May 03, 2011

What is a disciple?

Discipleship starts with an encounter with the living God
Luke 9:23-27(The Message)
Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I'm leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn't, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God."

A Disciple is:
• A follower of Christ
• A learner who listens to his teacher
• An apprentice who adheres to the teacher’s instruction and seeks to practices them

A Disciple has/Does
• Made a commitment in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is
• A teachable spirit and is prepared to change their own heart first

A Disciple needs
• A disciple needs to hear and to know what the teacher wants known.
• To understand that discipleship has a cost, takes effort, time and consistency.
• To realize that it is a process and lifelong commitment.

Discipleship Levels
• Is a process of not only growth but also depth.
• Every new believer starts on the path of discipleship.

1 John 2:12 illustrates how we grow and develop depth as we walk with Him

Little Children: Level 1
Spoken of twice: "write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. AND I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father."

• Have accepted Christ.
• Understands that they are loved by God the father.

Young Men: Level 2
Spoken of twice: I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. AND because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

• Have grown in their walk with Christ.
• Reads and applies the word.
• Understands spiritual conflict and attempts to live a godly life.

Fathers: Level 3
The same answer is given twice: I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.

As we mature in Christ we begin to see that there is such a depth in God that as we learn more about Him we realize how little we know. We also begin to realize that it is in the desert places where He reveals new facets about Himself .

It is in our brokeness that we learn to submit our lives to His call and to His love. It is often in difficult seasons that we begin to glimpse the eternal purpose of God and His desire for relationship with each of us. We learn to live our lives as seen in backdrop of eternity.  Head knowledge has also become heart knowledge through experience.

Being a disciple starts with a personal encounter with the living God and that encounter will change us forever as it did the following:

• Abraham: had to leave family and country. God led and he followed a step at a time.
• Moses: knew the ways of God but the people only knew His acts.
• Isaiah: took a death for him to see the Lord
• Jacob: wrestled with God and forever walked with a limp
• Job: declares "I had heard of Him but now I see Him"
• John: saw God’s fulfillment with joy and then was chained & beheaded
• Peter: sifted as wheat and it was only then that he could strengthen the brethren
• Paul: is given a thorn in the flesh as a reminder that His grace is sufficient

The beautiful thing about being a Christian is that we are all growing as disciples of Jesus.  We realize that we are simply Christ followers and He calls us to be an image bearer of Him to those around us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who gave up his life daily on behalf of the German people during the time of the Nazis, and finally died for his faith at the end of a rope in a Nazi prison, once said, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

John 12:24 Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.

Grains of wheat stored in a granary does not become food until it is in the ground. When a dormant seed is planted under the right conditions it begins to expand and the seed "coat" breaks down as it matures. Each seed will produce a root and a shoot. The roots go down deep and little shoots produce even more seeds which will, in turn, produce more fruit. This one seed has the potential to produce much fruit, but only in its willingness to die.

A disciple is someone who realizes that "as a seed" they have the life of God within them. A disciple realizes that His will is to release that life of God within us to those around us.

A disciple willingly puts their life into the hands of the Master Gardener, allowing Him to work in the soil of our hearts so that fruit will be produced.
Fruit that will feed and nourish hungry and searching souls. A disciple realizes that what He has given, is not ours to keep.

Acts 3:6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth....."

A disciple realizes that we don't keep what we have been given.
A disciple is a giver.

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