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The Foundation of Following Jesus

Part 1 Intaking Gods Word

2 Timothy 3:16-17
January 9, 2011


Today we begin a four-week series on getting into Gods Word to help

us follow Jesus like we should and that doesnt happen in the lives of
nearly enough believers.

My hope is that as we explore these four areas that God will really speak
to you and move you to adopt a mindset that sees the Scriptures as being
essential to living the life that Jesus blesses and uses for His purposes.

Why am I hitting this whole issue of getting into the Word so hard?

Because thats what Im supposed to do because thats what all

preachers are supposed to do, right?

Besides, the Gideons are here and I need to impress them that we
actually talk about the Bible here, right?

God: The foundation passage for today is

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may
be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Im not going to talk about everything this passage addresses today, but
I want to use it as the foundation for what I want to communicate, which
is the importance of getting Gods Word in our lives.

Some things to keep in mind from this passage that I want to mention

Scripture is from God, not man.

That alone should be enough to make us want to make sure its part of our lives.
Scripture is used by God to shape our character.

Scripture is the basis for training for ministry.

Keeping these three things in mind, lets look at three things that the
Word of God can do to help us in our desire to follow Jesus 24/7.

The Word
Helps us learn about Jesus ACCURATELY.

The fact is that there are lots of different ideas about who Jesus is.

I tried to download a video from Youtube that had a kind of man on the
street interview segment asking different people who they thought
Jesus was or is.

Of course, you got a few who said things like, Hes my Lord and
Savior, or, Hes the Son of God, and all sorts of biblically based

But others were like, He is spiritual concept for Christians.

Im not even sure he really existed.

A made-up story.

A first-century philosopher.

I dont care who he was.

And right here in our area, you will find lots of different opinions about
who Jesus is.

One of the ideas I come across around here is the idea that Jesus is this
non-judgmental spiritual guru who loves everybody too much to send
them to hell for doing bad.

Personally, I like that idea. Its nice and comfortable.

Unfortunately, its not biblical.

There is also the idea that Jesus doesnt really care what goes on in a
persons life or what they believe as long as theyre sincere.
Again, those are nice ideas, but theyre wrong. Why, because theyre
not accurate portrayals of who Jesus himself said He was or what the
eyewitness accounts in the gospels say about Him.

Folks, the Church of Jesus is filled with people who dont know the
Jesus of the Bible.

Their ideas about Jesus come from society, what others who dont
believe the Bible say about Jesus, what they read in Time, Newsweek, or
U.S. News and World Report, what they see on the History Channel, or
more likely, what they would like to believe, because it fits their
personal philosophy about life and they dont want a Jesus who would
get on their case about it.

And these are the people you and I see every day.

The Jesus of society and convenience wont save a persons soul. The
Jesus of society and convenience cant bring the forgiveness of God and
eternal life in heaven.

The Jesus of the Bible can and will, for every person who will call on
Him for it.

Folks, can you imagine the scene before God when someone steps up to
Him and says, Well, God, I thought Jesus was a lot more tolerant of my
lifestyle, so you should judge me based on what I thought of Jesus,

I dont think thats going to happen.

Gods going to say, I dont care what you thought. I care about what I
actually said in My Word and thats what youll be judged against.

Folks, we need the Scriptures so we can learn about Jesus accurately.

We dont want to live a lifetime of ignorance, because in this case,

ignorance is not bliss.

When we learn about Jesus accurately, we can see His character, and we
can ask that question Ive been bringing up lately What would Jesus
do? because we will have a more accurate knowledge of how He
reacted in similar circumstances.
Disciples cant live a guess-work theology about Jesus.

Disciples need to learn about Jesus accurately. And that happens as we

get into Gods Word.

Second, the Word

Helps us to live for Jesus COMPLETELY.

Its in the Bible that we find that Jesus isnt interested in a lukewarm
relationship with His people.

