Growing Deeper With Jesus

You may wonder why you do not feel as close as you once did in your relationship with Jesus, or you may not be growing deeper in your relationship.

God has a Purpose:

  • Fact – Jesus wants to be in control of your life, Luke 6:46.
  • Fact – God want your life to be useful and enjoyable, John 15:10-11.
  • Fact – God wants you to live with him in an intimate relationship, 1 John 1:7.
  • Fact – God wants to fill your relationship with his Spirit, Ephesians 5:18.
  • Fact – God wants to get you ready to do is work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  • Fact – When you mess up in your walk with Him, God wants to forgive you and restore your relationship with him, 1 John 1:9.

Our Need:

  • Fact – Personal sin will damage our relationship with God, Isaiah 59:2.
  • Fact – Situations and circumstances in life may require us to seek God even more and to grow deeper in our relationship with him, Romans 12:1-2.

God’s Provision:

  • Fact – God has given us tools to grow deeper in our relationship and to be continually change to buy him.
  • Fact – God uses the Bible to bring Christians to a place where they can be used for His purposes, John 17:17.
  • Fact – Spiritual exercises, such as prayer, Bible study, worship, fasting, sharing Jesus Christ with others, and serving others help us to grow, 1 Timothy 4:7.
  • Fact – Family and home influences may encourage us toward spiritual growth, 2 Timothy 1:5.
  • Fact – The church, as the body of Christ, encourages us to grow deeper in our faith and knowledge of Jesus, Ephesians 4:12-13.
  • Fact – God uses and works in all circumstances of life to make us more like Jesus, Romans 8:28-29.
  • Fact – God disciplines his children to make us more like Jesus, Hebrews 12:10.

Our Response:

  • Act – Confess and turn from any known sin, Proverbs 28:13.
  • Act – Recommit your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, John 20:28.
  • Act – Give yourself daily to Jesus and experience the fullness of his life in you as you go deeper, Romans 6:12-13, Galatians 2:20.

My Commitment: As you seek to grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus you will see evidence of the Spirit in your life, Galatians 5:22-23. You may not be able to see evidence of the Spirit in your life as much as you would like. Are you willing to ask God to work in you to help you grow toward the fullness of his life? If so, you may want to pray the following prayer or one like it.

“God, I want to be like Jesus. I commit myself to you and ask you to work in my life to help me develop evidence of the Spirit to work in me.” Amen.

Becoming a Growing Disciple

To be a disciple means to be a student. Christians need to be students of God, Jesus, the Bible, and the people in our lives. We should be learning on our own as we become not only disciples OF Jesus but also disciples FOR Jesus. Perhaps memorize these verses and see if you gain a better understand how to be a “student of Jesus” for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Disciple of God: God calls us to be his disciples first and foremost. It is easier to see Jesus as our teacher, or to see the people around us as teachers, but God is our ultimate teacher (Matthew 22:37, Deuteronomy 7:9).

Disciple of Christ: John 13:13 quotes Jesus as saying, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.” He is the greatest teacher who has ever lived (1 John 2:6, Colossians 2:6).

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11

Disciple of the Word: The Bible is a critical component in the life journey of followers of Jesus. It is also critical to our ability to lead and witness to lost people around us (Deuteronomy 11:18,19, James 1:22)

Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Disciple of Others: God puts us into a community and we learn and grow within that community. Don’t dismiss the importance of being an active member of your church. You should also have a mentor or coach to help you learn (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10; Romans 12:4-5).

Disciple of Life: The world isn’t a mistake; it’s God’s creation for us to enjoy. Always learn from your experiences. Life is a string of teachable moments (1 Timothy 4:8, Colossians 3:23).

Disciple for Christ: A substantial part of learning is doing. You can listen to a talk about how to drive a car, but until you actually do it, you don’t know what it’s really like. You have been called to be a disciple for Christ, which means you are his advocate for his work in this world (1 John 3:18, 1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:5

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LifeShape 2 the Semi-Circle

This information is not original with me, but from a fascinating book I found entitled, “The Passionate Church: The Art of Life-Changing Discipleship.” Since I am a visual learner, I have included my personally designed diagrams along with my own notes to help in my disciple-making and teaching efforts.

We can rediscover the rhythm of life the Creator God intended for us in the principles of the semi-circle.

I am the vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prune it, that it may bear more fruit. –John 15:1-2

God designed us to be productive, but we have become human “doings” rather than human “beings.”

As we read Genesis, we tend to learn that mankind is working for six days, then we rest from our work on the seventh day. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy made the top ten list. The truth from the semi-circle teaches that we must live in this rhythm of life in order to be productive.

We must start from a place of resting, resting and abiding in God. All living things grow, so in order to be productive we must live in the rhythm of the semi-circle. So, rather than resting from our work, we must learn to work from our rest! Abide in God, produce fruit, grow, then prune (in order to grow more fruit).

