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Devotions > Discipleship and Revival

Deny yourself
5 Jan 2012


If we are to be prepared to make the most of the revival that God has planned for Central Indiana, we must to begin to develop our skills for and our propensity to engage in the practice of making disciples who make disciples.   I am far from experienced in this practice, but as an observer it seems that in most churches there are believers in three or four camps.   First there are those who have no desire whatsoever to make disciples.    Then there are some who seem to be interested in obedience to Jesus’ command to make disciples, but are somewhat stuck in the mode of researching what it all means.   There are a few exceptional souls who are doing concrete work in the direction of making disciples. But finding those who are intentionally making disciples that are making disciples is as rare as finding freshly picked morel mushrooms in Mid-March.

Jesus commanded us to make disciples.   Since this clear and concise command was made to us and also to our disciples it seems not a stretch to conclude that He desires us to make disciples who soon learn to make disciples.   God devised a simple plan.   Jesus discipled eleven men who along with some others empowered by the Holy Spirit, discipled others who then discipled still others.  

We often hear the question, why does the Church have so little impact on our current culture?   Could the answer be that there are so few true disciples, the world at large has no concept of what a disciple of Jesus Christ looks like?   Jesus gave us some clear coaching concerning how to make disciples.   We are to follow Him and become His disciple.

What does this mean?   How do we follow Him and become His disciple? 

Matthew 16:24 (AMP)   Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].

Jesus said that there are three things we must do to become His disciple:  deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Let’s examine each of these individually.  First to deny ourselves:  It has been said that until we deny ourselves we cannot follow anyone.   We will inevitably keep getting in the way of ourselves.  We must come to grips with which of us is the potter and who is the clay.  The requirement for denying ourselves is not a momentary matter but a commitment to developing a life style of denial of self.  This is probably the most difficult aspect of becoming a disciple of Jesus, and may be the key to the question posed above …. Where are the true disciples who make disciples? 

The second, pick up your cross daily, has been subject to many different interpretations and applications.    It is my sense that since we know Jesus was born for and called to die on the cross, perhaps our cross is the thing that we were born for and called by God to do.    It may be hard or heavy or hideous, but if it is our call from God, it is probably our cross.   Herein hides a second difficulty.    In order to understand the details of our cross and its bearing, we must be in daily or sometimes hourly communication with our Father.   This communication is not so much our talking but primarily listening for His direction and then obeying instantaneously.  Cross bearing is never about our interests, or honor or glory.   Cross bearing is about being in continuous sync with the will and purpose of God.   Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 There is good news; Jesus never meant for us to carry our cross alone.   Even Jesus had help carrying His cross.  He said come unto Me.  In effect, He said if we will learn from Him and stay really close, as if we are yoked together, then He will insure that our cross in not too heavy to bear.   When we really take Jesus’ yoke upon us we will only go where Jesus would go, and only look on things that Jesus would look upon, and only say the things that Jesus would say.  Is it no wonder that He said that we need to learn from Him humility and gentleness?

The last of these three is to follow Him.   Jesus made disciples of eleven men who responded to His call, “Follow Me.”   He then called these eleven men to make disciples who would make disciples.   This was His only plan to win the world.   It is so simple.  It did not require much money, sophisticated electronics or even large gatherings.   In the church culture of today we seem to be much more dedicated to figuring out Jesus than following Him.   In a skilled dancing pair there is always one who creates and one who follows.   The one who follows is focused on one thing only: The leader.   The leader must see the entire dance floor.  He must know the boundaries and barriers.   The follower needs only to recognize the moves of the initiator.   While dancing there is a certain intimacy that provides for leading and following.   Without real intimacy we will never become proficient in following Jesus.

It seems that God is giving us two instructions regarding His coming revival.  The first is to pray, the second is to prepare.  May our God lead and guide you as you attempt to follow Him. 

Jeff Williams