He says very directly that He wants us to live for Him with every part of
our lives our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

He wants us to live for Him in how we handle our money, how we

handle our families, how we handle our free time, how we handle our
political involvement, how we handle our jobs and businesses, and
everything else.

He wants us to live for Him at the risk of alienating ourselves from our
loved ones.

He wants us to life for Him at the risk of actually dying for Him, as
more than 400 people will today.

And then His Word helps us to learn how to live for Jesus completely.

His commands, teachings, and His example all serve to help us live for
Him completely.

They serve to fill us in on the joy and fulfillment that comes to those
who do that, and they serve to encourage us when living for Jesus gets
tough and maybe unbearable at times as they remind us that He is
always with us through the Holy Spirit.

But we cant live for Jesus completely if we dont learn about Him

And third, the Word

Helps us to serve Jesus EFFECTIVELY.

We serve Jesus effectively by understanding three things:

- His priorities

We talked last week that His three main priorities were doing the
Fathers will, spending time with the Father, and helping the lost get
If we can make these our priorities as well, we go a long way to serving
Jesus effectively.

We also work to serve Him effectively when we examine the Scriptures

to see

- His methods

How did Jesus do stuff?

How did He go about teaching and equipping His leaders?

He did he minister to different types of people?

How did He point people to the Father?

How did He deal with erroneous ideas regarding God and the Scriptures?

This is important to learn because I think if we do things Jesus way, well be a

lot more successful at reaching people and helping them become sold-out
followers of His.

Another way the Bible helps us serve Jesus effectively is that it show us

- His example

This kinda ties in with the other two we just covered, but I want to just
point out other things we can learn:

How did react to sinners who approached Him?

How did He handle interruptions (and He had plenty)?

How did He respond to different types of people?

How did He align His priorities?

How did He approach suffering especially His own?

These are all questions we can answer as we seek to learn about Jesus
through the Scriptures.

And as we answer them, we can serve Him effectively.

So hopefully we can all see why its so important to get into the Word
of God.

And now we need to look at ways to get Gods Word into our lives so
we can gain all these benefits and advantages.

Ive mentioned all of these from time to time, but heres another
opportunity for you to get a grip on getting into the Word.

Four ways to intake Gods Word:

1. Hear it.

This generally happens in church, although it can also be done in small

groups and Sunday School and such.

You can also hear the Bible on the radio, on cds, and on the internet.

Thats a great way to get Gods Word pouring into you.

But let me tell you, listening to the Bible is the least effective way to
intake Gods Word, because you retain less of it, unless you really,
really, really, really, listen a lot.

But by all means, do it if you can. If you want some websites to go to

where you can listen for free, from almost any version you can think of,
let me know and Ill give you two right away.

A second way to intake Gods Word is to

2. Read it.

Pretty obvious, right?

But Id be willing to bet, if I were a betting man, that the VAST
majority of Christians dont read the Bible outside of what they might
read during a church service.

Read it. Regularly. Systematically.

It doesnt have to be every day, but it should be at least a few times a


Read through the New Testament this year. Or the entire Bible.

Read it cover to cover or read it in a way that arranges the readings in

the order the events happened.

But read it. And not just here.

During my time in the Gideons, we were encouraged to read through the

Bible every year, and they gave us a little reading schedule that we
could check off so we could keep track. has many different reading programs that can help you
throughout the year, as well as a check-off system to help you stay on

I cant recommend that site highly enough.

A third way we can get Gods Word into our life is to

3. Study it.

Im going to be focusing more in this next week, so Im not going to

spend a lot of time here on it.

Studying is basically going beyond hearing and reading it, and digging
into it to learn more about what the Bible says about any give topic,
doctrine, person, or Bible book.

It gets below the surface and looks at how the Bible puts stuff together
and how we come to the beliefs we have, both as individuals, as
churches, and even denominations.

Study is the key to getting below the surface.

Next week were going to look at the whys and some hows of studying
the Bible.