Work is not a part of the curse, Adam was to work in the garden even before the fall. We are designed for intentional activity. The authors make an interesting point:

  1. Unemployment causes our lives to fall below what is standard. One has thus fallen from the God-given call to lead a productive life. The focus on productivity and usefulness are lost, as though they are no longer being fully human.
  2. There is no such thing as retirement. If you leave your job is voluntary, it will not be long before you feel the onset of depression. No amount of golf or fishing can take the place of being fruitful.
  3. There must be work in heaven, not just an endless worship service. Before the fall there was work, so there must be work after the redemption. This is a foreshadow of the life to come. Work is a strategic part of the human experience.

Growing grapes in the first century allowed the vines to be unproductive for the first three years. If fruit tried to grow it was cut off, because the vines were not yet strong enough to support the load of the fruit. We must learn about God and ourselves during this pruning time.

Called to Rest

  1. We are to work from our rest, not rest from our work.
  2. Rest is not optional if we are to walk in the lifestyle of a disciple.
  3. We cannot bear fruit is we do not spend time abiding.
  4. Aren’t we supposed to be pressing forth with all our energy to do the work of the kingdom? In a word, no.
  5. We find grace in being who God made us to be.

How Jesus Rested in this Rhythm of Life

  1. Resting through extended times of retreat (Mark 1:12-13)
  2. Regular daily times of quiet resting with the Lord (Mark 1:35-39)
  3. Teaching the disciples to rest (Mark 6:30-32)

Other examples…

  1. Jesus alone at the lake before teaching – Mark 2:13
  2. Jesus withdraws with his disciples – Mark 3:7
  3. Jesus goes to the mountainside and calls his disciples – Mark 3:13
  4. Jesus leaves the crowds and gets into the boat – Mark 4:35
  5. Jesus at the lake/hillside – Mark 5:1
  6. Jesus crosses the lake to the other side – Mark 5:21
  7. Jesus sends the disciples ahead, dismisses the crowd and goes to the mountain to pray – Mark 6:45-46

Why We Need Small Groups

King’s Grant is all about community, but how can we get to know each other if all we do is attend a corporate worship experience. Face it, there’s not much fellowship happening when all we do is look at the back of someone’s head! Being a part of a small group is perhaps the most beneficial things we can do for our spiritual health. Here is a list of six reasons why we need small groups:

It’s the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family:

It’s a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love. You learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the connection God intends for us to have (Ephesians 4:16, Romans 12:4–5, Colossians 2:19, 1 Corinthians 12:25).

REAL fellowship is being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16). This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects you to show other believers—loving them in the same way Jesus loves you.

A small group helps me develop spiritual muscle:

You’ll never grow to maturity just by attending worship services and being a passive spectator. One of the main tools of spiritual growth is participation in a small group, where your spiritual muscles get a regular workout. “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16).

Over fifty times in the New Testament the phrase “one another” or “each other” is used. We‘re commanded to love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each other, greet each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, honor each other, bear each other’s burdens, forgive each other, submit to each other, be devoted to each other, and many other mutual tasks! These are your “family responsibilities” if you claim to be a part of God’s family.

Who are you doing these with? Isolation breeds self-deception. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re mature if there is no one to challenge us. Real maturity shows up in relationships. We need more than the Bible in order to grow; we need other believers. When others share what God is teaching them, I learn and grow too!

A small group confirms my identity as a genuine believer:

I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). When we come together in love as a small group from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and social status, it’s a witness to the world (Galatians 3:28, John 17:21).

You’re not the Body of Christ on your own. You need others to express that. Together, not separated, we are his Body (1 Corinthians 12:27).

A small group is the best way to take my God-given mission into the world:

When Jesus walked the earth, even he had a small group! Today the church is Christ’s Body on earth. We’re not just to love each other; we’re to take that love together to the rest of the world. We are his hands, his feet, his eyes, and his heart. He works through us in the world “He creates each of us to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing” (Ephesians 2:10).

A small group will help keep me from spiritually backsliding:

None of us are immune to temptation. Given the right situation, you and I are capable of any sin. God knows this, so he has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track. The Bible says, “Encourage one another daily … so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).

“Mind your own business” is NOT a Christian idea when it comes to helping each other! We’re commanded to be involved in each other’s lives. If you know someone who is wavering spiritually right now, it’s your responsibility to go after them and bring them back into the fellowship. “If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back” (James 5:19).

Related to this is the benefit that being connected to a small group provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives shepherd leaders, the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock (Acts 20:28–29; 1 Peter 5:1–4; Hebrews 13:7, 17). “Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God” (Hebrews 13:17).

If you’re detached from the King’s Grant body of believers, we cannot be responsible for you. If you are unplugged from the life of the body and isolated from the fellowship of God’s family, Satan knows you’ll be defenseless and powerless against his tactics.

The Body of Christ needs me!

You have a background and experiences that other people can learn from and draw strength from! God has a unique role for you to play in his family. This is called your “ministry,” and God has gifted you for this assignment. “A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Your small group is the place God designed for you to discover, develop, and use your spiritual gifts and talents.

* Adapted from the original author, Rick Warren.