VERSE OF THE DAY
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans get an average of 16 paid vacation days per year. And that’s on the high end. Approximately one in every four American workers  do not get any time off whatsoever.  Statistics also show that the United States ranks as one of the lowest countries in the world with regard to vacation time for workers. This stands in stark contrast to the countries of the European Union, which legally requires that workers get  at least four weeks off per year. No wonder people in the US are tired!
The society into which Jesus came was one of lack, hard work, oppression and tyranny. The Jews had suffered for years under the rule of tyrant nations and despotic kings. The one thing that kept them going was the promise of a deliverer. To say they were tired of their situation  would be an understatement. But Jesus came bringing a message of hope. When His first disciples were called they excitedly called others to follow Him. Andrew brought his brother Simon saying: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41), so too did Phillip who told Nathanael: “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote – Jesus of Nazareth…” (John 1:45).
To people who were weary and burdened with care, Jesus offered these comforting words: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” These words may have sounded like the invitation of a lifetime to the farmers working the rocky soil of  Palestine; to fishermen casting nets on the sea of Galilee; to the oppressed in prisons and to those who suffered ailments for which there was no known cure.
 
Our society is far removed from the societies of first century Israel but people are no less tired. I have often heard people coming back from the short vacation they might have been lucky to have, say: I need a vacation, from the vacation. Even our times of rest does not give the rest that is so desperately needed. Maybe it’s time to take the words of Jesus seriously, since He alone offers true rest: “rest for your souls.”
 
Jesus used the picture of a yoke to illustrate His call. The yoke represented authority and ownership, but it was also burdensome. Oxen would wear their master’s yoke to make the job of plowing the fields more effective, but not necessarily easier. Jesus offers an exchange: the yoke of oppression and tyranny; of unfulfilled lives for one of rest in the gentle presence of God. He offered an easier way: “I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Lord, I accept your offer of rest in your presence. When I feel worn out by the care of this world I will lay my burden on you because I know that you care for me. Amen
1. List three things in your life that seem most burdensome to you.
2. Write in your own words, what you think Jesus means by these words: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.”
3. Read Philippians 4:6. What three things does Paul say to use when making requests to God?
4. What should be the result? (Phil 4:7)
 
READ MORE
1 Peter 5:6-7; Psalm 55:2; Philippians 4:6-7; Isaiah 41:10

DAY NINE:

Walking with Jesus!

VERSE OF THE DAY
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27)
On the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, two men – one of whom we know as Cleopas, the other is not named – were walking on the road to Emmaus, a small town west of Jerusalem. As the men walked together, they talked about  the events surrounding the arrest, trial and subsequent crucifixion of Jesus.  It would have been the topic of everyone’s conversation since it was fresh in people’s minds. On the way a stranger met them on the road. As was the custom in those days –  and for safety –  they accepted the company of this stranger and walked with Him.
 
As the stranger joined the conversation, He asked them: “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” The men were totally amazed that He would  ask such a question: “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem and have You not known the things which happened here?” The “stranger” feigning ignorance answered: “What things?” The men proceed to explain  all that had transpired in Jerusalem recently. They said to Him: “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…” Then they told Him “how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him”  “We were hoping” they said to Him, “that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.” The men also told their companion about what happened when women went to the tomb, and found that He was not there and of the angels saying He is alive.
 
The stranger chided the men for their unbelief, “and beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” What an education those two men received on that day! They did not realize it was Jesus walking with them on the road to Emmaus but in one  brief session they learned more about Jesus than they ever knew before.
 
