Q & A: Pursuing the Role in Jesus

This is the insert and suggested answers for the Message Based Discussion Questions of the message that was given on February 10, 2013 and posted February 12, 2013.  The entire insert is included for review and the answers are only a begining of considerations of how to answer the questions.  The serious student will be able to add to these provided suggested answers. SDG.

Strategy of Grace – Pursuing the Role in Jesus
Eph. 5:15-17
 
 

What kind of person does God require to do His work?  One who:

·         Knows and loves JesusThe person is growing in relationship with Jesus to know and love Him.  Matt 22:37-39; 1 John 2:13-14

·         Practices Spiritual disciplinesThis person is learning and putting into practice spiritual disciplines for growth and service.  John 17:17; Rom. 8:28-29; 12:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:15

·         Engages Discipleship Matt. 28:18-20

These are the characteristics of a committed disciple we looked at several weeks ago from Matt. 4:19.  These can be expanded in the acrostic FAITH

·         FaithfulHe humbly depends on God facing every challenge and joy of life.  Matt. 25:21-23.  

·         AvailableHe’s humbly available because he has examined and reordered his life. Is. 6:8; Eph. 3:8-9.  

·         IntentionalHe humbly goes before the sovereignty of God seeking God’s will each day in order to live that will out in his life. Phil. 3:9-14; 1:21

·         TeachableHe is a humble student of God’s Word for life.  Ps. 25:1-5; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17

·         Holy Spirit controlled – He humbly depends on the Holy Spirit rather than his own talents, abilities or wisdom.  Eph. 5:18; Luke 4:1-14

 

Jesus will raise you to accomplish His will
and become spiritual parents IF you pursue that!

·         Jesus is a sovereign gentleman.  He will not coerce you.  You are not advancing only because you are not pursuing.  All the resources of heaven are available to you in His Word and by His Spirit to raise you up.

·         Jesus uses all circumstances to prepare you for His mission.  Challenges of life are the crucible for pressing forward in His will.  Your flesh will want to give up, but He will empower you to keep going.

·         Every mindful person can be a spiritual parent to help others.  Your humble submission to His Spirit to glorify Jesus will cause you to see His miraculous HOPE and growth in your life.
Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      Who is someone you admire in the world? What are his/her characteristics?

a)      This question is designed to involve everyone in the small group and each answer will be personalized.
b)      The purpose is to allow each person to sense they have something to contribute and allow them to become transparent.
c)      E.g. I admire Mike Pence because he holds to conservative values and the sanctity of life.  He is interested in helping people take responsibility for their decisions, rather than just give people a handout.

Digging Deeper

2)      What are some of the fears and excuses Moses had from Exodus 3:11- 4:17? _inadequacy_ ; _lack of credibility_; _doubting self_; _slow of speech_; __fear of looking like a fool____.  Today, what are fears or excuses that prevent people from taking responsibility to do what God calls them to do?

a)      Same as above with Moses’ examples

b)      Listening to the devil’s lie that I don’t know enough

c)      Comparing self to the “great” abilities of others

d)     Not wanting to look like a fool if I say the wrong thing

e)      Not knowing that God is able

f)       Not trusting in an ability to help others

g)      Not thinking that I can communicate well to others

h)      Not knowing who I am in Christ, called to serve the Lord

i)        Laziness to prepare to disciple

j)        Distracted by the world instead of motivated by the eternal

3)      What are several characteristics required of an overseer in 1 Timothy 3:1-7?   _blameless_; _temperate_; _able to teach___; _not given to wine_; _not violent, etc._.   Are these characteristics that should be true only of elders?  Who else should spiritually grow into these?  Why?

a)      These characteristics should be true of anyone discipling others

b)      All people should use these as a measurement for spiritual growth. 

c)      Why?  Every husband and father, wife and mother should strive for these as they would apply.  Every single should use these as a standard.  If these are the characteristics of church leadership, they are the appropriate characteristics of any leader.

4)      Read the letters written to the Church of Ephesus and the Church of Laodicea (Rev. 2:1-7; 3:14-22.  What are characteristics of these churches?  _laboring in word_; _intolerant of evil_; _patience_; _in sin_; _lukewarm_; _wretched, poor, blind, naked_.  Which church do think would do a better job of fulfilling the Great Commission?  Why?

a)      Either church could fulfill the Great Commission if they repented and depended on the Holy Spirit

b)      The issue is not the sin or failure of the church.  The issue is will they repent and humble themselves to the fulfillment of the Word by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

i)        The church of Ephesus had much more going for it, because they were knowledgeable and were intolerant of false teachers.

ii)      However, Laodicea cold still make the right decisions to humble themselves and buy gold from Jesus, white garments and eye salve. 

iii)    The issue is who will not make excuses and press through the fear to do the right thing regardless of the challenges.

Making application from the message:

5)      How has the angel of light deceived the church today (2 Cor. 11:13-15)?  How has the Vision series challenged you in your thinking?

a)      The angel of light deceives by convincing people only certain people (pastors) can lead in the church.

i)        Deceiving people to think that a spiritual gift is required to lead in being a spiritual parent.

ii)      Rationalizing that I’m not there yet and won’t be for a few more years.

iii)    Reasoning that because some people are very good at it, the Lord doesn’t need me to serve and lead.

iv)    It’s women’s work and I have a job in the world.

v)      I don’t have time to lead others

vi)    You have to have a certain amount of knowledge in order to lead others.

vii)  The work will get done some time, I don’t need to be involved.

b)      The vision series has helped me see that there are stages of spiritual growth.  I didn’t know what stage I was in.  Now I need to press forward and continue growing, while I take baby steps of serving and discipling. I need to take the steps of faith and try opportunities.  I need to do follow-up with people and develop more relationships.  I need to be more consistent in my quiet time.  I need to be regular at coming to church. I need to be a spiritual parent, when others do actions of a spiritual infant or child.

6)      Why do you suppose God doesn’t require you to have certain “degrees” to do His work?  What kinds of things hold you back from taking the next step?  What could you do to take the next step?

a)      Human “degrees” are helpful for background and putting the pieces of God’s Word together, but the power is in what God’s Spirit will do through the available soul.  Degrees can hinder a person because of pride and self-righteousness of having the degree.  God will use the ordinary person more times than a person with degrees, because they often are more dependent on God.

b)      Many things hold people back.  Fears and excuses per question 2. Lack of motivation to please the Lord.  Lack of understanding of God’s goodness.  Lack of being a doer of the Word, instead of a hearer.  Fear of failure.  Fear of looking like a fool.  Fear of someone finding out “I don’t have my act together,” because I didn’t so something just right.  Wrong priorities.  A schedule that is full of busyness, but not God’s priorities.  Lack of compassion to reach people.  Lack of knowledge of what that step will be or mean?  Failure to trust the Lord with the step.

c)      In order to take the next step, I could meditate on the Word, fast, or ask others what steps I could take.  I could look for serving opportunities.  I could ask to shadow another person who is discipling another person.  I can be in a home group.  I can read books related to discipleship and small groups.  I can take the step in a small way.  I can look for feedback and accountability.  I could fast.  I could choose a verse that motivates to leading others and memorize

MSG: Strategy for Grace: Pursuing the Role in Jesus – Part 5

Strategy of Grace – Pursuing the Role in Jesus

Eph. 5:15-17

            Have you ever said, “I could never do that!” 

            The following is a skit used for the introduction of the message.  There is the voice of God, narrator and Moses.  God calls Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, but Moses comes up with five excuses why he shouldn’t be the one who God can lead Israel from Egypt. 

Narrator: Have you ever said, “I could never do that!”  3,500 years ago, after Moses lived in the wilderness of Midian, tending to the flock of Jethro on the back side of the desert from Egypt, Moses was confronted with the sight of a burning bush.  Moses caught sight of the burning bush and approached it hearing a voice bellow out his name,       Moses       and telling him to remove his sandals for the ground is holy where he was standing.    

God’s voice: I have seen the oppression of my people in Egypt and heard their cry.  I have come to deliver them from Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey.  I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

Moses: Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?    (Excuse 1)

God’s voice: I WILL be with you. This burning bush is a sign to you that I have sent you.

