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“You shall have no other gods before Me.- Exodus 20:3 NKJV

GOD wants more out of us.

I know what you are probably saying or thinking but He does.  He wants more and He deserves more.

Who are we to eek out a meager or mediocre existence when we are divinely directed to have dominion over the things if the earth and to serve as stewards over His majestic masterpiece as His “dear children?”

He wants us delivered by Him.

He wants us dedicated to Him.

He wants us developed in Him.

We are not all that we can or could be, or even what we should be. God not only wants to have us, but He also wants to help us and handle us as His own.

He has once we have accepted His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. That is the Savior’s work.

He helps us as He works in us and on us, so that He can work through us. That is the Spirit’s work.

He handles us by setting us straight and sharing His purpose and intentions with us. In other words, He makes His will known to us. That is the Scriptures’ work.

He does all of this for us with the expectation of getting more out of us. Therefore, we must confront our own complacency. We must shun our sullen slumps and dives into depression. We must relinquish routine and regulated religious acts done in a spirit of the status quo. We must answer to God for not going beyond the norm and not exceeding the epitome of earthly expectations.

Shame on us when appreciate the acceptance offered by human accolades and applause while heaven rendered silent because we have not preached Christ or His gospel. God have mercy on us when have neglected our first calling, quenching the Spirit and its unction for us to speak peace, love, mercy, grace and forgiveness into the lives of others and share the abundance of what the Lord truly offers us all and expects of every believer in His name.

Let us do better by ever going more to be better as we follow His perfect and humble example foe us.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV

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18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
-John 15:18-25 (NKJV)

The words of Jesus seem to have been spoken with both simplicity and significance.

What He said to His closest followers on that final night before His death seemed to come off as touching as Lou Gehrig’s farewell in Yankee Stadium delivered by Gary Cooper in “The Pride of the Yankees.” He spoke specifically of the things to come and how His disciples should face them with the inevitable assurance of the coming of the Helper.  He spoke directly, openly and candidly with these men about His departure.  Yet, He spoke plainly about what these men would face without Him physically present with them.

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

He kept it plain.  He said it with simplicity.  He said that they would be hated by the world since Jesus had been hated by the world.  He said it in real simple terms.  He did not want it misunderstood or misinterpreted by them.  He kept it simple, hoping them to take His words in and remember them when the time came.

If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. 

He said it with significance.  Persecution, in whatever form that it would show up, would surely come to the followers of Jesus.  Jesus said it to them while He was still with them.  That was significant.  He did not want them caught off guard by the ill treatment of the world.  He did not want them to be shocked or stunned by how cruel the world could be towards Him or His followers.

He had already shared the indication of the world’s past.  He had already spoken of Israel’s ill treatment of the prophets.  He had already shared words that had perplexed and confused in His famed Sermon on the Mount, referencing the prophets being treated to persecution prior to His coming

Why say it in such a way? Why keep it simple and plain?
Soon, after the meal had been shared and the wine had been sipped, they would see one of their own hand the Master over to His persecutors.  Once they had supped, they would be confused among themselves regarding much of what He had said.  They would question their own motives.  They would run and hide, doing no better than those disciples who “turned back and no longer followed him.” 
He said it simple and plain.  He said it with significance.  He said it so the disciples would recall it when they needed to remember it the most.  After all, we read it today and recognize that our own mistreatment is not without reason.  We follow Jesus.  We walk in His footsteps.  We get the hatred of the world that hates Him because we not of the world since He chose us out of the world and caused us to walk with Him.

Those who hate me without a cause


Are more than the hairs of my head;

They are mighty who would destroy me,

Being my enemies wrongfully;

Though I have stolen nothing,
I still must restore it.

-Psalm 69:4 (NKJV)

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good shepherd

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.- John 10:11 (NCV)

Lost people need help finding their way.  They end in the wrong places because they don’t know how to find their own way.  They need someone who can help them find their way step by step and day by day.

The Good Shepherd helps the lost find their way.  He comforts them like no one else can.  He lays down His life for the sheep within His flock.  The sheep recognize His voice.  The lost sheep are in dire need of the Good Shepherd.  He offers the sheep more than any other shepherd ever can.

Lost people need help finding their way through life.  Lost people need help finding their way in church and Christian social circles.  Lost people need help finding their way to Jesus.  Once they find Jesus, lost people will have the Good Shepherd present, protecting and providing for them all the way.

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me,15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not in this flock, and I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.– John 10:14-16 (NCV)

 

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Creating Fishers of Men:

 

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”-Mark 1:17

Practical Applications

 

  • Relevance

“fishers of men”

Jesus shared something that these fishers understood.  They knew about fishing.  Now they needed to learn about fishing for men.

  • Realism

“. . . I will make you…”

Having an understanding that we need something bigger than us to change us helps us to embrace the change as it starts and continues.

