Discipleship

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.14.15

“The Focus of our Homes”

1 John 2:15-17

by Paul Long

What is the greatest threat that our children face? The greatest threat that our children face is misplaced love.

In vs 15 John gives us a very clear command, “Do not love the world or the things in the world”

 

3 reasons for why we should not love the world:

Reason #1  Love for the world crowds out a love for God v 15

It is not possible to be fully devoted to God and have a love and desire for the things in this world.

John defines the world we are not to love as three things:

1. The Desires of the flesh

God created us to have good desires – but our sin distorts those desires so that instead of being fulfilled in a God glorifying way they are pursued in a “me satisfying” way.

2. The Desires of the eyes

Our sinful cravings are activated by what we see.
Your children will see a world that offers them anything. They see a world that lives by one rule, whatever makes you happy is good for you – go after it.

3. Pride in possessions

It is love for what we’ve got and who we are. Life is defined by power, stuff, standing and achievements. How big is your house, and how important is your job? How high have you climbed, what have you accomplished, what makes you such a big deal?

How do each of these aspects of worldly love influence our hearts, homes and the lives of our children?

When we give into sinful desires and pride of life we are not following or obeying God.

Reason #2  The world and its desires will not last v17

Sin will not last. God will judge and punish all sin. If you love the world and if you love sin you will pass away, along with your pursuits.

This world and its sinful desires will not last forever. Yet as Christians we know the end of the story. 1 John 5:4-5

On the cross Jesus conquered sin and death. He rose victoriously and he will return to judge the world. Those who have put their faith in him, by grace will live with him forever in heaven.

Reason #3  When we love God, we get God and his blessings forever v17

To love God is to obey what He says. And to obey what He says is to love Him. John 14:15, 1 John Ch 5:3

For the Christian this world is not our home. This world is passing away but we have an eternal home in heaven with our Savior and our God.

So our goal in parenting should to be help cultivate in our children a love for God

First: we do this be evangelizing our children.

Our children’s greatest need is to know the saving Love of God the Father provided through the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They need to understand and believe the gospel.

Second: we help cultivate love for God in our children by our example.

We are to model a love for God before our children. As a parent where do your affections lie? What do you love? If you were to ask your children, what does mommy or daddy love the most, what would they say? The influence of your life speaks volumes to your children.

Third: we cultivate a love for God through corporate worship and family worship.

Corporate worship is the people of God gathered together to sing, pray and hear from God’s word. A great way you can help your children grow in their love for God is by bringing them to church.

Family worship is gathering your family together to read the Bible and pray.

Donald Whitney is his book on family worship offers these three reminders that help to shape the task of family worship. He says this: Be brief, be regular, be flexible

Fourth: we cultivate a love for God through correction

As we see our children going down a path of following the desires of the world, as parents we are called to correct them. Proverbs 22:6, Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 22:15

The goal of correction is not to produce good behavior. The goal is to produce a love for God. Therefore our correction should target our children’s hearts.

Finally:  we cultivate a love for God through love for one another

We cannot change our children’s hearts but we can love them well.
Parents let’s do all that we can to raise children that – “Do not love the world or the desires of the world.” Let us raise children that love, serve and obey God.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.07.15

‘Spiritual Parenting’

2 Timothy 3:10-17

Parents have a responsibility to raise their children – to “prepare” them for adulthood. This involves the responsibility to provide care and set boundaries. As believers, this “preparation” is gospel-centered, because parenting is discipleship.

Our highest purpose as a parent is for our children to become mature followers of Christ. And the ultimate relationship we desire to have with our children is as brothers and sisters in Christ

Four Principles of Spiritual Parenting Discipleship

1. Spiritual parenting is a whole life endeavor (vs 10-11)

Paul led Timothy by how he lived as well in what he taught

Parents start with positional leadership, but we also need character leadership

Like Paul, our life needs to be “aimed” at something: we seek to be Great Commandment people!

Our values, character and aim become clearest during hardship

Paul’s sufferings revealed the depth and full beauty of his character

We hate seasons of struggle and want to avoid them; yet these seasons are memorable to our children – they will remember how we handled them

If whole life discipleship intimidates you, be encouraged, because some of the lessons our children need to learn are how to get up from spiritual failure, and how to be weak

Notice that Paul’s life story is part of how he discipled Timothy. Throwing truths at people gets old, but sharing our story is impactful

2. Spiritual parenting prepares children to live in a rebellious world (vs12-13)

All who love godliness “will” be persecuted, bcause the world loves what opposes God

This goes further than people not sharing our love for godliness, they hate godliness

And they are growing louder, bolder and more confident. Yet, we are not discouraged, for we have Christ!