Moses: Okay, but when I go to Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me,” They’ll say, “Yea right, what’s His name?”   (Excuse 2)

God’s voice: I am who I am.  I am has sent me to you.  Now, go and gather the elders of Israel. Let us go three day’s journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.  And when you leave, you’ll ask everyone of his Egyptian neighbor and come out with abundance.

Moses: But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice and say, ‘God has not  appeared to you?’   (Excuse 3)

God’s voice:  What is that in your hand?

Moses: a rod

God’s voice: Cast it on the ground.

Moses: A snake!

God’s voice: Now pick it up by the tail.  Now put your hand in your bosom.

Moses:  It’s leprous!

God’s voice: Now put it back in your bosom again.  [Moses does and it is whole.]  And if they don’t believe you, take from the river and pour it on dry land and the water will become blood.

Moses: Lord, I’m not eloquent, neither before or since You’ve spoken to your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.   (Excuse 4)

God’s voice: Who made your mouth and voice?  Have I not made the mute and deaf, those who see and the blind?  Have not I, the Lord?  Now, therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.

Moses: O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.   (Excuse 5)

Narrator: God’s anger rose up against Moses for questioning and doubting His command and word.  

God’s voice: Is not Aaron the Levite your brother?  I know he can speak well.  I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and I will teach you what you shall do.  So he shall be your spokesman to the people. You will be as God to him.  You shall take this rod in your hand, which you shall do the signs.

Narrator: So God dealt with the fears and excuses that Moses had and used another to accomplish His mission.  Since God calls you to the Great Commission, how will you respond? What kind of person does God require to do His work?   

What kind of person does God require to do His work?  One who:

·         Knows and loves Jesus – The person is growing in relationship with Jesus to know and love Him. He should know and love Jesus with all his heart, mind, soul and strength, in other words, with his entire being.  He/she must have priorities in life whereby the Lord is first, not just fit into the schedule.  If anything, other things fit around the Lord.   This person doesn’t just know about the Bible, or know about God, but He knows the Lord.  He is committed to following Jesus. Matt 22:37-39; 1 John 2:13-14

Jesus said to him, “`You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ (Matt. 22:37)

I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. (1John 2:13)

·         Practices Spiritual disciplines– This person is learning and putting into practice spiritual disciplines for growth and service.  The person isn’t perfect spiritually, but he/she seeks to know the Lord by regular time in reading and enjoying His Word.  He enjoys prayer alone and with others.  He works at memorizing God’s Word in his heart for use in life.  He meditates on Scripture and spends time in silence before God.   He servesin different capacities. He learns worshipand practices fellowship with others.  These and others are regular practices, because of his love for Jesus.  Through these disciplines, he is committed to being changed by Jesus.  He is in a lifelong learning mode that he might know God more intimately and clearly.  John 17:17; Rom. 8:28-29; 12:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:15

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:28-29)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:1-2)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

·         Engages Discipleship – He is committed to the Great Commission of discipling others.  He genuinely cares for others and wants to see them grow spiritually.  He has learned to feed himself, so that he is ready to share with others.  He is thinking the team, the team, the team, because the church is a team that the gates of hell shall not prevail against.  He intentionally helps others learn how to grow and serve, so they can become spiritual parents also.   He is committed, no matter what cost, time, or personal sacrifice is required.  He has counted the cost.  Matt. 28:18-20

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Mat 28:18-20)

Now someone will likely say that we saw these characteristics a few weeks ago. That is true. These are the characteristics of a committed disciple from the second message on what is a disciple of Jesus Christ from Matt. 4:19.  So let’s look at the requirements that God has for us to do His work. These can be seen with the acrostic FAITH

·         Faithful – He humbly depends on God facing every challenge and joy of life.  He doesn’t run from the problem, but runs toward it and slings God’s Word at the problem, because He knows God and His care for him.   He faithfully studies God’s Word, prays to the Lord and depends on His empowering Spirit. Matt. 25:21-23.  This person presses to the upward call, takes baby steps of spiritual growth, willingly takes responsibility and asks God to give him a heart that Jesus has for people.

Consider David who when challenged to deal with Goliath, he remembered how he killed the bear and the lion by the power of the Lord and Goliath would be no different.  David was willing to run to the problem and sling the stone against the giant and defeat the problem, because he was faithful to trust the Lord.  The reason David was faithful, was because he was open to being taught by the Lord throughout his life.

“His lord said to him,`Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 “He also who had received two talents came and said,`Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 “His lord said to him,`Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ (Mat 25:21-23)

How many people can be faithful?  Is there anyone who is not able to be faithful in life?  Great, because it’s merely a choice you need make each day. You can be the person God requires to do His will.

·         Available – He’s humbly available because he has examined and reordered his life. Is. 6:8; Eph. 3:8.  He recognizes time is short and he sets aside childish things that won’t matter for eternity sake.  He establishes godly priorities that will bring honor and glory to Jesus and establish blessing and reward in time and eternity.  He is available, because he has committed himself to Jesus.  He commits his time (Eph. 5:15-17), talents (1 Pet. 4:11), treasure (Matt. 6:21), truth (John 4:23-24), tongue (Jam. 3:1-12), temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and turbo-gift (1 Pet. 4:10) to the Lord for His use.

GIDEON was put on the spot by the Angel of the Lord, when Gideon was hiding in the winepress working to get enough grain to feed his family.  He was hiding from the Midianites, but the Lord challenged to see if he was available.  The Angel of the Lord said, “The Lord is  with you, O mighty man of valor!”  I can imagine Gideon was wondering if the Lord was talking about him or someone else.  Through Gideon’s weak faith, the Lord helped Gideon see that in Gideon’s availability, he could defeat 120,000 of the enemy with only 300 men.  God doesn’t depend on our might and wisdom, but on His.

When the Seraph angel said to Isaiah, Whom shall I send, Isaiah responded, “Send me (I’m available).”

       Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Is. 6:8)

When God needed a man to proclaim the mystery of Christ, he found Paul who chose to be available.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,  and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ (Eph 3:8-9)

How many people can be available?  Is there anyone who is not able to be available in life?  Great, because it’s merely a choice you need make each day. You can be the person God requires to do His will.

·         Intentional – He humbly goes before the sovereignty of God seeking God’s will each day in order to live that will out in his life. He does not let life happen by chance.  He intentionally plans his study of God’s Word.  He intentionally lays out a plan for growth and spiritual development.  He intentionally chooses his friends, his service opportunities and how he will spend his time, because the days are evil and can be squandered so easily with a multitude of distractions. He is intentional about inviting others to follow him.  He is intentional about life and spiritual growth Phil. 3:9-14; 1:21 Paul was intentional about his life:

[that I may] be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;  10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:9-14)

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Phi 1:21)

How many people can be intentional?  Is there anyone who is not able to be intentional in life?  Great, because it’s merely a choice you need make each day. You can be the person God requires to do His will.

·         Teachable – He is a humble student of God’s Word for life.  He submits His life to God’s instruction through God’s Spirit, so he can gain and sustain the spirit-controlled life.  He looks for opportunities to learn.  He will take notes, review plans and listen to people on what he can learn from them.  He is accountable so that he is not just sliding through life, but engaged in always learning.  He uses spiritual disciplines to learn all he can about, of and with the Lord. Ps. 25:1-5; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17

A Psalm of David. To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. 4Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. (Ps.  25:1-5)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17)

How many people can be teachable?  Is there anyone who is not able to be teachable in life?  Great, because it’s merely a choice you need make each day.  You can be the person God requires to do His will.

·         Holy Spirit controlled – He humbly depends on the Holy Spirit rather than his own talents, abilities or wisdom.  He has a greater and more humble opinion because he sees himself before the holiness of God.  He is dependent on the empowerment of God’s Spirit to understand God’s Word and live it out.  He depends on God’s Spirit for each new step in spiritual growth.  He depends on God’s Word, listens to the counsel of others in order to understand and engages dependency upon God’s Spirit for every thought, word and action in life. Eph. 5:18; Luke 4:1-14

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (Eph. 5:18)

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spiritinto the wilderness… 14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, (Luke 4:1-14)

How many people can be Holy Spirit controlled?  Is there anyone who is not able to be Holy Spirit controlled in life?  Great, because it’s merely a choice you need make each day. You can be the person God requires to do His will.

