Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 1) — by Manik Corea

No one made disciples like Jesus!

Incredibly, Jesus, who never traveled more than 200 miles from where He was born, launched a global movement from scratch that has no equal in history. And He did it without writing a book, founding a school or university or conquering with an army.

How? He chose twelve men and concentrated most of His time and focus on them.[1] Rather than leveraging the crowds that flocked to Him or taking political advantage of His popularity and the ferment of national aspirations, He refused to bring God’s rule in by force or pander to anything but a heavenly perspective (see Matthew 16:23).

Jesus was instead looking to make disciples and subjects of His one-of-a-kind Kingdom, not raise up a rebel army to fight those of the earth. He was the Suffering Servant come to save us from our sins, not an all-conquering ruler coming to re-assert God’s rightful reign on the earth – that is reserved for His return.

Consider the men He picked – they were not from the high echelons of their society – the ‘Who’s Who?’ of their day. He chose in effect, nobodies – the ‘who?’ of common stock.

Among the twelve were wet, clueless fishermen, a few political zealots and the odd tax collector. They ‘smelled of fish and revolution’ as one writer put it.

Yes, Jesus chose them and gave them front-row seats and back-stage passes for the 3 or so years of His ministry.

In doing so, he gave us principles and a pattern for continuing the same task he now calls us to – of making of disciples after Him.

As I considered the Gospel accounts of Jesus and his method of preparing and raising disciples, 5 things that Jesus did consistently stand out. If we are to make disciples with the same goals, means and mettle as Jesus, then let us consider and imitate how he did it, so that we can do the same.

1) Invitation – at the heart of God’s Gospel to us is an invitation and a call to ‘come to Him’ for salvation: forgiveness, hope and healing. But discipleship is also a call to follow. When Jesus begun His earthy ministry, after a night of prayer, He chose the twelve from among an already a larger group of disciples. In fact, He appointed them to be with Him (see Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1 and Luke 6:12-16).

Likewise, we need to be actively and prayerfully seeking people that we can reach out to and disciple (as well as those who may disciple us). To be a disciple who makes other disciples, you have to be actively looking for someone else to walk with. Invite them to meet and journey with you – once a week at the least, but regularly and as consistently as possible- to pray, read the Word and help each other be and make disciples of others.

I have found in my own life that if I’m not active in finding and meeting with others to disciple, I begin, by default and sinful bent, to stall in my walk with the Lord and to begin to pander to my own needs and desires.

Model – Jesus spent countless days and nights with this group of 12 throughout their apprenticeship. They got to see, hear and experience close up what many of us can only dream of or imagine. Jesus taught by repetition, remark and revelation, through the situations they encountered and amidst challenges that arose. He told unforgettable stories; he demanded their obedience and trust, and he left an indelible pattern on their minds and hearts.

But most of all, he showed them how He wanted them to live, by his life and example. And most people need to be shown, not just to be told. That’s why true discipleship is always a ‘show and tell’ endeavor in the Scriptures.

We are all likewise called to live like Jesus, to model a way of life to those we lead and are discipling. ‘Follow me, as I follow Christ’ was how Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 11:1.

As I have learnt, you can teach all you know, but you will reproduce who you are, whether in your child/ren or in those you disciple. More is caught than taught. So, like Jesus, we make disciples best by modelling and living out what we teach and proclaim.

As John Maxwell said, a true leader knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.

Next week, we will explore the next 3 disciple-making principles Jesus consistently followed.

 


[1] While the Gospels are mostly selective accounts excepted out of the life and ministry of Jesus during his adult life, more than 60% of the Gospel of Mark is the record of Jesus being alone with his disciples.

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Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 1) — by Manik Corea

Family or Business? (By Isaac Lasky)

All of humanity is on a search for identity and meaning in their lives. Christians find their identity fundamentally in their relationship to God as Father. However our sinful nature does not allow to live that out unchallenged. Additionally, even among faithful Christians, there is a real temptation to find our identity, value and meaning in what we do for God rather than who we are in Him.

We may look like we are passionate, on-fire disciples, but we lack integrity and have misplaced our loyalty when, in effect, we have traded a ‘family’ relationship with God for a ‘business’ relationship with Him.