  • Relationships

John 1:35-46; 2:1, 11

When you have experienced a previous encounter with Jesus, you can be led into a deeper relationship with as you leave your nets and livelihood behind to follow Him.

  • Reputation

Mark 1:14-15

Jesus had already been preaching in Galilee.  They knew about Him.  Now they could get to know Him.

  • Resourcefulness

“Follow Me…”

The resources are conditional. We must follow Jesus in order to be made into more than we ever imagined and all that He expects of us.

  • Recognition

Matt. 4:20, 22; Luke 5:11; John 2:11

Jesus had more than charisma.  He had more than character.  He was the Christ, the Anointed One.  He was the Messiah.  He was the Son of God.  He was Immanuel, “God is with us.” People saw it and recognized something different about Jesus.  He shared that these men would no longer be recognized as smelly fishermen but saintly fishers of men.

Jesus offered these men aspects of what we all should offer others as they join our ministries.  He offered them a new way of approaching their walk in life through a calling.

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5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. – Nehemiah 8:5-6 (ESV)

The people of God were in some bad shape.  In fact, the people of God were in real bad shape when it came to the Word of God.  They had strayed from God and His commandments and it cost them dearlyThings were not going well for them economically, socially or spiritually. Yes, the walls and gates had been rebuilt, but the people of God were in need of reconstructing their own spiritual lives. 

Nehemiah chapter 8 begins to unfold their journey towards rebuilding their spiritual lives.  In order to rebuild your spiritual life, you are going to need some connection to God and His Word.  The psalmist clearly states that his own affliction and troubles were for his own good since they caused him to go to God’s WordJeremiah’s lamenting leads to his praise and thankfulness for God’s new mercies and His faithfulness despite our fickleness.  What we learn about getting spiritually straight is that His Word lays the foundation upon which we need to build the change.

The Word will set the stage for the following three things in succession:

 

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Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.-1 Corinthians 11:1

Paul outlines the dynamics of discipleship that most church leaders should take today. He doesn’t offer a do-as-I-say-not as-I-do leadership credo. He simply shares truth with a church that had numerous internal struggles a way for getting on the right track and simply following another follower of Christ. Such an approach echoes much of what Jesus shared after offering the parable of the Good Samaritan when He stated: “Go and do likewise.”

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.”

Church leaders have to see themselves leading others down the right path of Christian living. Just as Paul shared, an example of faithful Christian living should be provided to the Christian newcomer in the form of a living, breathing believer who can mentor others as the embark on their personal journey with Jesus. Every pastoral leader should have a body of people he has trained and taught for leadership roles that may or may not fit into the church’s organizational chart. If you can’t find anyone you have taught and trained for leadership, then your first move may be to pray to the Lord for insight and ideas on how to identify and start training others for future leadership roles. Here is where vision serves as a key ingredient. You’ll have to see where you want to go and design a pathway for getting there.

Paul demonstrates another key component of discipleship. Discipleship is personal. You have to be willing to allow someone to examine you up close and personal as you seek to disciple them. They’ll hear you more as they come to know and understand you more. They need to know that you are still flesh and blood behind all of that saintly speaking and righteous rhetoric.

Don’t expect to be perfect. Try with all your might, but don’t simply expect it. We are all imperfect people privileged to be working on God’s perfect plan. The journey is worth telling others because they can look forward with hope to the joy that they will experience when their Bible students get a grasp of their weekly small group lesson on righteous redemption or when the man who struggled with his identity in Christ becomes at peace with striving to be more like Him. Discipleship is exactly that; a journey that you have agreed to go on with someone else as you serve as their tour guide. Yep. That’s what it is.

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Your mission simply states why your entity, business or organization exists. It says who you are, what you do, and why and how you do what you do. In most cases, it even shares who should benefit from what you do.

“The Christian church exists to worship God first of all.”- A.W. Tozer
“Our ultimate purpose to glorify God.” – John Wesley
“Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.” – Psalm 150:6 (KJV)
Look at why we exist as Christians. Our name speaks of it. We are called ‘Christians,’ the “Christ followers” (Acts 11:26). We are His, bought with the high price of precious blood and brought into fellowship with our heavenly Father through Christ’s sacrifice. Our purpose is to glorify God in everything, word or deed. Let us live out our purpose as true believers.
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Check out Rev. Bruce’s other blog post @ https://revbruce.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/make-disciples-2/ and see what we should do about making disciples in His name.
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I am convinced that we need to have an approach to ministry that includes training and developing “new” Christians to serve. We value experience, but we must be sure to provide such Christians with experience and support in spreading the gospel and growing the Lord’s kingdom. We can do this by allowing “new” Christians to shadow experienced brothers and sisters in service and by sharing testimonies with others.

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