If you are like me, you are getting ready to set a New Years Resolution. Do you ever feel like it is hopeless to actually get the results you want? Or, the thought of making it an entire year feels extremely daunting? Like why even try, right? Just think about it this way, how many gyms are full in January, half full in February, and empty in March? Probably more than we care to admit. What is the issue? I think a few things factor into this. First off, it’s really hard to dedicate time and energy to eating better and working out, especially if you don’t enjoy it. Next, the results you desire are not worth the commitment. For instance! I have a few extra inches I wish I could lose around my belly. But a short term diet works only as long as I stick with it. It will take a long term habit change to get the desired results, which apparently, I haven’t found the commitment to get there. Finally, the reason we give up on our goals and resolutions is the fact that we haven’t really set a goal that will satisfy our soul. Everything we shoot for is to change the exterior while leaving us feeling empty and unsatisfied on the inside.
Now, what I am about to submit to you for consideration is not going to be easier than dieting and exercise. Nor is it something that you will try one time and have a long term success rate. It will take trial and error, a deep level of commitment, and accountability. This idea is not original to me, not by a long shot. The Creator of the Universe instituted it and Jesus echoed it throughout His ministry. Some of you may even become emotionally deflated when you read what it is, simply because you have reasoned that it is not your job to do in the first place. Have you guessed it yet???
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 instructs the nation of Israel to Love God with every fiber of your being, and then instruct your children to do the same. Post it everywhere, in and around your home. Talk about it often and make sure you as a family carry it out all of your days. Then when your children get older, marry, and have children of their own, they too will continue the cycle of being in love with the Creator. It would keep going and going and going. Thus, through the generations people would submit and surrender to the God they loved. It sounds easy enough until you seek to put it into practice. It takes a deep commitment and you must get mean about keeping it a priority. The Israelites were making disciples all the way back in Deuteronomy.
When Jesus came to earth and began to minister, he instituted a discipleship program with 12 rough and woolly men. He spent time with them everyday and built upon the very same premise of loving God. He even added to the command in Matthew 22:37-39. He said to love God will all that you are AND love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus poured into these men and instructed them as a good father does his children. He taught them His ways and connected them to the Heavenly Father so that they would truly love God and submit to Him. Then, right before Jesus left earth to be with the Father, He instructed His followers (and every follower from that day on) to go and make disciples.
How do you make disciples? First, it begins in your own heart. If you are not in love with God, you will never fully submit and obey Him. You must first fall in love with God. If you have been saved, then you have a basis for this love. You can easily recall the time when you placed your faith in Jesus, knowing that He died for you while you were a sinner and hostile toward God. Then you must cultivate that love by spending time in His word, prayer, and spiritual conversations with other believers. I must note here that if do not have a relationship with Him, you will not love Him. You may admire Him or even acknowledge Him, but your heart is an enemy toward Him. You must be born again. You must receive the gift of grace by faith to be saved, until that happens you cannot love God.
Now that you have rekindled that love for God, you can begin to make disciples. At this point, you may already feel exhausted in the journey. Don’t give up, good things are coming from your submission and obedience. If you have children, this is a great practice ground. If no kids, then work on your spouse. If not married, then help a friend. All that really matters is that you are seeking to be obedient by making disciples. Here is the simple formula, then we will unpack it a bit. Simple Equation= Live it out, talk it out, and grow in grace.
Live it out. Model what a Jesus following disciple looks like. Amy and I do this with our kids. We seek to live out our faith before Ty and Claire. We highlight things that are important. We are intentional with the teaching and books we read. We model being generous, helpful, loving God, praising God, praying to God, and devotion to God. Even though our children are less than four, we are beginning to see them mimicking our actions. We are not perfect at it, but over all that is our intention. We also do this in the way we live our lives. We seek to honor God and make His name great when we are in public too. We intentionally lead others to love God and submit to Him. One way we do this is through opening our home every Tuesday night for Bible Study. It is our hearts desire to love God, make disciples, and include as many as possible.
Talk it out. Disciple making doesn’t need to be a silent endeavor. This is not a sneak attack. Even though, it would be cool if you could sneak tackle someone into being a fully committed follower of Jesus. I would so try it if I thought it would work. You speak from your heart what is most important to you. When your heart is set on making disciples, it will come out of your mouth in conversations. Speak truth with love so that people see how you value loving God and duplicating that in others. Work it into conversations as often as you can. You never know when someone might find that that is exactly what they are looking for and want in. I am not talking about being a walking billboard trying to sell your small group, but speak about how Jesus has changed your life by being a disciple of His.
Grow in Grace. Discipleship is a lifelong process. From the time you were saved, until you are face to face with the Savior, you should be in a discipleship growing process. Sadly, many people never get past salvation and never fully understand the joy of being a disciple while making disciples. We have a fight on our hands and we need to be taking ground from the enemy. Disciple making is the way to go. Lead someone to Jesus, show them His ways, and have them do the same. Where does grace fit in then? We need God’s grace because we will not be perfect at this. Sometimes we get tired and quit while other times we fail miserably. His grace allows us to get back up and fight again.
If you are looking for a purpose, a goal, or resolution that will ignite your soul and fuel your passion for life again, disciple making is where it is at. You will grow deeper in your own faith as you pursue Christ, you will sense the presence and work of the Holy Spirit like never before, and you will have a calm sure heart knowing that you are working for King Jesus to expand the kingdom of God.
My family is in on this, will you join us??? The world is wide open to the possibilities. You can make a huge impact right where you live, work, and play. Let’s GO!!!!
Grace and Peace to you as you seek to be obedient and make disciples. If I can help in any way, offer encouragement, or accountability, I’d be happy to help. Feel free to contact me!!