Teach Us To Pray

Orate = Teach Us to Pray

Orate = Pray in Latin (Pray without ceasing)

ōrāte

PART ONE OF SIX

“Lord, teach us to pray.” These sincere words were spoken by an unnamed disciple in Luke 11:1. Many days, some of us might feel the same way.

One thing we have to understand is that in the Old Testament world, the rabbis were looked to for prayer. Many people relied on the prayers of the rabbis and repeated them. The people did not pray as freely as they do now; most did not know how. However, John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray, and here in Luke we see the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how as well.

So this week, we will be asking humbly to the Lord, “Lord teach us to pray.” Several topics will be examined: the model prayer, praying through the Psalms, praying with Paul, and the power of prayer.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “We can pray only in Jesus Christ, with whom we shall also be heard. Therefore we must learn to pray. The child learns to speak because the parent speaks to the child. The child learns the language of the parent. So we learn to speak to God because God has spoken and speaks to us.”

Oswald Chambers said, “As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.”

Let us this week admit that we are not self-sufficient. We need God desperately and the channel He has given us to reach Him is prayer. Let us meekly approach the King of Kings as a child and ask the same question the original disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” I believe it is time for us to go back to the basics individually, as a nation, as the world; and this has to begin with prayer. We must say, “Lord teach me to pray. Teach us to pray.”

Just for today, ask the Lord, “Teach me to pray.”

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, and Clifford J. Green. The Bonhoeffer Reader. Fortress Press, 2014.

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Barbour, 1963.

The Power of Imago Dei……

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART SIX OF SIX

If we truly understand Imago Dei, it changes the way we see ourselves, the way we see people, the way we speak to people, and the way we love people.

Now here is the hard part…I have to walk away from this keyboard and “practice what I have preached.” You have to leave your seat and do so as well. There are going to be days that we fail, but that does not mean we stop striving to be Christlike. Do you know what we as believers should all be working towards? For someone to meet us and feel like they just met Jesus.

We must be different. When Jesus came, He was not the king they were expecting. They were expecting a lion, a warrior (He is still to come, Faithful and True!). He came as the Lamb that would lay his life down for us. The people expected the Kingdom of God to be much different. They were expecting justice by force. Our King rules by love. Yet Jesus welcomed confrontation, he did not avoid it. He just handled it much differently that what is our natural proclivity. He handled confrontation with a sword all right, the Sword of the Spirit-the Holy Word of God. His arsenal was love and ours must be the same, for we are all created in the image of God.

I challenge you today to meditate on Genesis 1:26-27 and what it means to you. Look at yourself in the mirror and believe you were made in the image of God. In your home, and when you go out, see others, speak to others, and love others as if they were made in the image of God. Because they are.

There is power in Imago Dei.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for the Song of Sunday.

The Power of Imago Dei…..

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART FIVE OF SIX

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we love people.

In Bob Goff’s best selling book, Everybody Always, he wrote this, “In high school, someone asked me if I had ‘met Jesus.’ I thought he was kidding. ‘Of course not,” I answered literally. I still haven’t. I don’t have any friends who have either. From what I’ve read, very few people on this side of heaven have actually met God. Adam and Eve did. Joseph and Mary did. Moses did on top of a mountain. Some shepherds and a few wise men make the list. A boatful of fishermen, a couple of thieves on a hill. There were plenty of others, but not as many as you think. By contrast, there were a lot of people who watched Jesus from a distance. He walked their streets and went to their parties. He stood before leaders, and a few even saw Him raised up on a cross. I suppose they could say they met him, but at best, they probably just got a glimpse of Him. For a long time, I saw Jesus from a distance and thought we’d met. It still happens to me every time I avoid people God made in His own image just because I don’t understand them. My fear of them leaves me only with glimpses of Jesus. What I’ve come to realize is if I really want to “meet Jesus,” then I have to get a lot closer to the people He created. All of them, not just some of them. I think His plan all along has been for us to meet the people He made and feel like we just met Him.”

We are to love His people, the one’s made in His image. What is the definition of love? God. God is. So to love the others that He loves so much we must be Christlike in the way we see others, speak to others, and love others. I might define someone as a difficult person and have the tendency to avoid them. God defines them as a son or a daughter made in His image. Or, like my good friend Brannon once said speaking of someone’s behavior, “If they don’t know Jesus, what do you expect?”

In Luke 6, Jesus tells us, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” He goes on to command us to love our enemies. Yes, we are commanded to do so. Who is talking about? Is it the former Soviet Union or Communist China? The Taliban? Is it Thanos (for you Avengers fans)? That’s what we tend to think of.

