Sermon, Sunday January 12, 2019 – Are you a Disciple?

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Are you a Disciple?

Matthew 4:18-22

What comes to mind when you hear the word Christian? The culture we live in has a very wide spectrum of descriptions of the term “Christian”.

The first followers of Jesus didn’t call themselves Christians. It was a derogatory term used by people outside of the faith. In Acts 11:26, we see that the first Christians were known as “disciples”.

The word Christian is used 3 times in the whole Bible, whereas the word disciple is used 281 times. Disciple is a far more accurate description of what it means to follow Jesus. In fact, the concept of a disciple exposes the fact that many who claim to be Christians today are not actually disciples of Jesus.

A brief look at Hebrew history shows us that all young boys at the age of five went to school to learn the Torah, the first five books of our Bible. By the age of ten, all young boys knew the Torah and the best students went on to study the remainder of the Old Testament, while the rest returned home to work in their families’ businesses.

At the age of seventeen, the brightest of these students, who wanted to pursue a life of religious studies, would find a rabbi that they admired and then they would go and sit at his feet.

The rabbi would then scrutinize the student to see if he was worthy of being his disciple.

The rabbis could choose the smartest, most talented boys to be their disciples, because they were choosing whom they believed could become just like them—to not just know what they knew, but to do what they did. The goal of a disciple was to be like the rabbi.

I. JESUS DOESN’T CHOOSE THE BEST, HE CHOOSES THE WILLING.

In Matthew chapter four, Jesus, this new rabbi, chooses Peter and Andrew, who are fishermen. The fact that they are fishermen shows that they were not among the group that at the age of ten were selected to be a future rabbi. These guys did not make the cut, they weren’t the best of the best.

When Jesus chose his team to build His movement, he chose the B-team! So, naturally when Jesus called them, they jumped at the opportunity. Jesus chose the B-team because his work in the world wouldn’t come from their abilities for him, but from what he would do through them.

People with a lot of talent and ability would only get in the way because they would never learn to lean on his power.

JD Greer said, “Jesus taught that His power in the weakest vessel was infinitely greater than the greatest talent without Him.

God wants to use you in your family, school and workplace. Stop making excuses that you are not able. He doesn’t need your ability; He requires only your availability.

II. HE CHOSE US, NOT WE HIM.

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.  Matthew 4:19

This was very unusual for a rabbi to come and ask men to follow him, they didn’t even come to sit at his feet. He came seeking them when they weren’t even looking for Him.

But his selection gave them a great deal of confidence. If they were struggling, they could say, “Ah, but my rabbi believed in me! he chose me.” If and when you find yourself struggling with your calling as a Christian, remember that Jesus chose you (see John 15:16).

III. OUR PRIMARY CALLING IS TO BE WITH HIM.

“Follow me,” he told them …

He didn’t tell them where they were going or what assignment he had for them. And this is critical for us to understand, his primary call is not to do something; it is to become like Him. And to become like him, you must know him. To know him, you have to know his Word.

In order to be a follower of Jesus you need to meditate and feed on God’s word so that it dominates all your thinking and all your behavior. Spending time reading and praying God’s word is the what Jesus calls us to and it is essential to us knowing him.

IV. TO FOLLOW HIM, WE HAVE TO LEAVE ALL.

 “Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” Matthew 4:22

Matthew mentioned that the fishermen left their boat and their father.

The boat represents our career, our livelihood, the way we take care of ourselves.

The father represents the most significant relationship in our lives.

To follow Jesus, he must take precedence over both. Most people will not lose their family as a result of following Jesus, but for people in other parts of the world, it is a real concern.

For some, God may tell you to change careers. Maybe God will tell you transfer your job to be part of a church plant. Or leave your job and carry the gospel overseas. For many of you, it probably won’t be that dramatic. But you’ll have moments where you decide which holds greater sway over your life.

V. HE COMMANDS US TO SPIRITUALLY REPRODUCE.

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.  Matthew 4:19

Following Jesus means you subject everything in your life to his lordship. You forsake all that he has forbidden and pursue all that he has prescribed. Just like he was a fisher of men, His followers would become fishers of men. This is an essential part of being a disciple. It’s not something that only a few of us do; it’s something that each of us does. There is no such thing as a non-reproducing Christian.

How do you prove you are a disciple? By bearing fruit. And if you are not bearing fruit, you have reason to question whether you are a disciple at all (see John 15:8).