Tim Keller in his sermon ‘Basis of prayer: Our Father’ (1995)[i] shares very powerful truth about the difference between a family relationship and a business relationship and how we can know which one we have with God.

He says that there are, broadly speaking, two categories of relationship in our world today – business and family.

Business relationships are relationships that are built on an exchange of services. For example, a landlord rents out a house to a tenant, in exchange for a financial return. Your barber cuts your hair in exchange for money. The relationship exists because it is mutually beneficial for both parties. If one party does not keep up their side of the deal, the relationship is terminated and another similar relationship sought. There is also limited access in such a relationship. You can only request or expect communication about things that pertain to the business transaction.

In contrast, family relationships are built on an exchange of love. The relationship is not dependent on what the people do but rather who the people are. In a family relationship you have access to each other’s lives and seek to help and support each other in whatever way possible.

If you barber gives you a bad haircut it’s the end of the relationship and you get a new barber. But if your son breaks the window you get a new window, not seek a new son!

You can ask your mechanic to fix your car but you can’t ask him to help pay for your wedding. But you can ask your Dad to help fix your car and can ask him to help pay for your wedding.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray to God as ‘Our Father’, it shows us that we are to relate to God as within a family relationship, and not a business relationship. In this, we have unprecedented access to the Father. Thus, we can ask for daily bread, deliverance from temptation, forgiveness of sins and whatever else we need. How incredible it is that we can call the awesome, sovereign and Holy Lord of Heaven ‘our Father’!

So, how do we know with which type of relationship – business or family – do we primarily relate to God with? Think about the last time you didn’t get a prayer answered in the way you wanted. How did you react and feel?

If you felt God was treating you unfairly (‘I did my part but you didn’t do yours’) or felt guilty (‘I’ve failed to please you so how can I expect you to hear my prayers’) then you are equating an unanswered (or differently-answered) prayer to a breakdown in an exchange of services.

We are then treating God like He owes, rather than owns us. We have reduced our prayer life to a formulae to get what we want from Him.

Evidence of a family relationship on the other hand would be when we approach God with love, humility and submission. We say like our Lord Jesus, ‘Lord, not my will but your will be done.’ ‘I know you are a good Father whose ways are higher than my ways.’ ‘Give me what I would pray for if I had your infinite power and infinite wisdom.’

What kind of relationship do you have with your Lord? Business or Family?

 


[i] You can listen to it at: https://player.fm/series/timothy-keller-sermons-podcast-by-gospel-in-life-83408/basis-of-prayer-our-father

Family or Business? (By Isaac Lasky)

Lasting fruitfulness (By Revd Manik Corea)

How fruitful you are for Christ depends on how faithfully and strongly connected you are connected to Christ.

There is an anecdotal story told of George Whitfield, the great English evangelist who preached to hundreds of thousands on both sides of the Atlantic. He was asked how many were converted after one particular evangelistic campaign. ‘We’ll know in five years,’ he replied

No fruit is instant. It must grow over time. Genuine, God-cultivated fruit will be shown in the way we live out our lives, in all of its dimensions

We typically name a tree according to its fruit. Indeed, Jesus said the fruits of our lives will identify us as genuine followers – or not (Matthew 7:15-20).

It is a sign of us being His true disciples. In John 15:8, Jesus proclaims: ‘By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to by my disciples.’

The context of Jesus’ statement here is the famous analogy of the vine and branches (John 15). His point is clear: branches (i.e. us) must stay connected and receive life giving sap from the vine (i.e. Him) in order to produce fruit of the vine. The Gardener will sometimes prune the branches, as painful a process as that might be, in order in time to make the vine even more fruitful. However, fruitless branches are removed and burned.

God is looking for fruit in our lives. The fruit is not for the tree, but for the gardener.

What then is this fruit that we are to show forth? Is it the inner spiritual growth into Christ-likeness within the life of the disciple (Galatians 5:22-23)? Or is Jesus speaking of more visible and outward growth and the works of faith in our lives? What about making other disciples?

