Date: July 14, 2014 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar One
Jesus’ call to people was without compromise and it was direct. One man went away sadly and yet Jesus loved him. He was a good man, he had a lot of money and many possessions, but he was not willing to give them up to follow Jesus. They meant more to him than Jesus. Jesus talked to him about giving up what was most precious to him, selling everything he had and giving it to the poor. he did not understand that God would take care of him financially because of his generosity, that he would have riches in heaven and that God had a future plan for him which would cause everything to work out.
He believed, but he was not willing to pay the price to follow Jesus for fear of what he would lose. There is always a price you have to pay to follow him. There will always be something you have to give up if you really mean to follow Him completely. There were many who followed Jesus and watched his miracles and listened to his teachings and even were healed by him. They believed in him and thought he was wonderful. But there is a difference between a being a believer and being a disciple.
Do you believe in God? Which is the God are you talking about? People can have far out ideas about God. They can act, think, live any way they want to and say it is ok with their God. But who is their real God? Is it a god that does not require much of them, does not require a complete dedication, does not every ask them to change or to let him rule and reign in their life? If so, they are not serving the real God of the universe, the one who gave everything he had in order to bring them to himself. They may believe in God, but are they a disciple and are they really serving Jesus? Always ask if you have the warning bell go off when people say they believe in God, who are you talking about and what do you really believe about the God who rules the universe and had a son named Jesus that gave his life for your life?
How do you tell if you are a true disciple of the Lord Jesus? Let me ask you some questions: Do you have the fear of God? Do you care what God thinks about concerning the things you are doing? Do you care what God’s Word says about things in your life? Do you stop doing something if God’s Word says it is wrong? The Bible says even the demons believe and tremble, so it is not enough to just believe. Your actions have to back up what you believe. James 2:19-20 (NLT) You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Judy Mamou was a high class prostitute living in San Francisco who was so disgusted with life. She saw her husband find Jesus and get his life changed. She could not figure out what happened to him. In her disgust with her life, she took a handful of drugs to kill herself and then prayed, “Okay, God, if you are up there flying around somewhere, save me.” A miracle happened. A hotel maid who never came into her room, came in, found her, had her stomach pumped out and her life was saved. She began serving Jesus with everything in her
What is the definition of belief? Webster’s Dictionary definition says it is a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing. The Amplified Bible’s definition of belief in God: Genesis 15:6 (AMP) And he [Abram] believed in (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness (right standing with God). Psalm 78:22 (AMP) Because in God they believed not [they relied not on Him, they adhered not to Him], and they trusted not in His salvation (His power to save). John 11:26 (AMP) And whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. Do you believe this?
So what is the definition of a disciple? Webster’s definition of a disciple is one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: as a: one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ's followers according to the Gospel accounts b: a convinced adherent of a school or individual. Jesus had a very strong description of what it meant to be a disciple; it involved much more than just a strong belief or cleaving to someone: Matthew 16:24 (AMP) Then Jesus said to His disciples,” If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [ cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].”
Famous rabbis in the days of Jesus had disciples. Jesus was not the only one. John the Baptist had disciples. They would follow a man completely who had great ideas and great thoughts. They had a following. They listened to him and did what he advised, spreading what he was saying. That is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. You not only know him, you help spread his beliefs. You are willing to make sacrifice to serve him. What did Jesus say about being a disciple? Luke 14:26 (AMP) If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother [ in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters--[yes] and even his own life also--he cannot be My disciple
This is what happened to me. I met people who were true disciples. Not me, I was just a believer. They read the Bible all the time. Jesus was so real to them, like another person in the room with them. And I observed them and I wanted that. People want that today. They are looking for someone to follow. It also involves sacrifice. “Take up your cross”—those things in your life that are hard to deal with, those things that require sacrifice or cost you a lot. You may have to give up friends, jobs and even where you live. In 1972 we were living in the ideal town for us. We were in the ideal church situation and also where we had always wanted to live (the Dallas, Texas area). God asked us to give it all up and follow him to the place where we could serve him the best. Here is the verse the Lord gave me to me about truly following him in this: Acts 20:24a (NLT) “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.
Do people struggle with this? Most of us do. I thought about it for almost a year before I was really willing to give up everything dear to me for Jesus. Look at one man in the Bible, the rich young ruler: He had a lot of power and influence as a ruler, he kept a good life, he honored his parents. He said, “ I want to follow you. I have kept the law, obeyed my parents.” Jesus knows exactly what is standing in the way between you. He knows exactly what to ask you to give up. It will always be the thing that will stop you at some point in the future.
What if a person says I do not want that persecution! But I do want Jesus and want to follow Him totally. Jesus tells you right upfront what to expect. Matthew 10:25 (NLT) Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names! What do I think then? Well, life is hard anyway, whether it has anything to do with following Jesus or not. Whether you serve God or not, you will have hard times. People will come against you for all kinds of things. Why not serve Jesus in all of it, in this life we have to live in why not make it count for something good? It counts for all of eternity. Life here is a vapor.
I want to ask you something? Are you willing to give up everything you want to follow Jesus? Is God’s will the most important thing to you? I thought I had to sell everything, give it all away like the rich young ruler. Is that what Jesus is asking of every single person? Do not get religious about it. We do not all have to sell everything. We do not even have to live in countries that have religious oppression. Maybe it is harder to live in great materialism. Sometimes God tests you to see what you would say. Discipleship is not a onetime thing. It is an ongoing thing. How long has it been since you made that kind of commitment recently? Have you come to a place where you can say, “I will go anywhere, anytime, anyplace with anyone. Teach me. Can you survive when you hear about someone having a fall as a Christian and keep on going with God? Can you say, “Well, God bless them and God help them, but I am going on.” I say to myself, “Betty, you can fall by the wayside, but there are people all over the world who are going right on in spite of persecution or hard time—in Belarus, in the Philippines, in Africa. They are going whether you go or not, Betty.”
A believer can follow for a while and when things get hard, they fall by the wayside. They do not have the depth of commitment. It takes commitment, time and deliberate action on your part to follow what God’s Word says. That is the main difference between a believer and a disciple. God promises to reward the faith of his followers who walk in faith before him. Hebrews 11:6 (KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. What are the characteristics of a disciple?
2. What are the characteristics of a believer?
3. List the questions you could ask yourself to see if you are closer to being a believer or a disciple?
4. What did Jesus say about being a disciple?
5. How are sacrifice and being a disciple linked?
6. What is required of a disciple to actually do what God’s word says to do?
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Topics: Basic Discipleship