Following Jesus – A journey of Discipleship

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It is a real privilege to walk the journey of discipleship with you as we follow our master and learn from his example.  We will be looking at who Jesus is and how he lived his life so that we can be true apprentices to him.  An apprentice learns by watching, copying, listening and joining in with the master.  On our journey Jesus is our leader and the Holy Spirit is our comforter and our source of spiritual power. 
Every week we will be looking at one aspect of Jesus’ character and asking what we can learn from him as we change to become the person that God wants us to be. Apprenticeships are practical as well as theoretical, so every week we will be offering a challenge – a practical step to take on your journey of discipleship.   

This is a summary of the challenges set for all 10 weeks: 

Week 1 – Introduction to discipleship. Salvation and discipleship are obviously linked, but they are not the same. Salvation is, “Come to me” (Mt 11:28); Discipleship is, “Come after me” (Mt. 16:24).  Similarly, being saved is about the cross of Jesus (Mt. 16:21); discipleship refers to your own cross (Mt 16:22-24). 
Being a disciple means becoming an apprentice of Jesus – doing what He did, copying Him, getting to know Him. So, the first challenge is to get to know Jesus.  To read about Him.  To be a disciple you need to know and love God’s Word.  This week’s task was to read Mark’s Gospel and ask yourself this question? “Would I follow Him if He asked me.  If he turned to me directly and said: ‘Follow me’?   The bible is the foundation of our faith.  Jesus knew it backwards, His disciples lived and breathed it. Disciples know and love God’s word. Try and develop a daily reading habit. 

Week 2 - Jesus is God.  Take that awesome truth seriously and spend some time imagining a person as God.  Read through Job 38 and 39 and meditate on the vastness, the sheer power of God.  Imagine all that contained in one person.  Wow!  Ask yourself this question: “Would I follow this person if He asked me.  If he turned to me directly and said: ‘Follow me’?    

Week 3 - Jesus the prayer.  Jesus prayed. He went to solitary places and prayed.  Before anything happened, Jesus prayed. Imitate this - do as Jesus did.  Find a spot you feel comfortable in to pray.  Make that your prayer place.  When you are there, keep praying, persevere, don’t give up.  If you find this impossibly hard then ask the Holy Spirit to help.  He wants to help you.  Just ask. 

Week 4 - Jesus the healer. Jesus is the one who meets us and cares for us and heals us.  God works through faith as He heals, so try to be more aware of the presence of God and to thank Him for the sacrifice of Jesus.  Practically, have the courage to pray in faith for healing.  Pray for yourself and for others to be healed of physical and spiritual ailments. 

Week 5 – Jesus the sinless.  Jesus is the only person ever to have existed who did not sin.  Jesus needed to be sinless so that he could go to the cross for our sake and pay the price for our sins.  He atoned for our sins.  Jesus’ sinless life is also a great example for us of how to live. The challenge this week was to take a good look at your life and to try to change just one thing.  Don’t try and change everything, just pick on one thing and pray for the strength to change.   Repentance in the bible is best translated as ‘to change direction.’  Pray for the strength to change direction and read the scriptures for advice.  Let Jesus do the work for you. If you do this, then God will come to your aid.  Isaiah 28:26 says, "His God instructs him and teaches the right way." 

Week 6 – Jesus the prophet.  Jesus’ message was that the Kingdom of God was breaking through.  Jesus spoke about the future and had words of knowledge for the present.  He gave us the Holy Spirit to allow us to be part of this kingdom here and now so we too can prophesy and hear words and pictures from God. Paul tells us that we should eagerly desire spiritual gifts.  Our challenge this week was to spend some time doing just that – pray that the Lord will bless you with the gift of prophecy.
 
Week 7 – Jesus the teacher.  God tells us to, “Learn to do right and seek justice”. (Isaiah 1:17) and that ‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others’ (1 Pet. 4:10). We each have a calling and through that calling, we lead others. What are your gifts and how can you serve God with them? Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 then ask God to reveal your gifts and how you can use them in the church and the wider community.  Sit and listen for his voice. Listen to what he might want you to do and ask for the Holy Spirit to lead your thoughts. If you’re unsure about what God is saying, ask someone you respect in the church what they think and pray together.

Week 8 – Jesus the Missionary.  We are all involved in Jesus’s Big Hairy Mission!  The task this week was simple. Think through who you are and how this relates to Jesus’s mission - then BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE!  He has called you to be here – so bloom exactly where you are.

Week 9 and 10 - Jesus the leader and Jesus the giver.  We learnt that Jesus leads as a servant and gave everything he had to teach us wisdom, to give us eternal life and to pay for our sins on the cross. He wants us to be generous and serving leaders.  He wants us to be generous and loving givers.  The challenge for these two weeks was the same.  Spend some time lolling at your life of discipleship.  Ask yourself honestly – do you serve?  Ask yourself honestly – do you give as Jesus gave.
 
The pathway we have set out above is to help you on your journey of discipleship.  When you have gone through it – do it again!  If you want to know more about how to follow Jesus then please get in touch.
 
Blessings
 
Steve