Increasing Our Stars
I say we follow the pattern Jesus used to form disciples. For instance, He gave disciples concrete things to do instead of things to store away in their brains. And they obeyed him. He didn’t preach inspirational sermons to motivate them. He didn’t have to. Inspirational sermons are used to coax disobedient people. They need their emotions played on so they can sense how nice it would be if maybe they would do what Jesus commanded.
He told them to “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near. Cure the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse those with skin diseases, and force demons out of people. Give these things without charging, since you received them without paying . . . When you go into a city or village, look for people who will listen to you there. Stay with them until you leave that place. When you go into a house, greet the family’” (Matthew 10:6-8, 11-12)
If we are truly under the Lordship of Christ. He will just say the word. There doesn’t need to be any soft organ music or soothing words from the pulpit, we simply do what we are told to do. Jesus never told His twelve, “How would you like to go? Maybe you could take a nice little trip around the area now?” No. He commanded, and they did it. That is how disciples are formed.
In order to form lives, we have to stop being speakers and start being fathers. Speakers only have hearers. Fathers have children. Learning does not come by hearing but by obeying. Think about it, a father cannot form the life of his children without their willing obedience. I have said this many times (and I will say it as often as I have to) if someone lived with me and after several months said, “Hey, I’ve been living here, but you haven’t had a Bible Study once with me.” If that happened, I must have failed them.
What about my children? Go ahead and ask them. I never once sat them down and gave them a Bible study. (Although I did write one for one of my sons). But somehow (often despite some of my worst efforts) they found the Lord. It would be wrong of me to stand in the pulpit and preach to them. It is more important for us to live the Word. What happens when speakers finish talking? Everybody thanks him, compliments him, sticks their notes in the back of their Bibles and never look at them again.
When the seventy came back to Jesus after obeying His commands, they were so excited because even the demons were submissive to them. They were slapping each other high-fives, doing 360‟s and jumping up and down, but Jesus didn’t thank them for obeying his word. Instead, He presented another thing for them to learn: “Oh, don’t be happy that evil spirits obey you. Be happy that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Then He turned around and said, “I praise you Father because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to these guys” (Luke 10:21) (I bet he had a snickering smile when he said it, too.) The Scriptures don’t tell us how the disciples responded to that, but He sure made an impression on them!
When James and John wanted to call down fire on the hostile Samaritans, the Bible specifically says, “He turned and rebuked them” (Luke 9:55). He was forming them. He disapproved of their attitudes and words and corrected them!
When I was a young Christian, I was talking to a friend of mine and said, “Oh, yeah, I was really pissed off.” My Pastor over heard us talking (and he was younger than I was, by the way) and asked whether I could find a better word for that? “Maybe you can say you were upset, or disappointed.” Whoa. I never gave any thought to my words, until he said that. But he was certainly forming a new character in me.
When Peter objected to the idea of the crucifixion, Jesus said, “Get out of my way, Satan! You are tempting me to sin” (Matthew 16:23). Whoa! Can you imagine a modern Pastor saying that that to a member of his flock? Like it or not, rebuking is part of the formation process in discipleship. And, if you will remain submitted and accept that correction, you will grow and mature in the faith.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.