Walking with Jesus is an opportunity to learn about Him, and from Him. Starting with the gospels and working one’s way backward through the Old Testament is the best way to find out about Him, and to be drawn close to Him. The writer of Hebrews,in referencing the Psalmist David (Psalm 40 and Hebrews 10:7) says: “Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.”  During a discourse with some religious leaders abut who He was, Jesus declared:“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
 
 
VERSE OF THE DAY
 
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
 
 
 
Prior to starting His ministry, Jesus was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” For forty days and nights Jesus fasted and prayed, “afterward He was hungry.” At what was possibly His weakest point, the tempter (Satan) came to Him and said:”If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be turned into bread.” Jesus responded: “It is written. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
    Jesus’ time in the wilderness during these forty days was a probationary period; it was a time of intense testing. As a man, He experienced the pangs of thirst and hunger, the same as any man would; yet He was victorious in that He overcame the tempter by using the power of God’s Word.
    The Word of God is the source of the believer’s strength and power. The Psalmist David once said: “Your word I have hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Moses  reminded the children of Israel that it was God who led them in the wilderness for forty years “to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” He told them that they were humbled by God; that He caused them to hunger then fed them with manna “that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8).
    These were the very same words that Jesus used when He faced His temptation in the wilderness. Though He was hungry He did not succumb to Satan’s offer of bread. He  chose rather to be sustained by God’s word.
    Every disciple of Christ will face temptation. Temptation itself is not sinful but it does not come from God (God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone – James 1:13). But the man or woman who “endures temptation” is blessed and  “when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12)
    So how does one endure temptation? First, by loving God; second, by knowing the Word, and third, by applying the Word of  God.
 
 
 
 
Lord, each day my faith is tested through trials and tribulations. I thank you for giving me the strength and the courage to endure. Teach me Your word, so that I may use it as my defense against the tricks of the enemy. Amen

1. List the areas in your life in which you face temptation.
2. What does James 1:14 say about how individuals are tempted?
3. What is the reward for enduring temptation? (James 1:12)
4. What are three things mentioned in the reading that one can do to endure temptation?

READ MORE

For further study: Matthew 4:1-11; James 1:1-16; Deuteronomy 8:1-5
 
VERSE OF THE DAY
 
 
Lord,  I know that the ‘seas’ are teeming with fish that You want me to assist in bringing into your Kingdom so I am asking You to teach me to fish. Give me a heart for evangelism and a love for Your people.  Help me Lord, to use my  talents and abilities to ‘launch out into the deep.’ Amen
 
One of the times I can remember having a really great time with my father was the day he took me fishing. We grabbed our  homemade fishing rods,  bait – consisting of worms  I dug up from the backyard – and we were off. My father taught me how to put the worm on the hook – while they are still alive… little squiggly things – and how to cast the line then wait for the fish to bite. I don’t remember if I caught anything that day. Maybe I would remember if I had, but I do recall thinking that it was long and tedious waiting on the fish to bite. Fishing is an exercise in patience and most fishermen would tell you, sometimes you catch, sometimes you don’t
 
The first people whom Jesus called were fishermen. He said to them, “follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” To them it must have seemed like quite a change from the  life that they were accustomed to because “they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” In other words they left everything to follow Jesus. In the gospel of Luke chapter 5, the author gives an interesting account known as The Miraculous Draught of Fish. Luke tells us that Jesus got into Peter’s boat to preach to a crowd that had gathered to hear Him. When He was finished He said to Peter: “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Peter protested briefly since they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing, “nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net,” he said, and they did. Luke records that when they let down the nets “they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.” They caught so many fish, they had to call the other boats to help.
 
This miracle prompted Peter to think that he was not worthy of being in the presence of Jesus. But Jesus comforted him by saying to Peter, and the others who were present: “From now on you will catch men.  The men whom Jesus called that day were fishermen by trade. Jesus showed them that their profession was analogous to the thrust of the gospel; “catching” men and women  for the kingdom of God. Very often people compartmentalize their lives into the spiritual and the secular. They will refer to their professional lives as the ‘secular’ while church remains something  they do primarily on Sundays. A true disciple of Christ, however,  makes no such distinction. Why should there be? God is sovereign wherever you are.
 
