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2007-04-25_1355-50_fromkate

In last week’s blog entry, we looked at how Jesus addressed His understanding of the power of God. Let’s review.

Jesus gave His disciples power over diseases and demons and sent them out. They experienced successful ministry and returned. It wasn’t long after that, that a large crowd gathered to Jesus, and they needed food. They were too far away to go buy some. With what I consider a thoughtful challenge to any misguided notion of spiritual power His disciples may have thought they possessed, Jesus said, “You feed them.” (Luke 9:10-17).1

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The fifth portion of the Lord’s Prayer we’ll be looking at is this statement: Your will be done on earth as it is heaven.

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Okay, a question.

Well, first a command from Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).

Now, the question. If you were to “go and make disciples” as Jesus instructed (which very few Christians do, unfortunately), what would you teach these people?

I’ll wait.

(Cue Jeopardy jingle.)

Ready? What did you come up with?

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When Jesus told the disciples that He was going to go to Jerusalem to be crucified and subsequently raised from the dead, Peter took Him aside and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” Matthew tells us that it was done as a rebuke.

We probably all know Jesus’ response: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” However, we may not be as familiar with what Jesus said next: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

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2009-02-23_1236_village

Jesus taught in the book of Luke, chapter 14, that we cannot be His disciples unless we are willing to:

Love Him more than we love our families.

Bear our own crosses and follow Him—be willing to die for Him, and a painful death, at that.

Renounce our possessions.

Here’s something that bothers me concerning leaders in the Church: Do they meet these three criteria for discipleship? More specifically, are our leaders willing to die on a cross?

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2009-02-23_1236_village

Let’s revisit the requirements for discipleship from Luke 14:25-35.

To be Jesus’ disciple you must love Him more than anything else in your world. You must love Him more than you love your family, including your spouse and children, as well as loving Him more than your own life (vs. 26). You must be willing to make the decision to suffer and die for Him, when and if that is necessary (vs. 27). You must give up, from your heart, everything for Him, including your possessions (vs. 33). Jesus clearly tells us in verses 34 and 35 that unless we do these things, we are like flavorless salt that really isn’t good for much, not good for the soil, not even good for the manure pile; it’s just thrown away. Think about this—not good enough for the manure pile. It sounds like Jesus wasn’t that concerned about our earthly self-esteem when He was teaching us the importance of following Him in discipleship.

Jesus expects these commitments from us because He made them Himself—He chose to make them.

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If you decide to answer Jesus’ call to discipleship, you will be taking the necessary steps to become the God-honoring disciple that He has intended you to be since the foundation of the world, as astonishing as that may sound (Ephesians 1:3-4; Revelation 13:7-8). Although it’s true that your spiritual life will take a wonderful turn for the better and you will become stronger and more gifted, joyful and fulfilled, this life is all about losing your own life and gaining His, and all that He is.

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What is the “me-centered” gospel? It takes a bit to identify it, since it’s so prevalent in the West.

The me-centered gospel makes a subtle shift at its foundation about what—rather, who—is at the center of the gospel message. Well, it seems subtle. It’s actually a fundamental, seismic relocation. Jesus is removed from the center and is replaced by…you.

You have a destiny. God has a destiny for you.

You have a purpose. God has a purpose for you.

You can have your best life now.

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Although most people in the West don’t have to mull over the condition for discipleship seriously as they decide to follow Jesus, that hasn’t been true throughout Church history—in fact, the Church itself has sometimes been responsible for persecuting Christians and forcing them to decide to give up their lives for Jesus. Nor is it true for believers in much of the world today. Regardless of where we live, however, we must be prepared to give up our lives for Him. It’s something we should consistently bring before Him when we pray. If we struggle with being willing to make this ultimate sacrifice, we must pray that He will make us willing.

If we want to be His disciples, that is.

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2005-03-18_2302-12_thomsoncam0376

Jesus made it clear that He came to serve: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25–28).

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