All of us have inherited something from our parents. Most of these qualities are passed down unintentionally, simply by virtue of our relationship. But the pattern for discipleship, and therefore the completion of the Great Commission, is more intentional. In order to finish the Christian task, we must be willing to engage in this process of multiplication. Paul’s charge for Timothy is for the rest of his life in ministry—the last word from a spiritual father. “Be strong . . . suffer hardship . . . remember Jesus Christ.” Those are the words of counsel to Timothy in a fallen world, in an imperfect church, facing many persecutions, and many dangers, as he lives and ministers. It takes courage to lead and courage to follow. These words are not only inspired words for all those in the Ephesian church, and they are suitable words for us today, as we multiply courageous ministry. The notion of endurance presumes an active, courageous Christian life. No endurance or courage is necessary if we seclude ourselves from the world and don’t spread the gospel. However, the calling to follow Jesus requires activity, and thus, endurance. In this final trustworthy saying, Paul gives Timothy the incentive of enduring in faith to the end of our lives as he had modeled. What is one area of your life in which you need a greater dependence on the strength and grace of Jesus to live out courageous ministry? How are you going to remind yourself of that need this week? How are you following the pattern of Jesus and Paul right now in multiplying disciples?
PRAYER – I hereby surrender everything that I am, and have, and ever will be. I take my hands off of my life and release every relationship to You: every habit, every goal, my health, my wealth, and everything that means anything. I surrender it ALL to You. By faith I take my place at the Cross, believing that when the Lord Jesus was crucified, according to Your Word, I was crucified with Him; when He was buried, I was buried; when He was raised from the dead, I was raised with Him. I deny myself the right to rule and reign in my own life and I take up the Cross believing that You are in my and I in You. I thank You for saving me from my sins and myself. From this moment on I am trusting You to live Your life in me and through me, instead of me, to do what I can’t do, quit what I can’t quit, start what I can’t start, and–most of all–to be what I can’t be. I am trusting you to renew my mind and heal damaged emotions in Your time. I thank You now by faith for accepting me in the Lord Jesus, for giving me Your grace, Your freedom, Your joy, Your victory and Your righteousness as my inheritance. Even if I don’t feel anything, I know that Your Word is true; I am counting on Your Spirit to do what Your Word says– to set me free from myself, that Your resurrection life may be lived out through me, and that You may receive all the glory. I thank You and praise You for victory right now in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Timothy was a servant and a son to Paul, a partner in the gospel ministry to make Jesus known so that sinners would believe in Him and be saved from their sin. Contrary to the natural bent of us all to seek our own interests and desires, Timothy followed Jesus’ example to care about the interests of others. We see this in his service to Paul with all the physical hardships that came throughout his missions and in his proven character, which must have involved a heart set on putting other people’s needs before his own. Epaphroditus was also a servant to Paul, sent on behalf of the Philippian church. In his mission of the work of Christ, he came close to death. He risked his life for the ministry, following closely in the steps of Jesus Christ who gave His life for the sake of sinners to be saved. What are some ways we can follow the example of Jesus and humble ourselves for the sake of others in our church? For those outside of our church who need Jesus? How can our church encourage one another as we strive to walk in humility, caring for the interests of others? How might our actions of faithful humility open doors for sharing the good news about Jesus, and how can we seize those opportunities?
PRAYER – Father, thank You for the example of Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself to die on the cross to save us from our sins. Help us to follow in His footsteps, in the power of the Holy Spirit, as we strive to work out our salvation and shine like stars in this dark world. In Your Son’s precious name, Amen.
Although Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples in this passage, we know that His words apply to all those He has sent out—including us. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be a part of Christ’s compassionate ministry throughout the world—engaging with and caring for the lives and needs of those around us at all times, just like Jesus did while on earth. In a world that believes we were created by random accident or chance, God tells us that we are His unique handiwork, created for good works that He has prepared in advance for us to do (see Eph. 2:10). As followers of Jesus, we have been called by God, gifted with His spirit, prepared for ministry in His name and sent forth to carry it out. Because of this, everyone is called to play a role in the compassionate ministry of Christ—corporately and individually, both within and outside of the church.
How can we be gentle and kind with those who believe differently, yet never compromise or gloss over difficult truth? Based on what we have read today and what we know about the life of Jesus, what “marching orders” do you think He would give you specifically as you go forth into the world this week?
PRAYER – Lord, help us be on our guard against the enemy’s schemes in the world, acting as shrewdly as snakes, but as innocently as doves, pointing all in our community to Jesus. Thank You, Father. Amen.
While the shepherd in Ancient Israel would be expected to take greater care to guide and protect his sheep than a hired hand would, it would be astonishing for anyone to willingly give up their life for a flock of sheep. This is why the Bible refers to the cross as a “stumbling block.” It is difficult for many to comprehend that a holy God would stoop so low as to give up His life for stubborn, foolish, and unruly sheep and yet this is exactly what Jesus did. The fact that no one could take Jesus’ life from Him highlights both Jesus’ ultimate authority and profound love. Jesus didn’t have to go the cross. He chose to and He did so out of love for God and love for us. In what ways is Jesus the fulfillment of Psalm 23? How might viewing Christ as your Shepherd give you confidence to walk through “the darkest valley”?
PRAYER – Jesus, thank You for being my Good Shepherd willing and giving Your life for me. The world may think You are foolish. But I know who You are, and I will fear no evil. In Your name, Amen.
We know it’s important for the church to be about the business of making disciples, but do you know why that task is so important? The answer is three-fold: Jesus commanded it (Matt. 28:19-20); it is Jesus’ expectation—He left no Plan B (Acts 1:8); and Jesus modeled it for us (John 17:4). Jesus began this address—often referred to as the Great Commission—by talking about His authority. In light of this authority, He gave commands for the disciples then and for us now. He told the disciples to “go,” “make disciples,” “baptizing them,” and “teaching them” to obey His commands. All of this was so that they would go and reach people with the good news about Christ. The central command was to “make disciples.” If we truly want to live in obedience to the Great Commission, then it impacts all of our friendships, the way we interact with our neighbors and other people we come into contact with every day, how we parent, and so on. In light of Jesus’ command, all of our interactions become about showing Jesus to others and drawing them to Him. What is God teaching you this week about your involvement in disciple making?
PRAYER – Jesus, in this situation I have nothing to offer of my own ingenuity or strength; I need your wisdom and power as badly as I need the air that I breathe. As I move forward may I do so in desperate dependence on You every second. I joyfully and unreservedly confess that I am inadequate to answer Your call, in fact, I can do absolutely nothing without You. I’m not able to handle this situation on my own and any good that results must come solely through You. I simply ask You right now to flow through me, Lord Jesus, and cause me to stay out of Your way. In Your name, Amen