Discipleship (2)

January, February, March 2014

Want to learn more about Discipleship (2)? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 14-part series.

Lesson 1: Discipleship and Scripture (Luke 4 & 16, Matthew 12, Acts 17)
How do you decide questions that you have about God, about how to live your life, and about how to bring others to Jesus? The answer should be "the Bible." Do you know enough about the Bible to make informed decisions? This week a controversy over one of the stars of a television reality program taught me that those in the media are ignorant about the Bible. The media showed a video clip of this star standing in church and preaching about homosexuality. The whole clip consisted only of a quotation from the book of Romans. Instead of criticizing the star, a proper discussion should have been about the Bible and what this Bible text meant. Let's dive into our Bible study and learn more about this topic!

Lesson 2: Discipling Through Metaphor (Matthew 13, 2 Samuel 12, Matthew 21, Luke 14)
Metaphor? It is not a town or a person. I'll not strain your memory about high school English. You use a metaphor when you want to teach that one thing is similar or the same as something else. What are we talking about here? Parables. Stories. Jesus was a story teller, and His stories were intended to teach us truths about God and about life. In a book I recently read about the brain, it asserted that our brains are lazy. If we already have figured out one thing, when something similar, but more complex comes along, we are likely to consider them the same and use the same solution. No need to struggle with the complexity in the new problem. Would God appeal to lazy brains? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about why Jesus told stories!

Lesson 3: Discipleship and Prayer (Matthew 6)
How is your prayer life? If you are like me, your answer is "inadequate and needs improvement." When I walk in the morning, I try to pray and look for God's leading in writing this lesson. However, my mind is like a squirrel constantly trying to dart off onto other matters. If you think your prayer life could use improvement, let's race into our Bible study to see how we can improve our conversations with God!

Lesson 4: Discipling Children (Jeremiah 7, Deuteronomy 6, Matthew 18)
It was a tough time when we left the hospital with our first born child. When we put the new-born baby in the car seat my wife was convinced it would kill the baby. I was convinced that if we did not put our baby boy in the car seat he could die. It was an unpleasant conversation, and I'm sure the hospital people wanted us to drive off - which we could not do until we had resolved this issue. My wife won the debate. On the way home, we thought that the hospital had given our son some special liquid that we needed to purchase, but no drug store sold it. Again, we were worried that we would make a mistake that would harm our baby. No one gave us an instruction book to consult for these issues. Did you feel that way with your first-born child? The Bible gives us instructions about child handling. It does not include car seats, but it is lifesaving. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 5: Discipling the Sick (1 John 3, Mark 2, Deuteronomy 28, Luke 9)
Would you like more members in your church? That is the current topic of discussion in my church! People have ideas for outreach, but my thought is "Let's heal some sick people!" Have you ever considered what a great approach that is to bringing new people into your church? That was Jesus' approach, right? Or, was it? Did Jesus heal people to bring more crowds to hear Him, or did He heal people because He had compassion on them? If you are healing people to attract others to the gospel, isn't that showing compassion? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about how to deal with sickness!

Lesson 6: Discipling the "Ordinary." (James 2, Luke 5 & 18)
This lesson gives me mixed feelings. For almost 35 years I was a member of the Adventist Church in Manassas, Virginia. When I joined, the church leaders immediately asked me to be an elder. I challenged them: "Why should I be an elder? Because I'm a lawyer?" On the other hand, I've been involved in many evangelistic outreaches in Manassas. No effort was ever made to bring in educated "professional class" members. We never converted anyone with a Ph.D or professional doctorate. Church always seemed this bizarre mix. We would never target professionals for conversion, but if we had a professional in the church, they were almost always made a leader. What does the Bible say, if anything, about these kinds of issues? Let's plunge into our study and find out!

