TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement
Verse of the Day - Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
Devotional Thoughts Immaturity is an obstacle to discernment. Knowing the difference between right and wrong and good and evil requires at least some maturity. We must have learned something in order to discern. And the first step we have studied for overcoming immaturity is meditating on the Word of God. The second step we have studied is a little more personal - it is abiding in Christ. So we see that the Word of God, both Living and Written is closely tied to our maturing and bearing fruit in our spiritual lives.
Today we see from Matthew 28:19-20 that the third step for overcoming immaturity is that we must be discipled. As we spend some time together discussing this we will see that there are benefits both to being discipled and in obeying the command to make disciples. In fact, we will start there - with the making of disciples.
We would all agree, I hope, that we are commanded in the Scriptures to make disciples. That is defined for us in our verses for the day where we see that the command is explained by saying that we are to baptize disciples and teach them all that Christ has commanded. So to make a disciple is to teach a person to follow Jesus Christ. This is a matter of obedience first and last. Obedience to the gospel first of all by repenting of their sin and trusting Christ. And obedience to follow the Lord into the waters of baptism as a public profession of our faith. And then on to a life of obedience as we love Christ and strive to serve and please Him in all that we do.
However, we find that the case often is that we have been duped into believing that making disciples is the same as winning converts. Many of us have been taught over and over that to witness, lead people to faith in Christ, and present these new converts to the church for membership is equivalent to making disciples and is in fact obedience to the command given in the Great Commission. This is a sad reality. For making disciples is not quick, easy, or a one step process. To make disciples starts with conversion, no doubt. But we dare not take the credit for the work of the Holy Spirit in calling people through the Word to new life in Christ. It is His Work and He deserves all the credit and glory.
Instead we see that making disciples is hard work that takes long hours, gets really intimate and personal, and costs us everything before we are done! It is too bad that of all the books and sermons about discipleship not many of them present the real picture of the fulfillment of this command of Christ. We are commanded, equipped, and expected to make disciples. And simply put to make a disciple is to pour our lives out for others.
One of the best examples in Scripture is found in Paul's relationship to Timothy. He considered himself Timothy's father in the faith. He treated him as a son and poured his life into Timothy so that Timothy might successfully live the Christian life and lead the church.
Making disciples involves bringing people to Christ and then walking with them, bearing their burdens, teaching them, and mentoring them in every aspect of living a successful Christian life. And here is the truth - discipleship is MISSING in the church today! Hear this now - Bible classes, church services, small groups, and church programs are not the same thing as making disciples!! NO! To many church members think that it is the paid staff's job to disciple and that coming to church is the same as growing in grace. Again, it seems to me that the topic and practice of discipleship is a lost art in the church today. It is just not there.
To make a disciple is to give our all for someone else's spiritual benefit so that they might understand the Scriptures and live a life that is pleasing to God. And that takes time, sacrifice, committment, and risk!
But this is THE PROGRAM that God has given us for growing His church. It is not a book or program on purposes that set us on the road to absolute self fulfillment in a mere 40 days, nor is it a newly emerging experiential fad that serves only to prove that there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to false and damning doctrine that looks appealing to the natural man. No. It is making disciples. Simple and yet so complicated. Easy and yet so difficult. It is teaching others to abide in Christ.
And the first part of that which we have overlooked to this point is that to mature in the faith we must be discipled. Here is the key - we cannot make disciples unless we are being discipled. There are no Lone Ranger Christians. No Under-Cover Brothers. We either are or are not being discipled. And if we are not being discipled then frankly we are not qualified to disciple others. For with discipleship comes accountability and to think we have arrived and will now teach others without being taught ourselves proves one simple fact - we are not all that we pretend to be!
So who is discipling you? Who is pouring their life into you in order to teach you how to walk with Christ? Who is your mentor, you father or mother in the faith? And who are you discipling? Who is your student?
As we make disciples and as we are discipled we see that discipleship is a two-way street. It is not just us imparting information to others. No, it is a life of mutual accountability as we are discipled and as we make disciples.
This then is the third step to overcoming immaturity - to be discipled and make disciples. This is the pathway to spiritual growth. And it is the ONLY program sanctioned by God for the maturing of His people.
Go, make disciples.....and be discipled.
Links for Further Study (links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)