Lord,  I know that the ‘seas’ are teeming with fish that You want me to assist in bringing into your Kingdom so I am asking You to teach me to fish. Give me a heart for evangelism and a love for Your people.  Help me Lord, to use my  talents and abilities to ‘launch out into the deep.’ Amen
1. List five people in your circle (family, friends, place of employment) with whom you can share your faith.
Start by inviting them to your church. (Statistics show that people will come if they are invited). Let the Lord do the rest.
2. Be willing and ready to answer any questions or objections they might have. (If they ask things that you cannot answer, refer them to someone who can, or tell them you will find out and get back to them).
3. Find out what their needs are and offer to pray with them! (This is important, don’t just say you will pray for them, do it and let them hear you stepping out in faith for them).
4. Share your testimony about what God has done for you, with one unsaved person this week.
READ MORE
For further study: Read John 5:1-11
VERSE OF THE DAY
 
 
Lord, teach me to trust you with my whole heart. When everything around me fails, I know that You will never fail. May I always acknowledge you in all that I do. And in every decision that I make, may You be the One to whom I go for counsel. Amen
Louisa M. Stead was born in Dover, England. As a young girl she felt the call of God on her life for missionary service. Louisa came to America in 1871, married and had a daughter. When the child was about four years old, the young family took a trip to the Long Island Sound for a day at the beach. While they were having lunch they heard the desperate cries of a young boy in trouble in the water.
Without thinking, Mr. Stead jumped in to save the boy but was unsuccessful. Both the little boy and Louisa’s husband drowned right before the eyes of his terrified wife and infant daughter. Left alone to deal with  this tragedy and care for her child, Louisa M. Stead learned to trust God. And out of her experiences came the words of the beautiful hymn: ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.
When Jesus told His disciples: Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me… (Jn. 14:1), He was telling them they were  trust in Him in the same manner in which they trust God the Father. Hundreds of years before, Solomon had written “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” (Proverbs 3:5) When, in the midst of her deepest grief at the loss of her husband, Louisa M. Stead was able to say with conviction, ‘tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word. When everything else seems to be failing, it makes good sense to trust in the One who will never fail.

 ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
 And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
        Refrain:
        Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
        How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
        Jesus,  Jesus, precious Jesus!
        Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

 Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
    
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
Refrain:
        Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
        How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
        Jesus,  Jesus, precious Jesus!
        Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
 
 
Lord, teach me to trust you with my whole heart. When everything around me fails, I know that You will never fail. May I always acknowledge you in all that I do. And in every decision that I make, may You be the One to whom I go for counsel. Amen
1. List five things that you would like to put in the hands of the Lord.
2. Read Matthew 6:25-34. List four things that Jesus said we should not worry about.
3. Write the scripture verse from Matthew 6:33 (Commit to memory).
READ MORE
For further study: Proverbs 3:5-6; John 14:1-6; Matthew 6:25-34
VERSE OF THE DAY
 
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35)
After Jesus had eaten his last Passover meal with His disciples, He poured water into a basin, threw a towel over His shoulder, and proceeded to wash their feet. The disciples must have been amazed at this because in their culture, the host of the home would have arranged this cleansing ritual before the meal. And it would have been done by a servant, not the guest of honor. It is easy to imagine their consternation when Jesus, their teacher, began this lowly task. When it was Peter’s turn, he protested: “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus said to Him: “If I do not wash you, you have no part of Me.”  Hearing this Peter relented and allowed Jesus to wash his feet.
Scripture does not indicate if anyone else objected but when Jesus was finished He asked: “Do you know what I have done for you?” He answered His own question with an explanation: “You call Me Teacher and Lord…If I then your Lord and Teacher washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Jesus’ action on this occasion was one of great love and humility. He did something, that in their frame of reference, was unheard of. Foot washing was the lowest of tasks, yet He did it for His friends whom He loved. He showed them an example and encouraged them to do the same for each other. He said to them: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
 
One of the tests of discipleship is love for one’s brothers and sisters in the faith. There is hardly any doubt that there is much division and disagreement in the church, and among Christian brethren.  Even among His own disciples, Jesus had to deal with occasional disagreements.
 
Jesus knew that the time would come when He would depart from their presence through His death and subsequent resurrection. His friends  would face persecution from the enemy, but the one thing that would keep them together would be  love. So He said to them: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you…by this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  A real test of discipleship then is love, for one another. The world is watching how disciples of Christ treat each other!
 
