gospel

Generational Discipleship

On Father’s Day this year (6/18/2017), I had the privilege of preaching at my church (First Baptist Tuscaloosa). The sermon title was “Generational Discipleship” from Deuteronomy 6, Luke 9 & 14, Psalm 78, Judges 2, and Ephesians 4.

Click here for the sermon outline.

Managers of the Gospel

“A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God. In this regard, it is required that managers be found faithful.” ~ ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭4:1-2‬ ‭CSB‬‬

How are you managing the gospel which you have received?

I must admit, I’ve heard verse 2 (above) many times before. It wasn’t until today, however, that I really read verse 1 and saw that the “thing” which we are to be faithful managers of is the gospel (the mysteries of God) mentioned in verse 1.

Now that question is burning deep in my heart: how faithful am I in managing the gospel in my life? In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul said “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received.” Am I being intentional in passing along that which I say I believe is most important?

As a husband?

As a dad?

As children’s minister?

As a Christian?

Psalm 96:2 says, “proclaim His salvation from day to day.” So what am I doing with the gospel? Am I allowing the truth of the gospel to permeate and rule every area of my life?

God has chosen the people of God, empowered by the Spirit of God and equipped with the Word of God, to be about the mission of God to make disciples (Matthew 28).

In The Gospel Project we studied Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. Ultimately Jesus alone holds the power of the gospel message. We, as His disciples, are responsible, though, to spread the seed of the gospel wherever we go. “Go and make disciples of all nations…” Jesus said, “…in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Matthew 28:19 & Acts 1:8) I must diligently and consistently apply the truth of Scripture to my life while simultaneously letting the gospel of Jesus overflow into my decisions, my speech, and my behavior as a husband, dad, and every other role I step into.

God, give me strength and wisdom to manage the gospel well by spreading the seeds of the gospel in all the “fields” of my life. 

He Must Increase

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” ~ ‭‭John‬ ‭3:30

Can you imagine being one of Jesus’ relatives living in His shadow? Especially during His adult years. In fact at one point, some of them thought He was crazy (Mark 3:21). Then when they wanted to talk with Him, He said “Who are my mother and my brothers?  …those sitting in [this[ circle… are my mother and my brothers!” (Mark 3:33-34) From their perspective, it must have been hard to watch a member of their family do and say the incredible things Jesus did. Fortunately, the New Testament and church history tell us that some of those in His earthly family believed after His resurrection.

John seems to have been different, though. From the beginning, John had an honest understanding of his role within God’s salvation plan. Jesus had to be front-and-center. “One who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals.” (Luke 3:16) “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) John did not seek fame and spotlight. His mission was to be “a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23)

God, help me have a true understanding of my role within Your kingdom work. Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, help me “lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares [me and] run with endurance the race that lies before [me], fixing [my] eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of [my] faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Women Who Fear the Lord

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ~ Proverbs‬ ‭31:30‬

A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  This verse is frequently used in churches on Mother’s Day. In fact it was YouVersion’s Verse of the Day today (Mother’s Day 2017). And we should celebrate our moms. They work hard, some away from home and some in the home. Regardless of where they spend their days, moms are incredible. They are selfless. They are nurturing. They give of themselves when there is nothing left to give. 

But Mother’s Day can be difficult for some ladies due to a variety of reasons.

Whether mom or not, a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Today I am thankful for the women of faith in my life, including but definitely not limited to:

  • My wife and the mother of my children, who loves me more than I deserve and who daily works diligently to pass her faith to our children. 
  • Susan, the woman I call mom who passed her faith to me by showing me what unconditional love looks like through the way she loves me and my siblings, as well as, the way she loves my dad. 
  • My Mimi, my mom’s mom who passed her faith down to her daughters.  
  • My mother-in-law, who passed her faith down to my wife. 
  • My sister, who works to pass her faith on to communities of people often overlooked. 
  • My sisters-in-law who love their families and work hard to pass their faith on to their families. 

I am forever thankful for these women who “fix their eyes in Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in their homes and communities. 

Life Worth Living

“But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭20:24‬ ‭CSB‬‬

What makes your life worth living?

