love.

Dedicated -- Jesus was completely committed to discipleship. He came to do only the Father's will and to teach, train and equip disciples who would disciple others and carry on the Kingdom of God on earth. To be able to teach others, you must be teachable. Every disciple-maker must be discipled. We are constantly learning! Only God can put the desire to learn the scriptures in the heart of a person. Jesus taught the multitudes but He poured Himself into those who gave up all to follow Him. Disciple-makers must be committed, faithful in the Word and trustworthy.

Disciplined -- As Jesus lived a life that pleased God, disciple-makers are to live a life that pleases God. When the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and rested upon Jesus, the Father said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." Why was the Father well-pleased with Jesus? He walked in God's ways to the glory of His Name. He was disciplined by His Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit to only do what the Father told Him to do. All believers are in a growth process. Disciple-makers must have disciplined growth habits so those who he or she is discipling will watch and hopefully adopt to your growth habits. Christ's desire was to make imitators of Himself. This should be the heart of a disciple-maker also. We must watch how we live our lives and walk our walk. Others are watching! Disciple-makers must be willing to take orders, be goal-oriented and obedient to authority beginning with Christ and His Word and then those God has placed over you.

Servant-hearted -- Serving Christ and others is about attitude, not position. Jesus was the model "suffering Servant." (see Isaiah 42:1) Jesus' life taught us that the way "up" is "down (humility)." A Servant submits to obedience as Jesus so perfectly taught us. Jesus lived in complete submission to His Father's will and Word and served all mankind as a slave, even the "thankless." The Apostle Paul called himself a bondslave of Christ. Paul, like Jesus, faced angry mobs who didn't like his message. He was beaten and jailed, thrown into prison--all for the cause of Christ. Paul was bound to His Master Jesus no matter the cost. The price was high, but the rewards were eternal. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23-24

Live by the Holy Spirit -- Living by the Spirit is always submitting to the Son and His Word. The grace, love and truth of Jesus will be outwardly manifested in a heart that does this. The inward manifestation of one who submits to Jesus and His Word will be meekness and humility. To be meek means to be "tamed" or "broken." To be humble means that we will count others superior to ourselves. Jesus stripped to a loincloth --the garment of a slave--and washed His disciples feet including the one who was about to betray Him -- Judas. A servant-heart is catching! A disciple-maker will lay down his or her life for others. 1 John 3:16
As Jesus always sought to do what was best for those He was training, disciple-makers are to also seek the best for those God has brought to you for teaching and training. Disciple-makers must provoke one another to love and good works and stimulate them to love and ministry. There is a Kingdom to be established on earth as it is in heaven.

Sacrifice is the hallmark of genuine love!

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