The seven habits of highly effective disciples

Preaching notes

Discover how to use these preaching notes (authentically)

… and understand the abbreviations

I want to share with you an idea that is so simple I’m almost embarrassed to preach on it. We all know it, really.

  • A brief excursion into Greek
  • If you come away from this saying ‘It’s all Greek to me’ – it is!

Matt 28:19-20

E.g. “Stand up!” – Imperative mood

  • What is in the imperative?
  • Go! (actually it’s not)
  • The only imperative is “Make disciples” – literally “discipleize” by going, teaching, baptising.

Mathetes = disciple.

It had a very particular meaning in Greek

  • someone who copied someone else. <ppt>
  • It you went to a Greek school of art or mathematics, or logic or rhetoric, you would most probably be going because you wanted to copy that particular teacher. You would be his mathetes
  • However it went beyond merely copying your teacher’s technique – the concept included the idea of copying his (or her) lifestyle
  • There’s a wonderful story about some Jewish boys who wanted to emulate their rabbi, so one f the hid under his bed at night to see how be prepared for bed and how he slept!

So when we read about Jesus’ disciples in the Bible we’re intended to cunjour up this idea – they copied Jesus

  • Moses had disciples, the Pharisees had disciples, John the baptist had disciples and when Jesus called people to be his disciples (Incidentally, both men and women, although the inner circle were men) it was a call to whole-of-life following of him, his teaching and his methods.

Imagine Jesus was here today and he called you to follow him personally

  • I expect you’d take that commission very seriously indeed

So when we view ourselves as having been personally called by Jesus, this alters our whole attitude towards him.

Begins with a moment of commitment <ppt>

  • you may not be able to pin down a date – but are you following Jesus today?

He is no fool Jim Elliott “he gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”

A decision to follow Jesus Christ is where it starts, but it’s not where it continues.

So here is the simplest idea of Christianity – the bottom line of discipleship

Do you want to change the world? At least your world? Do you want your life to count for something? then

Copy Jesus <ppt>

It’s as simple as that.

Let me tell you one of the things that motivated this message. It was actually two questions:

  • I took a little time looking around the Christian world as I see it, looking at my contacts, looking at friends I know well and looking at some of the stand-out figures in church history asking “Who are the people whose Christian life really thrives?”
  • Who are the disciples who have a lively and intimate relationship with God? Who are the people whom I want to be like? Who are the people I pray that you will be like here at Pevensey Baptist?
  • second question – what makes them different? Why are they above the norm? What is it that helps them to live with such spiritual excellence?

If you can think of someone who comes into that category of a thriving Christian – someone whose life you envy in God, someone you’d like to be like as a believer, who is it? (Write the answer on your notes)

“Seven habits of highly effective people” – Stephen Covey >>>

Today the seven habits of highly effective disciples. <ppt>

Gifted but can’t use their gifts – something disturbingly illogical about that, especially since Jesus allowed women to use their gifts in his entourage.

First of all, what is a habit?

Something we do repeatedly

  • E.g. cleaning your teeth – eventually it becomes so instinctive you hardly notice you’re doing it
  • Takes about 3 months of determination to set up a habit.

If we are going to be thriving disciples what are the habits that will help us?

As thriving disciples we will instinctively

Feed on the Bible

Why people don’t get into the Bible

Many people are put off reading the Bible for a whole variety of reasons

Some people don’t read the Bible

Because it looks complicated

The Bible is a library of 66 books, 800,000 words that were originally written in Hebrew and Greek with snatches of Aramaic. It’s hard to know where to start.

In fact most novices who start at the beginning run aground in about Leviticus! I recommend that if you want to start reading the Bible, start with Luke’s gospel and just read on.

There was once a small boy who wrote a prayer in his group church and he said this: “Dear God, I love your book, but what does ‘begat’ mean. Nobody will tell me.”

Some people don’t read the Bible

Because they think it’s irrelevant

Much of it was written 2000 years ago and 2000 miles away and we might struggle to see the relevance of it.

  • But read many of the Psalms an we find profound poets who wrestled with the tough stuff of life just like we do!

So how to feed on the Bible …

Get to know the author better

E.g. IW reading Guthrie’s New Testament Theology. Classic text on NT theology. Many profound insights. The author wrestles with the big questions and treats differing viewpoints with scrupulous honesty and courtesy – and argues his case with stunning clarity.

