Introduction: God is calling saved people to be disciples of Christ, not just members of local church organizations. As saved people (make sure you are saved; Jn. 3:16), "We should work on being disciples."
1. Decision. Notice how Luke 9:23 starts off with each person deciding to follow the Lord or not. Disciples of Christ have considered God’s goodness, blessings, and punishments and decided to follow Him.
Members on the other hand, have not decided to follow the Lord. Have you ever wondered how a person can be on a church roster for 20+ years and is still biblically illiterate, don’t help with any of the work, rob God of His tithes and offerings, and don’t even participate in the worship with any enthusiasm?
The answer is, they have not decided to follow God’s word. Let’s work on making sure that we have made-up minds to understand and obey God’s word.
2. Denial. Notice that Luke 9:23 talks about how one must deny one’s self. Disciples have desires and preferences like everyone else. But they have grown and are striving to grow to live by passages like Philippians 2:3 and Luke 22:42.
They strive to deny themselves for God’s will to be done. Members on the other hand, not only refuse to deny themselves, but they will hold hostage their giving, serving, and even worshipping because they cannot get their way among people. Let’s work on denying ourselves, so God’s perfect will can be accomplished.
3. Daily Dedication. Notice that Luke 9:23 calls for taking up one’s cross daily – daily dedication. The disciple strives to maintain ongoing commitment. Their feelings get hurt, when they are disrespected, ignored, or lied on.
They are tempted to quit and critique like others. But when they remember Jesus’ sacrifices for them, they go a little further and solider on (see II Tim. 2:3). Members, on the other hand, have commitment to convenience.
They will miss Bible study, prayer services, and church functions because their TV show is on (i.e., even though they could record it). They quit when things are not fun anymore, they feel a little tired, they don’t get their way, or they run into a problem or two in their lives.
They are like the stony and thorny ground in Mark 4:14-20. Let’s work on practicing daily dedication to following God’s will for our lives.
4. Divine Directions. Notice that Luke 9:23 calls for following Jesus – following divine directions. Disciples are committed to striving to understand and obey God’s principles for every area of their lives. They understand that the Bible is not just a church book. It is a life book.
Members, on the other hand, rarely study. And when they do, they often major in non-actionable information instead of divine instructions. If they serve, they tend to serve in areas that are convenient for them instead of what is needed in the church.
This is often the $2 or $3 here and there group. Let’s work on understanding and obeying God’s word for every area of our lives.
5. Punishment and Blessings. Notice how passages like Luke 12:48; Judges 5:23; Mark 11:12-14; and Proverbs 18:9 all support the sin of not doing what God calls us to do. Not being a disciple is a punishable sin of omission.
Thankfully, Luke 18:29-30 teaches us that serving the Lord pays off. Think about how a church filled with disciples would be such a blessing to its members (e.g., relationships, programs, etc. that help us be the best disciples that we can be) and the community (e.g., volunteerism, donations, positions of influence, etc.). Let’s work on being blessed, instead of punished. God blesses obedience and punishes disobedience.
6. Thankfulness. Notice how passages like Colossians 3:15-17 teaches that believers should be thankful. John 14:15 teaches that if we love the Lord, we should obey Him.
Gratitude should be our chief motive for being disciples of Christ. God should not have to threaten nor bribe us. What happened at Calvary should be enough for every believer to give their best to being the best disciple that they can be.
When we think about the Holy Spirit, what God has done for us lately, and the promises of God, we have so much to be thankful and obedient for. Let’s live like we appreciate what God has done for us.
What is one thing you will take from this session and work on, regarding your discipleship goals?
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