To be a disciple is to experience a clear conversion.
After Jesus saved Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul's life's mission became proclaiming the Gospel to anyone who would hear it. He traveled throughout much of the Roman empire discipling new believers and planting churches. Most rejected Paul's good news and often reacted violently against him and his followers. But he persisted, traveling through many communities, proclaiming the Gospel in hopes that it would be received in faith, if only by a few. When he came to Thessalonica, some were quick to believe. They were convicted of their sins, turned from their former lives, and trusted Jesus as their Lord. Understanding that many will reject you, do you persist in making the real Jesus known to those who do not know him?
When Paul later wrote to the Thessalonian church, he was certain of their salvation because their belief was accompanied by conviction (1 Thess 1:4-5). Their belief in the good news of Jesus moved them from one way of life to another. In his earthly ministry, Jesus called anyone to first deny their sinful selves before they could follow him. Why do Jesus and Paul place such emphasis on belief followed by conviction of sin?
Before Paul followed Christ, he was an elite authority in the Jewish faith. He knew the Scriptures well, and he zealously lived his interpretation of God's Word and enforced it upon others. He was certainly a man of conviction. This ultimately led him to persecute Christians and oversee their executions before Jesus intervened and saved him. Decades later, he commends the faithful and often-persecuted Thessalonian church for receiving the Gospel in word and "in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." Paul knows firsthand that zealous belief without the power of the Holy Spirit is just as wicked as unbelief. Do you trust in the Holy Spirit to empower and sanctify your belief?
Heavenly Father, Your benevolent love is as awesome as Your persistence in forgiving our sins. We have so often chosen the path of the wicked- indulging our fallen flesh, defaming Your glory, and living for selfish gain. We are in desperate need of grace. Thank You that Your grace and immeasurable love has provided a path for us to be disciples of Your Son Jesus. Thank You that in this way, Christ's righteousness can cover our multitude of sins. Father, shape us to Your character as we follow Christ. Help us to glorify you and lead others to do the same. We are, as ever, wholly dependent on you.
"Christ Is Enough"
To be a disciple is to chase after Christ-likeness and find our comfort in Christ.
Sunday Pastor Andy shared with us that the Lord’s desire for our lives is not only our conversion but also our conformity to Christ. God wants to put us back together into the image we were created to be. God’s desire for our lives is for us to look more and more like Jesus. Consider 2 Corinthians 3:18, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Paul tells us here that we are transformed into the image of Christ by beholding the glory of the Lord. He says we are transformed by looking to Jesus. We cannot look like Jesus unless we know what Jesus looks like. The primary way we see Jesus and His image is in the scripture. As we enter into 2017 will you make it your resolution to look to Jesus in the scripture this year?
If you are a disciple of Jesus your longing should be for this transformation. The life of a disciple does not end at your conversion. Paul says in Philippians 3:8-11 that he considers his past life as “rubbish” because knowing Jesus and becoming like him is far more valuable than who he once was and what he once had. Being a disciple is forsaking our old self to conform to the image of Christ. Being a disciple of Jesus is considering our old self and our old desires as “rubbish.". Is there a particular sin(s) that is keeping you from looking like Jesus? Are you still holding on to your old self?
An easy take away from this would be, “do better, try harder, work more.” Part of our conformity to Christ is our rest in Him. Look at 2 Corinthians 3:18 again. Paul does not say our transformation comes from exercising our ability or working hard. He says, “this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” We find comfort in Christ because His spirit works in our hearts to make us like him. The more we rest in Jesus for our sanctification the more we begin to look like him as the Spirit chisels away at our sin. Hebrews 12:1-2 encourage us to “strip off every weight that weighs us down and sin which clings so closely,”. The writer goes on to encourage us to “fix our eyes on Jesus who is the founder and protector of our faith.” Have you been trying to conform to Jesus by your own efforts? Believer, rest in Jesus and find your comfort in Him.
Father we adore you for you faithfulness in making us look like Jesus. Though we fail you, you are faithful and forgiving. Your character demands that our sin be punished. Yet, you sent your son to purchase our forgiveness. We confess our sins to you. We confess our lack of reliance on you and our fleeting pursuit of holiness by our own efforts. We ask that you forgive us of our pride in thinking that we can do enough. Father, we are thank you that you have come to us. We also thank you for making us to look like your son. We ask that you help us to put him on display by our words, deeds, and our love for one another. We ask that by your spirit we would humbly do all that you command. Amen.
"Jesus Is Better"
Austin Stone Worship
To be a disciple is to have commendable character and to be a contagious Christian.
It is so easy talk about commendable character and see it purely as something to be worked toward. It is true that we are active participants in our sanctification but as we discussed earlier this week, the transforming power of the gospel does its work through the Holy Spirit as we look at Jesus. We must keep our vision focused on the perfect image bearer of God. As we are made into his image, our character conforms to his. How have you seen this to be true in your experiences? How have you grown in your character to look more like Jesus as you have spent time in the word, in prayer and in community life with other believers?
At Immanuel we believe in making disciples who make disciples. In his sermon, Pastor Andy explained that we should be looking to someone and have someone looking to us in the faith. Follow me as I follow Christ is the way of our faith. Who are you interacting with week to week who can see your faith? Are you intentionally pouring into and investing in someone else's faith?
In his famous Sermon On The Mount, Jesus utters the often quoted Matt 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We talk about what we love. We are passionate about it. The things we treasure tend to be what we make our life all about. Do you treasure the gospel this way? Is your faith and relationship with Jesus this precious to you? Do you treasure the Gospel enough to share it with others who need to hear it?
Father we praise you for your goodness and grace to us. We thank you for Jesus, your perfect image bearer and for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to make us look more and more like him. Help keep our eyes trained towards him as we walk. We thank you for what has been called the great exchange, that we get to bring you our sin and receive Christ's righteous perfection. This is scandalous grace and mercy! May we not try to impress you with our own feeble attempts at righteousness but lean into this grace and share it with others as the valuable treasure it is.
"Scandal Of Grace"