Another way to get Gods Word into your life is to

4. Memorize it.

Memorize short (or long) passages of Scripture that speak to you as you
read and study.
Write out the passage on cards or post-its, or whatever, and carry them
around with you so you can review them and pray through them.

But I cant memorize Scripture its too hard.

Youve memorized all sorts of other stuff. Your address, your Social
Security number, your girlfriends phone number

You can memorize Scripture.

So you can listen to Gods Word, you can read Gods Word, you can
study Gods Word, and you can memorize Gods Word.

But for these to really do the work within us Scripture is meant to do

(transform us to be more like Jesus), we need to add:

- Application

This where we move from being just hearers and being doers.

Two weeks from today were really going to hammer this is what keeps
us from being the hypocrites so many Christians are accused of being
and that some of them really are.

Application is putting the Word of God into action in our lives.

Its that other word that can be a stumbling block for some: obedience
doing what the Bible says and not doing what it says not to do.

The next thing we need to add is

- Meditation

The most basic definition of meditation is just thinking deeply on a passage of

You ask questions about the passage and how it relates to you in your situation
or how you can use it to minister to someone else.

You ask the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions that
you also ask when youre studying the Bible.

Its how we take the head knowledge and make it heart knowledge, giving
Gods Word the opportunity to do that transforming work it needs to do if were
going to be Christ-like, sold out disciples of Jesus.

You: My hope is that at least one of these four ways of intaking Gods
Word has resonated with you.

If thats you, then take that way or ways and do something to get it
going THIS WEEK.

If its listening, go to a place like or

and start listening. Or go the Anchors of Faith tomorrow and get the
Bible on CD.

If its reading, start today by getting a plan in place that will help you
accomplish what you feel God wants you to do.

If its studying, then come visit with me this week and Ill give you
some ideas, and make sure youre here next week as we talk about that
some more.

If its memorizing, pick a passage and write it out today and put it
somewhere you can see it all the time or keep it in your pocket or purse.

A great passage to start with is the one we used as the foundation for our
time today.

We: Folks, we need to be people who are not Christians in name only.

Weve already got more than enough of those in the world.

The way to avoid being that is by getting the Word of God in your life
in such a way that God can use it to transform you to be more like Jesus.

Can you imagine what it would be like if every one of us here

committed to making that happen this year?
I believe God would not only continue to change the culture of this
church to focus on His priorities, but He would move to dramatically
change individual lives in this church.

Those two things will enable God to use us to bring glory to Him as we
do the work He gave us to make disciples of all nations.

Please dont take this lightly.

Let God drive this to the very core of your being. And get ready to
watch Him work.

Lets pray.

What Marks a Disciple of Jesus?

Various Scriptures
January 2, 2011


This is one of those messages that would make my preaching teachers

shiver in their boots and deny they had anything to do with me.


Well, because it wont have the correct form that they all say Im
supposed to have.

Because of the storm, I took my laptop home, hoping that I could do my

work from there instead of risking getting snowed in here at the church.

However, having 7 kids, my mother-in-law, and a sick wife at home

prevented me from getting much actual work done until last night about
6:00 PM.

However, about 7:15, I ended up taking Debra to the emergency room

for dehydration due to some other things.

I took my laptop there and worked while they added fluids to Debra
through an IV, but still wasnt able to get everything done.
So this message wont have much of an introduction or conclusion,
and Im going to pretty much dive right into the outline in your note-
taking guide, okay?

By the way, Debra is feeling much better. Shes at home getting rest
and drinking lots of fluids, but she would appreciate your prayers.

Dani is also sick, and would appreciate your prayers.

God: Of all the note-taking guides you will get this year, this may be the most
important one.

Take this note-taking guide and keep it in your Bible (because youre
going to be reading it throughout the year, RIGHT?) where you can see
it and pray through it on a regular basis.

