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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Discipleship 101: Be Ready for Your Master’s Return! (Matthew 24:36-51)

 Outline: Matthew 24:36-51
  1. What we don’t know (vv.36-41)
  2. What we should know  (vv.42-51)

Summary: Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 24 are triggered by his disciple’s questions: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and the close of the age” (v.3).  In vv.4-35 Jesus emphasizes what it would be like leading up to the moment of his return.  Then, in our passage, vv.36-51, Jesus emphasizes what his coming will be like and how he expects his followers to live in light of it.  Jesus basically tells his followers two things: what they don’t know and what they should know.  We don’t know the day or the hour and therefore many will be caught off guard.  We should know, however, that our Master is most certainly coming back and that we must be ready for his return. 

Discussion Questions:
  • How should we process the phrase “nor the Son” in v.36?  Even with that jarring statement, the main point is clear.  So what is the main point of v.36? In light of the main point, how should we think about the claims to know the day and/or hour made by people and groups in our day?
  • Jesus compares his coming to the coming of the flood in Noah’s day.  Read Gen. 6:9-7:24 and imagine what it would have been like when the flood came.  What would it have been like for those inside the ark? What about those caught outside the ark?
  • Jesus then gives his disciples a modern-day example of normal, everyday activates that will be carried out when Jesus comes back suddenly (v.40).  What are some common activities that people carry out in our day? Now imagine what it would be like if Jesus were to come in such moments. 
  • According to v.44, Jesus clearly says, “the Son of Man is coming.  How then does Jesus expect his followers to live in light of this fact?
  • What does it mean to “be ready”?
Application Questions:
  • Do you (or perhaps someone you know) tend to focus more on what you can’t know than on what you should know?  If so, what changes should be made in your thinking?
  • Honestly, how much does the fact of Jesus return shape the way you live your life?
  • Most people are not prepared for Jesus’ return.  How should this fact motivate your desire to tell people about Jesus?
Prayer Points:
  • Confess to God areas in your life in which you have failed to live in light of your Master’s coming.  Areas that you are more spiritually “asleep” than “awake.” And receive forgiveness from Jesus, your merciful Master  (1 John 1:9).
  • Ask God to show you more of what it means for you to be more faithful and ready for your Master’s return.  Ask him to help you to live out what he shows you. 
  • Pray that God would help you to believe, to really believe, with more of an absolute certainly that “the Son of Man is coming.
  • Thank God for the gospel and how we don’t have to dread that day but can actually look forward to it.
  • Praise Jesus that his words can be trusted and that he will make all things right when he returns.

New Worship Song - "Soon"

Pastor Brandon is preaching tonight on waiting for Christ's return. Here's a new song we'll be singing about it:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Discipleship 101: Make More Disciples! (Matthew 28:18-20)

                                                                                                                        Visit to listen to this sermon. 
Outline: Doubts begin to dissolve in the light of…
1.     The Power of the Resurrected Christ (v.18)
2.     The Mission of the Resurrected Christ (v.19-20a)
3.     The Presence of the Resurrected Christ (v.20b)

Summary: Jesus rose from the dead and went to Galilee to meet his disciples, just as he said that he would (26:31-32; 28:6,10,16).  When the disciples encountered Jesus in his resurrected state, they rightly worshipped him as the God-Man (28:17; cf. v.9), but still some of them doubted.  This doubt, however, would start do dissolve in the light of the power, mission, and presence of the risen Christ.  Before Jesus gives the Great Commission, he tells his disciples that he has been given absolutely all authority (v.18; cf. Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:8-11).  Essentially saying, “don’t be afraid to proclaim the gospel to anyone because everyone will have to answer to me.”  Then he tells his disciples their mission: Make disciples of all nations by going, baptizing, and teaching.  This is a massive mission, one that can only be carried out in the strength of God, which is why Jesus then reassures them with the promise that he would be present with them by his Spirit until the end of the age. 

