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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advemt Day 6: Discipleship Gifts

Day 6: Discipleship Gifts
(Loving God With Our Minds)

Meditation (3-5 Minutes)
Begin by being still before God.  Read Matthew 16:24-26 and meditate on the words.

Matthew 16:24-25 (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].  For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting].”

1)    Be still and know he is God. 
2)    Do you desire to be Jesus’ Disciple?
3)    Are you willing to deny yourself (forget yourself and your own interests)?
4)    Are you willing to take Christ’s cross and:
a)    Cleave steadfastly to him?
b)    Conform wholly to his example in living and if need be, dying?
5)    Are you willing to lose your comfort and security for the sake of being a disciple of Christ?
6)    Are you willing to lose your life for the sake of finding it?
7)    Be honest before God.
8)    Accept his grace in your honesty.
9)    Let his spirit speak to you.

Prayer (5-10 Minutes)

1)    Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.

2)    Requests of the Christ Child (Appendix 1):
i)    Ask God to help you be willing to be a disciple of Christ.
ii)    If you are holding on to anything temporal, turn to Appendix 1 and ask God to remove the need. 
b)    Prayerfully update Appendix 1 with new requests and any answers from God.

3)    Gifts from the Christ Child (Appendix 2):
i)    Think about gifts that have helped you be a better disciple.
ii)    If ones come to mind…
(1)    Praise God for them.
(2)    List them in Appendix 2.
iii)     If nothing comes to mind, ask God to send you something this Christmas.

4)    Gifts to the Christ Child (Appendix 3):
i)    Turn to Appendix 3: Pray and update.
ii)    Do any of your gifts help people to become better Disciples of Christ?
iii)    Ask God if you need to make any adjustments.

5)    Ask God for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out. 

6)    Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)

We love the Lord with our entire mind when we become better people.  One of our purposes on earth is to become Disciples of Jesus.  Gifts that help us be better disciples are discipleship gifts.  We are to study the Bible and apply the principals.  We are to be qualified for our life’s work.   We educate our children and ourselves.  Many Christmas gifts are for educational purposes. 

Following Jesus starts when we are very young.  We know Jesus was a good student.  When he was twelve, his knowledge of the law astounded the teachers in the temple.  Disciples of Jesus are educated, professionally and spiritually. 

Background Scripture

Read Luke 2:46-48:  Think about Jesus as a boy.  Describe him.  Describe his ability to study and learn.  Describe his intelligence and curiosity.  Was he a good student?  How was his attention span?  (Write your answers in your journal.)

Read 2 Chronicles 34:10-12.  What types of careers do you see in this scripture?  Do you know people that perform these today?  (Write your answers in your journal.)

Note that the managers handled payroll and paid the workers for their labor.  How did the workers perform?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Think about these workers.  How do you imagine they were trained to do their work?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read 2 Timothy 2:15.  Whose approval are we seeking when we study?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

How should we perform our jobs?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Matthew 28:19.  What does Jesus tell us to do?  (Write your answer in your journal.) 

Making disciples is a wonderful Christmas gift.  Christmas is a perfect opportunity to make disciples of children.  Children have the opportunity to pray about the gifts they give, help with mission projects, and give to others in need.  Guiding them through this process will help them throughout their lives. 

Bible Software

Many study aids assist us with our Christian discipleship.  A few years ago, my husband gave me Bible Software.  I use it almost every day.  By typing in one word, I can find various scriptures on a topic.  I can look at multiple translations and even study the Greek and Hebrew.  I used the Bible Software to find the scriptures for this devotion.

The next Christmas, Mama asked for Bible Software.  Now both of us are able to search the entire Bible and conduct research on any subject.  In a matter of seconds, we can find all of the places God says, “I love you.” 

Devotional and other Christian Books

I enjoy reading Oswald Chamber’s devotionals.  One Christmas a few years back, my sister-in-law, Louise, gave me the book, “Abandoned To God” by David McCasland.  This book is the life story of Oswald Chambers.  I enjoyed reading about one of my favorite writers.  I learned much from his life.  Just this week, I found myself applying a lesson that I learned from that book.  Louise’s discipleship gift was also meaningful because it demonstrated that she was paying attention to my personal spiritual interests and growth. 

