January, February, March 2008

Want to learn more about Discipleship? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: An Overview of Discipleship (John 1, Matthew 4, 16 & 20, Mark 8)
Last week we finished our series of lessons on suffering. We ended with a call to reflect Jesus' love and sacrifice for us in our dealings with others. What could lead more naturally into our new series of lessons on discipleship? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? What examples do we have? What should motivate us to be a disciple? Let's dive into this study on discipleship and begin to learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus!

Lesson 2: Discipleship Then and Now (Mark 16, John 3, Revelation 14)
You have probably heard more than one Christian say "I want to follow Jesus." Likely, you have said that very thing. How does that work today? In Jesus' time, the disciples literally followed Him around. What are we to do today? We learned last week that the disciples' original goal in following Jesus was self-interest. It made the disciples seem more like us! In what other ways were they like us? What about rivalry among disciples? Did that exist in the time of Jesus? Let's jump into the Bible and explore how we can be a better disciple now!

Lesson 3: Called to Discipleship by Jesus (John 1, Luke 5)
What did it take for you to become a disciple of Jesus? What will it take on your part to convince others to be Jesus' disciples? If you are not a disciple, what will it take to convince you? Our lesson this week continues our exploration of how Jesus called His disciples and how they responded. Let's dive into the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 4: Lessons From Would-be Disciples (Matthew 8, John 3)
Admit it. Sometimes you just feel lazy. Sometimes you feel comfortable and don't want to change. Sometimes change seems too complicated. Sometimes change seems not to be worthwhile. Recently, I have made some very big changes. After 30 years of litigation, I started as a new teacher in law school. After decades, the Holy Spirit broke through my logic to show an area of sin in my life. I repented and changed. My work change has been costly. It costs me much of my free time, it costs me a lot of money because I now have to rent a second home. It costs me time with my wife. As I write this I'm laying in bed with a physical injury that I doubt I would have had at my old office. Is the change worth it? Oh, yes! Jesus' call to us as disciples is a call to change. Let's jump into our lesson and study a group of men who were reluctant to change and follow Jesus.

Lesson 5: Gender and Discipleship (Luke 1 & 10, John 4)
Relax. We are not going to be plowing any new ground with this lesson. Instead, we are going to study how women responded to the call of discipleship to see what we (of both sexes) can learn about being disciples today. The good news, ladies, is that the women look pretty good in comparison to the men we are studying this week. Let's dive right into our study!

Lesson 6: Ethnicity and Discipleship (Luke 17, Mark 7, Acts 10)
Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Racial problems are an old story. They existed in Jesus' time and they exist now - although in America they are at an all time low. When I first moved to this area I was a member of a church with serious racial issues. The one race predicted that the other race would take over the church. After I left that church, I came back to visit and preach. One time I recall walking in and they had two racially segregated classes studying in the sanctuary. I sat in the "wrong" class for my race. I recall preaching a racial reconciliation sermon in that church. Afterwards, members from each of the races came up to me and said, "I hope THEY were listening." It was quite distressing. Today, as predicted, the church is no longer bi-racial. That is one answer to the problem, but it does not seem to be the Bible's answer to the problem. Let's dive into our study and see what the Bible says about race and discipleship!

Lesson 7: Preparation for Discipleship (Mark 3, Acts 1, Romans 12, Matthew 10)
In the last two lessons we learned that everyone is eligible to be a disciple. What do we need to learn next to prepare to be disciples? To prepare to lead? Let's dive into the Bible and find out!

Lesson 8: Experiencing Discipleship (Matthew 16 & 24, Mark 8, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 9)
I love to learn new things. Bet you do too. The great thing about the Bible is that it is a bottomless source of new insights. You can look at the same simple story dozens of times and still discover something new. Our lesson this week suggests the joy of Bible learning is not enough. We are supposed to actually put this learning into practical use. It needs to change the way we live. We might even have to refuse to do something we really want to do! Does this idea apply to all of us? Would it be okay if I just kept learning new Bible things and shared them with you? Can I leave this "experience" stuff to someone else? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 9: Following the Master: Discipleship in Action (Luke 5 & 12, Matthew 28)
Every morning we begin a new day during which we can advance the Kingdom of God. Are you thinking of the possibilities for "disciple work" each morning? What kinds of opportunities are present? Is it enough to keep our eyes open to see what we can do to promote God's work? Or, should we be more active and search out opportunities? Is it possible that if we are already doing something, it is the wrong thing? Let's dive into our lesson to observe some disciples in action!

Lesson 10: Discipleship Under Pressure (Acts 1, John 12 & 21, Luke 9)
You think you have it bad? Last week I heard a speaker who was a 14 year-old boy in Rwanda in 1994. His father was from one rival tribe and his mother from the other. His mother died of cancer and his father left the country taking him along. When other tribe refugees noticed that the boy looked like his mother's tribe, they told the father they would kill his son. Sent back to Rwanda, the boy was robbed of all his possessions. His family home taken by strangers. Did I mention that he thought he would be killed about six times? He is now 27 and a citizen of France. This boy was the victim of more crimes than a small town in America would experience in a year! When I was a kid my most traumatic event was acne. Let's jump into our lesson and discover disciples who experienced pressure and disappointment.

Lesson 11: More Lessons in Discipleship (Mark 4 & 6, Matthew 12)
Where do you look when you are driving a car? The worst thing is looking down while fiddling inside the car with your radio, cell phone or navigation system. However, just keeping your eye on the road is not good enough. You need to be looking far enough down the road to anticipate problems. Is discipleship like driving? Does it matter where we have our focus? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 12: Mission and Commission (Mark 16, Matthew 25, Ezekiel 24, Revelation 14)
When I started reading the Bible texts for this week's lesson I became discouraged. Jesus seems to give a test for believers that I, frankly, flunk. Why don't you join me in the study this week and see how you do on the "test?" If you also flunk the test, I've got an explanation that seems to counter the plain language of the text. Let's dive into this study of the Bible and see what you think!

Lesson 13: Patterns of Discipleship (1 Corinthians 12, Luke 17)
We have come to the end of this series of lessons on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let's finish up this series by looking at how we work together as disciples. What kind of model for our work does the Bible present? Should we be selective about our Christian "friends?" Should we "play well" with believers that might not have exactly the right vision? Let's jump into our study and find out!

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