Discussion Questions:
  • When Jesus tells his disciples of his absolute power and authority in v.18, what effect do you think Jesus intended for it to have on them?  What effect should this statement have on you, especially in regards to your calling to tell others about Jesus? 
  • The Wheel Illustration was used in order to help clarify the central focus of the Great Commission (Make disciples of all nations!) and the three ways it is to be carried out (by going, baptizing, and teaching).  In your own words, try to explain the mission that Jesus gives to us using the wheel illustration.
  • People become disciples by believing the gospel, the good news about Jesus and what he did. This is implied in the mission and is made explicit when we look at parallel passages.  Read these parallel passages and reflect on your call to share the gospel in order to make more disciples: Matt. 24:14; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47.
  • What is the meaning of the phrase “all nations”?
  • We are to make disciples by going.  What does this entail? (Hint: think “spheres of influence”).
  • We are to encourage people who believe the good news about Jesus to be baptized in the singular name of the triune God.  Consider how baptism itself is a dramatization of the good news of the gospel (cf. Rom. 6:4). Have you been baptized as a believer?  If not, Consider being baptized in obedience to this passage.
  • How important is it that we not only teach others about Jesus but also teach others to obey Jesus (v.20a)?  What is the difference between the two?  This verse provides a strong biblical basis for accountability.  Are their people in your life who are helping you obey Jesus’ teachings?  If not, respond to this command by making this a more urgent part of your life.  
  • In v.20b, Jesus promises his disciples that he would be with them to the end of the age.  How can this be seeing as Jesus is about to ascend to his Father’s right hand and no longer be physically present with his disciples? What effect do you think Jesus intended for it to have on them?  What effect should this statement have on you, especially in regards to the challenges of living on mission? 

Prayer Points:
  •  Confess to God any doubt that lingers in your heart and ask him to be at work in you, dissolving any doubts in the light of the power, mission, and presence of the risen Christ.
  • Confess any ways that you have failed to live on mission in your various spheres of influence and receive forgiveness and cleansing that flows from Jesus  (1 John 1:9).
  • Pray that God would help you to understand the absolute power and authority of Jesus Christ and that it would serve to give you more confidence as you share the good news about Jesus with others.
  • Pray that God would brand his mission on your mind and heart and help you to live it out.
  • Ask God to help you to be a faithful witness in every sphere of influence that he has placed you in, whether in your home, extended family, church, school, workplace, community, etc.
  • Ask God to help you to lovingly, wisely, and diligently pass on the teachings of Jesus by instructing others and helping them to obey the things that they learn.
  • Thank God for the privilege it is to be part of the greatest of all causes: following Jesus on his mission to make disciples of all nations.
  • Praise Jesus for his absolute power over all things and all people.
  • Praise Jesus for the promise of his constant presence in your life as you live on mission.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Discipleship 101: Run Like Your Master Ran! (Hebrews 12:1-2)

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Outline: Hebrews 12:1-2
Three “Secrets” to Running with Endurance the Race Set Before Us
1.     Run Light (v.1)
2.     Run for Joy (v.2)
3.     Run Together (vv.1-2)

Summary: Like a stadium filled with cheering fans, we are surrounded by a great multitude, vast “cloud of witnesses” whose legacies testify of the faith it takes to run the race that is set before us (12:1, cf. Ch.11).  The stage is set and the follower of Christ gets one shot to run this race.  In order to run this race well, the disciple must learn three “secrets” to endurance: run light, run for joy, and run together.  First, we must run light, that is, we must lay aside anything that would tend to slow us down.  Weight and sin bog the Christian down and make running the Christian life a miserable experience.  Second, we must run for joy just as Jesus did, peering through our present pain and trial and difficulty to an unspeakably glorious finish line ahead.  Third, we must run together, thinking of this as our race not merely as my race.  We run this race with an eye to the rest of our brothers and sisters, doing all that we can to help them endure to the end. 

