Imagine for a moment that somebody you love and care about is making some unwise or unhealthy decisions. (Maybe you don’t need to imagine it and you’re able to think of somebody rather quickly.)
How can you approach them to share your concern for them?
Some may try to avoid the discussion altogether. If you can avoid tension and conflict, then avoid it at all costs.
Some may confront the situation head-on. If something is true, then it’s OK to just share it. The truth is all that really matters, right?
But in most situations, neither of these approaches is best. By avoiding the discussion, you may find yourself judging them from a distance. By using the second approach, you may make the other person feel judged.
What’s the solution? Well, it isn’t easy. But you can never go wrong by sharing what is TRUE in a way that is both HELPFUL and KIND. Today, be intentional in being helpful and kind toward yourself and toward others.
Have you ever experienced somebody sharing a hard truth with you in a way that was both helpful and kind? What was that experience like?
Heavenly Father, I recognize that it’s easy to think of what’s true, but it isn’t always easy to share what’s true in ways that are both helpful and kind. Continue to help me grow in being helpful and kind toward myself and toward others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
In his book Everybody Always, Bob Goff writes, “God makes people, and people make issues, but people aren’t issues. They’re not projects either. People are people.”
Let’s be honest, there are times when…
…we see another person as the issue.
…we see another person as a project.
…we see another person as an object that needs to be ‘fixed’.
…we see people in ways that God does not see them.
But the Scriptures provide a very different way of seeing people. The Scriptures teach that all people are created by God (Genesis 1:26), in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) for the glory of God (Colossians 1:16). As such, God is inviting us each and every day to…
…see people as part of His grand creation.
…see people as something created in the image of God.
…see people as something created to reflect the glory of God.
Which of the above lists best represents how you see others?
What steps can you take today to see yourself as God sees you?
Similarly, what steps can you take today to help others see themselves in the same ways God sees them?
Heavenly Father, today’s reading helps me to see that I don’t always see myself as somebody created by You, in Your image, and for Your glory. Similarly, I don’t always practice seeing others in these ways. Help me to see myself and others as You do. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Imagine for a moment that you have a friend or family member for whom you’ve been praying for a long time. One day you feel led to share the Gospel with them and you enter the conversation prayerful that they’ll be receptive. But after you meet with them they respond by saying something like, “I really do appreciate your concern for me, but I admit it’s hard for me to want to be a Christian. All in all, I’ve found Christians to be some of the most judgmental people I’ve ever met.”
Unfortunately, the above scenario has the potential to become reality. There are those outside the faith who have observed or personally experienced a lot of judgment and condemnation from those who claim to be followers of Christ. Even worse, there are many within the faith who have experienced the same!
There may be many reasons for this, one being that we don’t take intentional time to really reflect and identify our own judgmental thoughts. Today, take some time to identify any judgmental thoughts you may have. Then, bless and encourage someone you’ve had judgmental thoughts toward.
How regularly do you find yourself seeing others and/or their behaviors through a lens of judgment or criticism?
Today, take the opportunity to bless and encourage someone you’ve had judgmental thoughts toward.
Heavenly Father, throughout my life I’ve discovered that there are consequences of seeing everything through a lens of judgment and criticism. Change my heart so that I live in love and not in judgment toward others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Fill in the blank with the first thing that comes to your mind: It’s easy to _______ but it’s difficult to _________. What words came to your mind?
You may say that it’s easy to eat junk food but it’s difficult to exercise. It’s easy to watch tv but it’s difficult to read a lengthy novel. It’s easy to drive during the day but it’s difficult to drive after nightfall. There are thousands, even tens of thousands of possibilities. But it’s unlikely that anybody will say It’s easy to love others but it’s difficult to judge others. If anything, the exact opposite is much more likely.
We find it easy to judge anybody who may look, think, or behave differently than we do. We may criticize others (even in our minds) for clothes they wear, the food they eat, or even the way they drive. But the life and ministry of Jesus showed that He wasn’t critical or judgmental toward others. Instead, He reached out to offer real compassion and love to those who were used to hearing criticism from others.
Today, pay close attention to your thoughts. What steps can you take to ensure you see others through a lens of love?
There’s no denying Jesus saw people through a lens of love. Who is someone in your life you need to see through the lens of love today? How will you do so?
Heavenly Father, I recognize that I often see others and/or their behaviors through a lens of judgment instead of through a lens of love. This week, help me to grow in seeing others as You see them. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Making disciples is something that can be done in a number of ways. But for the vast majority of people in our culture, making disciples is something that occurs relationally over time. As you get to know others and allow yourself to be known by others, you’re on the pathway of making disciples.