BUT – Inside the front cover – To Rosalyn and Ian, with love, Dad

I know the author. And every time I read this book I hear his voice.

My friend, if you are a Christian here today, it’s just the same for you with the Bible. You can read you heavenly Father’s book, and every time you read his book you can hear his voice.

This is the word of God in the words of man

Allow your soul to drink in its message

One of the best-known verses about the Bible in the Bible is 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

That word ‘God-breathes is very telling

Allow it to become your authority

This happens progressively over time as part of the discipling process

  • Let your choices be governed by it

I want people to have Bibline blood! >>>

I saw an advert on an underground train:

This young man has just received his first love letter. He may have read it three or four times, but he is only just beginning. To read it as accurately as he would like would require several dictionaries and a good deal of close work with a few experts of etymology and philology. However, he will do all right without them.

He will ponder over the exact shade of meaning of every word, every comma. She has headed the letter “Dear John”. What, he asks himself, is the exact significance of these words? Did she refrain from saying “dearest” because she was too bashful? Would “my dear” have sounded too formal?

Maybe she would have said “dear so-and-so” to anybody! A worried frown will now appear on his face. But it disappears as soon as he really gets to thinking about the first sentence. She certainly wouldn’t have written that to just anybody!

And so he works his way through the letter, one moment perched blissfully on a cloud, the next moment huddled miserably on a downer. It has started a hundred questions in his mind. He will feed on its message for many days to come.

The Bible is your heavenly Father’s love letter

E.g. Jesus as an early teenager

  • knew more than the Pharisees and teachers ‘Where did he get this wisdom?
  • Some would have been innate but much would have been there because he’d fed his teenage mind on the word.

Do you want to change the world? At least your world? Do you want your life to count for something? then

Copy Jesus <ppt>

As thriving disciples we will instinctively

Resonate with God in worship

I want you to image that here on the platform is full-sized Stienway concert grand piano (I dream!)

<ppt> If I open the lid and press the sustain pedal, all the dampers will lift from the strings so they’re free to vibrate. Now I sing a note into the piano and what happens – the piano strings pick up the note – they resonate with the note and continue to vibrate at the same pitch.

In my picture here, God is the singer, and we are the strings! He constantly floods his world with a whole symphony/album of notes.

He is constantly singing

  • notes of love and acceptance,
  • notes of joy and patience,
  • notes of strength and resilience,
  • notes of discipline and direction,
  • notes of forgiveness and peace!

And what He looks for, he searches the world for, are people like us who will pick up his notes and resonate with them!

The Greek word “proskuneo” –

  • can be split – to come towards — to kiss >>>

God is glorified most clearly when I enjoy him most intimately >>>

Incident in Jesus’ life: Jesus in the temple – went to worship whenever her could

When he saw the money-changers diddling people he was furious! “My Father’s house should be a house of prayer and you’ve turned it into t den of robbers!”

  • the comment “zeal for God’s house consumed him!”

Jesus to the woman at the well “The Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth”

  • The songs may not always be to your liking, but seek to say ‘Lord, I want my heart to resonate with yours today”

Do you want to change the world? At least your world? Do you want your life to count for something? then

Copy Jesus <ppt>

As thriving disciples we will instinctively

pray in the Spirit

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he did so when they had come to him and said “John did this for his disciples, can you do it for us please

  • result? The Lord’s prayer.

Do you want to change the world? At least your world? Do you want your life to count for something? then

Copy Jesus <ppt>

  • anyone can read the Bible but thriving disciples feed on it
  • anyone can pray, but thriving disciples pray in the Spirit
  • anyone can come to church, but thriving disciples drink in God’s presence here

As thriving disciples we will instinctively

run with buddies

Being a disciple is something we can’t do alone

Video of ants <ppt>

I have a small group of men I pray with every dew weeks and they have helped me to keep in focus when I’ve wandered or faced threats

The AT&T world triathlon final

  • The British athlete Jonathan Brownlee is in the lead and heading for an impressive victory – but then this happens

Video of Brownlee brothers.

I want buddies like that!

Who are your buddies – please in your mind, name them now.

  • If you’re struggling to think of them, it’s probably time to join a small group

Jesus had the 12 around him – and three on his inner circle

  • If Jesus needed a small group of people around him, how much more do we!