Jesus will transform you to accomplish His will
and to become spiritual parents IF you pursue that.

·         Jesus is a sovereign gentleman.  He will not coerce you.  You will not advance only because you are not pursuing.  All the resources of heaven are available to you in His Word and by His Spirit to raise you up.

·         Jesus uses all circumstances to prepare you for His mission.  Challenges of life are the crucible for pressing forward in His will.  Your flesh will want to give up, but He will empower you to keep going.

·         Every mindful person can be a spiritual parent to help others.  Your humble submission to His Spirit to glorify Jesus will cause you to see His miraculous HOPE in your life.

Just as Moses used five different excuses why he did not want to obey the Lord, it’s easy for us to come up with excuses.  What reasons to you use to become complacent and not obey the Lord?  What fears and excuses to you use to not take spiritual responsibility to grow in the Lord and become a spiritual parent and disciple other people?
Here’s the back side of the insert.  I’ll post some suggested answers later this week.

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      Who is someone you admire in the world? What are his/her characteristics?

Digging Deeper

2)      What are some of the fears and excuses Moses had from Exodus 3:11- 4:17? ______________ ; ___________; ________________; ________________; __________________.  Today, what are fears or excuses that prevent people from taking responsibility to do what God calls them to do?

3)      What are several characteristics required of an overseer in 1 Timothy 3:1-7?   ________________; ______________________; __________________; _____________________; __________________. Are these characteristics that should be true only of elders?  Who else should spiritually grow into these?  Why?

4)      Read the letters written to the Church of Ephesus and the Church of Laodicea (Rev. 2:1-7; 3:14-22.  What are characteristics of these churches?  _____________; _____________; _______________; ________________; _______________; ________________.  Which church do think would do a better job of fulfilling the Great Commission?  Why?

Making application from the message:

5)      Why do you suppose God doesn’t require you to have certain “degrees” to do His work?  What kinds of things hold you back from taking the next step?  What could you do to take the next step?

6)      How has the angel of light deceived the church today (2 Cor. 11:13-15)?  Has the enemy deceived the church today?  How has the Vision series challenged you in your thinking?

 

Q & A: Raising Spiritual Parents

 This goes with the message that was posted on February 5, 2013 of this blog. I have included the insert for a quick review and the Message Based Discussion Questions follow. The purpose is to provide material for personal reflection or group discussion. The questions are designed to be answered in far more than one or two sentence answers.

Strategy of Grace – Raising Spiritual Parents
Deuteronomy 6:1-9
(February 3, 2013)

 What is God’s solution to raising spiritual parents?

1)      Pursue the Lord’s pattern for raising parents Deut. 6:1-9

  • Ephesians 6:1-3

2)      Pursue the Lord’s pattern in raising disciples Matt 4:18-22

  • John 17:6, 17, 20

3)      Pursue the Lord’s exhortation to raise spiritual children           1 Thes. 2:5-14; Heb. 5:12-14   

What is the wisest approach to help 80% of the congregation become spiritual parents (disciple-makers)?   Some possibilities:

·         Disciple people to be seminary graduates emphasizing on original languages

·         Disciple people to be Bible College graduates from  a correspondence network

·         Disciple people with years of intense Systematic Theology from the pastor

·         Disciple people with years of intense counseling training and practical theology

·         Disciple people in small groups teaching various books of the Bible

·         Disciple men through the Colossians 2:7 material

·         Disciple people in small groups using the Message Based Discussion Questions

Small groups provide a wise environment to develop spiritual parents (disciple-making people):

·         There are 10-14 people which is easier to develop trust

·         They develop deeper relationships because more time is spent in relationships

·         They provide a safe place to be authentic with personal struggles and get help

·         They allow for many groups outside the church building

·         They provide a back door for people to come to church

·         Everyone participates because we learn by doing  (teach them and release them)

·         There are 12, rather than 30 or 50, so people are willing to lead also

·         They let leaders know if people are “getting it” because of greater feedback

·         They practice a model where a new person can learn quickly he can lead also

·         Often more is caught than taught

n  This assumes 1) on-going training, 2) support for disciples and 3) accountability

n  This assumes using a material that 80% of the people can grasp, apply and implement

The Lord Jesus gave the example and
taught us to become spiritual parents.

·         Too many Christians mimic the movie, “Failure to Launch.”  The goal is not being independent, but interdependent raising new spiritual parents or disciples to Jesus Christ.  Are you in a FG or HG, accountable for growing to the next spiritual level?  Is there someone helping you advance?

·          God loves you where you are, but where you are God wants you to keep growing.  He wants you to become spiritual parents for others.  That means adjusting your schedule to fit with others.

·         Life is not about you.  Life is about Jesus Christ and His message to disciple others, i.e. raise spiritual parents.

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)       When and how were you taught to be an adult who was ready to raise children?

a)       A variety of answers will be given.  The key is to get everyone to provide some kind of answer as it applies to them.  There is no right or wrong answer, but should be fun to learn what others say.

Digging Deeper:

2)       In Deuteronomy 6:6, where is the word supposed to be solidified? ___heart__________.         What will that look like according to the larger context of Deut. 6:1-9?

a)       People will look for opportunities to learn. They’ll join their church in the worship service, a FG or HG, and they’ll learn to do devotions or quiet time.

b)       If they don’t do a QTime, they’ll others on how to do that.  They’ll fit their schedule around studying God’s Word.  They’ll learn the realm of Scripture, what the books are, the flow, why there are 2 Testaments, etc. etc

c)       They will be people who talk about the Lord and His Word with others more than they talk about the weather or sports or even politics.  They will talk about those, but because the Lord and His Word is in their heart, they can’t help but talk about Him.  Cf. Matt. 15:18-19.

d)       They will be renewed Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:22-24 and miracles of change will be going on in their life and family.

e)       They will be looking for opps to be accountable and growing in a relational environment.  They won’t be shy about being worried to give a wrong answer.  They want an opportunity to talk about how life, questions, and problems relate to the character of God.

f)        Then the person will want to ensure, diligently, that their children AND grandchildren are learning to walk worthy of the Lord.  They will look for opps sitting down, walking, lying down at night and getting up in the morning to focus other people attention on the Lord, etc. etc.

3)       How many times was Peter called to follow by Jesus?  _at least 2 times___ (compare John 1:35-42 with Matt. 4:18-20).  What do you suppose was going through Peter’s mind?

a)       This all makes sense, but I have to work a job.  I have to provide for my wife and family.

b)       This guy seems like the Messiah, but I don’t understand my role.

c)       How do I know what to do?  I don’t know enough yet.

d)       I fish, what else is there in life.  We have a fleet of boats to acquire.  I compete with other fishermen.

e)       Do I trust this man?  God has been silent for so long, how do I know?

4)       What are the three challenges Jesus makes in Luke 9:57-62? 

a)       __place to stay/provisions_______ ; __family responsibilities________;

              __Connections to this world_________

 

b)       What are examples of challenges today that you face in considering the invitation by Jesus (Luke 9:57-62)?  How do they hinder disciples from being fully committed to follow Jesus?

i)         Provisions

(1)     How much will I need to provide for myself and family?

(2)     What if the govt taxes me to death?

(3)     How will I know how God is going to provide?

(4)     I haven’t gone here before, I don’t know the way

(5)     I really don’t know you, Lord, well enough. The risks are too great.

ii)       Family responsibilities

(1)     I have to raise my family and that’s all I can do

(2)     We have vacations and hobbies to keep up; others will have to be taken care of by others

(3)     It might be the last day of my parent’s life, I’ll have to spend it with them, day after day.

(4)     I don’t like people, I have to put up with my family

(5)     I have things to take care of, house, car, job, stuff.  I can measure how I’m doing with them.