He meant we should love those we don’t understand. Those we don’t see eye to eye with. Those who might just be unkind and unloving to us. You know, normally the people we try to avoid. And we can’t just say, “Yes, I agree with you Jesus., we should love our enemy.” We actually have to be doers of the word, which honestly can be not fun sometimes. But Jesus did not fun things, didn’t he? Like dying on the cross for our sake.

So okay-we are to love everyone, including our enemies. God said so. What does this mean? How do we do this? Again, God is love. We are to be Jesus to them right where they are, offering kindness, encouragement, grace, and forgiveness. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes love is tough. It is biblical to rebuke a brother in love and hold them accountable. But remember, the key is, in love.

Jesus Himself said we would identify ourselves simply by how we loved people. And what better way to love someone than to be the gospel to them (this includes kindness, encouragement, grace, and forgiveness); to speak the gospel to them. For someone to meet us and feel like they just met Jesus.

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we love people.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Six……

The Power of Imago Dei….

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART FOUR OF SIX

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we talk to people.

I have a short story I want to share about the influence of what we say to people and the power of our words:

“A group of frogs were hopping contentedly through the woods, going about their froggy business, when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered around the pit to see what could be done to help their companions. When they saw how deep the pit was, the rest of the dismayed group agreed that it was hopeless and told the two frogs in the pit that they should prepare themselves for their fate, because they were as good as dead. Unwilling to accept this terrible fate, the two frogs began to jump with all of their might. Some of the frogs shouted into the pit that it was hopeless, and that the two frogs wouldn’t be in that situation if they had been more careful, more obedient to the froggy rules, and more responsible. The other frogs continued sorrowfully shouting that they should save their energy and give up, since they were already as good as dead. The two frogs continued jumping as hard as they could, and after several hours of desperate effort were quite weary. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to the calls of his fellows. Spent and disheartened, he quietly resolved himself to his fate, lay down at the bottom of the pit, and died as the others looked on in helpless grief. The other frog continued to jump with every ounce of energy he had, although his body was wracked with pain and he was completely exhausted. His companions began anew, yelling for him to accept his fate, stop the pain and just die. The weary frog jumped harder and harder and — wonder of wonders! Finally leapt so high that he sprang from the pit. Amazed, the other frogs celebrated his miraculous freedom and then gathering around him asked, “Why did you continue jumping when we told you it was impossible?” Reading their lips, the astonished frog explained to them that he was deaf, and that when he saw their gestures and shouting, he thought they were cheering him on. What he had perceived as encouragement inspired him to try harder and to succeed against all odds. This simple story contains a powerful lesson. There is life and death in the power of the tongue. Your encouraging words can lift someone up and help them make it through the day. Your destructive words can cause deep wounds; they may be the weapons that destroy someone’s desire to continue trying. Speak life to (and about) those who cross your path. There is enormous power in words. If you have words of kindness, praise or encouragement — speak them now to, and about, others. Listen to your heart and respond. Someone, somewhere, is waiting for your words (cybersalt.org/illustrations/the-power-of-your-words).”

We need to be encouragers and watch what we say as our words have much power. For years now, I try to read the Proverbs on a daily basis. There are 31 Proverbs, so whatever date it is, I try to read that Proverb during my quiet time. For instance, today is April 16, so I read Proverbs 16 this morning. A recurring theme and one of the greatest traits of wisdom is to know how to bridle our tongue. What we learned as children, we should practice as adults, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

If we see the people we meet and talk to as made in the Image of God, it changes the way we speak to people. Or at least allows us to keep our lip buttoned sometimes! The next time you lash out at your spouse or children, or even a stranger on the street, I want you to ask yourself, “If he or she were Jesus, would I have said that?”

We have to remember that there is power in Imago Dei in the way we speak to people.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Five…..

The Power of Imago Dei…

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART THREE OF SIX

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we see other people.

My bride Sarah and I did a bit of traveling last summer. We took one of our girls Kloe to nursing camp at Auburn University and stayed a night in Montgomery, Alabama, on the way. While we were there we went and saw the church Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor of from 1954-1960, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, as well as the parsonage he lived in down the street. A week later, we saw a friend in Memphis on the way back. While in Memphis, we stopped at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, which is where Dr. King was assassinated.