Tools for Learning

Jim is fourteen.  “My favorite Christmas gift was a PDA.”  A PDA is a personal digital assistant.  A hand held computer allows him to keep a calendar, task list, and names and addresses at his fingertips at all times. 

Jim has always been a good student.  “I am very busy with my school, music, church, family, and friends.  I needed the PDA because I was having trouble keeping up with everything I needed.  I knew I needed help when I forgot to do a couple of key assignments in Junior High School.  The PDA has made all the difference.”

Knowing Jim was responsible; his family decided that he needed a process for managing his time and assignments.  Family members taught him some simple lessons in time management.  The PDA was a tool given to him to manage his life better.  It helped him to “study and show himself approved.”  He made straight A’s on his next report card. 

Jim is a normal fourteen-year-old.  He grinned and said, “It also has games.” 

Fellowship Gifts: A Warning

Recipients may not appreciate a gift of discipleship if its intent is to “fix” some problem that the family member or friend is not yet ready to deal with.  Worse, they may not have even admitted they have a problem.  There is a big difference between making disciples and being critical or minding someone else’s business.  There are three rules for giving discipleship gifts: prayer, kindness, and gentleness. 


People tend to use discipleship gifts when they are ready.  You may not get immediate feedback on gifts of discipleship.  Years ago, I was given a Christian book.  I only recently read it, when life circumstances deemed it useful. 

One year, I bought devotional books for all four nephews.  I had taken time to pick out age appropriate books for each boy.  I was excited about the books but also bought “token” toys to go along with them.  They are wonderful boys.  They were gracious about the books but quickly moved to the toys.  I thought possibly my gift of discipleship had been wasted.  One of those sweet boys later said, “I love reading my book every night with my mom.” 

The same gift can be a discipleship gift to one person and an evangelism or mission gift to another.  An example is a Bible.  I love giving Family Bibles for wedding presents.  For non-Christians, the purpose is evangelism.  For Christians, it is discipleship. 

Finally, do not forget the gift of time.  Being willing to mentor other Disciples of Christ is a gift to the recipient and to yourself. 

Application (5-10 Minutes)

1)    Making It Personal
a)    Are you spending daily time improving yourself?  Do you “study and show yourself approved” spiritually and professionally?  How can you improve?  Are there gifts you need this Christmas that will help you improve?  (Write your answer in your journal.)
b)    Do you spend time every day studying the Bible and learning how to be a better disciple?  How can you improve?  What gifts could you use to help with this?  (Write your answer in your journal.)
c)    Are you loving the Lord God with your entire mind?  Are you strengthening that mind daily?  How can you do better?  (Write your answer in your journal.)
d)    Commit to Jesus that you will strengthen your mind every day. 

2)    Praying Continuously  (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
a)    As you go through your day, pay attention to your discipleship. 
i)    Ask God to show you what you need to study.
ii)    Did you begin your day with God?  Did you have the tools you needed to study His word?
iii)    In your profession, is there more you need to know?  What can help?
b)    Ask God to send you opportunities to model discipleship to the people around you. 
c)    Pay attention to those around you. 
i)    Ask God to show you what they need to study.
ii)    Resist the temptation to point out their failures.
iii)    Pray for them, asking God for a way to make disciples of all nations. 
iv)    Remembering the rules: prayer, kindness, and gentleness; look for ways to help
d)    Communicate your needs in 1a and b above to a friend or family member.

3)    Ending The Day
a)    Thank God for the privilege of being his disciple. 
b)    How was your discipleship today?  If your discipleship needs improvement, confess. 
c)    If you need to study more or have found yourself “ashamed of your work,” confess.
d)    Ask God to show you ways to be a better disciple tomorrow.
e)    Ask God if you owe anyone an apology.

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