It could well be argued from the context that Jesus in mind outward manifestations of that inward reality of our lives connected with him – that is, the words and works we say and do in His name, which are the result of abiding in His love, and obeying His word. Theologian Don Carson suggests ‘(t)he fruit is everything done in conformity to the will of Jesus Christ.’[1]

Chief of these works are that we be witnesses and disciple-makers in the world.

Pastor John Piper argues that the broad definition of ‘fruit’ here must include the making of new disciples – arguing from John 4:25,26 for the analogous use of ‘fruit’ to refer to the harvest of people for eternal life.[2]

In Scripture, a ‘fruitful vine’ is sometimes used as a picture of great productivity and blessing.[3]In Psalm 128:3, the word ‘fruitful vine’ is spoken of the wife of the man who fears God and is blessed with many children. It is not hard to see then that Jesus has in mind the growth and multiplication of disciples (our ‘spiritual children’) as the fruit we are to produce in his kingdom (see Matthew 21:43).

In NAMS, we have long contended that we’ll know we’ve ‘made’ a disciple, when he/she seeks to make another. The disciple is starting to bear fruit.

So, if we are to be fruitful disciple-makers that ‘bear much fruit’ and prove to be his disciples, then we must persevere in staying connected to the vine that is Jesus and seeking to be fruitful in our disciple-making for Him.

How are you bearing fruit for Jesus today?

 

If you would like to learn and be helped to be a faithful Christian in your local context, who is learning to make other disciples and become fruitful, you may like to be a NAMS Centurion with us. Go to www.namscenturion.com or write to us at info@namsnetwork.com to find out more.

 

 


[1] The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Evangelical Exposition of John 14-17; D A Carson; Baker Books: 1980, pg 111

[2] https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/i-chose-you-to-bear-fruit

[3] For example, as used of Joseph in Genesis 49:22 or of Israel in Ezekiel 19:10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Evangelical Exposition of John 14-17; D A Carson; Baker Books: 1980, pg 111

 

[2] https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/i-chose-you-to-bear-fruit

[3] For example, as used of Joseph in Genesis 49:22 or of Israel in Ezekiel 19:10.

Lasting fruitfulness (By Revd Manik Corea)

The Next Companion? ( by Jon Shuler)

One of the central commitments of a NAMS Companion is to pray and labor in the Lord so that other men and women become Companions. We believe that Companions are called to change the world. How are we doing?

My years with NAMS have taught me that finding new Companions takes intentionality. We must look for signs that someone is being called to join us. But “seeing” them is not enough, we must ask them to join us. But first we need to recognize that God leads most of us through stages to a life calling, and we must be sensitive to where people are in their journey. It can take years to find God’s unique call for a lifetime.

These stages always begin when we meet someone who desires to be a disciple-making disciple of Christ Jesus, and we begin to disciple them. Many will go on to fruitful and faithful lives according to other specific ministries and callings, as the Lord directs, but some may be called to NAMS. What else do we look for?

Most of all we look to see if their heart for the Lord includes a growing awareness of the centrality of the Final Command (Mt 28:19)? Do they believe that they are obeying it where they now live, worship, and serve, or has the Holy Spirit lifted their “eyes up to the harvest” beyond them? For these ones, we have a special calling to pursue.

I have learned that the best next step is usually to explain the NAMS Centurion Project www.namscenturion.com and invite them to pray about joining us. This project is building an extended network of NAMS coworkers, who specifically undertake to be part of the wider community of Companions by beginning to live a simple “rule of life” derived from the NAMS Rule for Companions. There are divisions for men, women, and couples, but all start to walk a simple path of giving, praying and serving alongside NAMS Companions right where they live. These NAMS Centurions are becoming the very backbone of our global mission and ministry.

Another path, for younger and generally single disciples, is to join the NAMS Global Apprentice Program (GAP), and agree to serve for a year, or even two, in some part of the global NAMS mission field. This is an intense commitment, of course, but is sometimes the clearest sign God will give that we have found a future NAMS Companion, who will serve with us for life. Is GAP for you?