Were going to look at five marks of a disciple. Five ways that we can
live in such a way that others will be able to tell that we are followers of

Five ways that will show that we have something to live for that the
world cant offer.

Five ways that will, in a sense, tattoo us as people who put Jesus and
living for Him above all else.
The first mark is that a disciple

Listens to Jesus.
John 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Matthew 17:5
"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"
How do we listen to Jesus?
- The Scriptures.
If youre not used to hearing me say that by now, youd better
get to hearing it.

The Scriptures are where we get the information we need about who
Jesus is, what He said and did, and what He continues to do while seated
at the right hand of the Father until He returns.

Its so important that we go to the Scriptures, because there is plenty of

mis-information out there about Jesus.
Next week Ill show you a short video that illustrates this a bit.
When were reading the Scriptures, and particularly the gospels those
eyewitness accounts of Jesus life we see what Jesus said, and we can
take that into our lives.

Thats listening to Him. Taking what He said and applying it.

The other way to listen to Jesus is through

- Prayer.
This another way in which Jesus can speak to us.
Now I gotta tell you Im a bit of a skeptic when someone says, Jesus
spoke to me, because often when someone says that it doesnt line
up with the Scriptures.
And Ive never heard the audible voice of Jesus that some seem to
But Jesus has spoken to me and to some of you here by impressing
something on their spirit in a way that lets them know Jesus is trying
to get their attention about something.
Usually this happens when we are in prayer, and oftentimes it
happens when we are praying about something entirely different than
what He speaks to us about.
Why? It could be that were finally in a position spiritually where were
willing to listen to what He has to say to us.
In any case, this is a reminder that prayer is not always a one-way
communication where you say stuff and God listens.
Sometimes its the other way around. And the more time we spend
with Him in prayer, the more likely well hear Him speak to us.
One thing to keep in mind: He will only speak to you in ways that line
up with His Word. He will never contradict Himself.
So if you feel like Jesus is telling you to say, cheat on your wife or
sleep with your girlfriend, you can be dead sure that its not Jesus
talking to you.
In the gospel of John, He said that He only speaks what the Father
tells Him to speak. And the Father has some specific things to say
about stuff like that.
So a disciple listens to Jesus.
Second, a second mark of a disciple is that he or she
Obeys Jesus.
Okay, Ive pounded on this a lot, and it really hits on what weve
printed on the front of the bulletin regarding moving from lip-service to
life-service for Jesus.
But a person cannot say they love Jesus and yet refuse to obey Him.
It simply doesnt work.
How do I know that? Only because Jesus says so:
John 14:21, 23-24
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He
who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show
myself to him."
"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we
will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will
not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the
Father who sent me.
That pretty well says it, doesnt it?
If you claim to love Jesus, youll obey Him. And youll constantly be
working with the Holy Spirit in getting better at obedience as you
mature in your relationship with Him.
Its not enough to have warm-fuzzies for Jesus. You need to obey
All the emotion in the world doesnt do it when it comes to loving
Obedience is how we demonstrate our love for Him.
And as I mentioned a week or two ago, obeying Jesus and living for
Him is not putting on a pair of handcuffs so God can take away all
your fun and joy, but rather a freeing from the bondage that keeps you
from enjoying all that God has for you.
It is not taking on a new burden of stuff to do to earn Gods favor,
because the Bible is very clear that we cant earn His favor.
But let me share another Scripture that might help you in deciding that
obeying Jesus is the right thing to do:
1 John 5:3-4
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not
burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.
So obedience to God doesnt have to be burdensome. In fact, in most cases, its
downright enjoyable, because Ive just mentioned, we open ourselves up to
everything good that God has for those who love and obey Him.
A disciple listens to Jesus, a disciple obeys Jesus, and thirdly, a
Adopts Jesus priorities.
This third mark of a disciple says that what was important to Jesus is
important to the follower of Jesus.
From what I can tell by reading the gospels, Jesus had three main
