Questions for Journaling
What is my favorite method to “indulge myself with delight in the Lord”?
Where and when do I feel closest to God? How can I make more time in my life to meet Him there?
If I could tell someone only one thing about God, what would it be? Is that the focus of my life? Should it be?
Life is a Gift to be Shared With Others
Read John 1:35-40 (NIV)
Andrew was an interesting disciple. Several times we see him in Scripture, and most often he is telling someone about Jesus. That was his first act upon meeting Jesus. He went to get his brother, who became a rock of a man in his faith. Andrew got it right: he found Jesus and immediately went to find others and tell them about their Savior.
Do you remember when you first fell in love with Jesus? Did you want to immediately share the good news with others? Have you let that first love be impacted by just living?
It’s time to remember how you began your relationship and find those roots of undeniable love—love that is so full, it makes you feel excited and ready to burst with its goodness.
Are you willing to make that commitment today? Discipleship is not for the faint, but you don’t have to rely on your own strength. God will give you all you need to truly be His disciple.
Questions (Can be answered as individuals in journals or as a group.)
How can I, today, make the ultimate commitment to become a true disciple of the Lord?
What will I do when I become discouraged? What plan can I make to remember my first love—and follow it fully into true discipleship?
DISCIPLE IN ACTION
Make a list of places that you frequent where you can share the good news of God’s love. The most important first step is making friends. Letting others know you care is the most effective way to disciple. “I’m praying for you,” is easy to say, but make sure you mean it. Then find other, more practical ways to show your love. Most people will be receptive to this and be thankful for your friendship. Jesus cared about others’ needs, and then He presented the gospel. Find ways you can show others that you truly care. You can also tell your own stories. Share what God has given you. Letting others know you are doing this for God is a good way to share His love.
How would you need to change your approach to share the gospel at work? Sometimes you just need to start out simple—and then move forward. Tracts are a good way to introduce others to your faith. Basic facts about God’s love can be shared almost anywhere: you can put them into the canister of your bank, place them on the table at a restaurant, leave them at a hospital. Look for everyday ways to make a simple difference.
Include God in every aspect of your life. That is what discipleship is all about.
In our busy lives, things don’t usually get done unless they are planned. Right now, set aside time this week to tell someone about Jesus. Who will it be? Don’t leave it to chance; plan it. People respond to people. Discipleship is all about others. You share your good news, and then help them in turn to share what God has done. It’s an endless ring, but a joyful one, especially as you see the ones you have shared with, share with others. It’s too easy to neglect this duty as a disciple. So brainstorm now on ways that you can share the gospel with someone right away. Then do it.
From the Pen of Ellen G. White
“As long as we are in this world, we must be linked one with another. Humanity is interlaced and interwoven with humanity. As Christians we are members one of another. . . . The Lord designs us as His sons and daughters, whom He calls His friends, to help one another. This is to be a part of our practical Christian work” (Our High Calling, p.184).
Session 3: To Seek Opportunities in all Daily Activities to Minister to Others
To seek opportunities in all daily activities to minister to others, I am:
inviting God to change me to bear the fruits of the Spirit.
choosing Jesus as a daily companion and sharing Him joyfully.
investing myself in service wherever the Holy Spirit leads.
carrying out my occupation as a calling to ministry.
building networks for friendship, fellowship, and support.
God wants you to share His love by ministering to others so that they, too, can experience His saving grace and develop a unique, deepening, love relationship with Him and in turn, minister to others.
Look: John 15:12 (see also John 8:31, 32; 13:35, 15:8)
Memorize: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
In this life, change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same. Only God remains the same, for He says, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). This means that none of His love, patience, mercy, or loving kindness will ever change toward us no matter how hopeless we may feel we are. As we open our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit, God will bring “gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely” (Galatians 5:22-23, The Message) as we minister to others.
At the very heart of the good news is the reality that Jesus has ushered us into an abundant, eternal kind of life that begins in the here and now and will reach its glorious climax when Jesus comes back to take us to His glorious kingdom. He has come that we might have life, and life to the full. This new kind of life is brought about by the transformation that the Holy Spirit initiates as He takes residency in our hearts. Centered in love, this new kind of life is marked by selfless service in the footsteps of the Master Himself.