Our children must navigate a world that rejects the values and rule of God

They will be opposed, they will suffer loss, and they will not always fit it

Our children (and whoever we disciple) need to be rooted (1) in truth and (2) in a loving community

Our children will observe believers who compromise, and they will be tempted join them

We want our children to be serious about God! This means they must be serious about the gospel, the church and Great Commandment living

The prominent voice evil will use with our children is deception (v13)
Deception tries to look like truth – no one counterfeits $4 bills

Our children (and ourselves) need equipping in what is true versus what is empty

They need our help (and example) to distinguish what is eternally valuable, from what is momentary

3. Spiritual parenting equips children to be ‘disciple-makers’

The main point of chapter 3 is in v14, “continue in what you have learned”

The goal of parenting isn’t to get our children to 18, to 21, on their own, or into a career

The goal is for them to stand in their generation as Great Commandment people and fulfill the mission Christ has given every disciple, which is to be a disciple-maker

Tim Jones: “We are discipling our children with our grandchildren in mind”

As spiritual parents, must ask ourselves, “What are we preparing our children for?”

If our preparation is for the same successes the world grasps after – they will be left holding the same emptiness

The obvious follow up question; “How are we preparing them?”

In v15 Paul gives the answer, train them in God’s word

Families – read the Bible together!

Just as importantly, parents, form your values and practices by God’s word

“But I’m not a Bible expert.” Read it and apply what you understand

4. Spiritual parenting enthusiastically and completely trusts God’s word

Paul reminds Timothy, why the Bible is uniquely valuable (vs16-17)

All creation exists by God speaking it into being. His word is the source of everything

Nothing can be as “profitable” for your children as God’s word

Training our children through biblical truth is how we care for them

Training our children in biblical truth is what makes life “complete”

However, training our children in biblical truth is not tossing rules at them, it is sharing truths with them

We all want the best for our children

Without biblical truth, no one is “equipped” for life – now or for eternity (v17)

Without biblical truth, there are no “good works”. As Solomon said, it is all “chasing after the wind”

 

Thoughts On Becoming Spiritual Aunts and Uncles

1. We all can (and are) an influence on the children who are in your church

We serve families by the spirit we bring to church and by the example we set in life

This example begins early: middle school kids influence small children; teens influence middle schoolers; and college students influence teens etc

2. Perhaps you were not a believer when your children growing up. You can now be a spiritual aunt or uncle to the young people of your church

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.05.14

Continue the Mission  2 Timothy 1

In this the last of Paul’s recorded letters, his theme is complete the mission

The mission Jesus gave us, is to be faithful as disciple-making disciples

Paul gave Timothy reminders to help stay on mission (vs 3-7)

He wants Timothy to be mindful of what is true in his life

Paul’s love and commitment to him (v3)

Timothy had a heritage of faithfulness behind him (v5)

Timothy had a true love for God (v4)

He had experienced God’s presence (v5)

All these encouragements come to us through biblical community

Biblical community flows with reminders of God’s grace

We see it in church life, and church life brings it out of us (1 Corinthians 12)

Paul wants Timothy to be mindful about what is most important

We lose sight of mission, when we lose heart for God

Passion for Christ must be continually cultivated to “fan the flame”

We fan the flame as we pursue God (growing in love for Him)

We fan the flame through the little decisions of each day that put God first

We protect the flame by pursuing God in community with other believers

We can faithfully pursue God, because He faithfully pursues us (v7)

God ‘loves’ us as much as it is possible to love

The Holy Spirit who is the source of all ‘power’ that exists, lives in us

He gives us all we need for the ‘self-control’ of putting God first

Paul confronts a challenge to staying on mission (vs 8-14)

A passion for Christ’s mission will bring struggle

For everyone who follows Christ, there will be some rejection, and some loss

Submission to Him at times is the harder path

Despite the obstacles we are meant to persevere

We can persevere, because God keeps us (vs 12 & 14)

In Romans 8, we saw the many ways in which the Holy Spirit is active in us

We can flourish, because we are always in a place of grace (vs 9-10)

Gospel saves us forever, which means He saves how “all things” turn out for us

Through Christ our suffering is never empty; it becomes part of his eternal kingdom work

Paul encourages Timothy to look at struggle from a gospel perspective

All suffering is for the gospel, when our life serves Christ

God uses our example and obedience beyond what we see

God is glorified when we trust Him; it is an example on earth, in heaven, and to hell

Whatever our struggle if we follow it to the end; Jesus is there!