Perhaps the next most critical step, however, is that which leads someone to help us to found a base community somewhere in the world. A NAMS Base Community (NBC) is an intentional Christian community dedicated to modeling, incubating, training, and sending church planting missionaries into the harvest fields of the Lord Jesus. Led always by a small band of Companions,we pray daily to first have one of these NBCs in the fifteen mission mega regions of the world, and someday, in every nation on earth. We believe our NBCs are helping fulfill God’s plan to bring in the kingdom.

Are you called to be one of us? Will you help us change the world?

The Next Companion? ( by Jon Shuler)

Listen Slowly (by Revd Manik Corea)

How good are you at listening to your Lord?

Writer and pastor Chuck Swindoll tells of a particularly frantic time in his life when he was flustered and hurried by many appointments and commitments. He was gulping down his food at family meal-times, being short-tempted and irritated with his family and getting annoyed by unplanned interruptions. His family members began to get affected by his increased stress.

One evening, his youngest daughter said she wanted to tell him about something that happened at school that day, but said she would tell him ‘really fast.’ Realizing her frustration, he calmed her down and said, ‘Honey, you don’t have to rush. You can say it slowly.’ Swindoll says he’ll never forget her retort: ‘Then listen slowly.”

Are we listening ‘slowly’ to God?

Being a disciple of Jesus involves developing a keen sense of hearing – giving our undivided attention to the voice of God.

The listening ear is a door for faith to enter.

Thus Paul wrote ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). The Gospel must first be told us and heard and understood, to have effect.

But listening to God in Scripture must be a precursor to actual obedience and submission, or we will be condemned as many a Scripture warns (see Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46; John 14:24; James 2:26; etc). Thus hearing and obedience are intimately linked in the Scripture.

I was surprised to learn recently that there is no Hebrew word that translates directly to the English word ‘obey’. The Hebrew word that most often equates to our English ‘obey’ is the word ‘shema’ which literally means to ‘hear’. However, this means more than just audibly receiving communication, but most often carries the meaning of ‘paying attention to’ and especially, ‘responding to what is heard.’[1]

Hebrew words typically stress concrete action, as opposed to Greek works which are more abstract. Thus, we understand ‘hearing’ as understanding or receiving a communication, whereas the Hebrews immediately made the link to obedience and action.

In a similar way, when a mother says to her child ‘You’re not really listening!’ she typically doesn’t mean her child has not heard her, but has not obeyed her.

To Jesus and then Jews, having ears is not simply a matter of being able to hear. It is a matter of being able to also understand and obey what is heard. Hence, Jesus so very often ended his sermons with the Hebraism, ‘to him who has ears, let him hear.’[2] He was looking for a right response.

As James so clearly and pithily instructs in James 1:22, ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.’

And so, a simple definition of discipleship could be as follows: ‘A disciple is one who seeks everyday of his life to hear and obey Jesus’ words.’

To do what Jesus wants, we must truly ‘shema’ His Words.

Often. Carefully. Slowly.

 


[1] See this enlightening Word Study video on the word ‘Shema’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=190&v=6KQLOuIKaRA

[2] Matthew 11:5; 13:9,43; Mark 4:9,23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35 cf Deuteronomy 29:4; Ezekiel 12:2).

Listen Slowly (by Revd Manik Corea)

Mending our Nets (by Pastor Prince Thomas)

Recently, the Lord has been teaching me some lessons from Luke Chapter 5:1-11, about ‘net breaking blessings’. In this passage, we read the very interesting story of Peter working hard and fishing all night but catching nothing. Although he would have been very discouraged and upset, we read in verse 2 that he and the other fishermen were nevertheless still washing and mending their nets for another try. What are some lessons?

Firstly He was mending his net. After fishing all night, Peter’s net might have been torn or damaged. Fishermen need to repair their nets before they go to their work again. If there is big hole in the net, the fish may easily escape after being caught. One of the questions I felt the Lord ask me was “If there is a big hole in the net, would Peter have received his big miracle from God?” Even if God should grant, as He did, a big catch, the fish would not be free. God is waiting for us to mend our nets before He performs miracles in our lives.