1. The greatest law of life in the universe is the law of service. God provides for every living thing. Christ came to the earth to serve and give His life for humankind, and the angels are occupied in caring for the needs of humanity. The same law of service is seen throughout nature. The birds and animals, the trees, grass, and flowers, sun, moon, and stars all provide something of benefit to others.
Strive to live a life of service; go out of your way to be kind to someone. Kindness is rewarding. Giving is a condition of healthy living—a law of mental well-being. Getting our minds off ourselves and working for the good of others is just what we need to give us strength to get well. It also reminds us that we are not the only ones with problems.
There can be no growth or fruitfulness in the life that is centered in self. If you have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others. Talk of the love of Christ, tell of His goodness. Do every duty that presents itself. Carry the burden of souls upon your heart, and by every means in your power seek to save the lost. As you receive the Spirit of Christ—the Spirit of unselfish love and labor for others—you will grow and bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your character. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Gal. 5:22, 23. This fruit can never perish, but will produce after its kind a harvest unto eternal life. (White: Christ’s Object Lessons, pp 68, 69).
The most precious fruit of sanctification is the grace of meekness. When this grace presides in the soul, the disposition is molded by its influence. There is a continual waiting upon God and a submission of the will to His. (White: The Sanctified Life, p.14).
As His representatives among men, God does not choose angels who have never fallen, but human beings, men of like passions with those they seek to save. Christ took humanity that He might reach humanity. A divine-human Saviour was needed to bring salvation to the world. And to men and women has been committed the sacred trust of making known “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (White: The Acts of the Apostles, 134).
Upon close examination of the fruits of the Spirit, you will see that the character attributes of these fruits fall into three categories. The first three are a direct result of our growing relationship with God—love, joy, and peace, the greatest and most fundamental of these being love, so that we can represent Christ to the world.
Joy and peace are the companions of love, for a heart and mind governed by love cannot help but exude happiness that seeks to be shared with others. Hence, the next three attributes—patience, kindness, and goodness.
As God is patient with us, so must we be patient with others as they grow and develop their Christian characters. Only as we become secure in our experiential love of God will we be able to perform random acts of kindness without seeking a reward; we can share a smile to brighten one’s day, or we can speak an encouraging word to a despondent soul. Thus will our goodness shine forth as the noonday.
Finally, as we relate to others in love, our faith will continue to grow and our humility will increase as we witness the incredible ways in which God will use us to bless others. We will also learn to be temperate as we reveal the fruits of the Spirit within our lives.
2. A true disciple recognizes and responds to the needs of God’s suffering children in the local community and around the world.
As we study the life and method of Jesus while on earth, we see that He went to the people and ministered to them. Thus, He was accused by the Scribes and Pharisees of hanging out with winebibbers and persons of ill repute. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
As did Jesus, we must be willing to invest our time, talents, and means wherever the Holy Spirit might lead. As we become sensitive to the physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs in the local community, we can respond mercifully as individuals or as a church to these needs as they are discovered. We are to speak out and act to relieve suffering and injustice in society. We must determine to reduce human suffering by being a faithful steward of God’s creation.
The Saviour ministered to both the soul and the body. The gospel which He taught was a message of spiritual life and of physical restoration. Deliverance from sin and the healing of disease were linked together (White: Ministry of Healing, p. 112).
True, godly ministry will illustrate and coincide with the character and mission of Christ. These teachings will shape one’s worldview, relationships, and impact one’s purpose and mission in the Christian life. Thus, God has given to us the opportunity to be co-laborers with Him in making disciples for the kingdom of heaven.