Money? Notoriety? Legacy? Family? Job? In 21st Century America there is no shortage of things that vie for our affection. 

Both Paul himself and Luke record this laser-pointed focus on what gave Paul’s life value: Jesus. Luke records it here in Acts, and Paul wrote these words in Philippians 3:

“But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” ~ ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:7-8‬

Oh, how I pray to have this outlook on life!

God, make my spiritual hunger and thirst so strong that I would count everything else in my life as lost in comparison to my satisfaction and purpose in You.

Foreigners No More

“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” ~ Ephesians‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭CSB‬‬

What a glorious truth of the gospel! Though we were once far away, Jesus has brought us near. Though we were once foreigners, we are now citizens of the Kingdom of God with unrestricted access to the King. 

“Through him we… have access in one spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” ~ Ephesians‬ ‭2:18-20‬ ‭CSB‬‬

God’s Rich Mercy & Great Love

“We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!”‭‭ ~ Ephesians‬ ‭2:3-5‬

What an incredible passage! These verses proclaim the good news of Jesus as clearly as any other passage in the Bible. 

For someone who sees no need for Jesus, take note that each of us started on the same side: as enemies of God and children of wrath. 

For the Christian, we are reminded that we were dead in our sins but were made alive by the richness of God’s mercy and the greatness of His love. We must not pretend that we are better than those unredeemed. Our redemption came, not from our own efforts or goodness (Ephesians 2:8-9), but from God’s mercy, grace, and love. 

May we never lose perspective of the darkness from which we were all brought into light. 

The God of My Salvation

“But I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” Micah 7:7 (CSB)
I don’t know about you, but if the certainty of my salvation was dependent on me, I would live in constant fear of falling from God’s favor. When I read Jesus’ comments to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane that, though our spirit is willing, our flesh is weak, the daily struggle with my own sin rings loud and clear. (Matthew 26:41)
As Christians we can take great comfort that it is God’s power that saves us, not our own efforts. Jesus said that the Father has given His children to Him and no one is able to snatch them from His hand. (John 10:29) Therefore, we do not have to worry from day to day whether we are in God’s favor or if He will hear us. As a loving Father, He delights in listening to His children. (John 14:13, Psalm 18:19)
In fact Philippians 1 reminds us that God’s not finished with us, yet, and because of His faithfulness, He will complete His work in His timing. What a relief! When I look into the mirror of my life and see my own shortcomings, I can take comfort that, as the old song says, “He’s still working on me.” (Song by Joel Hemphill (c) 1980)

God, grant me peace that my salvation rests in you alone. Remind me often that, even though my salvation is secure in Your power, I must be faithful to sincerely confess my sin and live in repentance.

He’s Still Working on Me

“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Years ago there was a song called “He’s Still Working on Me” which said “how loving and patient He must be ’cause He’s still working on me.” (https://youtu.be/AGjrqV-EOfg)

Last week on Good Friday, we celebrated the completed work of salvation in Jesus’ death on the cross. However, His work of sanctification continues on in the lives of Christians all around the world as we are “conformed into the image of [Jesus].” (Romans 8:29-30)

In my daily struggle between a willing Spirit and a weak flesh (Matthew 26:41), I am thankful for the confidence that “He’s still working on me.”

Generational Disciplers

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (CSB)

There is a lot packed into this passage. Let’s focus on a few key parts.

1. There is only one God. He alone is to worshiped.

2. God expects us to love Him with our entire being. He isn’t interested in simply getting a compartment of your life. . . even it’s the largest compartment. His desire is your entire life to be filtered through Him.

3. Older generations have a responsibility to train up younger generations. Yes, most directly, this falls to parents, but it doesn’t stop there (see Deuteronomy 4:9-10 and Titus 2:1-7). Each generation should seek to learn as much as possible from the previous generation and to invest as much as possible the generations that follow.

4. Once-a-week investment in younger generations will not suffice to pass the baton of faith. Part of older generations investment in the younger must include encouraging and equipping parents to lead their children in the faith.

God, grant me wisdom to learn from those who have gone before me and invest often in those that follow.

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