 
Dear Lord I pray for my brothers and sisters in the faith. May You be with them and strengthen them as they continue to serve You. I pray for unity among us; that there be no division; if we disagree, may we disagree in love. Amen

1. What is your relationship like, with the people whom you consider brothers and sisters in the faith?
Excellent –  Good  – Fair – Poor
2. Though foot-washing is not a modern day custom, the idea presented is one of humility. How open are you to that level of humility? (Read Philippians 2:1-11)
Very open  – Somewhat Open  – Against
3. Make a list of the people who are closest to you. How many of your friends are people who have nothing to offer you?
4.Read 1 Corinthians 13. Make list of all the attributes of love as presented by the Apostle Paul in this passage.
5. Make a list of ways in which you can demonstrate love for your brothers and sisters (then do it!)

READ MORE
Read the account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet: John 13:1-17, and read what Paul said about love in 1 Corinthians 13. Pay close attention to Paul’s description of love.

PASTOR YOUCEF

VERSE OF THE DAY:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:11-12)
In October 2009, Iranian pastor Youceff Nadarkhani went to his children’s school to protest a government edict regarding the teaching of Islam to all children including Christians. For his boldness, the pastor was summoned before a political tribunal to plead his case. He was promptly arrested for protesting. Charges were later upgraded to apostasy and evangelizing Muslims.
While he was in prison the Iranian council tried unsuccessfully to have him convert back to Islam, but Pastor Youcef’s faith in Christ remained strong. It was reported  that in a hearing in which he was asked to recant his Christian faith, the pastor responded: “You ask me to recant. Recant means to return. What do you wish me to return to? The blasphemy that I was in before Christ?” The judges responded, “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” Youcef replied, “I cannot.”
In order to pressure Pastor Youcef, his wife Fatemah was also arrested, tried and sentenced to life in prison. Her sentence was eventually overturned on appeal. Her husband however, remained in prison and in September 2010 was given a verbal sentence of death.This was followed by a written sentence in November of 2010.
 
In September 2012 Pastor Youcef went again before the courts where he was cleared of the apostasy charges but still sentenced to three years for evangelism. He was subsequently released but on Christmas day 2012, he was arrested again. After spending 14 days in prison pastor Youcef was released in January 2013. According to the American Center for Law and Justice which has been instrumental in bringing international attention to Pastor Youcef’s case,  “he has become the face of persecution around the world.”
 
Pastor Youcef’s case is not unique. A report issued by Open Doors – an organization that has long highlighted and supported the persecuted church – stated that  100 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide. The countries – out of a list of 50 – in which Christians face the worse persecution are, North Korea (which tops the list), Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. This is not unusual and Jesus Himself reminded His disciples: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt.5:11-12). Those who decide to follow Jesus must know that discipleship is not always easy.
Dear Lord, I lift up my brothers and sisters who suffer persecution around the world. I pray that you will give them the strength to endure; that they will not lose sight of the victory that you have already given.
I pray also for  organizations – like Open Doors – that are actively engaged in evangelism in oppressed nations around the world; give them the tools and resources needed to carry out the mission.Finally Lord I pray for the persecutors; that they may see the light of Your love shining forth from the same people whom they persecute. Amen
1. How much do you know about Christian persecution, worldwide?
2. Did you know that over 100 million Christians in 60 countries worldwide face persecution every day? (http://www.opendoors.org)
3. Does it bother you that the things we take for granted are things that people who share your faith may go to jail or be executed for? YES  NO
(If you answered NO, pray that God will give you a heart of compassion).
4. If you had a chance to speak to a Christian from one of these countries where Christianity is forbidden, what would you say to him / her?
READ MORE:
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs – John Foxe
Tortured For Christ – Richard Wurmbrand
God’s Smuggler – Brother Andrew

Emmanuel

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
 
 

 

