“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34 (NIV)
The goal of Discipleship Discipline One is to know and understand who Jesus is, what He expects from you, and to develop your personal relationship with Him.
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11 (NASB)
This begins by finding Bible teachers you can trust; Bible teachers who are teaching the Word of God unfiltered by their own philosophy or theology. You can find these teachers by asking for recommendations from people you trust, or you can study their teaching and then test it with your own reading of the Bible text they are teaching. Pray for God to give you wisdom as you compare your own interpretation of the text being taught with that of the teacher. God will open your eyes. If you find a Bible teacher you like who is indeed teaching the Word of God unfiltered, stick with that teacher unless things change. I believe you need to find three teachers you can trust. Ideally one of those teachers will be the pastor of the church you attend. The others can be pastors of other churches who have videos posted of their teaching or authors who have books that you can read. Above all, avoid Bible teachers that make following Jesus sound easy – it is not.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:1-3 (NIV)
Worshiping God with others is an important aspect of your relationship with Jesus. There is nothing more powerful than a group of believers seeking the Holy Spirit’s help to move closer to God through genuine worship of Him. Worship can be in a traditional church setting, a small group at church or in someone’s home, or a group gathered out in nature. The place, and even the day of your worship is unimportant. What’s important is the sincerity of those gathered. All forms of worship should include reading from the Word of God and prayer. Music is a good tool to prepare the heart for worship but it is not absolutely necessary. A committed follower of Jesus Christ will worship at least weekly.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
Studying with qualified Bible teachers and worshiping with others on a weekly basis is the beginning of discipleship. The goal of your instruction and worship is to build your loving relationship with Jesus who provides you access to God the Father. The Word of God, along with your weekly worship experience, should move you toward total dependency on Jesus. You will develop a trust in Jesus that will bring you peace in all situations. You should be thanking God and praising Him in all situations. Ultimately, you should find a way to be alone with Jesus every day for personal reflection and a chance to move closer to him.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8 (NASB)
Studying of the Word of God is not simply an academic endeavor. Your Bible study along with your worship is intended to prepare you for action. The Word of God establishes your steps and your worship experience prepares your heart. Those two components are useless without the final step of reaching out to others with a loving heart. When you apply the lessons you’ve learned from the Bible with the power of the Holy Spirit, the real value of the process begins to take shape. Serving God by serving others is the ultimate goal of your discipleship discipline and is, without question, where you will find the most joy.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 (NIV)
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