(6)     I can’t measure how well I’m doing following the Lord

iii)      Connections to the world

(1)     Once I get my retirement in place, then I’ll help the Lord

(2)     Once my children are launched, then I’ll serve

(3)     Once I have children, I’ll get involved

(4)     I have so much stuff, I might need it.

Application of the message to life:

5)       Are you ready to seek the next stage of growth?  What are three things you might have to do or rearrange in your life?

a)       Redo my schedule, so I fit my life into knowing and letting Jesus live out in my life.

b)       Be faithful in devotions to learn Scripture.

c)       Read a book on the outline of Scripture.

d)       Join a FG or HG to grow with other believers

e)       Be willing to put the Word into action

f)        Take steps to put people as more important than myself

g)       Come to the message next week.

6)       Do you know the miracle and joy of taking responsibility for discipling others in Jesus?  How is that more fulfilling than not having spiritual responsibilities?

a)       Responsibility is tough, because things don’t always turn out well

b)       Responsib. Means being rejected and I don’t like it, so why have it

c)       Responsib. Means watching others grow and seeing changes.  It means letting God move through me to be more other centered, than self-centered, which is a miracle.  It means I’m a part of the Lord’s purpose and mission of making disciples. It means I’m obedient and there are eternal rewards.

Q & A: Stages of Growth

 This goes with the message that was posted on January 21, 2013 of this blog. I have included the insert for a quick review and the Message Based Discussion Questions follow. The purpose is to provide material for personal reflection or group discussion. The questions are designed to be answered in far more than one or two sentence answers.

Strategy for Grace
Stages of Growth
1 John 2:12-14
January 20
 


What is the spiritual growth process of the normal Christian?

1) Unbeliever – Spiritually dead Eph. 2:1-3

  • This person does not know Jesus and has not accepted Him as Savior. He is unbelieving and rebellious.

2) Spiritual Infant – focus on self 1 Cor. 3:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:2-3

  • This person has accepted Jesus as His Savior, but is not connected in a relationship environment for the purpose of Biblical Discipleship. He is ignorant of God’s Word, confused and dependent on others.

3) Spiritual Child What can I get? 1 Jn. 2:12; 1 Thes. 2:10-12; Phm 1:8-11

  • This person recognizes his need for relationships with other Christians and is connected in a relational environment for the purpose of discipleship, but life is all about him. He is self-centered, prideful, idealistic and has either a high or low view of self often because he lives by pride or emotions.

4) Spiritual Young Adult – wants to serve 1 Jn. 2:13-14; Gal. 5:13-14

  • He recognizes his part in the body of Christ. This person has moved from self-centeredness to God- and other-centeredness. He is characterized by service, zeal, mission and spiritual independence. He learns to push on when discouraged.

5) Spiritual Parent reproducing 1 Jn 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2

  • He has been serving and ministering and now thinks in terms of reproducing. He can feed himself and intentionally recruits people for personal growth and reproducing disciple-makers on the church team.

(These stages are not based on the content of Bible knowledge, but practical implementation)
 

“Phrase” from the Stage (these are typical phrases of people who are in these spiritual stages of growth)

Unbeliever
I don’t believe there is a god
The Bible is just a bunch of myths
Evolution explains away God
God is just a crutch
Jesus is only one way
Spiritual Infant
I believe in Jesus, but my church is when I’m in the woods.
I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian
I gave my life to Jesus and I go to church, but I don’t need to be close to other people
I pray and read my Bible; that is good enough for me.
Spiritual
Child
I love my small group; don’t add any more people to it.
Who are all these people coming to my Church? Tell them to go somewhere else!
I am not coming to church anymore.  It has become too big; it has too many people.
I didn’t like the music today.  If only they did it like…”
Spiritual
Young Adult
I think I could lead a group with a little help. I have three friends I have been witnessing to, and this group would be too big for them.
Randy and Rachel missed group and I called to see if they are okay.  Their kids have the flu, so maybe our group can make meals for them. I’ll start.
I am so exhausted this week I called all sixty men from men’s breakfast to see how they were.
Spiritual
Parent
This guy at work asked me to explain the Bible to him.  Pray for me.
We get to baptize someone from our small group tonight. When is the next Belonging class? I want to get her plugged into ministry somewhere.
I realized discipleship happens at home… will you hold me accountable to disciple my kids

 

Typical Beliefs, Behaviors and Attitudes of the Stage

Unbeliever
Unbelief , rebellion, blind to truth
Belief in one God, but many ways to get to Him
Anger toward Christians / Church
Ignorance and or confusion about God, Jesus and the Church
Misinformed about spiritual/biblical truth; spiritual blindness
Spiritual
Infant
Ignorance about what they need spiritually and what the Bible says about life
Ignorant about or frustrated toward Christianity and the church
Belief that Christians can make no mistakes (no tolerance of)
Unrealistic expectations of themselves and others
Confusion about the Christian way of life
Mixing Christianity and other religions and not knowing it.
Spiritual
Child
Excitement of deeper relationships
They appreciate sp. changes
Understand Christian lingo, but:
Have high expectations of others
Believe feelings are most important, which leads to spiritual highs and lows
Compare themselves to others and compete with them
Lack wisdom how to use what they are learning- for example too aggressive when sharing their faith or too legalistic in their approach to dealing with friends and family
Belief that people are not caring for them enough
Spiritual
Young Adult
Desire to serve for others’ good and the glory of God
Feel responsible for how others respond to the gospel message
Possible pride if a person accepts the message and possible discouragement if they don’t
Desire to serve but not strategic about how to train others
Black and white about what should happen in a church
Spiritual
Parent
Has a coach’s mindset
Wants to see people mature
Reproduces disciples
Can feed themselves
Values the church team

 Spiritual Needs of the Stage  (These are needs of people in the spiritual stages)

Unbeliever
Secure relationship with a growing believer
A picture of the real Jesus
Answers, evidences for Christ
An explanation of the gospel
An invitation to receive Christ
Spiritual
Infant
Individual attention from a spiritual parent
Protection
An explanation of truth from God’s Word
An explanation and modeling of the habits of growing believers
Spiritual
Child
A spiritual family
Help to start feeding themselves
Teaching who they are in Christ
Teaching about how to have relationships with others
Spiritual
Young Adult
A place to learn to serve
A spiritual parent who will debrief them about ministry
Ongoing encouraging relationships and accountability
Guidance regarding expectations of people they will serve
Spiritual skills training
Spiritual
Parents
An ongoing relationship with co-laborers
A church family
Encouragement in discipleship

God calls each of us to become spiritual parents.

 

 
Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      What physical stage of life do you enjoy the most?  This is a personal response all should answer seriously or playfully.  Some will say being a child, because of no responsibility. Some will say a young adult, because of freedoms, etc.

Digging Deeper: Study 1 Cor 3:1-3; 1 Jn 2:12-14

 2)      Based on the charts, what are some other phrases of a child?

a)       The elder looked at me, but didn’t say hi to me.

b)       No one ever visits me.

c)       Why don’t we have a bingo night every week at church?

d)       If this was a really good church, it would have a rose garden.

e)       I love my friends at church, but they don’t invite me over.

f)        I’m just no good at doing anything.

g)       I can teach a class; why don’t you just give me people to teach.

3)      What are phrases of a parent?

a)       I’ve called my home group to get together to help at the church picnic.

b)       There are two young men who are ready to take the next step of serving at church.  Where do you think would be the best place for them?

c)       I have three gals who want to meet and get help in parenting.  What material do you recommend?

d)       “You really did a nice job in serving as usher.  I liked how you greeted each person with a smile and you helped them find a seat.”

e)       I’m having trouble with a couple in my home group of controlling the conversation.  Do you have any advice on how to address that?

f)        I took pastor’s message and after going through the discussion questions, found some great  passages related to the study and helped me.  Let me share them with you.

g)      There’s a couple teenagers that are having trouble with their language at church.  Pray for me that I can help them honor God with their words and represent the Lord with their lives.

