Week 4 Prepare My Heart for Effective Discipleship

Week 4 Day 1

Prepare My Heart for Effective Discipleship

“…If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31b-32

Discipleship is knowing the Lord. Jesus plainly stated that a true disciple of his must continue in his word. When we do, we discover that we know the truth. Jesus not only declared truths about who he is, he boldly claimed to himself be the truth when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). He further proclaims that knowing him, the truth, sets a person free.

Far too often we settle for merely knowing about Jesus. While knowing about him brings its benefits it is a poor substitute for an ongoing personal walk with him. Only as we spend continued time with his word and listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to us can we know him and be really freed up to experience the life of a disciple.

Have you by faith begun walking with the Lord as his disciple? If you have, are you staying close to his word and listening to his Spirit teach you who he is and how to follow him? Remember, we are only genuinely set free to follow him when we continue in his word. Make it a priority now to know him through continuing in his word.

Prayer: Lord, I do want to know you. Prepare my heart to stay close to your word, listen to your guidance in my life, and be set free for genuine discipleship.

What is one true thing about Jesus?

 

W4D2

Prepare My Heart for Effective Discipleship

“My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Discipleship is hearing the Lord. Jesus likens it to the relationship of a shepherd with his sheep. The shepherd very naturally directs the sheep into what is best for them. He knows what is best for them both because of who he is and because he knows them. The sheep understand that everything the shepherd does is in their own best interest and they follow him. There is never an errant sheep unless they stop hearing the voice of the shepherd and decide to go their own way. Listening to the shepherd results in contentment and plenty. Ignoring the shepherd results in danger and want.

What an incredible thought that our great shepherd, the Lord of all creation, knows us, cares for us, and supplies us with all that we need to sustain us. We only go astray into that which robs us of peace and the riches of God’s goodness when we cease to hear his voice and instead decide to go our own way. May we never forget to heed his voice and follow him to all that we need for life in Him.

Prayer: Jesus, I trust you completely, and understand that you know me and are seeking my welfare in everything. Help me stay close to you and heed what you have to say to me, your disciple.

What is God saying to me today?

 

W4D3

Prepare My Heart for Effective Discipleship

“Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to obey better than the fat of rams.”  I Samuel 15:22

Discipleship is obeying the Lord. Samuel shared the heart of God to a people who faithfully brought sacrifices of worship to the altar, then ignored God’s will when they left the altar. This was not pleasing to the Lord. The problem was not in the sacrifices they brought to the altar, but in their attitude of disobedience to the daily will of the Lord in their lives. The offering was good, but diligently doing what God commanded was of far more worth in his eyes than the most exorbitant sacrifice they could have made.

All too often a person, or even a whole congregation, is as guilty as the Old Testament people of Samuel’s day when we “pay our dues” on a Sunday and leave to live as we please from that point on. Our prayers, hymns of worship, preaching, and tithes mean absolutely nothing to the Lord if they are not accompanied by obedience. Indeed, a person cannot follow God and go in his own way of disobedience. Our hands and hearts are clean only as we determine to obey him. Disciples must be obedient.

Prayer: God forgive me when I have ignored your will all the while going through the motions of making a pure sacrifice. Remind me of your desire that I be your disciple by obeying you.

 

W4D4

Prepare My Heart for Effective Discipleship

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Discipleship is behaving like the Lord. Being a disciple of Jesus comes at a great cost. Sometimes the cost is financial, e.g., Zacchaeus, Levi, and Barnabas. Sometimes the cost is prestige, e.g., Nicodemus and Saul of Tarsus. Sometimes the cost is giving up sinful life habits for a better way, e.g., the woman caught in adultery and the Gadarene demoniac. Sometimes the cost is putting aside a business like the fishermen apostles. In all cases the cost is to deny our own selves in order to follow Christ.

It must be noted that to truthfully follow the Lord the cost is high. Jesus said a real disciple follows the lead of Jesus on a path that led to a cross. Not always does a disciples’ devotion to Jesus result in the giving of one’s physical life, but sometimes it does. In any case the level of serving the Lord is that a follower of his lives his/her life sacrificing self-desires in order to do what God desires.