- Doing the Fathers will.
John 17:4
I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave
me to do.
Jesus made it very clear that He wasnt on earth do make a
name for Himself but to glorify the Father by doing the work
He gave Jesus.
His goal was to make sure that the Fathers will was
paramount in everything He said and did.
And if Christians would put this ahead of their own
convenience, what a difference we would make in our
culture and around the world.
A second priority of Jesus was
- Spending time with the Father.
Luke 5:16
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Notice the word, often, here. Obviously Jesus got away
from the pressures around Him and even His ministry
responsibilities on a regular and frequent basis to spend
time with the Father.
I would hope the implication for us would be pretty clear: if
Jesus needed time with the Father, we obviously need it all
the more Him being the Son of God and all, and us NOT
being the Son of God
We need time with the Father in the Scriptures and prayer.
And we need it for the same reasons Jesus did direction
and refreshment of the soul.
Heres a third priority of Jesus:
- Helping the lost get found.
Luke 19:10
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
This was the mission the Father sent Jesus on.
He came so that everyone would have the chance to know
forgiveness and heaven the chance to spend eternity with
God instead of eternity separated from Him in hell.
All his conversations with those who were lost were geared
to helping them become found helping them realize their
need for a Savior and that He was the Savior they needed.
For us, this means that we point people to Jesus and what
He did on the cross for their sake and ours.
A disciple listens to Jesus, obeys Jesus, and adopts Jesus
priorities. A fourth thing that marks a disciple is that he or
Imitates Jesus.
In other words, a disciple does what Jesus would do and says what
Jesus would say.
Romans 13:14
Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about
how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Clothes make the man, right?
People do judge you on what you wear, very often for right or
People will make judgments on the kind of person you are based on
what you are wearing.
And lets just be honest we all do it, dont we? And truth be told,
weve often judged incorrectly.
It says here we should clothe ourselves with Jesus. How do we do
By imitating Him.
Listen to this same verse from the Gods Word translation:
Live like the Lord Jesus Christ did, and forget about satisfying the
desires of your sinful nature.
How do we know how Jesus lived? Any guesses?
Thats right the Scriptures, particularly the gospels the biographies
of Jesus, written by His friends and those who interviewed His friends.
This goes back to the question I suggested we start asking again:
What would Jesus do?
And that can only be answered by studying the gospels to learn the
character of Jesus so you can best apply that in your situation and
Then people can judge you based on what they see of Jesus in you
instead of what they see of the world in you.
Imitate Jesus accurately, and people will see Him for themselves, and
want Him for themselves, because they see that Jesus isnt just a fairy
tale, but truth lived out for real in the lives of real people in the real
So far weve talked about four marks of a disciple:
A disciple listens to Jesus.
A disciple obeys Jesus.
A disciple adopts Jesus priorities.
A disciple imitates Jesus.
Heres the fifth mark of a disciple I want to mention today:
A disciple
Loves Jesus family.
John 13:34-35
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so
you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another."
Notice Jesus doesnt say, A new suggestion I give you
We are to intentionally act in ways that demonstrate love to our fellow
believers, because they are brothers and sisters in Christ.
And remember, love is not primarily an emotion, its an action.
How many of you always had warm-fuzzy love feelings toward your brothers
and sisters growing up?
No, you didnt, did you?
Weve all had times, especially when we were little kids, when we
wish our brother or sister hadnt been born, or that our parents would
have either left them at the hospital or switched them out with another
You read how Josephs brothers sold him into slavery and you
thought, I wonder how I could arrange for that to happen to my
You know, Gods pretty smart about that kind of stuff, and He knew
that if we defined love strictly by our feelings and emotions, wed
never get it right.
So God defines love as actually acting in a loving manner which can
be done in spite of our feelings.
A disciple listens to Jesus.
A disciple obeys Jesus.
A disciple adopts Jesus priorities.
A disciple imitates Jesus.
A disciple loves Jesus family.
How do we know how we do these things? We get into the Bible. The
Bible is the foundation for what it means to follow Jesus.