When, as erring, sinful beings, we come to Christ and become partakers of His pardoning grace, love springs up in the heart. Every burden is light, for the yoke that Christ imposes is easy. Duty becomes a delight, and sacrifice a pleasure. The path that before seemed shrouded in darkness, becomes bright with beams from the Sun of Righteousness. (White: Steps to Christ, p.59)
3. A true disciple will promote the ministry of service by building networks for friendship, fellowship, and support.
As Jesus ascended into heaven He asked the disciples to go witness in Judea, and in Samaria, and into the uttermost part of the earth, and witness they did. They went about making so many disciples to the point that they became known as Christians. The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ. Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came close together in Christian fellowship. They drew nearer and nearer to God. (White: God’s Amazing Grace, p. 191).
God is asking that we do the same. Pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare you to reach others for Christ, choose to be aware of the spiritual climate locally and globally, and find ways to use your spiritual gifts to help tell the world the story of Jesus. Each of us must be able to give a reason for our faith when asked and be willing to share the story of our personal relationship with Jesus with community members, family, friends, and co-workers.
Share: What are five factors that can prevent me from effectively ministering to others?
List three fruits of the Spirit that have already helped me in ministering to others.
List one aspect of ministry that one should do each day as a disciple of Christ.
Reflecting God’s Character in Ministering to Others
The character of God is expressed in ten attributes that are the standard for His disciples. Satan has succeeded in perverting those attributes and has been able to execute his plan of making them void through the fall of humankind, which has resulted in sin and our sinful natures. However, a strong connection with God will produce spiritual growth and the fruits of holiness, which will be made manifest in the life of the disciple.
The loveliness of the character of Christ will be seen in His followers. It was His delight to do the will of God. Love to God, zeal for His glory, was the controlling power in our Savior’s life. Love beautified and ennobled all His actions. Love is of God. The unconsecrated heart cannot originate or produce it. It is found only in the heart where Jesus reigns. "We love, because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19, R.V. In the heart renewed by divine grace, love is the principle of action. It modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love, cherished in the soul, sweetens the life and sheds a refining influence on all around (Steps to Christ, p. 59)
We can be encouraged that God has not left us without guidance. If we trust in Him and are willing to follow His leading through the Holy Spirit, He will “direct our path” and “guide us into all truth.” After all, these are expressions of His character, so He will make Himself personally responsible for the sincere soul to know the truth about Him.
Identify a biblical character who best demonstrated the character of Christ.
Identify someone you know who demonstrates the essence of Christ’s character.
Ministering through Music
Music can have an impact upon the way we see Jesus. Therefore, its character should reflect the attributes of Christ’s character in order to turn the mind heavenward.
“The value of song as a means of education should never be lost sight of. Let there be singing in the home, of songs that are sweet and pure, and there will be fewer words of censure and more of cheerfulness and hope and joy. Let there be singing in the school, and the pupils will be drawn closer to God, to their teachers, and to one another. . . Singing is as much an act of worship as is prayer. Indeed, many a song is prayer” (Education, pp. 167, 168).
God has given to humankind the gift of music. It is clear that music will have consequences both now and through eternity. If one is heaven–bound, the character of one’s music should resemble, as nearly as possible, that which represents the character of the Savior and of heaven.
“Song is a weapon that we can always use against discouragement. As we thus open the heart to the sunlight of the Savior’s presence, we shall have health and His blessing” (Ministry of Healing p. 254).
Share an experience where you or someone else’s musical rendition ministered to the souls of the hearers in such a way that you could feel the Spirit of God surrounding you.
Apply and Integrate: List three ways in which you can improve your ministry.
In order for me to grow spiritually, bear the fruits of the Spirit, and minister effectively, I must connect with God every day—not just one day a week. God’s Word will be rooted and grounded within me through Bible study, worship, and songs that reinforce the themes necessary for this spiritual growth.
What lifestyle changes have I made in an attempt to behold Jesus, abide in Him, and grow more Christ-like?
What fruits of the Spirit have I recently seen developing within me?
What are some of the biblical teachings on ministry that illustrate the character and mission of Christ?
How does my lifestyle impact my ministry?
What is my worldview, my purpose, my mission?
How can I participate in ministry in my community?
How can I effectively use music to minister to the unchurched?