While there’s no simple checklist of what it looks like to make disciples, somebody recently shared with me (Pastor Justin) a daily checklist of their MIT’s, or “Most Important Tasks.” This list provides an excellent overview of what it looks like to regularly connect with God and to invest in the lives of others.
Daily MIT’s – Most Important Tasks
1) Connect with Jesus
2) Connect with People
3) Connect People to Jesus
4) Connect People to People
5) Connect People with their Purpose
What do you think? Is this a good model for how you can grow in making disciples?
Do you think the daily MIT’s is a good model for how you can grow in your understanding of God and follow through on Jesus’ command to make disciples? Explain your answer.
Heavenly Father, today I simply pray that You will continue to shape me into somebody who regularly connects with you, connects with people, connects people to You, connects people to people, and connects people with their purpose. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Have you ever sat down to read your Bible, and after reading over a passage had the thought, “I have no idea what I just read or why it’s important in my everyday life.” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s sometimes very difficult to read an ancient text that was written to an ancient people in an ancient culture who lived very different lives than we do.
But just because a passage may be difficult to understand, it doesn’t mean there isn’t tremendous value in the text. Slowly but surely, through reading, study, prayer, and discernment, you’ll glean new and valuable insights from the text. These new insights will continually help you to know the heart of God.
Next time you read a passage that seems difficult to understand and apply to your life, study it out in greater detail. What did the text mean to the original people who read it? How did it impact their view of God and themselves? Through ongoing reading, study, prayer, and discernment, you’ll come to place more and more value on the Scriptures. And as you do, you’ll also grow in helping others value them too.
On a scale of 1-10, how much would you say you value the Scriptures?
In what ways may this impact your ability to make disciples?
Heavenly Father, there are some Bible passages I know by heart, but I confess there are others that are sometimes confusing. Help me to grow in valuing all of the Scriptures, as it all comes from You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Every day you hear dozens of voices and are put in the position of choosing which ones to listen to and which ones to ignore. You may choose to listen to one cable news network and not another. You may choose to listen to one sports radio program but not another. You may choose to listen to one podcast but not another.
Whatever your choice may be, you are essentially choosing to be a student (or a disciple) of one person and not another. You’re learning from one news anchor’s perspective and not another. You’re learning from one sports radio host’s perspective and not another. And on and on it goes…
There’s nothing inherently wrong or sinful about this. In fact, it’s good to have a fuller understanding of what’s happening in the world, or it may be enjoyable to learn which teams or players are currently on a hot streak.
But these voices do have the potential to drown out or overwhelm other more important voices. If you truly are called to make disciples, the best step to take is to be a disciple of Jesus. Today, let His voice be the one you think about most.
READING & JOURNALING:
In a previous devotional, there was a quote provided from Peter Scazzero. “An emotionally healthy disciple slows down to be with Jesus, goes beneath the surface of their life to be deeply transformed by Jesus, and offers their life as a gift to the world for Jesus.”
How will you slow down to be with Jesus today? This week? This month? Be specific, and consider asking a trusted friend to help you as you adjust your daily rhythms.
Heavenly Father, I confess there are days when I don’t really see myself as a disciple. But as somebody who has chosen to trust in You, I recognize that it is You I am to follow, and Your voice I should be what I’m most listening to and meditating upon. Today, help me to see any path I may be following which is not directly from You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
At the end of Jesus’ ministry He offered one final command to His disciples. He said, “…go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
You may read this passage and think to yourself, “That sounds great, but I don’t really have any experience in making disciples. I’ll let the professionals do that and I’ll just try to serve God in other ways.”
But this isn’t what Jesus has called you to do. He has called all of His followers to “…go and make disciples.” It’s as if Jesus was saying, “Everything you do from here on out, all of it, it’s about making disciples. Every moment of every day, you have the opportunity to help others know Me. To see what a free and full life looks like. Go, and live that out in such a way that others will grow in their understanding of who I am.”
All who follow Jesus have a responsibility when it comes to making disciples.
Do you agree that you have a responsibility when it comes to making disciples?
What do you think is the first step in making disciples?
Heavenly Father, there are many moments in my life when I believe that somebody else would be better equipped to make disciples. But You have called me to trust You in everything, which includes being intentional in the pursuit to make disciples of all nations. Help this truth to permeate my thoughts and actions. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.