The only possible end for the believer is victory with Jesus

This means self-pity is delusional if we are in Christ

Paul gives us a pair of examples (vs 15-18)

He mentions two men who “turned away” from mission

Whether it was because of unbelief or drift, they didn’t stay on mission

That is the big question to measure each day, this New Year, and our life

We are Christ followers, so we must continue to stay on mission to be disciple-makers

Onesiphorus on the other hand, continued the mission is every little way he could

Nothing dramatic happens in these verses, yet his faithfulness encouraged Paul

When the Holy Spirit gave us new life, He lit “the flame” that is now in us

This year how will we fan the holy flame that burns?

FAMILY MOMENTS

Family discipleship can often seem like an intimidating task. We are not sure what to do or how to start. In the back of our minds we may even wonder if we are qualified to do it.

In some ways none of us are qualified, because we are all sinners who are lacking in understanding and consistency. Yet, as a Christian parent you are very qualified, because you love your child and you love Christ. And for all your failures, your children love and look to you.

Family Discipleship does not need to be complicated or long – in fact it will be most effective if it is clear, short and simple! I think most of us can do that and there are many resources available to help us (Marty Machowski has written some outstanding family devotional books).

Family Discipleship should also have elements of fun and celebration, because God made us to experience and enjoy Him, our family and life in general.

So I appreciated this article on the Village Church blog entitled “Time, Moments and Milestones”. It encourages us to take an approach to family discipleship that not only teaches essential gospel truths, it also celebrates the big moments in our children’s lives and makes room for ice cream

 

BEING EACH OTHER’S MIRACLE

You want you life to be used well in people’s lives, and you want you life to be filled with blessing. I may never have met you, but it’s not hard to know these statements are almost certainly true about you.

So how do we see these truths increasingly become our reality.

It is not as hard or complicated as we often think. Because these things are God’s desire for us, we were created to experience them. And not in drips, but in rivers!

Walking with God with true personal intimacy is our starting place since He is the source of all good things. We add a steady diet of His word, since that is the truth which leads us to think clearly.

However, there is another essential ingredient that quickly follows our walk with God in His word, and that is to walk with His people through His church!

In his article “Meet The Miracle Next To You “, Marshall Segal points out the mutual “miracle” God wants us to be for one another. By miracle, Marshall means that God works through us in no less than supernatural ways as we connect in biblical community.

“I hope you also see your need for (God) in other people. If you want to experience the miraculous, invest your life and gifts in others, in their needs, friendships, feelings, and holiness.”

Add to the richness of your life, by adding relationships that fulfill the meaningfulness that God intends for your life. Be an active part of your church – and be in close relationships (via small groups when possible) with those people God has made available to you.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.14.13

“Becoming a Disciple”               

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”  Mark 12:30

We saw last week, the Great Commission is our job description. All disciples are disciple-makers

Being a disciple-maker is not primarily an ability issue, it’s a love for God issue

To obey the Great Commission, we need to embrace the Great Commandment 

To love God is essential to our identity as his people

When God first presented his covenant to the people of Israel, they were commanded to love God with all their heart (Deuteronomy 6)

After the people chased after sin, the Lord reaffirmed his covenant and repeats the Great Commandment (Dt 10)

In Dt 30 the Lord spoke about future times of failure and how he would restore them so they would again love him with all their heart

After the Israelites settled the land God had promised them, they were reminded about the Great Commandment (Joshua 22)

When Jesus is asked what the most important commandment is, he repeats that it is to love God with all that we are!