The next four weeks were going to get into how we can get such a
handle on Scripture that everyone here will be able to be equipped to be
a godly disciple of Jesus, no matter how long youve been a Christian.

You: What should you do with this information?

Commit today to being a person who is marked as a disciple of Jesus.

Take some time this week to look through this list of things and ask God
to help you want to have all of these marks be evident in your life.

One of the first things you can do is to be baptized if you havent been

The first thing a new believer did after putting their faith in Jesus was to
declare their faith and intention to live for Him by being baptized.

If you are a Christian and havent been baptized following putting your
faith in Him, you need to do that.

Jesus commands it.

What if I was baptized as a baby?

Id love to tell you that the Bible says thats good enough.
Unfortunately, I cant find that in Scripture.

Every instance of baptism in Scripture comes after a person becomes a

Christian by putting their personal faith in Jesus for forgiveness and

Baptism is the first step of discipleship after coming to faith in Christ.

If youve already been baptized, then spend the rest of this week
committing yourself to this list of marks of a disciple, taking advantage
of the opportunities and tools well be offering you throughout this year,
and taking the initiative to develop these on your own as you spend time
with Christ in the Scriptures.

We: Its my hope that all of us will take this whole thing seriously, and that
none of us will take the attitude of being lukewarm toward Jesus.

The greatest fulfillment in life comes from a life lived for Jesus.

Please allow Him to prove it to you.

Lets pray.

2011 Living for Jesus Above All Else

Various Scriptures
December 26, 2010
Pastor Brian La Croix

Me: Im excited to talk to you guys this morning, because Im going to

talk to you about what God has been laying on my heart as the direction
I believe He wants us to take this next calendar year.

Here in 2010 weve been focusing on the family the family of God
and individual families.

Most of the messages this year have reflected that theme, and weve
tried to do things outside the church service to help us develop and
deepen those relationships.

Ive had a good time doing that, and my hope is that some of you have
been pushed by the Holy Spirit in some of the areas weve covered so
that you could have better and deeper relationships both in your physical
family and in the family of God.

Over the past number of months Ive felt God telling me that what he
wants us to emphasize this coming year is this whole area of

I believe God wants us to help people become authentic followers of

Jesus who live for Him 24/7.

Over the years Ive hammered on the fact that Jesus hates lip-service
Christianity, and that what He really wants is life-service Christianity.

He wants you and me to live for Him above all else.

Can I just tell you something about myself?

Sometimes I fall into the category of lip-service instead of life-


I gave my life to Jesus back in the fall of 1982, and I was blessed with
having people in my life to help me start living for Jesus right away.

I wasnt perfect, of course, and Im still not.

And there have been times in my life when Ive just been on fire for
Jesus and other times when Im just kinda whatever about Him.

And even some times when Ive been rather cold about Him.

But I also need to tell you that during the times of whatever and the
times of being cold toward Him, in the back of my mind and heart, I
was still desiring Him and desiring to be more tight with Jesus.

We: And my guess is that Im not the only one like that here today.

Im just silly enough to believe that there are some of you here today or
who will be listening to this on the website who want more of Jesus.

People who know in their hearts that there has to be more to this
Christianity thing that just forcing yourself to get up for church on

You know that God has something more for you. You know that Jesus
offered a full and abundant life to those who will follow Him and you
want that for yourself.

You want a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.

Or maybe you feel God possibly nudging you to greater involvement in

ministry in one form or another, and you want to become better
equipped for that.

But maybe you dont know where to start, or maybe youve just needed
an extra push to help get you going.

Others maybe used to have a great relationship with Jesus, but for one
reason or another thats faded away.

Im praying that God will give each and every single one of us a desire
to live for Jesus. All the time. In every situation. No matter the cost.