Jesus summarized his ministry, Luke 19, by saying, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” If we are His disciples, that’s how we’ll summarize our lives, too.

You are God’s method. Disciple making is simply teaching someone to follow Jesus as you follow Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus has promised to help you. So, identify your one. Ask God to help you identify one person you can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, bring to faith in Christ this year.

Who’s your One?

Sermon, Sunday January 5, 2020 – Three Types of People in the Church

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Ephesians 4:1-16

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he describes the church as the body of Christ.  Have you really thought about that? The Creator of the universe has empowered the church with the Holy Spirit and we are His representation, His hands and feet in the world today. The mobilized church is the most powerful force on the earth. Nothing can stand in the way of the power of the Creator when He inhabits the praises and answers the prayers of His people.

We have often talked about being a missional church, but this should be normal for any church. A missional church is one which equips and sends. Equipping the believers and then sending them out on a weekly basis.

We are guilty in the western world of being so focused on church growth that we have set aside the purpose of the church. There are many books and seminars on the topic of church growth, with strategies and ideas that include, environment, music, style and even coffee. Sadly, this all sounds very much like what the business world calls “customer service”.

We become so concerned with filling seats, making budgets and building buildings that we must treat attendees as paying customers and not as chosen members of the body of Christ.

In Ephesians 4:1-16, the Apostle Paul focuses the attention of the reader on the theme of unity in the church. The church is not the building or the institution, the church is the gathering of believers, those who have committed their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:3-6).

The church may be one body, but we also have an individual responsibility and part to play in this body. As Ephesians 4:7 says, we have been given spiritual gifts to be exercised in the church. There are no passengers, we are all called to be active and participate in the call of God for His church.

As I have been thinking about the church, I have identified three types of people who attend a worship service. Where do you fit in?

  1. The first group is the sick.

This includes the hurting and the broken. The church is for hurting and broken people (see Mark 2:17).  The church is not for people who have it all together, it is for those who desperately know that they need the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit in their lives. As we walk and serve together, healing comes as the power of the word of God is applied to our lives.

We can experience freedom as we focus on what God has in store for us as a church.  

The lie of the enemy is that when you struggle with sin, you must withdraw from community, but isolation is a powerful tool of the enemy (see John 8:31-32).

What Jesus did on the cross is sufficient to heal all your pain and sickness, the Bible makes this clear. The church is a place for spiritually and physically sick people.  

2: The second group is the satisfied.

This is the typical 21st century church goer who finds a church that they like after shopping around for a long time. They will stay until they are dissatisfied with the pastor or the music or what someone said.

Or, a satisfied person is someone who has been in the church since birth and everything is just the way they like it, please do not rock the boat, they are quite comfortable just the way it is.

This is the person who thrives on the customer service of the church and feels that they are paying for a quality “service”.  Another word for this person is complacent.

This churchgoer possibly made a decision for Christ years ago, they were baptized, but they are quite happy with being a Sunday Christian as long as it is convenient.

A missional church is not a comfortable church, it will be challenging for the “satisfied” church goer. A missional church grows in depth and number, but this growth comes out of stretching (Ephesians 4:15 and Galatians 2:20).  

Are you satisfied? I hope not! I hope that you will be provoked this year as we seek God’s will and purpose as a church

3. The third type of person is the searching person.

These are those people who want more out of life, who want to live a life of significance. Those who believe that they were saved for more and desire to be used by God for His eternal purposes.

Do you want to live a life of significance for the kingdom of God?

This is not living a life to be noticed or recognized by those around you. This is living for the audience of one,  our Heavenly Father. This is living a life that focuses on eternity rather than the temporal. Are you living for eternal rewards?

Deep down everyone wants significance, to live a life that makes a difference. People try to find significance in so many different ways; money, career, titles, degrees even Instagram followers, but all of these are fleeting and have no eternal value. They will not satisfy and will not lead to a life of significance.

Jesus said in Matthew 20:26 that significance comes in serving. When we prefer others and sacrificially give of our time and talents and energy to serve the body of Christ, we are living a life of significance.

So, we have three categories if people in the church.

My prayer for Grace Point is that in 2020;

  • The sick will be healed.
  • The satisfied will be provoked.
  • The searching will find significance.

It all comes down to the purpose of the church as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:12 and 16. This is a healthy church, a missional church.