Joseph was engaged to a beautiful young maiden named Mary. One day he found out that she was pregnant with a child that was not his. Imagine Joseph’s confusion at this revelation? Times have not changed so much to make it difficult for us to understand Joseph’s reaction. Like any young man, he would have been angry, hurt and more than a bit disappointed. It is doubtful whether he would have readily accepted the story of a visiting angel who told Mary of an impending miraculous pregnancy.  More than likely, he would have thought his intended wife was unfaithful to him, and was trying to cover it up with a fanciful tale (Read the full account in Mt. 1:18-24 & Lk. 1:26-38)
 

That night, Joseph was a man torn in pieces! He truly loved Mary, but the law was clear in a situation such as this. Adultery was punishable by death (Lev.20:10), and the prescribed method was through stoning. Joseph may have been convinced that Mary had been unfaithful to him. But he was a just man, and though he lived according to the law, his love for Mary prevented him from wanting to  make her a public example as the law prescribed. While he was thinking  about what he should do, and as he struggled over his decision,  he was visited by an Angel who told him in a dream to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, since the child she was carrying was indeed conceived by the Holy Spirit. The angel said: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Mt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14).

The incarnation as it is called was a literal manifestation of the presence of God on earth. In the person of Jesus, God visited this earth as a man. His time among us, however, was short, and now He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. But He is still with us! Just like He was with Joseph when He had to make that life-altering decision that night, God still remains with us. His presence remains with His children!

    In the journey of life, you may not face such a challenge as Joseph did, but you will face your own set of difficulties.  When they do come, knowing the comforting presence of God is with you, will help you through every situation. As you step into the role of being a disciple of Jesus  you will also want to know that His presence is with you. In the great commission (Mt. 28:19)  Jesus said: Go thereforec] 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.

He is always with you!

 

Lord, I am asking for your divine presence during these forty days. I acknowledge your promise to always be with me. May I be drawn closer to you. Help me Lord, to seek your guidance in everything I do in my personal and professional life. May I forever live to be a blessing to the people  with whom I interact on a daily basis. Amen

1. Was there ever a time when you felt  you were in a situation that made you totally hopeless? How did you handle it? Were you able to rely on God’s presence? YES / NO

2. If you answered  YES, please explain the situation here and give the outcome (write it in your own words)

 
3.Are you confident that in every situation, God is with you? YES NO

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. (Matthew 10:1)

AM I A DISCIPLE?

 
At the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus selected twelve men to make up His core discipleship team. They were not Christian men (Christianity was as yet an unfounded religion),  they were Jewish men, as was Jesus. As His popularity grew through His teachings and miracle working, multitudes began following Jesus. Many of these people became disciples as well, though not on the same level with the twelve. The distinction between the twelve and general disciples was made clearer when He called and conferred special authority  upon them – the “power  over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sicknesses and all kinds of diseases” (Matthew 10:1-4). From that point on they were the Apostles and would  be tasked with establishing the early church.

Though many in the multitude that followed Jesus wanted to be considered disciples, Jesus made it very clear that discipleship is not a simple matter. In laying out the criteria for true discipleship Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it”  (Matthew 16:24-25). It is clear from this verse the calling to discipleship is not to be taken lightly, and not for the faint of heart. True discipleship involves self-denial, great difficulties  and possibly death, both literally and figuratively.

 

The Great Commission
 
In the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) however,  Jesus commanded the twelve to  “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”  So the emphasis of the church is not to simply make people follow Jesus but to train and develop them into authentic disciples. As we have seen there is a distinct difference. While it is true  that believing in Jesus is essential to salvation, the calling to discipleship goes much deeper. Simply believing (mental assent) or by  joining a Christian community (church) is not enough. People can believe intellectually and never become true disciples of Christ. True disciples go all the way and are  committed to making others into disciples by “teaching them to observe all the things that I have taught you”  (Mt. 24).
 
