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

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.