Cost of Following | February 10, 2018


Cost of Following – February 10, 2018

Introduction: Following Jesus -> Twelve Disciples -> Actively Following Jesus

Big Idea: What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Scripture: Luke 9:23-62 (ESV)


Luke 9:23-25 (ESV)

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?


Point One: Taking Up Your Cross (v23-25)
  1. Jesus challenges His followers to deny themselves, take up their cross and let go of worldly ambition
  2. At this point, no one really understood what Jesus meant by ‘taking up your cross’ (this was before the events of Good Friday and Easter)
  3. When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” He literally meant leave everything behind and travel around with Me and my disciples (to follow meant to step out in faith)
  4. The more we try to survive on our own, the more we will miss out on when it comes to building our faith in Jesus

Luke 9:46-48 (ESV)

An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”


Point Two: Putting Others Before Yourself (v46-48)
  1. The twelve disciples get in an argument about which one of them is the greatest (this comes after they failed to cast demons out themselves and failed to understand what Jesus was trying to tell them about His upcoming death)
  2. Pride often follows moments of failure or weakness (rather than admitting they still had more to learn, the disciples take out their frustration on each other)
  3. According to Jesus, childlike faith and humility are the keys to greatness (historically, the Church grows through acts of compassion)
  4. If we want to be great in the eyes of Jesus, then we need to put others’ needs above our own

Luke 9:57-62 (ESV)

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”


Point Three: Leaving the World Behind (v57-62)
  1. In this passage, Jesus warns potential disciples about the commitment required become a follower of Christ
  2. Sometimes we have to be tested before something big happens (Jesus in the wilderness/garden)
  3. Following Jesus as our top priority gives our lives direction and keeps us grounded in this crazy world
  4. How would you have responded if you were one of these people?

Discussion:
  1. What does the phrase ‘take up your cross’ mean to you? What have you had to sacrifice in order to follow Jesus?
  2. Have you ever had a time in your life when you were feeling tested? Did that season lead to some type of breakthrough in your faith journey?
  3. How would you have responded if Jesus asked you to leave everything behind and join Him on His earthly journey?

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More than a Teacher | February 3, 2018


More than a Teacher – February 3, 2018

Introduction: Following Jesus -> Peter, James, John -> Transfiguration (Jesus’ identity)

Big Idea: Jesus is more than a moral teacher.

Scripture: Luke 9:28-36 (ESV)


Luke 9:28-31 (ESV)

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.


Point One: Jesus Fulfills the Law and the Prophets
  1. Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray (while they were there, Moses and Elijah show up, and they got to see Jesus in His glory)
  2. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, which shows that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament
  3. The conversation is about Jesus’ upcoming death, resurrection and ascension (the dazzling light is a preview of both Easter morning and the second coming)
  4. Whatever you are praying for, recognize that Jesus is the answer

Luke 9:32-33 (ESV)

Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”— not knowing what he said.


Point Two: The Difference Between Awe and Fear
  1. Not knowing what to say, Peter suggests they build three tents (either to memorialize or extend the occasion)
  2. Awe inspires us while fear cripples us (awe points to the future while fear traps us in the past – Jesus’ miracles were meant to spur us into action)
  3. Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest things keeping people from coming to Christ (many people don’t want face what they can’t understand)
  4. The difference is rooted in love (Jesus wants us to know Him because of His love for us as shown through both His compassionate miracles and His sacrifice on the cross)

Luke 9:34-36 (ESV)

As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.


Point Three: Jesus Is the Son of God
  1. A cloud appears, and God speaks (just like at Jesus’ baptism) – this confirms who Jesus is (see v18-20)
  2. This whole section of Scripture is about establishing Jesus’ identity as the promised Messiah and the Son of God
  3. Most religious founders write their own holy books and didn’t have eyewitnesses during their key revelations (Jesus does)
  4. If Jesus truly is the promised Messiah and the Son of God, then it changes everything!

Discussion:
  1. What are some of your favorite Old Testament passages that refer to the promised Messiah?
  2. In what ways has your faith inspired you to overcome fear?
  3. In your opinion, what sets Christianity apart from other religions? Why did you decide to follow Jesus?

 

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A Different Approach | January 27, 2018


A Different Approach – January 27, 2018

Introduction: Following Jesus -> John -> Feeding the 5,000 (in all four Gospels)

Big Idea: Focus on who God is rather than on what you don’t have.

Scripture: Luke 9:10-17 (CSB)


Luke 9:10-11 (CSB)

When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus all that they had done. He took them along and withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out, they followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.