And because Im sure that Im not the only one who wants an even
deeper life-changing relationship with Jesus, were going to spend this
next year focusing on how we can be better disciples of Jesus every year
and every day.
God: Why is this so important that we are going to spend an entire year
focusing on it?

Because making disciples is a command of Jesus for the Church.

Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the

name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching
them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with
you always, to the very end of the age.

Now I want you to notice a few things here:

First, you need to understand that the command in this passage isnt

For generations weve been told that Jesus is telling us to Go.

However, that is not the case.

The phrase in the original Greek language of the New Testament is, As
you are going, make disciples.

The implication here is that Jesus planned on us taking the gospel with
us wherever we go and whatever we do.

Second, Jesus doesnt say, Make churchgoers of all nations.

Plenty of people in church arent loving and living for Jesus. When they
walk out the door, theyre just like everybody else, with no real
difference between them and people who dont go to church or claim to
love Jesus.

Third, Jesus doesnt say, Make believers of all nations.

In other words, the job of the church isnt just to lead people to
salvation, as important as that is, and as important as Ive tried to help
you believe it is.

Because the fact is, if they are not believers, they dont have forgiveness
and heaven.
But were not supposed to stop there. Were supposed to make

So are you going to quit beating us up about leading people to Jesus?

Not hardly! A person has to be a believer before they can be a disciple.

So it always has to start with people sharing Jesus with others and
helping them come to faith in Christ.

But belief is on the beginning of discipleship.

So lets move on and talk about just what a disciple is:

Heres how Merriam-Webster defines a disciple:

1. One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another:


a. one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christs followers according

to the gospel accounts;

By the way, this is a mistake.

The inner circle of Jesus followers werent just disciples, they were
called apostles.

The Bible calls a lot of people disciples of Jesus, not just the Twelve.

Maybe youre sitting here today and youre wondering how you could
be a disciple, because that was just the Twelve.

But thats not the case. Everyone who loves Jesus can be a disciple.

b. a convinced adherent of a school or individual.

I want you to catch something there:

A convinced adherent of a school or individual.

The key phrase here is convinced adherent, and the key word here is
This means that a disciple is someone who totally buys the idea of Jesus
and living for Him, and will do what it takes to make that happen.

Does that describe you? If not, why not?

A synonym for disciple is follower.

Listen to how Merriam-Webster defines the word, follower:

1. One in the service of another.

2. One that follows the opinions and teachings of another.

3. One that imitates another.

There is a great question that I think we need to ask and implement.

Unfortunately that question became a fad and became a joke not only
among Christians but also in the world in general:

What would Jesus do?

This is a real good question. It forces us to really study the Scriptures so

we can capture the character of Jesus that we can implement in our
given situations.

It helps us become imitators of Jesus.

The book it came from was, In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon. It

came out in 1896, has sold over 30 million copies and is the 39 th best-
selling book of all time.

If you havent read it, I would suggest you do that during January. It
wont take long, and it might just change your life, just like it has mine.
Ive read it about half a dozen times and plan to read it again myself.

Back to the definition of a follower;

Archaic: One that chases.

Huh? Chases? Whats that about?

It means to pursue intently.

Now I really like that. And I found myself wondering, How many
people chase Jesus anymore? And, When was the last time I could
describe myself as chasing Jesus? And I couldnt think of anytime
really since the early 1990s.

Ive loved Him all that time. Ive studied His Word, prayed to Him,
tried to obey Him, worked and spoken for Him.

But when was the last time I could say that I wanted Jesus so much I
was willing to chase Him?
Im begging God to help me with that. I want to be a chaser of Jesus.

I want to get to the point where Jesus looks back and says, You again?
When are you going to leave me alone?

The good news is that Jesus would never say that. He WANTS people
to chase Him, to pursue Him intently.

A disciple is someone who says they want more than just fire
insurance from hell.