Love for God is the motivation that most faithfully leads us

The nature of love is to pursue its object

 “Owe no one anything, except to love each other” (Romans 13:8)

The principle is that no matter how much we have loved, the next moment we “owe” more love

 “Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

These passages show us that true love always wants to do more and to give its best

Love for God counteracts our greatest obstacles and dangers

These are love for self (selfishness) and love for the world

Our problem is not our lack of love; it’s the focus of our love

When we act purely for God’s sake in love, it is the highest honor we can give him

Fear, guilt, duty and reward have their place, but are lesser motivations

Faithfulness to God for His sake alone reveals our great esteem for him

The Bible gives three primary evidences that we love God

1.  When we obey God (John 14:21)

2.  When we take joy in obeying God (1 John 5:3) 

3.  When we love our fellow believers (1 John 5:1)  

Summary Thoughts

Love pursues the other person and puts their interest above our own

Love for God pursues a relationship with him and submits to him

Since the gospel is God’s great work and desire, if we are to love God (the Great Commandment) we must be disciple-makers (the Great Commission)

Disciple-making expresses our commitment to love God

The Great Commandment to love God, is our internal condition; and the Great Commission to make disciples, is the resulting action

What do you believe about the Great Commandment?

(1)  If you think this is overemphasized, you need to hear what God has to say about being half-hearted

“Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16)

(2)  If you think God is worthy that we should love him with all that we are, you need to take action (that’s what love does)

 

SOME BROKEN VIEWS

We are talking a lot about Discipleship and Disciple-Making in our church. Actually there are a lot of churches who are doing a lot of talking on the subject of discipleship. Unless this process is taking place, a church cannot be healthy or pleasing to God.

With a topic that is so essential, we want to make sure we have a healthy and clear understanding of what we are talking about and how we can get there – or at least make progress from when we are currently.

Ed Stetzer has written an article “Discipleship: 5 Broken Views”. Ed Stetzer is an author, a pastor and the President of LifeWay Research. In this article we find some clarity in how we approach a pursuit that is not just good, it is Jesus mandate to the church, and was among his final words on earth (Matthew 28:18-20).

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

SERMON LEFTOVERS 8.19.13

“Care for each other”                 

1 Timothy 5:1-16

Chapter 5 speaks to the church about how we care for each other  

Guiding principles

Each member of our church is part of our forever family (vs1-2)

This is the perspective we should have toward every church member

There will be tensions among us, but we always remain family

The local church has special responsibilities toward the members who are vulnerable (v3)

Widows had little recourse for survival. Who would help them?

The church is to be family for those without family; no one is meant to be on their own

Family responsibility is important to God: this is repeated three times (vs 4, 8, 16)

We cannot fix family members, but ignoring them is unbiblical

When we live to chase after more, we can begin to resent these responsibilities as unwanted intrusions

The church is not a welfare institution; it’s where the kingdom of Christ reigns (v5)

This means our responsibilities to others must represent that kingdom

If we settle on temporal needs rather than eternal needs, we become just another organization

Responsibilities in the church are reciprocal (vs 11-12)

It appears from the passage that these widows had a ministry role in the church; which is why leaving their role as a widow was a serious issue

Not only did these widows who were “enrolled” serve the church, they had to have served beforehand

The principle we should see is that commitment in the church flows both ways

If we are just a receiver from our church, we are in an unbiblical position

How can we put God’s heart into our lives?

1.  Take a step yourself

If we are thinking “the church” should do something, then recognize you are part of the church

The church includes everyone who is a member of it

Many at Greentree are taking these steps, imagine the impact if we all did!

Our emphasis on small groups is not just a call to attend them, but to embrace the purpose of them

Which attitude is ours: to be pleased or to serve?

If our perspective at church is how it should please us, or how something bothers us, we need a new perspective

We cannot follow Christ, if we don’t bow to serve (John 13:1-14)

2.  Be someone God is using

This is where quality of life is truly found!  

God is ready to use you (it may not be in dramatic ways, but it will be powerful)

People around you need God’s touch through you 

Some of these people are obvious to us, some are a bit hidden, but they are near

So let’s watch out for common obstacles

Too busy to stop and serve people

Too oblivious to notice people in need    

Too self-centered to be motivated

3.  Keep connected

We cannot fulfill God’s heart for each other without being connected

The New Testament is loaded with “one another” statements for the church such as:

“Love one another”, “comfort one another”, “bear with one another”, “encourage one another”, “build one another” and “pray for one another”

These things will not happen if we are not connected

It requires friendship that goes beyond just being friendly

4.  Keep reaching a little further 

If we are to reach people around us:

We need clarity with the gospel

We need the care of the gospel

Just as with care within the church, outreach by the church is something for each of us personally

To be a more evangelistic church, we need to be more evangelistic people

God wants to accomplish all these things through us: are we willing?

Look for marginalized people and pay attention to hurting people

Be a friend, be a listener, be biblical

May we all pray that God will increase our heart for it, and give us eyes to see