It is heartbreaking to go through the Civil Rights Museum and see how we treat each other; how people were abused and killed because they were perceived as different. I was reading about the parsonage where Dr. King and his family lived in Montgomery. In 1956, while he was across town speaking, his house was bombed. Upon hearing the news, he rushed home, along with many of his supporters. Thankfully, his family was uninjured. His supporters were fired up and ready to exact revenge on the perpetrators. This is what Dr. King said to them:

“Take your weapons home. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Remember that is what Jesus said. We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. Be good to them. That is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love.” I believe Dr. King understood better than most the meaning of Imago Dei.

One of the very first things we learn in Sunday School as a child is the song Jesus Loves the Little Children. “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” Every person you meet on the street-guess what? Imago Dei. They are made in the Image of God. The guy who cusses me out? Imago Dei. The Dallas Cowboys fan? Imago Dei (this is for my good friends Melvin and Rodney). The guy who cuts me off in traffic? Imago Dei (and this one is a reminder for myself!). God loves them just as much as He loves me.

The crazy thing to me is that some of the most hateful people can be proclaiming followers of Christ. We cannot see others through the eyes of Christ and hate. We must love our enemy and those that may be difficult or different than us.

As believers, we need to train ourselves to see everyone we encounter as made in the Image of God because it is biblical truth. God does not discriminate and neither should we. I know that if we live our lives this way it will change everything.

Because there is power in Imago Dei in the way we see other people.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Four….

The Power of Imago Dei..

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART TWO OF SIX

There is power in Imago Dei in the way God sees us.

I have been blessed with three children; two of them biological. They have my DNA and genetics as part of their makeup. As far as that goes, you could say they were made in my image. They look like me and certain inherited traits and characteristics are passed down from generation to generation. The Jones blue eye gene is strong. We all have blue eyes. There is a certain pride we take in our children. Although they disappoint us sometimes, our love is unconditional for them. They are part of us. It would make me proud to hear if someone said, “Little Phil is a chip off the old block.” Our children are a part of us and a big part of our lives.

In a much greater way than we can even imagine, this is how God feels about us. And although I know we disappoint God, His love is unconditional. Read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 and you will know this. Many of us have been prodigals at one time or another. You might even be one right now, I do not know. But there is nothing you can do that will cause God not to forgive you if you come to Him. In fact, He will run to meet you with an embrace. Indeed, do you know the very hairs of your head are numbered?

God knows each and every detail of your life. He wants a relationship with you and wants to fellowship with us. Above all, He loves you so much that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

I love many people in my life and would even give my life for some of them. But would I give up my son? No, I would not. He is precious and I would protect him with my life. That is how much God loves you.

Now, what if my son did not want anything to do with me? How would that make me feel? What if he grew up, moved away-yet he never called, never emailed or texted, never came to visit? This would bring great sadness and pain to my life.

Yet this how we treat God all the time. God is proud of you, you are the apple of His eye. He has unconditional love for you, has a plan for your life, and wants the best for you. You are made in His image.

If we walk in this each day, it changes who we are. Our identity should be in Christ, first and foremost. For those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we need to see ourselves, as God does, as co-heirs with Christ.

For there is power in Imago Dei in the way God sees us.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Three…

The Power of Imago Dei

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART ONE OF SIX

Imago Dei: What does this mean? I will first say this about Imago Dei; these are two Latin words that can change our lives if we will just let them, or more importantly, let God. I am going to tell you how, but first I want to set a foundation.

Genesis 1 is very rich in theology. The chapter starts by saying, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and goes on to describe God’s six workdays. God created everything in the universe, Ex Nihilo, which is Latin for “out of nothing.” He created day and night the first day, the sky and the sea the second day, land and vegetation on day three, the stars, the sun, and the moon on day four, and sea creatures and birds on day five.

Then we come to day six; first God created animals. God then said, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness.” Imago Dei is first mentioned and in the Latin means having the image or likeness of God. I also want to point out that this is the first hint of the trinity in the Bible, when God says, “Let us make man.” Us? Who did He mean? I believe He is referring to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In the simplest terms, Imago Dei means we were made to resemble God. God gave us dominion over the animals, which sets humans apart from the animal world. We are in the image of God in our intellectual, moral, and spiritual natures. We have the ability to reason or choose. Our moral compass, or conscience, points to Imago Dei.

This is a simple definition and the Bible does not have a lot to say about Imago Dei. In fact, it is only mentioned six times in the Bible and two of them are here in Genesis 1. However, this has been a hotly debated topic for hundreds of years. There are many different theories and interpretations regarding Imago Dei. In seminary, we dealt a lot with systematic theology. This is, basically, where you take all the theories and formulate an organized theological truth on a subject.