4)      What are differences between a child and young adult? 

a)       Child is interested in learning; YA is interested in also serving.

b)       Child is interested in what makes them excited; YA is interested in what would help the group learn about Jesus.

c)       Child has unrealistic expectations on people; YA excepts people and tries to share Scripture.

d)       Child says you can’t celebrate Christmas with a tree; YA accepts another person’s view that a holiday can be celebrated in different ways before the Lord.

e)       Child complains because people don’t do enough for them; YA is glad to be serving and isn’t concerned if people are taking care of them.

f)        Child learns to be smarter than others; YA learns because he wants to grow in a relationship with the Lord.

g)       Child tries to shove Jesus in witnessing to others; YA shares the gospel and either gets pride from a good response or gets discouraged when there is no response.

5)      Why is it important to understand the Spiritual needs of each stage?  What are the needs of spiritual infants and children?

a)       Have to understand spiritual needs of each stage, because that helps us know how to relate to people in those stages.

b)       Have to understand, so we don’t put unrealistic expectations on people.

c)       Have to understand because you know what you can expect from others.

d)       So you don’t judge and condemn people for being self-centered; you help them grow through it with a focus on Jesus.

e)       So you provide sp. Nurturing so they can grow.

f)        So you can see the progression of spiritual growth.

g)      So you are more compassionate and merciful

Application of the message to life:

6)      What are four things you could do to ensure you are growing up spiritually?

a)       Know the stages of growth

b)       Check my words for knowing my focus and what I’m doing

c)       Study God’s Word to understand His level of holiness.

d)       Know that sp. Parenting is where I want to grow.

e)       Dependent on the Holy Spirit to understand Scripture and be empowered to walk by His power.

f)        Engaged in church where I have opportunities to put into practice things that can be done at each level of growth.

g)       Being in an intentional discipleship ministry.

h)       Engaged in a relational environment

i)         Looking for or preparing to disciple others.

7)      If you want to be considered spiritually mature, what needs to be true?

a)       I must be a young adult moving toward parenting.

b)       I must be preparing to disciple others

c)       I must have others following me.

d)       I must be helping them with people who will follow them.

e)       It is not based on how much I know, but how much I’m doing in the power of the Holy Spirit according to His Word.

 

Q & A: Growing Disciple-Makers

This goes with the message that was posted on January 19, 2013 of this blog. I have included the insert for a quick review and the Message Based Discussion Questions follow. The purpose is to provide material for personal reflection or group discussion. The questions are designed to be answered in far more than one or two sentence answers.

Strategy for Grace –  Growing Disciple-Makers
Matt. 4:18-20
January 6, 2013

 

What do you need to make committed disciples?

Understand what a disciple is:   What is a disciple?  Learner, follower: the curious, convinced and committed.  (cf. John 1:43-46; 2:1-2; 2:22; Matt 4:18-22)

A committed disciple is:

·         Committed to following Jesus.  Luke 9:23; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21

·         Committed to being changed by Jesus.  Rom. 8:29; 12:2 

·         Committed to the mission: growing disciples who are making disciples.  Matt. 28:19-20  

Who is called to be a disciple-maker? _______________.

Understand four keys to develop Disciple-making:

1)       Biblical Foundation –Your understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ will deepen your desire to please Him and fulfill His will to make disciples who make disciples. Matt. 7:24-27; 2 Tim. 3:16-17

2)       Intentional DiscipleshipThis takes the accidental out of discipleship     Eph. 4:11-13.  Jesus had intentional actions.  Matt 14:15-18, 27-31; Luke 10: 1; 22:7-13; John 6:5-6

3)       Relational Environmentit must be small enough for open communication and trust. 1 Cor. 12:25   Must spend time with the people Deut. 6:7-9 in real teaching to establish a biblical worldview. John 17:17; Matt. 4:4; Ps. 119:105

4)       Reproducible Process – we must develop a process to reproduce or all we will do is add. Matt. 28:18-20

What would the model look like?

·         It has to deal with fear factors – failure; fool; fake

·         It has to deal with trust in relationships

·         It has to deal with talking with others (people don’t want to be wrong)

·         It has to provide OJT because we learn by doing

·         It has to amply provide encouragement with accountability

Jesus calls you to be His committed disciple.  How? Acts 1:8, 6-11

·         Discipleship is a flexible step by step process. Disciples are shown how to take each step.  Everyone learns by trial and error.  You need an environment whereby you can make mistakes.  You need someone to pick you up and encourage you to get back in the battle. Luke 9:1-3

·         Disciples are those committed to Jesus, who will change them.  However, He will change you only as you humbly request His change and put into practice what you are learning.  Change will not happen by listening only Jam. 1:22
·         Discipleship occurs in an intentional, relational environment.  Relationships that keep picking you up and helping you become fishers of men.  Matt 4:18-22

 
Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      How many children did your grandparents have? How many children came from those children?  How many grandchildren and great grandchildren?

a)      This question is designed to involve everyone in the small group and each answer will be personalized.

b)      The purpose is to allow each person to sense they have something to contribute and allow them to become transparent.

Digging Deeper:

2)      What are examples of how parents disciple children physically and spiritually (cf. Deut. 6:5-9)?

Physical parenting
Spiritual parenting
Teach to feed self
Learn how to study Bible
Teach how to talk
Teach how to pray
Teach how to belong to family
Help identify with God’s family
Teach how to dress
Learn how to act with service
Teach to be fiscally responsible
Teach to be a good steward
Teach responsibility with chores
Teach to serve with good works
Teach how to prepare food
Teach how to lead small group
Teach how to get along
Teach Christian fellowship
Teach how to get an education
Teach how to prepare for life
Teach how to raise parents
Teach stages of growth to parent
Teach how to be a citizen
Teach citizenship in heaven

3)      What are five things that prevent Christians from becoming spiritual parents?

a)      Distorting the use of the word mature

b)      Not understand God’s expectations to make disciples

c)      Becoming complacent about spiritual growth

d)     Not developing a soul-winning heart to disciple others

e)      Impatience with the sins of others

f)       Unrealistic expectations on others

g)      Failure to develop a biblical foundation

h)      Not seeing the need of intentional discipleship

i)        Living as a loner rather than pursuing a relational environment

j)        Fear that they don’t have what it takes to grow up and lead

k)      Fear to look like a fool and not do the right thing

l)        Fear that others will find out they may not have a plan for helping others, so they give up before trying

m)    Pride that prevents people from becoming a disciple

n)      Lacking compassion to help others grow

o)      Listening to the devil’s lie that they don’t know enough

p)      Sitting in the stands and watching rather than getting onto the field and making a difference

4)      What does it look like to be a committed disciple of Jesus Christ?

a)      One who is committed to following Jesus as his head

b)      One who is committed to being changed by Jesus

i)        One who consumes God’s Word

ii)      One who is consistent in studying God’s Word

iii)    One who is more concerned about spiritual issues than earthly

iv)    One who isn’t set in his ways

v)      One who asks others for accountability

vi)    One who asks others to help them see blind spots

vii)  One who asks God to sanctify himself with God’s Word

c)      One who is committed to the mission

i)        One who is being discipled

ii)      One who is seeking to disciple others

iii)    One who has a passion to see others grow spiritually

iv)    One who is involved in relationships of spiritual growth

v)      One who has others following him spiritually

5)      Of the four keys to develop Disciple-making, which do you think is the most important?  Why?

a)      A biblical foundation is the most important, because that sets the stage for all the others.  That keeps the others on track before the holiness of God.  That is the foundation upon which all is built.

b)      The others are also important and are the fruit of the biblical foundation.

i)        If you don’t have intentional discipleship, you have accidental growth rather than deliberate growth. You need a biblical plan of helping people move from one spiritual stage to the next for the best accountability in spiritual growth.

ii)      If you don’t have a relational environment, you have an academic learning environment.  These are real people who must learn how to relate with real people.

iii)    If you don’t have a reproductive process, you may have good addition, but people won’t learn how to take responsibility and become a part of the growth process.  The reproductive process is essential for multiplication in the Great Commission.

