Make Disciples 5

1 Peter 4:8

There are times when living together as a family can have its strains and troubles. I may get aggravated over dirty dishes left behind for me to pick up. My family may get irritated with me for all the things I leave lying around. But ultimately we are forgiving and tolerant of each other because we love each other.

Peter has a simple comment about how we can all get along. What should we do? How should we love? What is the benefit of it?

While it may be obvious to us that we love our family members and we can put up with all the small things that make us upset because of love, it may not be quite as obvious that we should have that same attitude with everyone. We are all children of God. We are all loved by God. We are all saved through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. We are all heirs of God and therefore all part of the family of God.

If we can add to our faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love we can become the great Christians we are called to be. As great Christians we can live out the Great Commandment – loving God with all that we are and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

But with these many attributes of faithful Christian living we will also be able to live out the Great Commission. We will be able to teach all those who do not already know of Jesus. We will be able to help them initiate their own growth in faith, showing them how to build on their faith. We will be able to help them be initiated in this life of holiness through baptism.

If we will live out the teachings of Jesus Christ and make disciples of other people, we must have brotherly kindness as part of who we are. We must care for the well-being and spiritual goodness of all people. We must love them. And through that love we will be able to put away the sin that divides us from others, the sin which keeps others from truly knowing Christ.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you have love to overcome sins?

Make Disciples 4

Acts 2:44-45

In recent meetings with church leaders we have discussed the future of our church, the changes needed, the ministries we hope to adopt, and so on. As we close each meeting we make certain that we are all of one mind – that we all agree on the direction and actions we would like to take. As we discuss our future each person is free to offer suggestions, to share their own vision and hope.

After the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and other followers, and Peter spoke to a large crowd to encourage their repentance, Acts 2 goes on to talk about this growing church. This band of believers devoted themselves to prayer, teaching and fellowship. What is said of how the believers lived?

The description presented about this emerging church creates an image of communal living. The people spent time together. They prayed and were either taught or united in supporting the teaching of others. They ate together.

Verse 44 says that they had everything in common. The understanding is that they shared all their possessions with each other. They sold what they owned to get money and then gave that money to those who were needy.

But I wonder if all these words could apply to their attitudes toward one another and to ministry as well. It is possible that all the things they held in common went beyond material possessions and included their faith. They may have shared the same attitude and devotion. They may have been sharing brotherly kindness to one another as well as love for each person.

And when they gave to those who had need, perhaps they also gave spiritually. It is possible that these believers gave a new outlook to those who needed hope.

We are called to make disciples. We are called to make brotherly kindness and love part of our faith life. When we can achieve that, then we will all have the same attitude of faith, a shared belief and energy for God, and we can give that belief and love to those who need to find it.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you give brotherly kindness and love to those who need it?

Make Disciples 3

Acts 2:38-41

Recent news stories have covered the phenomenon of shoppers at Target stores. Customers have swamped the stores to buy designer clothes and other items at a really low price. News of the bargains spread quickly as people shared this information with others.

It’s amazing to me how excited we can get about a bargain and how dull we can be about our faith. In Acts 2 Peter has stood up and is speaking to a crowd of people who have witnessed the working of the Holy Spirit. He tells them all about Jesus, about how he is the Lord. In response the crowd asks what they are to do.

What does Peter tell the people to do? What will they receive? What did he plead with them about? How did many respond?

Peter knew the importance of a life in Christ. He knew how important it is to repent of our sins and to begin the spiritual growth of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance and godliness. He was so excited about this important news that he was very emphatic when talking about Jesus and faith.

Peter urged those who heard him to turn their lives around and begin the journey of faith in Jesus. He urged them to be baptized, to make a public confession of this new life. The Bible even says that “he pleaded with them.” The words convey the urgency Peter felt.

We may not all be like Peter. We may not all have the gift of public persuasion that this disciple possessed. But we are called to make disciples. We are all called to invite others into a relationship of brotherly kindness and love.

If we can have our own faith grow into greatness, if we can add to our faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance and godliness, then we can also add to our faith the practice of brotherly kindness and love. We can welcome others into the family of God. We can stand with them as they accept Jesus as Savior and as they are baptized to mark this new faith.

Perhaps then we will see an increase in numbers of believers in our churches.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you share your passion for God?

Make Disciples 2

Galatians 3:26-29

I remember as a child witnessing an initiation into a club. I was with my brother on an errand and we parked behind some buildings in the city, and there in the alley was a small group of men. They were dumping flour and eggs and something blue on top of one of the men. I asked what was going on and my brother pointed out that it was an initiation into a club – the Eagles or Elks or some other group, I wasn’t sure. If the candidate endured the process then that person was welcomed as a member of that organization.

As Christian believers we are also welcomed into a group – the group of children of God. Our initiation rite does not involve disgusting things being dumped on our heads. It involves faith and baptism.

In his letter to the believers in Galatia Paul offers some encouragement. Who are we? How did we become these people? What does all that mean to us?

The moment we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are relieved of our sins. All that we have done in the past is wiped away and we are ready to begin a new journey of faith. We are ready to grow in holiness with God.

We remember our forgiveness and declare it publicly through the act of baptism. When we have water poured over our heads, or when we are immersed in water in baptism, we are being initiated into the family of God.

As Paul points out we become sons (and daughters) of God. We are heirs of Christ. That means we will inherit – receive – the eternal life in glory that God has promised.

Our differences are wiped away. We are no longer this person or that person. We are not Americans or Germans or French. We are not from this county or that town. We are simply children of God, wrapped in the joy and love of our heavenly Father.

The act of baptism clothes us in God’s grace. We become like one another in holiness.

Now we must share this baptism with others. We must tell others of the love of God and the salvation of Jesus. And then we can invite them into a baptism, a time of making themselves new in the power of Christ.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to remember that you are a child of God?

Make Disciples 1

Matthew 28:18-20

As I was helping to coach someone learning to preach, I challenged him to think about what he would say to the people in the church if he knew that he would never see them again. If you knew that you only had one opportunity to share some encouragement and guidance with someone you would likely choose your words very carefully. Whatever you said would be the most important thing you could think of.

The first Gospel ends with what has been called the Great Commission. It is the final instructions from Jesus, the commissioning – granting of authority – of the disciples. What are they to do? What assurance is given?

These words from Jesus are more than just a farewell to those people he knew who had been so loyal to him. It was one of the last opportunities Jesus had to give instruction to his followers, so we can assume these words carried some weight. We also see that what Jesus said granted the authority for the work to be done. God had given it to Jesus. Jesus was passing that authority on to the disciples.

What was it that the disciples were to do? They were to go out into the world and make disciples. They were to baptize them.

And it is important to know that a disciple is more than just a follower. A disciple is a learner, someone who gains knowledge from the one who makes the disciple. So it makes sense that Jesus would continue in his commissioning by saying that these disciples should be taught to obey everything Jesus had taught.

This commission goes beyond the disciples. We also are to do the work that Christ has commissioned. We should teach others to obey what Jesus has instructed. We should baptize new believers so that they will know they have been saved by Christ and brought into this journey of faith.

And like the disciples we can all take comfort in knowing that Jesus is with us in all that we do. As we grow in our faith and as we help others learn about faith, the Spirit of Christ is with us to continue that guidance and surround us with love.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Can you disciple someone in the teachings of Jesus?