Happy New year!
We pray all of you had a wonderful and restful break. If you’re like me, we are ready to start the new year strong and are ready to get back into the groove of things starting this week. We are so excited to be getting back together this Sunday at the Grove for our new discipleship series called, “Fully Devoted.”
Each week in January we will be exploring a fresh approach to what it means to grow as a fully devoted disciple of Jesus. When Jesus taught He often used agricultural terms and stories (Parables). Jesus taught that He alone is the True Vine and that we are designed to be His branches (see John 15). As we learn to live (“abide”) in Christ, He then lives (“abides”) in us and works through us. Throughout this series, we will take the simple approach of using a growing tree as a metaphor for growing as a disciple of Jesus:
Week 1 - LOVE
"We love because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19, ESV)
The "Seed" Stage:
The seed is where life has the opportunity to begin! Something very important has to happen first: the seed must break open from its shell, allowing the “radicles” to emerge and take root. Speaking of discipleship, Jesus said – “if the seed dies, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24-26). It’s been said that love can break – or make – a heart. God’s unconditional love for us can “break open” our hearts so that we can both experience His love and then express His love to those around us.
In the above picture, we made the heart into the shape of a seed. Notice that there are four important “valves” or arteries coming out. Two are designed to give blood and two are designed to receive blood. If one of those arteries is blocked – that person needs “bypass” surgery to unblock the artery so the blood can flow. If two are blocked it’s a “double bypass” surgery, etc. We encourage you to reflect on how you are doing in the area of both receiving love from God and giving godly love to others. The more we experience God’s unconditional love, the more we express godly love unconditionally.
week 2 - GROW
“God’s Kingdom is like the seed of the mustard plant. Someone plants this seed in their garden. The seed grows and becomes a tree, and the birds build nests on its branches.” (Luke 13:19, ERV)
The "Tree" Stage:
This is the stage in our discipleship journey where our roots begin to grow deep through intimacy with Jesus. As those roots are healthy, the tree begins to rise higher and higher. The four key areas of GROW are:
- Growing in intimacy with Jesus
- Growing as a spiritual leader in our family
- Growing as a builder of biblical community
- Growing in spiritual maturity
Week 3 - IMAGE
“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control..." (Galatians 5:22-23, TLB)
The "Fruit" Stage:
This is the stage where the tree reaches its fullest potential: bearing fruit! The fruit of a tree will always mirror the roots of the tree. So, the more we become sufficiently rooted in Christ, the more we are going to begin bearing the fruit of the Spirit. We will explore the process of allowing the Holy Spirit to bring true freedom into our lives in the following areas:
- Freedom to experience the fruit of the Spirit in our private life (love, joy, peace)
- Freedom to express the fruit of the Spirit in our personal life (patience, kindness, goodness)
- Freedom to demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our public life (faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
- Freedom to leave a legacy of spiritual maturity - which comes from allowing life’s challenges, tests, and trials to serve as catalysts for developing spiritual fruit in ourselves and others.
Week 4 - GATHER
"The disciples were devoted to the teachings of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer." (Acts 2:42, GW)
The "FOREST" Stage:
This is the most exciting phase in the discipleship journey with Jesus. As trees gather together in a forest, their root systems start to connect, and they begin to share resources together. The Bible tells us that as believers, we are all one body in Christ although we have many unique gifts, callings, and functions. Using one of the foundational verses for our church (Acts 2:42) we will unpack how these dynamics work as we are gathered together:
- Gathering with others for Biblical teaching
- Gathering with others for Spirit-led fellowship
- Gathering with others to break bread together
- Gathering with others for intercession and prayer
We sincerely believe that this series is going to equip you to have the BEST year spiritually in 2024. We encourage you to dive in each Sunday and download the new and improved, “Table Talk” guides that we are making for you and your family. Remember, Jesus taught that He alone is the True Vine and that we are designed to be His branches (see John 15). As we learn to live (“abide”) in Christ, He then lives (“abides”) in us and through us. All believers have been commissioned to become disciples of Jesus and make disciples for Jesus (see Matt 28:18-20). May the Lord richly bless you along your discipleship journey with Him this year!
St. Johns Discipleship Community Church
“A community of disciples making disciples”