Theologian Millard Erickson did just this concerning Imago Dei. He made several conclusions I want to share with you: 1. The Image of God is universal within the human race. Hence it applies to you and me, not just Adam. 2. The Image of God has not been lost as a result of sin or specifically the fall. 3. There is no indication that the Image of God is present in one person to a greater degree than another. 4. The Image of God is something in the very nature of humans, in the way in which we were made. 5. It refers to something a human is rather than something a human has or does. And lastly, Imago Dei involves the powers of personality that make humans, like God, capable of interaction with other persons, of thinking and reflecting, and of free will.

Having said all this and pouring a foundation for Imago Dei, I want to lay out four ways Imago Dei can greatly impact our lives and our walk with the Lord……starting tomorrow!

But just for today, meditate on this…., God said, “Let us make (insert your name) in our own image, after our likeness.”

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Measure Your Fruits

Ferre Fructum = Bearing Fruit Test

Ferre Fructum = Bear Fruit in Latin

PART SIX OF SIX

This week we went through a little test to see how we are bearing fruit where God has placed us. There were four indicators to test ourselves:

Indicator #1 – Does the way I am living bear fruit?

Indicator #2 – Am I using my gifts and looking to do good everywhere I go?

Indicator #3 – Am I looking for opportunities to lead people to Jesus?

Indicator #4 – Am I making disciples?

Now it is time to measure our fruits. Our main verse for this week has been, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” I want to give you four statements and ask you to give yourself a grade from 1-10 on each statement (1=not true (false), 10=excellent (absolutely true)):

  1. You will recognize the fruit of (insert your name here) by the way (he or she) is living (above reproach).
  2. You will recognize the fruit of (insert your name here) because (he or she) uses (his or her) gifts and looks to do good everywhere (he or she) goes.
  3. You will recognize the fruit of (insert your name here) by the way (he or she) evangelizes and leads people to Jesus.
  4. You will recognize the fruit of (insert your name here) by the way (he or she) makes disciples.

Be completely honest with yourself. What were your scores? In what area did you score the lowest? I believe we all have areas we can improve in, and I pray these areas have been revealed this week through the readings and the short four-question test above. You know what the beautiful thing about sanctification and chasing Perfection is? There is always room for improvement. I see a clear area out of the four I definitely need to work on and I am going to get started today. How about you?

Just for today, look at your lowest score and identify one area of bearing fruit you can improve in (I also recommend you go back and read the blog post on that particular subject from earlier this week). Pray for the Lord’s help and take a positive step on improving in this area. Come up with a game plan and timeline for improvement.

Tune in tomorrow for Song of Sunday.

Bearing Fruit – Indicator #4

Ferre Fructum = Indicator #4

Ferre Fructum = Bear Fruit in Latin

PART FIVE OF SIX

Indicator #4 – Am I making disciples?

“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” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Great Commission: the command we have to disciple. The Great Commission covers the spectrum of what we are to do; to preach the gospel, to baptize, and teach a new believer how to commit and follow Jesus as the Lord of their life. If you grew up in the church, you likely have heard the Great Commission referred to many times.

R.T. France said of The Great Commission, “The commission is expressed not in terms of the means, to proclaim the good news, but to the end, to “make disciples.” It is not enough the nations hear the message; they must also respond with the same whole-hearted commitment which was required of those who became disciples of Jesus during his ministry. The sentence structure is of a main verb in the imperative, “make disciples,” followed by two uncoordinated principles, “baptizing” and “teaching,” which spell out the process of making disciples.”

Oswald Chambers said, “The great essential of the missionary is that he remains true to the call of God, and realizes that his one purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus. There is a passion for souls that does not spring from God, but from the desire to make converts to our point of view.”

The Great Commission is often linked with evangelism, but it is the heart of discipleship. Certainly, discipleship may not possible without evangelism; the person must hear the message of the gospel and respond to God’s call. But once one responds to the message of the gospel, they are to be baptized and taught. Porter Barrington said, “When you have led a soul to Christ your responsibility does not end. You have a spiritual baby, and that baby needs help to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I remember thinking in the past that discipleship meant going to Lifeway Bookstore and picking out the latest curriculum. Yes, teaching from the Bible is an important component. But relationship is what discipleship is all about. We can take the Paul/Timothy relationship as a model; a more mature disciple teaching a younger disciple in the faith. We are to be vulnerable with our life, to teach, both through the Bible but also through doing life together. We are to be an encourager, answer questions, be wise counsel, and share our lives with others.