Do you want to change the world? At least your world? Do you want your life to count for something? then

Copy Jesus <ppt>

As thriving disciples we will instinctively

be generous

I notice this about my thriving friends – they just not stingy!

This applies in two particular domains – time and money

Malachi “Bring the whole tithe in the to storehouse and put me to the test, says the Lord, See if I won’t throw open the windows of heaven and pour out so much blessing you will not have room for it!”

Is it possible there are things that PBBC can’t do because the money is in your account and not theirs!

In fact a significant number of his parables have to do with the value of things – and money in particular.

  • The woman who lost a coin
  • the unjust steward,
  • the good Samaritan
  • the prodigal son
  • and so on.

The financial value of things was just as important to them then as it is to us today – and Jesus was radical in his approach to money.

“Don’t amass treasure on earth where it gets moth-eaten and rusty, but instead amass treasure in heaven where no insects can chew it or robbers steal it!

John Wesley said

“When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious, trustworthy and prosperous. Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can, does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man!” John Wesley

Do you want to change the world? At least your world? Do you want your life to count for something? then

Copy Jesus <ppt>

As thriving disciples we will instinctively

Build the church by using our own skills

What Spiritual gifts look like? – how can we identify them

  • Several lists in the NT but the evidence of the Bible is that the list is much broader

(Bruce Bugbee, p60)

It wasn’t long after creation that the animals go together to form a school

  • They wanted the best school possible – one that offered their students a well rounded curriculum of
  • swimming, running, climbing and flying. In order to graduate, all the animals had to take all the courses.

The duck was excellent at swimming.

  • In fact, he was better than his instructor.
  • But he only made passing grades at climbing and was getting a very poor grade at running.
  • The duck was so slow in running that he had to stay behind after school every day to practice.
  • Even with that there was little improvement.
  • His webbed feet became badly worn from running,
  • and with such worn feet, he was only able to gain an average grade for swimming.
  • Average was quite acceptable to everyone else, so no-one worried – except the duck.

The rabbit was at the top of her class in running

  • but after a while she developed a twitch in her leg from all the time she spent in the water trying to improve her swimming.

The squirrel was a peak performer in climbing

  • but was constantly frustrated in the flying class.
  • His body became so bruised from the hard landings that he did not do well in climbing
  • and ended up being pretty poor in running.

The eagle was a problem student.

  • She was severely disciplined for being non-compliant.
  • For example, in the climbing class she would always beat everyone else to the top of the tree, but insisted on using her own way to get there.
  • Each of the animals had their own area of expertise which shone when they did what they were designed to do.

Can ducks run? – yes, but they don’t do it best!

Imagine a church that was

  • led by people with leadership gifts
  • managed by people with management gifts
  • pastored by people with caring gifts,
  • Publicised by people with IT gifts

It would be like heaven – actually it would be like this one! >>>

E.g. Bezalel >>>

You have godly leaders >>>

  • Jesus’ practical gifting was as a teacher – and he used it!
  • E.g. the sermon on the mount
  • (he was also a half-decent carpenter!)

Copy Jesus! Use your natural skill to grow the church.

Do you want to change the world? At least your world? Do you want your life to count for something? then

Copy Jesus <ppt>

As thriving disciples we will instinctively

be prospectors

There’s a psychologists game – what feelings come to mind when I use a particular word –

  • try “Chocolate” >>>
  • Now try “Evangelism”

Some time ago I went to park in a regular pay-and-display car park.

  • I put my money in the machine and got a ticket.
  • On the back was a deal – free meal at MacDonalds – just present this ticket when you buy a meal and get a second one free
  • I showed this to a friend “are you serious?”
  • “yes, I’m serious – I’ve tried it out – we’ve actually eaten one – it works!”

Now this is evangelism

  • OK, it’s the gospel according to MacDonald’s but the principle is the same.
  • I am telling you something that I believe you will accept in the hope that you can experience the benefit of it too
  • I’m sharing good news (assuming that you think meals at MacDonald’s are, in fact, good news!)

Jesus calls us to be prospectors!

  • Constantly digging and finding the occasional diamond!

Ignitermedia clip <ppt>

Do you want to change the world? At least your world? Do you want your life to count for something? then

Copy Jesus <ppt>

Pray >>>