We will never experience the level of self-denial that Jesus did upon earth, but our attitude must lead us to become more and more like he was (read Ph.2:5-11). Much like a child who imitates a parent in learning to walk, we are to watch how he did it. As a child learning to walk, we find that as we continue to imitate Jesus our foundation strengthens, our balance improves, our understanding increases, our confidence is bolstered, and we can move forward with increasing progress and fewer flops. The cost of being a disciple is steep, but the rewards of his followers are far greater than the cost invested.

Prayer: Lord, teach me to be like you. Help me not to waver or fall, but when I do, remind me to put my own self aside and reach to you to lift me up and set me again on a path of following you.

When others watch me, do they see me – or Jesus in me?

 

W4D5

Prepare My Heart for Effective Discipleship

“My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8

Discipleship is producing much fruit. The life of a true disciple of Christ Jesus does not say “I am saved by his grace, now I will sit back and wait to receive glory in heaven.” Rather, a true disciple says “I am saved by his grace, now I will glorify God in my life by being a productive part of his family.

God has intentionally created each of us for worthwhile service in his kingdom. For someone to claim to be a disciple and to be fruitless in a life of service to him is ludicrous! Jesus says that the point of discipleship is glorifying the Father, that the way of glorifying him is producing much fruit, and that the proof of discipleship is when we do what glorifies the Father.

Jesus emphasized producing much fruit in the parable of the sower. He demonstrated his disdain for fruitlessness in the withering curse upon a fruitless fig tree. And he yet calls out his disciples to bear a LOT of fruit in their lives. The transformation that the Lord enacts in the life of a real disciple results in a notable transformation of attitude and action (Ga. 5:16-26). He likewise transforms each disciple to be uniquely gifted for service that builds up his church for united service to God (Eph. 4:11-16).  So, how are you demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in your attitude and actions? What is your place of giftedness in the body of Christ and how are you using it to build up his church? The answers to those questions make all the difference in whether we are doing what a true disciple does, i.e., glorifying God.

Prayer: Lord, my desire is to glorify you in all that I am and do as your disciple. Prune away anything in me that is not productive and cause me to be productive in my own life and in the life of your church.

 

W4D6

Prepare My Heart for Effective Discipleship

“Jesus came near and said to them, All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Discipleship is reproducing. One of the great joys of life is having children and grandchildren. Seeing both their uniqueness and likeness to previous generations is fascinating. If these experiences are cause of rejoicing for us, just think what reproducing disciples must mean to the heart of God. And so he commands us all to make disciples of all nations, based on his authority and presence with us in the process.

Just as God has chosen us to follow Him, He desires all people everywhere to have that same opportunity to be his disciples. When producing stops, a name dies away. In the same way, when a people of God fail to produce new disciples, the name of the Lord dissipates. On the other hand, when Jesus’ disciples produce new disciples, the name of the Lord flourishes. Show me a joyful, healthy disciple and I will show you a disciple who is making new disciples. Show me a joyful, healthy church and I will show you a church that is making new disciples.

Prayer: Lord God, I want the joy and health for myself and my church that comes from making new disciples. I go upon your authority and with you constantly with me to do just that.

 

 

W4D7

Prepare My Heart for Effective Discipleship

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters- yes, and even his own life- he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

Discipleship is prioritizing the Lord God. On the surface today’s verse is perhaps the most shocking in all of Scripture. Hatred of anyone appalls us. Indeed, from the lips of both Jesus himself and his disciples we are repeatedly taught to love. So, what is Jesus telling us in this verse?

Jesus never intended for any disciple to make him a priority in their lives. His only intention is that we make him THE priority in our lives. Our loyalty to him must cause all other relationships in life to pale in comparison. Our fervent love for the Lord must make all other loves seem as if we despised them when put alongside our love for the Lord. This singular love for the Lord is strongly commanded in the Old Testament (Deut. 6:4-9) and reiterated by Jesus as the greatest command of all in the New Testament (Mark 12:28-30; Mt. 22:34-37).

This supreme command of the Lord is simple enough to understand, it is just not easy to accomplish. It demands that the disciple of the Lord Jesus consistently seek the Lord to examine his heart and destroy the priority of the person or thing that we allow above him.

Prayer: Lord search my heart, correct me, and teach me to love you above all else.

How am I like the disciples in the Bible?

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