Peter mended his broken net. This is the basic requirement for a divine breakthrough. Many of us want God to use us or bless us. But do we take the time to examine or check ourselves to see if we need repairs done in areas of our walk and relationship with God, with family, leaders, the church or anyone else?

It is sad in our day to hear preachers interpret the Word according to popular fads and lifestyle.  There is an abundance of people-pleasing sermons where themes like sin, judgment, forgiveness and the righteousness of God are not heard. They are not popular messages compared to topics like blessings and breakthrough. But we must preach the Gospel and the message of salvation inside and outside our churches.

David prayed in Psalms 26:2, ‘Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.’ (KJV)

When prodigal son returned to father in Jesus’ parable in Luke 15:21, he confessed his sins to his father. Forgiveness always brings Transformation.

Second we see Peter obeyed what Jesus asked him to do. Though he knew very well that there were few or no fish to be caught by that sea shore, he did not argue. Instead he simply obeyed what Jesus asked of him. And he found the net was full of fishes. Obedience is better than sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22).

A net breaking blessing is awaiting us if we are able mend our nets (i.e. examine ourselves, repent) and obey the word of Jesus. May the Lord help us to do both and be blessed of Him.

 

— Prince Thomas is a NAMS Companion serving in Haryana, North India.
He has been involved in starting and leading an a vibrant church-planting movement there for the last 20 years. He is originally from Kerala, South India.

Mending our Nets (by Pastor Prince Thomas)

As long as it is called ‘Today’… (By Manik Corea)

There is always time to do what we truly want to do.

Occasionally, as my wife will testify, I have been known to rouse myself from sleep in the wee hours of the morning – not to pray or seek the Lord I am ashamed to confess – but to watch a game of football (soccer) that is being telecasted ‘live’ from the UK or somewhere in Europe to where I am based here in Bangkok, Thailand.

This takes determination and preparedness. I set the alarm, get up, make a cup of coffee and follow the game excited and wide awake, while all else in the house and around is quiet and dark.

All because I want to.

But ask me to do some other thing or stay up for some other event, and I may decline and claim I am too busy or simply don’t have the time.

We make time for the things that are most important to us.

What about the things of God? Any sane Christian will confess the highest place and priority of God in our lives. We sing lustily and wax lyrical about our love for him, like a fawning Peter before his tragic night of self-preserving denials.

No wonder A.W. Tozer once remarked, ‘Christians don’t lie – they just go to church and sing them!’

How often though we let other priorities and concerns hustle, steal away and hinder us from pursuing Jesus’ call and obeying His clear commands.

We live in an intrusive world brimming with distraction and temptation. A technological, sensual age provides rich soil for building a life based on convenience, self-concern and instant gratification.

We are also busy with so many things. Who among us have not been so occupied with temporary and urgent concerns as to put off till some further day, ultimate matters and that still small Voice?

We put off till tomorrow what He has called us to attend to today.

This is a prime tactic of the devil – to make us complacent and compromising towards the high cost and calling of being Kingdom-seeking disciples of Jesus.

There is an apocryphal story of a meeting in hell between the devil and 4 of his leading demons. They were discussing the best strategy to draw people away from God.

The first demon suggested denying the existence of God. Satan insisted that people who look at creation will find ample proof for God’s existence in the wonder, order and design of the universe.

The next demon suggested convincing people there was no heaven. Again, Satan suggested that most people have a suspicion and inner sense they cannot shake off that there must be life after death. They also have a longing for a place like heaven.

The third demon suggested that they convince people there is no hell. Satan countered that God has given every human being a conscience that tells them their sins will be judged. ‘We need a better lie’ said the devil.

The final demon said, ‘I’ve got it. We’ll just convince people there is no hurry.’

Complacency easily breeds a procrastinating proxy-faith of comfort and self-gratification and makes barren the womb of obedient acts.

Jesus once said to a dithering would-be disciple: ‘‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ (Luke 9:62)

That surely is the cure – the stark, unrelenting demand of God’s truth and claim upon us that will not let us have our easy way out at the expense of His glory, plan and purpose.

May God make us disciples who hear and obey without question or delay.

‘Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ (Hebrews 3:15).

 

As long as it is called ‘Today’… (By Manik Corea)