For the week commencing 17th November 2019
We are now at week 6, the last in our series called “We exist to glorify God by making disciples…”
Here’s the outline:
13 Oct …but what is a disciple?
20 Oct …why make disciples?
27 Oct …how are disciples made?
Noosa tri weekend – will be a one-off sermon, not in this series. Sunshine service, 5pm, Sat, 2nd Nov
10 Nov …the cost (of discipleship)
17 Nov …why disciples stagnate
24 Nov …how disciples grow
Just as a seedling grows and matures over time, so Christians are expected to grow. There is something wrong with a plant that is the same size and doesn’t bear fruit after 5 years, and it is the same with disciples. But how are Christians to grow? What does a mature disciple look and behave like? The Bible talks about saints (like Noah and Enoch) who “walked with God” – for example Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” The mature disciple is one who “walks with God”. This idea of “walking with God” suggests fellowship and communion with God – a disciple cannot grow if they never talk to God (in prayer) or listen to him speaking (in the Bible).
Day 1: Read 1 John 1: 5 – 2:6 and Ephesians 4: 1-6
These passages give us an insight into walking with God. If we claim to be Christians, we must “walk in the light” – that is, in obedience to what we read in the Bible. Since God is light, we who claim to walk with him, must walk in the light and not in the darkness. We will slip up from time to time, but our general course is to be in obedience to what God says in his word, the Bible. Ephesians reminds us that we have been saved and called to a life of godliness, therefore we must “make every effort”… to live “a life worthy of the calling” we have received. As we saw in our 1st study in this series, disciples are to emulate, or copy their master in everything. 1 John 2:6 is very clear, “this is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”
So those who walk with God (who are growing) are careful to model their attitudes, behaviour, thoughts and actions on those of Jesus.
DAY 2: Read Psalm 119: 105 – 112 & Psalm 119: 129 – 136
How does a Christian know what God wants him/her to do? How can I know that what I do is pleasing to God? The answer is that God has given us clear directions in the 66 books of the Bible. Psalm 119 is devoted to the place of the word of God (also referred to as “the Law”, “statutes”, “precepts”) in the believer’s life. It is, among other things, “a lamp to my feet”, “a light for my path”, “my heritage”, “the joy of my heart”, “it is eternal”. Psalm 119:129 says, “Your statutes are wonderful, therefore I obey them”, and “Direct my footsteps according to your word.” This is how we know what God wants us to do – by studying and reflecting on God’s word and then applying it to our lives. This is how we grow; this is how we walk with God.
DAY 3: Read Romans 14: 1 – 12
As we walk with God, and want to make godly decisions, we realise the Bible does not always give us clear dos and don’ts for the decisions we face. For example, should I buy a new car? Should I take a new job? Should I go to America or New Zealand for my holiday? Romans 14 gives us some guidelines about making those sorts of decisions. We are free to choose from a number of options, so long as no law of God is broken or compromised (for example, it would be unwise to buy a new car if it meant I could not afford to pay the rent or feed my family). However, there is an important principle to guide our decision making – God must be honoured in whatever decision we make. Verses 7& 8, “For none of us lives to himself alone, and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Further on in the chapter, Paul says (v 19) “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” The growing disciple realises they are part of the body of Christ, and personal decisions may affect others, therefore decisions will be made based on the principles in the word of God.
DAY 4: Read Romans 8: 26 – 39
Prayer is also vital in our walk with God. It would be unthinkable (and a recipe for disaster) to not talk to your spouse. Communication is a vital part of any relationship, and it is no less true of a disciple’s relationship with his master. When we pray we do not ask for new information (for we have all we need in the Bible), but we ask for wisdom, for patience, for strength, for the ability to accept God’s will even though it might be tough going, and we pray for the needs of others. Verse 28 is a favourite verse of many and is a great comfort to remember that in all things (even the results of my bad decisions, and the consequences of my sinful behaviour), God works for the good of those who love him. Let us pray for a greater awareness of the majesty and sovereign power of God and let us rejoice that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Reflection: Look back over the last few years and consider if you have grown in your understanding of God in that time. In your day to day living, is your aim to “walk with God”?
A.W. Tozer, “To have found God and still pursue him is the soul’s paradox of love…Faith is not a once done act, but a continuous gaze at the heart of the triune God.”
By Lesley Bloomfield.