Q & A: Abounding in Joy – Philippians 1:21-26

3 John 1:4; Phil. 2:1-2; 1 John 1:4

How do you abound with joy? Continue reading

Q & A: Strategy of Grace – Raising Spiritual Parents: Matthew 28:19-20

These are suggested answers to the Message Based Discussion Questions from the message presented on September 1, 2013.  The purpose of this is to stimulate discussion, not to provide the only answers.  Rely upon your own study and teaching of the Holy Spirit.  First, the message outline is provided, followed by the questions and answers.           

What is God’s solution to raising spiritual parents? Growing up spiritually? Continue reading

MSG: Strategy of Grace – Raising Spiritual Parents Matt. 28:19-20

This message was presented on September 1, 2013 as part of the 2013 Strategic vision revisited.

            As we transition into this second message on vision, let’s note two thoughts. First, researchers suggest that kids grow up believing that they are special, talented and can be anything they want to be, and when that doesn’t pan out, they easily fall into chronic disappointment and despair.  They think if they cannot have exactly what they want, there is little point in trying and they move home. Continue reading

Question: If not me, who?

If not me, who?
 

I remember some of the sermons growing up and one of the significant ones was from Isaiah 6.  My pastor, Pastor Johnson, gave a message from Isaiah 6:1-8.  It reads,

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.”
 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.
 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”
 8 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. 6:1-8)

It is interesting that only one attribute of God is ever mentioned three times in a row and that is God’s holiness.  It is mentioned here in Isaiah 6:3 and also Revelation 4:8.  God is holy!  And therefore He is worthy for my response to please Him in any and every way.  However, I didn’t learn that until only recently.

            When I heard the sermon on this passage, maybe 42 years ago, it was the last verse that caught my attention and the Holy Spirit used that verse and message to persuade me commit my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. I asked myself the question, “Would I be willing to say, ‘Here I am! Send me!’” to the Lord?   I had no idea what that might mean, yet I knew I really had no choice.  He is God. 

            Then I had to ask myself, “If not me, who?”  Furthermore, I needed to ask the question, “At what point would I be willing to go?”  Or, “If not now, when?”

            What about you?  Are you willing to say, “If not me, who?” and “If not now, when?”  We Christians don’t mind connectingwith other people in a home group or church service.  We don’t mind serving the Lord in a variety of ways.  We don’t mind being equipped for service and helping out either at church or another Christian brother or sister in need.  We don’t mind learning more Scripture or practical application in service.  That is all relatively easy. Here is the real question, “Where is your fruit of multiplication?” 

            These three words compose the vision statement I developed for our church last year: Connect, Equip, Multiply:

  • 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

Here is the question you need to ask yourself, “Who is following you so that you are investing in them?”  Your investment in them will multiply and influence future generations for the kingdom.  What is your fruit? Jesus said,I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Is there multiplying fruit in your life?  Jesus also said,

19 “Go therefore1 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 (Matt. 28:19-20)

Are you living a safe life of connecting and being equipped?  I praise the Lord that you are connecting and being equipped! The real Christian life is in multiplying yourself!  Multiplication is essential, so that many others will transition into future generations just like a maple tree sends out thousands of seeds to plant hundreds of trees.  Seek to become equipped to disciple others to multiply your influence in the future generations.

            Ask yourself, “If not me, who?”  And “If not now, when?”

SGL: Leadership: Casting Vision

Small Group Leadership: Casting Vision

 

Leading a small group is the next best thing after leading someone to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior.  It is the adventure of watching the Lord work through you leading others on their spiritual journey to knowing Jesus.  There are victories and setbacks.  There are amazing testimonies of God’s grace and there are the disappointments of people choosing to become distracted in the American Disneyland.

            Leading a small group is definitely about leading a discussion with a group of people, but there are also many other responsibilities of the Small Group Leader.  One of those responsibilities is “Casting Vision.” Casting Vision helps people understand many things about themselves, about spiritual growth and about building in the lives of others.  Too many times people come only for what they are going to get out of the small group.  Thankfully, God can use that motivation to get people to join a small group, but God desires that leaders cast a vision to think outside of themselves.  What are some of the purposes of a small group leader “casting vision” to people in the small group?

First, life is not about them (John 5:19, 30).  A small group leader must lead in such a way that the people enjoy going, enjoy the discussion and the challenges and enjoy taking steps of responsibility in the group. In the process, the leader must help people see there is a bigger picture of why there are small groups and the intentional discipleship involved.

Secondly, there is an urgency of the future (Phil. 3:12-13).  Small groups gather to connect1 relationships, so that people can be equipped in discipleship to Jesus Christ.  The process should lead to multiplication to reach other disciples and influence the entire world.   If people come week after week without any sense of urgency, they will continue to come and miss out on the most important part of our vision.  The most important part of our vision is “multiply together with the gospel to reach the world.”2 Until people get the vision and motivation of multiplication, they will be content with the present, rather than pursuing for the future.

Thirdly, connect the vision to Scripture (Phil. 3:14).  Scripture is the one standard that measures all that we do, highlights what we are supposed to do and keeps us on track with making sure God’s will on earth will be as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).  Scripture is God-inspired (2 Tim. 3:16).  Scripture is one of the spiritual growth ingredients (Rom. 15:13-14). Scripture is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12). Vision is not about a personal agenda.  It must be tied to Scripture to ensure it is God’s agenda.

Fourthly, in addition to vision casting, do problem casting (Neh. 2:15-18).  Let the people know what the problem is so they can see their part in what God wants to do.  Nehemiah went about the city at night and came back to the people to let them know that the problem – the wall – was in ruins and needed to be rebuilt so they would not be a reproach. Today, the reproach is a lack of disciples following Christ, a lack of vitality in Christian relationships, a lack of enthusiasm in witnessing and a lack of leaders developing other key leaders. There are many other problems like strained marriages, rebellious children, young people leaving the church, etc. etc.  Take care of the first set of problems (raising up leadership) and the second set will be overcome.

Fifthly, help them understand why they need to act (Neh. 4:12-14).  Many people can see the picture and the problem, but not understand “why” they need to act.  Too many people think someone else will act.  Too many people think there are better equipped people to act.  Too many people don’t think their contribution will matter.  Small group leaders need to help people see their contribution is essential for the urgency and the problem.

Sixthly, show how the vision affects each person (Matt. 9:36).  A small group leader casts vision, so people (sheep) know where the leader (shepherd) is guiding them.  People need to know how the vision affects them going forward and how it affects them if it doesn’t go.  What are the ramifications if the people don’t grasp the vision?  A good illustration could be taken from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  George was discouraged about life, until he saw what life was like without him in it.

Seventhly, call them to commitment (Luke 14:26, 27).  A disciple of Jesus Christ must make the commitment that nothing in life matters, but pursuing Jesus Christ.  He must decide that there are many good things to do in life and only a strong pursuit of Jesus will keep all relationships in balance.  He must commit to bearing His cross to keep all the distractions of the world in perspective and press to the ultimate objective of glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ.  A small group leader must be clear in his vision.  He must help people see the “baby steps” of spiritual growth.  He must be accessible to the people so when they have problems or questions, he is willing to talk. And he must give them measurable steps so they can see the process and progress of spiritual growth in the multiplication strategy.

            The small group leader must cast vision for the people to see where they need to go.  It’s like a shepherd leading the way to green pastures and still waters.  Cast the vision and disciple more closely those who want to follow your lead.

 

 

1Connect, Equip and Multiply are the three key words for the Grace Vision statement.

2This is the third sentence of the Grace Vision Statement.

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