Point One: The Kingdom of God (v10-11)
  1. The twelve disciples return from their journey of preaching and healing and Jesus takes them to the middle of nowhere so they can rest (but the crowds find them)
  2. Always compassionate, Jesus heals people and teaches them about the kingdom of God despite the desire for rest and privacy
  3. Instead of reveling in the huge crowds, Jesus points people’s attention to His Father
  4. When you’re tired or short on rest, are you able to keep your focus on the kingdom of God?

Luke 9:12-14 (CSB)

Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to him, “Send the crowd away, so that they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.”

 

“You give them something to eat,” he told them.

 

“We have no more than five loaves and two fish,” they said, “unless we go and buy food for all these people.” (For about five thousand men were there.)


Point Two: What Do We Have to Give? (v12-14)
  1. The disciples are concerned that the people don’t have anything to eat (they weren’t prepared to host an all-day event)
  2. Despite witnessing countless miracles, their focus shifted from God to earthly matters
  3. Instead of focusing on what we have or don’t have, we should remember who our God is and how He promises to sustain us as His people
  4. In ministry and in life, don’t forget about the Holy Spirit when looking for solutions to problems

Luke 9:14-17 (CSB)

Then he told his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did what he said, and had them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke them. He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd. Everyone ate and was filled. They picked up twelve baskets of leftover pieces.


Point Three:  A Glimpse of Heaven (v14-17)
  1.  Jesus has the disciples divide the crowd and then multiplies the few loaves of bread and fish they had brought with them
  2. The imagery here evokes both the Exodus from Egypt and the Last Supper (also previews the heavenly banquet that awaits us where there will be no need to worry about life’s problems)
  3. It is a rare and beautiful thing when God’s people come together and are completely focused on the goodness of God rather than on themselves
  4. We should have the same mindset whether we are having a ‘mountaintop experience’ or find ourselves trudging through the valley below

Discussion:
  1. When you are tired and short on rest, are you able to keep your focus on the kingdom of God?
  2. When you are planning an ministry event, do you factor in your team’s spiritual gifts?
  3. Have you ever had a ‘mountaintop experience’ where everyone was completely focused on the goodness of God?

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Do You Believe? | January 20, 2018


Do You Believe? – January 20, 2018

Introduction: Following Jesus -> John -> Inner Circle (Peter, James, John)

Big Idea: Faith can change your world.

Scripture: Luke 8:40-56 (ESV)


Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. – Luke 8:40-42a (ESV)


Point One: Hope for the Hopeless (v40-42a)

  1. Jesus’ reputation was spreading because of His miracles (so Jarius, who was a leader in the local synagogue, sought out Jesus when he had no other hope)
  2. When faced with a situation as difficult as death, we find that many of our philosophies and worldviews fall short of giving us comfort (this is not so with Christ – He died so that we may live)
  3. This world will fail you if you place your hope in it (turn to Jesus before He is your only option)
  4. Jesus was known throughout Israel for His compassion (do we share that reputation?)

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” – Luke 8:42b-48 (ESV)


Point Two: Reaching Out in Faith (v42b-48)

  1. As Jesus was on His way to Jarius’ home, someone reached out in faith to be healed (and Jesus sensed that someone had touched His garment)
  2. Luke (the author) was also a physician and notes here that this woman was not able to be healed by the doctors of their day (her bleeding also made her ceremonially unclean)
  3. Religious decorum of the day would have prevented an unclean person from coming in contact with a rabbi (faith in Jesus trumps traditions and precedent)
  4. The power Jesus has is the same Holy Spirit that is available to us today (it is giving freely to us who do not deserve it, for we are all unclean in the presence of the Most Holy God)

While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened. – Luke 8:49-56 (ESV)


Point Three: Power Over Death (v49-56)

  1. While He stopped to heal the woman, Jarius’ daughter died (but Jesus says ‘do not fear, only believe’)
  2. This was one of three people the Bible records Jesus raising from the dead before His own resurrection
  3. According to Scripture, there was no death before sin entered the world (and there is no death for those who believe in and follow Jesus because we share in His Holy Spirit)
  4. When faced with a hopeless situation, do you seek Jesus or do you laugh and scoff at those who dare believe?

Conclusion: Faith can change your world. Apart from Jesus, this world has no hope. If this is all that there is, then why do people still turn to God in mass when things fall apart? Faith in Jesus is essential, but it is also dangerous because it upsets the status quo. However, without faith, there can be no healing for our broken souls. Our Father in Heaven loves you and wants you to be with Him in eternity, but that can only happen if you turn away from the things of this world and begin to follow Jesus with your whole heart. Yes, you will fall short, but that is why there is forgiveness in Christ. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live within us so that we can share in His power over death. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Our bold faith should be shaping the world around us as we compassionately help others find freedom in Christ. Reach out to Jesus in faith today, for He is our only hope in this dark and dying world.

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Sons of Thunder | January 13, 2018

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Lamb of God | December 30, 2017

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Savior of All | December 23, 2017

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