Making application from the message:

6)      What are the three most difficult challenges people face in becoming spiritual parents in Indianapolis?  How can we work together to overcome them?  (here’s some suggestions)

a)      Challenges:

i)        Fear that they don’t have what it takes to grow up and lead

ii)      Fear to look like a fool and not do the right thing

iii)    Fear that others will find out they may not have a plan for helping others, so they give up before trying

iv)    Pride that prevents people from becoming a disciple

v)      Lacking compassion to help others grow

vi)    Listening to the devil’s lie that they don’t know enough

vii)  Sitting in the stands and watching rather than getting onto the field and making a difference

b)      We can work to overcome:

i)        By emphasizing the team instead of the person/self

ii)      By humbling asking what I can do to grow

iii)    By humbling asking and reading material on how to grow up to the next level

iv)    By accepting that no one is perfect and keeping our eyes on the Lord rather than each other

v)      By pressing forward rather than waiting

 

7)      What are possible changes a committed disciple would need to make in order to be considered committed?  (some considerations)

a)      May need to spend more time in God’s Word, than the television

b)      May need to carve out a home group time than watch a desired program

c)      May need to crack the Bible to learn spiritual truths than failing to launch in the spiritual life

d)      May need to depend on God and be stretched rather than just doing everything according to human power

e)      May need to humble self to change in areas not yet known

f)       May need to allow others to evaluate your life

g)      May need to get together with people regularly for growth

h)      May need to consider others more important than self

i)        May need to memorize God’s Word to not sin against Him

j)        May need to invite others to follow rather than doing things by self

k)      May need to revamp the schedule so it shows where time is spent.

 

Q & A: State of the Church

This goes with the message that was posted on December 31 of this blog.  I have included the insert for a quick review and the Message Based Discussion Questions follow.  The purpose is to provide material for personal reflection or group discussion.  The questions are designed to be answered in far more than one or two sentence answers.

State of the Church: Vision
Matthew 28:18-20
December 30, 2012

Connecting together to worship God          1 Cor. 12:19-25

Equipping together in grace to be more like Christ           Eph. 4:11-14

Multiplying together with the gospel to reach the world               Matt 28:18-20

God loves to multiply people:

Gen 1:28; 9:1,7; 17:2, 20; 22:17; 26:24; 28:3; 35:11; Ex. 32:13; Lev. 26:9; Deut. 6:3; 7:13; 8:1, 13; 28:63; 30:5, 16; Acts 6:1,7; 12:24; Heb. 6:13-14

God wants us to spiritually reproduce: 2 Tim. 2:2; John 14:12

Who is called to be a disciple-maker?

 Jesus is my model for everything.  He was __single___. 

How were you Connected?               Luke 6:12-13

      ·         How am I currently reaching or connecting others?                

How are you being Equipped?           Luke 9:1-10

·         How am I helping to build up others?                            

      ·         How am I equipping others for ministry? (for outreach, service, discipling) 

How am I Multiplying, so more will follow?   Luke 10:1,17-21

·         How am I helping others to grow deeper?     

Jesus commanded each of us to make disciples.
How? Acts 1:8, 6-11

·         Does our model facilitate 80% of the church reproducing? 

      ·         How are we developing disciple-makers?
      ·         Will you humbly ask the Lord what His next step is for you?

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      How many children were in your family?  How many children did he/she/they produce?

a)      This question is designed to involve everyone in the small group and each answer will be personalized.

b)      The purpose is to allow each person to sense they have something to contribute and allow them to become transparent.

Digging Deeper:

2)      Where do you learn the most in Scripture about parenting? What passages come to mind?

a)      Most of the parenting lessons are found in Proverbs.  Most of the book is written by Solomon to his son.  Many of the other portions are written by others that have direct application to parent/child relationships.

b)      There are parenting stories found in the OT.

i)        Isaac’s partiality with his sons Gen. 25:28; 27:6-17

ii)      Samuel’s failures with his sons 1 Sam. 2:27-36; 4:10-22

iii)    David’s failures with his sons 2 Sam. 12:10; 13:1-18:33

c)      There are parenting principles

i)        Father’s commanding his children Gen. 18:19

ii)      Telling children of God’s mighty deeds Ex. 10:2

iii)    Teaching children of God’s provision Ex. 12:26-27

iv)    Helping children understand holiness Lev. 20:9; 23:3

v)      Diligently teaching children God’s Word Deut. 4:9-10

vi)    Using every opportunity to train children Deut. 6:1-24

vii)  Parents will pity their children Ps. 103:13

viii)            Parents will correct their children Pro. 3:12

ix)    Parents will provide for children Pro.  13:22-24

x)      Parents will chasten while there is hope Pro. 19:18

xi)    Parents have deep love for children Is. 49:15

xii)  Parents will reach a child’s heart Mal. 4:6

xiii)            Parents will love Jesus more than child Matt. 10:37

xiv)            Parents will not exasperate children Eph. 6:4

xv)  Parents will exhort and charge children 1 Thes. 2:10-12

xvi)            Elders with children must be controlled 1 Tim 3:4,5

 

3)      How would you apply human parenting to spiritual parenting?

Human parents
Spiritual Parent
Change diapers
Deal with sin
Give clean diaper
Teach 1 John 1:9
Put on clean clothes
Teach dependence on HS
Feed food
Feed Word of God
Welcome to family
Welcome to God’s family
Learn to speak
Learn to pray
Teach self-control
Teach Fruit of Spirit
Teach how to get along
Help learn fellowship
Learn to consider others
Place others more important
Etc.
 

 

4)      What kinds of things prevent Christians from becoming spiritual parents?

a)      Distractions in the world, so they don’t study God’s Word

b)      Lack of hope in life to trust God

c)      Isolation in the world from other growing Christians                       

d)     Failure to develop a quiet time to grow in Christ

e)      Lack of dependence on the Holy Spirit         

f)       Lack of learning how God works all things for good

g)      Lack of being a disciple

h)      Lack of taking responsibility for one’s actions

i)        Knowing what to do and not doing it

j)        Being a hearer of the word and not a doer

k)      Rejecting biblical authorities, like parents

l)        Lack of assembling with others in church

m)    Sin in life: mental attitude, verbal and overt sins

n)      Pursuing the things of the world instead of God

o)      Lack of being taught stages of spiritual Growth

p)      Staying in a personal comfort zone and not stepping out

q)      Not being more concerned about others than for self

r)       Not “walking” with the Lord Jesus

s)       Not growing up spiritually

Application of the message to life:

5)      What are the three most difficult challenges people face about becoming  spiritual parents in Indianapolis?  How can we work together to overcome them?

a)      Challenges:

i)        Fear that they don’t have what it takes to grow up and lead

ii)      Fear to look like a fool and not do the right thing

iii)    Fear that others will find out they may not have a plan for helping others, so they give up before trying

iv)    Pride that prevents people from becoming a disciple

v)      Lacking compassion to help others grow

vi)    Listening to the devil’s lie that they don’t know enough

vii)  Sitting in the stands and watching rather than getting onto the field and making a difference

b)      We can work to overcome:

i)        By emphasizing the team instead of the person/self

ii)      By humbling asking what I can do to grow

iii)    By humbling asking and reading material on how to grow up to the next level

iv)    By accepting that no one is perfect and keeping our eyes on the Lord rather than each other

v)      By pressing forward rather than waiting

6)      What kind of organization/organism/system/set-up would you devise to develop spiritual parents?

a)      This is whatever the person might contribute….

b)      Home groups where people are challenged, contribute and realize they are growing.

c)      Home groups where people can become transparent and talk through their understandings

d)     Home groups where there is accountability to keep growing

e)      Home groups where I can put into practice by leading

f)       Home groups where I can reach out to others and bring them into the group and have others help me encourage this person to grow spiritually

MSG: Strategy for Grace – Stages of Growth

          This is the third of four messages on the Strategy for Grace Evangelical Church in Indianapolis.  The first two messages were given on December 30, 2012 and January 6, 2013.  I invite you to read through them to understand the sequence and background for this message.  If you desire to listen to them, you can pick them up on www.indygrace.org.  I also invite your comments and questions at the bottom of this post.