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the therefore there for in v.1 (Hint: the “Hall of Faith” in ch.11)?  What is the significance of being surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses”? 
  • What are sins of omission and sins of commission?  How do these unconfessed sins affect Christians as they seek to run their race?  Are their any sins in your life that remain unconfessed (cf. 1 John 1:9)?
  • How is weight different from sin? What question do you tend to ask: “is ____ sin” or “does ____ help me run”? On a scale of 1-10, (1 being not very seriously and 10 being extremely seriously), how seriously do you consider the need to lay aside not just sin but also weight in your life? Are their any weights in your life that are hindering you from running well?  
  • What does it mean that Jesus is the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith?
  • How did your Master run His race?  What is the joy set before you?  How is joy designed to help you endure your race?
  • Reflect on this statement: “this is our race not merely my race.”  Do you genuinely appreciate the fact that we are not meant to run the Christian race alone?  In what ways are you currently making an intentional effort to be helped and to help others run the race?
Prayer Points:
  •  Pray that God would bring to mind any unconfessed sin in your life that you need to lay aside by confessing it (cf. 1 John 1:9).  Take time to listen.
  • Pray that God would bring to mind any unnecessary weight in your life and ask God for the strength to lay it aside so that you can run faster. Take time to listen.
  • Ask God to help you to be a serious and passionate runner, one who is faithfully asking the question: “Does ______ help me run or does it slow me down?”
  • Ask God to show you more of the glory and joy of what is to come, to help you run for joy, to look beyond your present difficulties to the breathtaking joy that awaits you. 
  • Thank God that there is a finish line and that Jesus has paved the way.
  • Thank God for the brothers and sisters that He is allowing you to run this race with.
  • Ask God for wisdom as to how you can intentionally encourage others as they seek to run their race.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Discipleship 101: Get Back Up When You Fall! (John 21:15-19)

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Outline: Grace on the Pathway of Discipleship

1.     Peter’s Denial: The Back Story (John 13:36-38; 18:15-18, 25-27)
2.     Peter’s Restoration: The Tenderness of Jesus (John 21:15-19)
3.     A Disciple’s Gospel Framework

Summary: Every disciple experiences failure on the pathway of becoming more like Jesus.  What do we do when we fail? The story of Peter’s failure and restoration illustrates the importance of grace on the pathway of discipleship.  Peter, the leader among the twelve disciples, experienced massive failure when he denied his Master three times.  The lingering guilt and shame and regret made it difficult to get back up.  But restoration, not failure would be the final word for Peter.  Jesus, in an act of great tenderness, restored Peter thoroughly.  Jesus proved to be the lifter of his head (cf. Psalm 3:3).  There was one thing that stood between Peter’s failure and his subsequent restoration—the Cross of Christ. This is the gospel framework: in the wake of our failures, we must remember that the Cross of Christ makes it possible for us to get back up when we fall.

Key points:
  •  Disciples, even the most zealous and loyal among them, experience sin and failure on the pathway of becoming more like Jesus.  Peter is a case-in-point.
  • Disciples know what it’s like to experience the pain of lingering shame and guilt that make it difficult to get back up after a failure.
  • Jesus is tender toward his followers and is very intentional about thoroughly restoring them. 
  • Disciples can and should get back up after they fall.  This is the only way to honor the gospel, the wonderful provision that Jesus made for us when he died and rose again. 

Discussion Questions:
  • Reflect on how Peter must have felt after failing his Master.  In what ways can you empathize with Peter’s experience?
  • What does the parallel between Peter’s three-fold denial and Jesus three-fold question/commission (21:15-17) teach us about the thoroughness with which he restores his disciples?
  • According to John 21:15-17, 18-19, what ways would Peter continue to demonstrate his love for Jesus?  What are the tangible ways that you can show your love for Jesus even though Jesus is not physically present?

A Gospel Framework: Reasons to Get Back Up When We Fall:
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because there is no record of your guilt, for it has been nailed to the cross.
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because there is no trace of scarlet stains because the fabric of your soul has been washed as while as snow.
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because your sin have been scattered in the wind as far as the East is from the West.  Jesus told them where to go when he stretched out his arms on the cross!
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because when your sin is confessed the only thing that holds you down is an invisible weight…the real weight was laid upon the back of the One at Calvary.
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because the tomb is empty.
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because you have an Advocate with the Father.
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because you have a merciful High Priest.
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because it has never been about your righteousness but about the righteousness of Jesus Christ and his white robe has been draped around you.
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because your God never ceases to be for those who are glued to his Son by faith.
  • Beloved, when you fall, get back up because getting up in faith is the only way to honor God when you fall down in failure.  
  • Honor the blood.  Honor the empty tomb.  Get back up and bask in the brightness of God’s grace that perpetually shines on pilgrims finding their way along the narrow road of discipleship.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Discipleship 101: Don’t Look Back! (Luke 9:57-62)