They want everything that God has for them. They want everything that
God wants for them. They want significance and meaning and
purpose for their life. They want to live for something outside
of themselves and their comfort.

They want to live for Jesus 24/7/365.

And folks, that was Jesus intent all along.

He wants people who, like Him, are tired of going through the motions
and trying to say the proper stuff, but have no real motivation to
actually live for Him, even and maybe even especially when its
inconvenient to do so.

Because the warning is this: being a disciple sets you apart.

When you decide to live for Jesus, you will find yourself at odds with
people who dont think its important to live for Him.

Your priorities will change, your attitudes and actions will change
(which might cost you in other ways like how you do business, handle
your money, how you handle your free time, etc.), and there will be
plenty of people who wont appreciate that very much.

Some will pressure you to give it up, others will ridicule you, others will
decide that theyd rather not hang out with you anymore.

And the hardest part of this is that some of those people might be your
family and other loved ones.

But Jesus said that real discipleship costs something: allegiance to

ourselves and to others who would pull you away from Jesus.

Listen to these words of Jesus:

Luke 9:23

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his
cross daily and follow me.
Luke 14:26

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his
wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he
cannot be my disciple.

Gee, thanks, Pastor Brian! Im really fired up to be a disciple now that

I know that it might cost me friends, family, and re-arranging my
WHOLE LIFE which might cost me friends and other things. Where
do I sign up!

Before you wonder about whether or not its worth it to be a disciple, let
me remind you of something else Jesus says, in John 10

John 10:10

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Who is He talking about? His followers. He is saying that His

followers will get that full and abundant life that He came to bring them.

And let me tell you something: Jesus isnt stingy. His blessings are
always great.
He is saying here that if well live for Him, Hell make it worth it for us,
even if its not always apparent at the moment.
So the question you have to deal with over the next year is this:

Will I respond to Jesus call to be a disciple?

You: 1. Start with prayer.

Some of you might be sitting here thinking, Okay, I like the idea of
living for Jesus, but Im not sure Im ready to pay the cost.

Ask Him to help you be willing.

Ive quoted this verse a lot, but I want to bring it up again, because its
appropriate as we not only contemplate becoming a disciple, but also
when were in the midst of that, struggling to remain faithful to Him.

Philippians 2:13

For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then
helping you do what he wants.

Make that the prayer of your heart, and watch the Spirit turn your heart
to Jesus and living for Him.

He will help you become the convinced adherent that a disciple needs
to be.

2. Take the initiative to draw closer to Christ on your own, through:

- Getting in the Word (4-week series on how to do that coming up

in two weeks).

- Reading helpful materials to help you develop godly disciplines of

Bible study, prayer, application of the Word, etc.

- Seeking godly fellowship with people of like-mind and

determination to live for Jesus.

3. Help this church in its mission to help others become disciples of

You do that by getting involved in our outreach efforts, getting involved
in our Sunday School and Bible studies, etc.

You do that by praying with and for our church.

You do that by offering your gifts and talents to God through the
ministries of this church.

We: Would you agree that there is plenty of religion around, but not
nearly enough real-life living for Jesus?

Would you agree that our area would benefit from more people giving
Jesus life-service instead of lip-service?

I hope so, because both of those things are true.

A church filled with disciples is a strong, effective, Spirit-filled church.

A church filled with disciples can be used by God to advance His

kingdom here in our area and around the world, and therefore able to
fulfill the mission Jesus gave it.

But discipleship isnt a group thing. Its an individual thing.

An effective church needs to be filled with individuals who have made

the decision to follow Jesus above all else.

But the church cant force that to happen.

Discipleship is something that you and God come to grips with one-on-

My hope is that you will be brave enough to take on that struggle and
become intentional about being a disciple.

If youre not sure of all that yet, but youd like to talk with me, Id be
thrilled to visit with you over a cup of coffee sometime.

This thing is very dear to my heart. And I hope it will become close to
yours as well.

Lets pray.