I think this is where we have dropped the ball as the church as a whole. I would guess that the majority of you reading this were not discipled after coming to Christ. At our church, we are trying to do our part in making a conscious effort toward discipleship. We are matched with one person who we disciple for at least 13 weeks through a curriculum (www.newlifediscipleship.com) and relationship. I believe discipleship is best on a one on one basis, rather than in a classroom setting. The idea is that we would be mentoring someone, one at a time, for the rest of our lives. When the trainee finishes training and is ready, he then becomes the teacher to a new disciple. And through this multiplication happens.

Let’s go back to our verse from the beginning of the week, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” Part of our fruit equals disciple making. You can think of it this way, “You will recognize them by their disciples.” At the end of our lives, we should have trained up many in the ways of the Lord. We should always be seeking to be in a mentor relationship with someone. The Church is to fulfill the Great Commission. And we must do our parts individually as members of the Body of Christ.

Indicator #4: Am I making disciples? Am I bearing fruit in this way?

Just for today, meditate on these questions and answer them honestly for yourself. If you are not mentoring someone right now, pray for someone to come across your path. Or if you have someone in mind, contact them today. If you have never been discipled and feel you need to be, pray for a mature believer to disciple you. If you have someone in mind, contact them today. If you need some resources, ask your church or see the website above. Your church might already have a discipleship program you can get plugged into. If you have never been involved in the discipleship process before, it’s not too late. Let’s get started and change the world!

Tune in tomorrow for Part Six…..

Barrington, Porter. The Christian life New Testament : the New King James version : Master Outlines and Study Notes. Nashville TN: T. Nelson Publishers, 1984.

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Barbour, 1963.

France, R.T. The Gospel of Matthew. Eerdmans, 2007.

Bearing Fruit – Indicator #3

Ferre Fructum = Indicator #3

Ferre Fructum = Bear Fruit in Latin

fer•re frūctum

PART FOUR OF SIX

Indicator #3 – Am I looking for opportunities to lead people to Jesus?

I want to share a story that happened to my good friend and favorite preacher Jerry Vineyard. I have heard him tell it many times and it is very powerful. During college, Jerry had a job at a hometown fruit stand. I guess he did all the things you do to run a fruit stand; work the register, look for bad fruit, and organize the stock of fresh new fruit. The owner was a local man that had owned the stand for a few years. Jerry graduated college and started coaching junior high football. Then followed marriage to his lovely bride Joley. Then followed the birth of their beautiful baby girl Olivia. Around the same time, Jerry answered his call to ministry and started working as a Youth Minister at a nearby church. During Christmas break, Jerry was looking to earn a little extra cash for Christmas and approached his old boss at the fruit stand for a seasonal job. The boss hired him back. One day, the boss started asking Jerry questions about Jesus. He was not a believer, knew Jerry was in ministry now, and was curious about just who this Jesus was. In Jerry’s own words, “I blew him off.” For whatever reason Jerry was not in the mood to share his faith this day. I think we’ve all been there. He finished up his seasonal job and went back to coaching. A few months later, Jerry got a call that his old boss had a massive heart attack while mowing the grass and died immediately.

I know Jerry still beats himself up to this day about the time he had an opportunity to share the gospel with his boss. Yes, he mourns that opportunity, but he made a massive change. My friend is now one of the greatest evangelists I know, and this experience has become part of his testimony. Not only did he learn from it, but we can learn from it as well.

We must always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). We are to be ready to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). I can tell you from much observation of my good friend and favorite preacher: there is no one more prepared for any opportunity that comes his way. I give God glory for using that painful story in Jerry’s life and using it for much good. Many people know Jesus because of Jerry Vineyard. And my walk with Jesus would not be what it is right now without Jerry’s influence and encouragement in my life. I would not be writing this right now without him, no doubt.

James 5:19-20 says, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” Charles Spurgeon said, “Read the verse and you will see that it was that of a backslider from the visible church of God. The words, ‘If any of you,’ must refer to a professed Christian.”

So, not only are we to look for opportunities to share the hope we have with the unbeliever, we are to recognize when a believing brother is backsliding. We are to confront them in love with God’s word and bring them back from their wandering. James recognized that there were many hearers of the word who were not doers of the word. We must be both.

Indicator #3: Am I looking for opportunities to lead people to Jesus? Am I bearing fruit in this way? Am I looking for opportunities to help a backsliding brother? Am I looking for opportunities to share my faith with the outside world?

Just for today, meditate on these questions and answer them honestly for yourself.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Five….