Jim Elliot

In 1956 five young missionaries in a quest to evangelize the fierce Waodani people of Eastern Ecuador lost their lives by being speared to death. They knew when they went in what the dangers were but still they attempted to reach this fierce but unreached tribe.  One of the young men – Jim Elliot had written: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  The history of the church is filled with those who have given their lives for Christ; they are called martyrs. One of the earliest martyrs was Stephen who was stoned to death for his fervor in proclaiming the gospel of Christ (Acts 7). As people were getting ready to stone him and in the face of impending death, Stephen cried out: “Look I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). With those words he was led out to be killed  but before he died, he said: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” In our western thinking martyrdom  may seem to be a foreign concept  and while we may never be subjected to it, in our hearts we must be able to say with conviction, yes, I will die for my Lord if I have to!   That’s what being a true disciple is all about.

Are you a disciple?

 
 
Dear Lord, I want to be a true disciple. I want to learn to love you and do all that you have commanded, including reaching others and making them into disciples as you have instructed. Give me the strength and commitment to do what is required. Amen
1. Memorize the scripture verse of the day (Matthew 10:1)
2. Commit yourself to becoming a disciple of Christ.
A true disciple of Christ will be actively involved in making others into disciples.  Think of someone whom you feel you would like to disciple. Write the person’s name.
3. Communicate with the person and arrange to go through this discipleship program with him or her.
4. Pray that the Lord will give you the courage to stand up for the cause of Christ,  if ever you are faced with a situation that demands it.
For further study: read the story of Stephen, and his martyrdom (Acts 6 and 7). Also read Hebrews 11:35-38

VERSE OF THE DAY:
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Mt. 16:24-25)

 

DISCIPLESHIP

A disciple of Christ is more than proclaiming oneself to be a Christian. The term “Christian,” is limited in scope and simply means a believer in Christ. A disciple however, as defined by the dictionary is ‘one who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another,’ in this case – Jesus (Jn.8:31-32).  While we know that believing in Jesus is the main criteria for salvation (Acts 4:12 & 16:31 ), there are many who profess to believe but  who do not ever become true disciples. Let’s us take a look at the qualifications for discipleship as given by Jesus Himself: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  (Matthew 16:24-25)

If anyone desires:

First there must be a desire to follow Jesus. One must count it a privilege to do so. When Jesus called His disciples, they thought it an honor so they left everything to follow Him. They were not concerned about what they would get out of it but they followed Him by virtue of who they thought He was – the Messiah. There were also many others who got caught up in the excitement of Jesus’ ministry and who wanted to be a part of it. Many people saw the miracles and all that was happening around Jesus and they wanted in.  Many of them, however, were unable to truly let go of the things in life which precluded them from being disciples (Lk. 18:18-25) Question:  Do you desire to truly follow Jesus?
 

Let him deny himself

To deny oneself means that one would have to do without. It means putting one’s own interests below that of others. Let’s face it, we all have things we need, or think we need. We live in a culture of “me first” but disciples of Jesus  are Christ centered and then others -centered. So denying oneself would mean putting aside one’s own needs for other people. Jesus is a supreme example of someone who puts others first. He was thinking about you and me when He went to the cross.
   

Take up his cross:
When Jesus first made this statement, the disciples may have wondered what He meant. He had not yet gone to Calvary so they may have been a bit confused about it. After His death and resurrection, it would begin to make sense; taking up one’s cross means a willingness to die with Him, and for Him. In the next statement, Jesus explains why this is important. He said: “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” This is a direct reference to eternal life. Losing one’s life for Christ (as radical as it seems) means gaining eternal life in the end. A true disciple is not too concerned about this life and what it has to offer because he or she is holding on to the hope (Eph.1) that comes from following Jesus.

 

Lord, I want to be a true disciple. I ask you to teach me your way so that I may follow you in sincerity and truth all the days of my life. Amen.

NEXT STEPS:
  1. (Read Philippians 2:1-11)What do you think is meant by the phrase “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”? (See verse 5)
  2. List some of the ways in which you can “esteem others” better than yourself? (See verse 3)
  3. List three things from Philippians 2:7 that Jesus did to humble Himself.
  4. Read Ephesians 1 and list three things from verses 1-6 the Believer has in Christ:
 
READ MORE: For further study, read Luke 14:25-34, Philippians 2:1-11 and Ephesians 1