Strategy for Grace – Stages of Growth

1 John 2:12-14

January 20, 2013

 
One of the greatest miracles of life is the conception and birth of a human baby.  God’s infinite wisdom provides the miracle of a body that develops, grows and then reproduces in time.  The body is an amazing creation.  Although many of us have experienced sickness this fall and winter, the body is very resilient to return to health.  We all go through a process of physical growth. 

There are five stages.  There is the twinkle in your father’s eye.  That’s the stage before you were born, when you did not exist as a baby.  The second stage is an infant or baby.  The third stage is a child.  The fourth stage is young adult.  And the fifth stage is being a parent.  Someone offered me a sixth stage, which is the broken down grandpa stage, to which I said, “Amen!” but wouldn’t add it to the list!  Let me describe the last four stages.

The second stage is the infant stage. We start out as helpless babies, the apple of parent’s eyes.  The baby infant cannot provide, defend or do anything for himself when he is born.  Without caregivers, the baby would die, but with loving, nurturing and protecting parents, a baby will survive and thrive. A baby is born with reflex actions like the startle reflex at loud noises, and the grasp reflex when an object is put in the hand.  The infant responds to warm touch, learns by imitating sounds and develops into a thinking, playing, walking and building child.

The third stage is child.  The 3-year-old child learns to balance, to hop, to skip, to catch and to take care of necessary needs.  Slowly by imitation, the child learns to print and write, cut, paste, play ball and his most difficult achievement – to play well with others.  An infant doesn’t know how to play well with others.  We teach a child the world doesn’t revolve around him. The child must be taught to be a young adult or the child will still be living at home dependent on momma at age 25.

The fourth stage is young adult.  The young adult realizes there is a world around him and he needs to adjust to it.  The young adult sees opportunities for education and training and tries those opportunities to see what he’s good at and where he finds success.  The young adult uses his God-given strengths and talents to engage in social conversations, work and refinement of values for living with others.   The young adult learns the importance of behavior, which conforms to social values and that good behavior is maintained by the presence of authority, which is a good thing.  In time, the young adult leaves his parents and cleaves to a God-given partner and they often become parents.

The fifth stage is being a parent. The parent is the person who assumesresponsibility for reproduction and raises one like himself.  Parents die to themselves for the sake of the infant.  They provide unconditional warm touch, constant nurturing and protective care to a helpless infant who needs over a decade of care, protection, instruction and training unto righteousness.

The same is true spiritually.  God has provided spiritual stages of growth for us to grow and develop in His spiritual growth cycle. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone understood what the spiritual stages were and where we each fit?  What is the spiritual growth process of the normal Christian?

The spiritual growth process includes five stages.  These are important to understand, so that we can grow to the next spiritual stage and help others grow in their spiritual journey.  The goal is to become a spiritual parent. 

The first spiritual stage is that of the unbeliever.  Everyone begins as an unbeliever and is spiritually dead before God.

1)      Unbeliever – Spiritually dead                Eph. 2:1-3

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,  2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Eph 2:1-3)

  • Ephesians 2:1-3 above describes everyone.  Every single person begins in this stage and everyone begins living as a son of disobedience.  We begin life living in sin and need to trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ, in that He died on the cross for our sins.  When we as sinners trust in Jesus Christ, God accepts us into His family (John 1:12).  We all lived pursuing the desires (lusts) of our flesh and what we thought was right.  We had to learn truth from Scripture from someone who was willing to teach us the truth. 
  • This person does not know Jesus and has not accepted Him as Savior.  He is unbelieving and rebellious.

2)    Spiritual Infant – focus on self             1 Cor. 3:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:2-3

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?  (1 Cor. 3:1-3)

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Pet. 2:2-3)

  • Paul was writing to believers above in 1 Corinthians 3.  They were babes, because they were focused on themselves and didn’t care what others thought.  They were divisive, envious and full of strife.  They were still living like unbelievers, which is what spiritual infants do.  They were still sucking on milk. 
  • Peter tells those in the Dispersion that they should long for the milk of God’s Word, because that’s how they are going to grow.  Peter acknowledges they hadn’t been discipled and were not growing well.  They had persecution and the milk of the Word would get them through and able to grow stronger.
  • This person has accepted Jesus as His Savior, but is not connected in a relationship environment for the purpose of Biblical Discipleship.  He is ignorant of God’s Word, confused and dependent on others.

3)    Spiritual Child    What can I get?        1 John 2:12; 1 Thes. 2:10-12; Phm 1:8-11

I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake… I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. (1 John 2:13)

You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children,12that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thess. 2:10-12)

Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you— being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ– 10I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. (Philem 1:8-11)

  • John writes to spiritual children that their sins are forgiven.  Why?  In the physical realm, children grow and thrive best in a home where there is stability, security and love expressed in forgiveness.  It’s true also in the spiritual realm.  When people feel oppressed, judged and condemned, they don’t thrive.  They barely make it spiritually, so John makes sure they understand their sins are forgiven and they can keep trying to learn about how great God is, even when we sin.  It’s been said that 85% of people who are committed to mental institutions would be able to walk out the door if they knew they were forgiven.  That’s why the spiritual life is so important to help people grow up from living in sin and living righteous lives.
  • Paul remarks in Thessalonians that he is like a father to children who while they may need comfort, they also need exhortation and  challenge to keep growing and not remain children.  Don’t be that young man dependent on momma at age 25.
  • Then in Paul’s letter to Philemon, we see a beautiful example of Paul’s exhortation to Philemon to forgive the spiritual child Onesimus, who has just become a Christian and he needs a spiritual parent who will take him in and let him eventually prove his spiritual worth.
  • This person recognizes his need for relationships with other Christians and is connected in a relational environment for the purpose of discipleship, but life is all about him.  He is self-centered, prideful, idealistic and has either a high or low view of self often because he lives by pride or emotions.

4)    Spiritual Young Adult – wants to serve         1 John 2:13-14; Gal. 5:13-14

I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one… I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one. (1Jo 2:13b – 14b)

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:13-14)

  • As John writes, the young adult has learned a great deal of God’s word and is applying it.  He is a doer of the word and not merely a hearer.  He overcomes the devil’s and fleshly temptations to focus on self and not serve others.  He is an overcomer!  Why is he an overcomer?  He overcomes, because he is strong from God’s Word.  He continues to depend on it and is now leading others.
  • Paul helps us understand that freedom from self is using Christian liberty in Christ for serving others.  He doesn’t use his Christian liberties for his own purposes, but for the name of Jesus in loving others.
  • He recognizes his part in the body of Christ. This person has moved from self-centeredness to God- and other-centeredness.    He is characterized by service, zeal, mission and spiritual independence. He learns to push on when discouraged.

5)    Spiritual Parent   reproducing            1 John 2:13-14;  2 Tim. 2:2

I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning…. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.  ( 1 John 2:13-14)

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. 2:2)

  • In the 1 John passage, John writes the exact same thing twice, except he writes “I write” in verse 13 and “I have written” in verse 14.  It’s not because he is old or has forgotten.  God is making very clear to us that “Fathers” or spiritual parents are in an intimate relationship with the Lord and are doing His will.  They know about the word and they know about God.  But far more than knowing about the Word or God, they know God.  They understand His character and His will.  They know God.  They are living the Great Commandment (Love God and love others) and they are living the Great Commission (Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…).
  • In Paul’s letter to Timothy, we see the four generations of biblical discipleship.  Paul is writing to his disciple Timothy.  Paul exhorts Timothy to disciple faithful men who will be willing to disciple others.  That is “knowing” God and being obedient to Him.  The spiritual parent has an ongoing intimate relationship with the Father and is seeking to obey God in the most important commands given to Christians.
  • He has been serving and ministering and now thinks in terms of reproducing.  He can feed himself and intentionally recruits people for personal growth and reproducing disciple-makers on the church team.