Choosing God First
Sometimes we do not understand or just plain forget to consider God’s perspective of how to effectively minister. Although He has promised to “guide us into all truth,” we are guilty of manufacturing substitutes instead of asking Him first for guidance and help. He wants us to seek Him first and in turn, He will “supply all [our] needs” for an effective ministry.
DISCIPLE IN ACTION
Share with your spiritual partner a change that you will make during the coming week to enhance your relationship with God in order to minister more effectively.
Choose with your spiritual partner an aspect of ministry to begin training in and how you will implement it.
Pray that God will help you to minister effectively via the time, talents, and means He has given you.
Pray that God will make you fruitful in your ministry.
Pray for others who are interested in ministry.
Thank God for His blessings and the opportunities afforded for you through this discipleship program.
Session 4: Helping Believers Engage in a Transformational Devotional Life
To help believers engage in a transformational devotional life, I am showing others how to:
study the Bible to know Christ and to develop a biblical worldview.
communicate with God through prayer and Christian meditation.
participate in other Christian disciplines to be open to the Holy Spirit.
set priorities to allow for regular, quality devotional time.
seek spiritual growth opportunities with other believers.
Our relationship with God grows through Bible study and prayer, both personally and within a community of believers.
Personal Prayer: Matthew 7:7, Matthew 26:41, Philippians 4:6, James 5:13
Corporate Prayer: Acts 1:14, John 17:21, Acts 4:31, Jude 1:20
Intercessory Prayer: Romans 1:9, Ephesians 1:16, I Samuel 12:23
Memorize: “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT).
The very heart of your Christian life is personal devotion. Even if you have been a Christian only a short time, you probably were encouraged to have your own personal devotions. But what exactly does that mean? How do you have devotional time? Is it like meditation? Do you just sit there quietly with your Bible in front of you, hoping something will happen?
Many Christians feel perpetually guilty for not doing devotions, because they are not sure what they should do. If this is your experience, here are some suggestions for how to get started or improve your devotional time.
Bible Study: The Bible is God’s Word. Start a conversation with Him! There are a number of different ways to do this.
Read a one-year devotional Bible. These Bibles come in different versions but are organized so that if you read a section every day for a year you will finish the whole Bible. Rather than just start at the beginning and plow through to the end, many one-year Bibles are organized so that you read a section of Scripture along with a portion of Psalms and Proverbs every day.
Pick a book of the Bible. Choose a book of the Bible that you are interested in studying. Each day read a portion. Allow God’s Spirit to speak to you through the passage. It might be just a couple of verses, or maybe an entire section. Use underlining and highlighting to keep track of things that speak to you. Consult a Bible commentary, Bible concordance, and the writings of Ellen White to bring an added dimension to what you are studying.
Read a devotional book. This is probably the easiest way to get started. However, there is no substitute for being in the Word yourself.
Prayer Time: The biggest complaint made about prayer time is that people find that their mind wanders. Adding some structure to your prayers can make it easier to stay focused. Use whatever method works the best for you.
ACTS. This is an acronym that stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Each word is a type of prayer. Adoration is praise to God for just being God. Most praise songs fit this category. Confession is a time to not only confess your sins, but to listen and let God clean out your heart. Thanksgiving flows naturally from your understanding of who God is and what He has done for you. It is important to focus on being thankful and not just on what you need from God. Finally, bring your prayer requests to God in supplication. You can even organize your prayer requests to make it easier to remember. Start by praying for yourself and your immediate family, then move out in broader and broader circles, praying for work or school associates, extended family, friends, your local church, and even national issues. Many people keep a written prayer list so they don’t forget the names they want to pray for. It’s even easier to keep that list on a laptop or phone.
Write your prayers. Some people find it easier to stay on track if they journal every day. The nice thing about a journal is that you have a record of your spiritual journey to look back on.
Sing your prayers. Praise songs are a wonderful way to express your adoration for God. Singing brings you closer to heaven and lifts your spirits.
Pray out loud. If possible, say your prayers out loud. This should keep you awake and on track!