Lesson 6: Discipling the "Ordinary." (James 2, Luke 5 & 18)
This lesson gives me mixed feelings. For almost 35 years I was a member of the Adventist Church in Manassas, Virginia. When I joined, the church leaders immediately asked me to be an elder. I challenged them: "Why should I be an elder? Because I'm a lawyer?" On the other hand, I've been involved in many evangelistic outreaches in Manassas. No effort was ever made to bring in educated "professional class" members. We never converted anyone with a Ph.D or professional doctorate. Church always seemed this bizarre mix. We would never target professionals for conversion, but if we had a professional in the church, they were almost always made a leader. What does the Bible say, if anything, about these kinds of issues? Let's plunge into our study and find out!

Lesson 7: Jesus and the Social Outcasts (Luke 15, 1 Corinthians 5, Matthew 21, Mark 5, John 4)
Recently, I heard of a Christian singer who walked out of the Grammy Awards. I said to myself, "Good for her." I had watched part of the show and was unhappy that instead of sticking to music, some of the participants chose to promote evil. This past Sabbath my pastor pointed to what this Christian singer had done and asked, "What would Jesus have done?" I thought, "I need to reconsider my prior attitude." One way I decide what I should do is to ask myself, "Will this promote evil or will this promote the Kingdom of God?" This Christian singer took a stand by saying that she would not be a part of the promotion of evil. On the other hand, Jesus seemed to constantly be hanging around with evil-doers. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what lessons we can learn!

Lesson 8: With the Rich and Famous (Matthew 19, John 3, Luke 16)
Money is a tricky thing. In the last few weeks I've referred to Deuteronomy 28, which teaches that those who follow God's commands will be materially blessed. It was this rule of life that caused Job's friends to argue that his loss of wealth and other problems were due to Job's failure to obey God. Even Job believed this, for in Job 31 he recounted his obedience and demanded a hearing in which God would have to answer him. On the other hand, in Matthew 19:24 Jesus equates money with an inability to get into heaven. How can obedience lead to wealth, but then wealth keeps you out of heaven? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

Lesson 9: Discipling the Powerful (Romans 13, Acts 4, Matthew 26)
Is government good? God tells us that it is. If that is true, why is it that government does so much evil? Government authority killed Jesus! How should Christians relate to those in power? Let's race into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

Lesson 10: Discipling the Nations (Isaiah 56, Luke 19, Acts 2)
How would you describe the primary focus of your church? Is it focused inward or outward? How about you - are you primarily focused on yourself or on others? This week we study a huge shift in God's work on earth. Instead of being focused on the Jewish nation, the focus turns outward to the entire world. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about our personal focus and that of our church!

Lesson 11: Discipling Spiritual Leaders (Luke 6, Hebrews 11, John 16)
Consider Moses and the Apostle Paul. What traits did they have in common? I think of them as highly intelligent and highly educated men. Would you consider Jesus' disciples to have the same traits? Why did Jesus pick disciples who were not highly educated? We don't know how smart they were, but Jesus did call them "dull"(Matthew 15:16). Moses and Paul were great leaders - but so were the disciples. Something is going on with the training of the disciples that might bless our lives. Let's dive into our lesson and see what we can learn about the way Jesus trained future spiritual leaders!

Lesson 12: The Harvest and the Harvesters (Mark 6, Matthew 21, Luke 5, Acts 16)
In Matthew 9:37 Jesus said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." Since Jesus is talking about harvesting souls for the Kingdom of Heaven, I would add, "and skilled workers are even fewer." I have the handle of an old scythe in my garage. Scythes are hand tools for harvesting wheat. They have a long, curved handle, and a long, narrow blade fastened at a right angle to the end of the handle. I've got an idea about how it works, but it would take on-the-job training for me to use it properly. What about harvesting souls? How do we become a skilled worker at that critical task? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

Lesson 13: The Cost of Discipleship (Luke 12)
In Luke 14:28 Jesus told of a man considering whether he would build a tower. The prudent thing, according to Jesus, is to figure out whether you have enough money to finish the tower before you begin pouring the foundation. Jesus told this story to illustrate the decision that we have to make when becoming disciples. Have we counted the cost? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what kind of accounting we need to do when deciding to follow Jesus!

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