                                                                                                                          Visit to listen to this sermon.
Outline: “Eavesdropping” on Three Conversations (Luke 9:57-62)
1.     Conversation #1 (vv.57-58)
2.     Conversation #2 (vv.59-60)
3.     Conversation #3 (vv.61-62)

Summary: In obedience to his Father, Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem where he will take up his cross.  Along the way, Jesus calls people to follow him as his disciples. In our passage, we hear three conversations happening along the way and by “eavesdropping” we get to glean more about the nature of true discipleship. Jesus tells us about the necessity of active obedience and kingdom priorities, about mature expectations and the call to not look back. Everyday Jesus is saying, “follow me” and we have the opportunity to say, “you are my priority.”

Key points:

·      Disciples are to be mature, not na├»ve in their expectations
·      Disciples are to be people of active obedience not mere good intentions
·      Disciples are to recognize that delayed obedience is disobedience
·      Disciples are to set kingdom priorities above all other priorities
·      Disciples are to focus on kingdom work and not look back

Discussion Questions:

·      In the first conversation (9:57-58), Jesus seems to detect some naivety or ignorance.  What can we learn from Jesus’ response that may help us mature in our expectations of what it means to follow him?  How might your own expectations need to change in light of Jesus’ words?
·      What is the difference between good intentions and active obedience?
·      In the last two conversations (vv.59-60, 61-62) we see the word “but” show up in the responses to Jesus’ command “follow me.”  What does this word signal?  Interact with this statement: “delayed obedience is disobedience.”  Are there areas in your life where Jesus is saying, “follow me” and you are delaying? 
·      In each of the last two conversations (vv.59-60, 61-62) we see the word “first” show up.  What does this word signal?  What do Jesus’ responses teach us about the kingdom and how it should be prioritized in our lives?  Are kingdom priorities taking a “back seat” to any other priority in your life?

·      Why is it so important not to look back?  What would it look like for you to focus on kingdom work at home? In your work place? In your relationships with unbelievers?  In your relationship with fellow believers?


Discipleship is not difficult to understand, but it is challenging to live out. Discipleship is a call to follow Jesus no matter the cost (Matt. 16:24).  We may trace discipleship back some 2000 years ago when Jesus approached a handful of common men and uttered these solemn words: “Follow me.”  In but a few years these men who had “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13) would be used of God to continue a movement that would alter the course of history and eternity.

These men were apprentices, learning their Master’s trade; they were students, absorbing their Master’s teaching; they were followers, experiencing life as their Master lived it.  Day after day, month after month, year after year they were trained in the way of their Master.  They watched him eat, sleep, travel, speak, and pray.  They saw him walk on water, heal the sick, raise the dead, calm storms, feed multitudes, mend hearts.  In him they beheld divine character in a human being—rare balances of truth and love, compassion and boldness, humility and authority.  They watched him suffer and die.  They were witnesses of his resurrection.  Then, at the end of their training, they were commissioned by Jesus to make disciples of all nations by going, baptizing, and teaching others to obey all that Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:18-20).  Jesus promised them his power and his presence in order to continually awaken confidence and comfort in them as they continued the mission their Master began.  This commission is clearly meant to be a torch  handed to each successive generation until Jesus comes again to judge the living and the dead.

We at FBC want to be a local church filled with people who take up this mission, a people who seek to walk as Jesus walked (1 Jn. 2:6), a people who seek to “follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).  In a word, we recognize that we are to be disciples making disciples.  By God’s grace we want to look more and more like the rugged and faithful Christianity we read about in the pages of our New Testaments.  May God fulfill these resolves for good by the power of his Spirit and for the glory of his Son!

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