Please note: These stages are not based on the content of Bible knowledge, but practical implementation.
Now how do you know what stage you are in?  You can tell what stage you are in by your words and by your actions.  Jesus makes this very clear in Luke 6:43-45:

“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  44 “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.  45“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45)

            Jesus is saying that if we’re walking with Him, our words and actions will reflect God’s Word and if our words do not reflect God’s word, we should examine ourselves.  We can know, IF we are a genuine Christian, whether we are living according to the flesh or according to the Spirit.  More specifically, what comes out of your mouth and your actions explain well where you are spiritually. 

    
            The chart below explains fives stages of spiritual growth.  Each of the stages has common expressions that identify them.  Read through the chart and then note the descriptions of the typical beliefs, behaviors and attitudes from the stages in the second chart.  The second chart gives more specifics, which describe why each spiritual stage expresses different kinds of words.

“Phrase” from the Stage

Unbeliever
I don’t believe there is a god.
The bible is just a bunch of myths.
I don’t believe in miracles.
Evolution explains away a need for God.
God is just a crutch.
There are many ways to get to God; Jesus is only one way.
Spiritual
Infant
I believe in Jesus, but my church is when I’m in the woods.
I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.
I gave my life to Jesus and I go to church, but I don’t need to be close to other people.
I don’t have time to be in a relationship with other Christians.
My spouse is my accountability partner; I don’t need anyone else.
I pray and read my Bible; that is good enough for me.
Spiritual
Child
I love my small group; don’t add any more people to it.
Who are all these people coming to my Church? Tell them to go somewhere else!
I am not coming to church anymore.  It has become too big; it has too many people.
My small group is not taking care of my needs.
They aren’t teaching what I want to hear, so I’m going to find one that meets my needs better.
I didn’t like the music today.  If only they did it like…”
Spiritual
Young Adult
I think I could lead a group with a little help. I have three friends I have been witnessing to, and this group would be too big for a relational environment.
Randy and Rachel missed group and I called to see if they are okay.  Their kids have the flu, so maybe our group can make meals for them. I’ll start.
In my devotions, I came across something I have a question about.
I noticed that we don’t have a retirement home visitation team. Do you think I could be involved?
I am so exhausted this week. I called all sixty men from men’s breakfast to see how they were.
Spiritual
Parent
This guy at work asked me to explain the Bible to him.  Pray for me.
We get to baptize someone from our small group tonight. When is the next Belonging class? I want to get her plugged into ministry somewhere.
Our small group is going on a mission trip and I have given each person a different responsibility.  Where do you think we should go?
I realized discipleship happens at home… will you hold me accountable to disciple my kids
I have a person in my small group who is passionate about children.  Can you have the children’s ministry people call me?

             Each person in the five spiritual stages have the same value.  One stage is not more important than another stage.  However, God wants people to grow spiritually and not remain infants or children (Heb. 5:12-14).  What are other phrases that someone in each stage would say?  If you go to home group this week, you’ll pick up many more examples.

 
            This second chart gives further descriptions of the typical beliefs, behaviors and attitudes of each stage.  It’s important to understand the differences between the stages, so you as a spiritual young adult or spiritual parent can develop an intentional discipleship model to help the spiritual infant and spiritual child grow.
          

Typical Beliefs, Behaviors and Attitudes of the Stage

Unbeliever
Unbelief and rebellion.
Blind to the truth.
Belief in one God, but many ways to get to Him.
Anger toward Christians or the church.
Ignorance and or confusion about God, Jesus and the church.
Misinformed about spiritual/biblical truth; spiritual blindness.
Belief that the answers they are seeking lie in worldly prestige, power, fame and so on.
Disbelief in the supernatural, or belief in many forms of the supernatural (multiple deities, interactions with the dead, superstitions, astrology…)
Spiritual
Infant
Ignorance about what they need spiritually and what the Bible says about life
Ignorance about or frustrated toward Christianity and the church
Belief that Christians can make no mistakes (no tolerance of)
Unrealistic expectations of themselves and others
Confusion about the Christian way of life
Mixing Christianity and other religions and not knowing it.
Spiritual
Child
Excitement over having deeper relationships, which they might not have had before
Remember who they were as unbelievers so they appreciate how God has changed them
Understand much of the Christian language     But:
Disillusioned because of their high expectation of others
Belief that feelings are most important, which leads to spiritual highs and low
Comparing themselves to others and competing with them
Lack of wisdom about how to use what they are learning- for example too aggressive when sharing their faith or too legalistic in their approach to dealing with their friends and family
Belief that people are not caring for them enough
Spiritual
Young Adult
Desire to serve for others’ good and the glory of God
Feeling responsible for how others respond to the gospel message
Possible pride if a person accepts the message and possible discouragement if they don’t
Desire to serve but not strategic about how to train others
Naivety about how tell how other believers are doing – they believe that others are on fire for Jesus because one seems to be fine at church
Black and white about what should happen in a church
Spiritual
Parent
Has a coach mindset
Wants to see the people they work with mature and become fellow workers who love them but aren’t dependent upon them to complete the mission
Thinks in terms of how to help a younger believer take the next step in his development
Reproduces disciples
Feeds themselves
Values the church team

 
There is a huge caution with these charts.  If someone looks down on another Christian, because his/her life is characterized by infant or childish characteristics, it is sin.  The higher you grow spiritually, the more you die to yourself and look for opportunities to help a spiritual infant or child to grow without judging or comparison (Matt. 7:1,5; 2 Cor. 10:12).  A spiritual young adult or spiritual parent will look at a spiritual infant or spiritual child with compassion, understanding and a desire to help them grow. You never look down on someone, which is a sign of spiritual immaturity and sin. 

That is the reason for the third chart.  The third chart explains how to come alongside someone in that particular spiritual stage.  It explains what that person needs in his/her spiritual stage of growth.  It provides the basis for loving one another.  In other words, when someone is a spiritual infant, even though he might be 55 years-old, you don’t put expectations on him of a spiritual young adult or parent.  You also don’t give him responsibility he can’t handle.  Scripture says, “Let him first be tested or proven” (1 Tim. 3:10).

If Christians would follow this chart, the church would explode with spiritual growth.

 

Spiritual Needs of the Stage

Unbeliever
Secure relationship with a growing believer.
A picture of the real Jesus in front of them.
Answers, evidences for Christianity.
An explanation of the gospel message.
An invitation to receive Christ.
Spiritual
Infant
Individual attention from a spiritual parent.
Protection .
An explanation of truth from God’s Word.
An explanation and modeling of the habits of growing believers.
Spiritual
Child
A spiritual family.
Help for how to start feeding themselves.
Teaching about who they are in Christ.
Teaching about how to have a relationship with Christ.
Teaching about how to have relationships with others (believers).
Teaching about appropriate expectations concerning other believers.
Spiritual
Young Adult
A place to learn to serve.  A place to make mistakes and learn.
A spiritual parent who will debrief them about ministry experiences.
Ongoing relationships that offer encouragement and accountability.
Help for establishing appropriate relationships and actions.
Guidance regarding expectations of people they will serve.
Spiritual skills training.
Spiritual
Parents
An ongoing relationship with co-laborers.
A church family.
Encouragement.

 

This is the conclusion of this message:
 

God calls each of us to become spiritual parents.

(Disciple-makers of all the nations)

Ask yourself these questions:

In what spiritual stage am I?

Do I know how to grow to the next stage?

Am I involved in discipling others?

 

            The next message will describe the best environment for growing from one stage to the next.  It will describe how anyone coming into Grace Church can see how to reproduce themselves in six months to a year.

            Here’s the message based discussion questions that some of the home groups will be discussing.  I’d encourage you to think through them and maybe join one of the groups.  You can call the church office for more information.
Message Based Discussion Questions

What physical stage of growing up did you enjoy the most? (child, young adult, adult… or did you ever grow up J?)

 
Digging Deeper:

Based on the charts, what are some other phrases of a child?

What are phrases of a parent?

What are differences between a child and young adult? 

Why is it important to understand the Spiritual needs of each stage?  What are the needs of spiritual infants and children?
Application of the message to life:

What are at least four things you could do to ensure you are growing up spiritually?

If you want to be considered spiritually mature, what needs to be true?

*I want to gratefully acknowledge Jim Putman for great information on the three charts.