April 27, 2021
When was the last time you helped someone move forward in their faith with Jesus? Either in helping them trust Jesus as Savior, or encouraging their spiritual growth as a follower of Jesus? Perhaps it was doing something as simple as bringing a friend with you to worship? Or maybe it was a conversation that spurred an interest in learning more about Jesus? Or maybe it was giving grace to someone who rubbed you the wrong way?
You see, anytime you help someone move closer to trusting in Jesus or you help encourage growth in someone’s faith; you are doing what the Bible calls making a disciple of Jesus. You are doing the work of a disciple maker.
Now sometimes you may do this unintentionally by just living out your faith before your friends. They see your kindness or patience, or humility and they want to know what makes you different, and that’s great. But if you are serious about following Jesus, you know that God has commissioned you to join Him in making disciples of all nations. You know that making disciples doesn’t just happen, but that it takes intentionality. It means investing in your relationships. It means loving people, sharing your faith in Jesus, and showing them that Jesus is worth following. So you’ve embraced the command to make disciples. And now you intentionally look for ways to help people trust and follow Jesus. And if that’s you, you understand that your role in making disciples is how God has included you in His plan to bless the nations. You truly believe that Helping people trust and follow Jesus is our people blessing mission!
But the sad reality today, is that very few Christ followers see themselves as someone God wants to use to make disciples. Sure they may have heard about the Great Commission Mission that Jesus gave to His followers. But very few think it applies to them. And even fewer believe that God really wants to use them to change the world by simply helping others trust and follow Jesus.
So today, we are going to reboot Our People Investment Strategy and look at how God has made it possible for you to make an eternal difference in the lives of people in the course of your everyday relationships.
So let me encourage you to open your Bible to Matthew 28:18-20, where we are going to take a fresh look at how God empowers you to make disciples; how God gives you what you need to help people trust and follow Jesus; and therefore be the blessing He calls you to be. But first, let’s listen again to Jesus call for us to make disciples: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
So let’s first look at how God empowers you to make disciples; how God empowers you to help people trust and follow Jesus: God gives you the authority of Jesus to do this! Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” As a follower of Jesus Christ you have all Jesus’ authority and power at your disposal to help others trust and follow Jesus. Jesus is where your confidence in making disciples is found. It’s not found in your ability to make friends easily. It’s not found in your ability to share the gospel. Nor is your confidence found in any special gifting God may give you. No, your confidence to help others trust and follow Jesus, comes from Jesus. Jesus is the one who has all authority in heaven and earth, and now if Jesus lives in you by faith, He has given you His authority to help others trust and follow Him.
Let me ask you a question: Have you ever thought much about Jesus’ authority over heaven and earth? We live in a day where people throw their power and authority around to get what they want. Some use their power to take advantage of the vulnerable. Some use their authority to wage war and strike fear in the hearts of their enemies. Some use their power to tell you what you can or cannot do with your life. In fact, there are all kinds of power brokers in our world today. But there is only one person who has ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and earth, and His name is Jesus.
Jesus’ authority over heaven and earth means that Jesus is not just your personal Savior and Lord. He is much bigger than that. He is the Ultimate Authority and power broker in the entire universe! One day every knee will bow, and every tongue confess, “Jesus is Lord” – THAT’S A GUARANTEE. Right now, Jesus is Sovereign over every nation, every tribe, every tongue, and over every single person who draws breath. Jesus has authority over every world leader. He has authority over the White House. He has authority over this pandemic. He has authority over the media. He has authority over every social institution. He has authority over disease and demons. He has authority over sin and death. There is no one greater, no one higher, no one more powerful than Jesus! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And that means when you trust in Him there is an authoritative power in your life that will help you make disciples of Jesus. And that power is Jesus!
But here’s the deal. There’s a tension with His authority in your life. You and I still struggle with our sin nature. And it is this sin nature in you that doesn’t want you to submit to His leading. The sin nature in you doesn’t want Jesus to be Lord in your life. The sin nature in you doesn’t want you to give up control to Jesus. Your sin nature wants you to keep calling the shots. So here’s the tension that all of us must deal with: You’ve got to believe that Jesus is worth surrendering to. You’ve got to believe His will is better than your will. You’ve got to come to a place in your life where you are willing to trust Jesus with all of your life, not just parts of your life.
You’ve got to believe His way is right and His truth is true. You’ve got to believe that He is for you and that He always has your best interests at heart. And if you can believe this, then, you can submit to His authority over your life – all of your life, not just parts of your life. And when you do that, Jesus will give you a confidence to see your life in a whole new way. And He will give you a confidence that He will help you help others trust and follow Him.
As Jesus said in the Gospel of John: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21 His mission is now our mission. His authority is now our authority. That means you’ve been given His power to help you make disciples of all people. Jesus has commissioned you with His authority to succeed at being a blessing. This is where our confidence comes from. With his authority behind you, He wants you to believe you can do this!… But God doesn’t just give you His authority to do this, He gives you something that’s even more powerful to help you do this. Do you want to know what that is?
God gives you the presence of Jesus to do this! Listen to this amazing promise at the end of the Great Commission: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Do you realize what Jesus is saying to you here? This is His promise to you. Whenever you set out to help a friend to come to trust in Jesus or grow in his or her faith in Jesus, Jesus promises to be with you. You never have to go it alone!
Now neglecting this truth may be the number one reason most Christians fail to embrace God’s calling to be a disciple maker. It’s because you’ve never been taught this or never understood the power of Jesus’ promise to be with you to help you do this. Or you’ve simply neglected this truth or forgotten this reality. And when we do that, we end up doing is putting a bunch of pressure on ourselves. We tend to believe that making disciples is all up to us. But then, because we feel inadequate, insecure in our faith, or unsure of what to say or do, we convince ourselves that we can’t do this. So we embrace our excuses rather than embrace the promise of Christ with us.
Now, there are those of us who neglect this truth another way. We start out wanting to obey Jesus and make disciples. We want to help others trust and follow Jesus. But then we make the mistake that doing this is all up to us. So we muster up courage, we study about how to share our faith, and then we rest on our own strength to help others trust and follow Jesus. But then when we fail, we blame ourselves, feel guilty, and eventually quit trying to help other trust and follow Jesus. But our real failure, is the failure to trust that Jesus is with us.
You see, if you get anything from this message today, then it’s this: Jesus never meant for any of His followers to help others trust or follow Him on their own. That’s why He made sure to include this promise. Jesus promises to be with us. HE wants to help us. He just needs us to TRUST that He will be RIGHT there with us to give us the words we need, the kindness we need, the patience we need, or the grace we need to help our friends or family come closer to Jesus, or to grow in their faith in Jesus.
How do I know this? First, because Jesus promises to be with us. We forget that God’s Word says this about His desire for every person we lock eyes with: He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 1 Peter 3:9 God’s desire is that every person He puts in your life is someone that Jesus loves and wants to redeem. So he doesn’t put this responsibility on us to redeem them. He’s already done the work to redeem them. And now He promises to be right there with you to help you. This is how I know this. God is always faithful. If He says He will be with you, then He will be with you. You can count on Him. And I can’t think of anyone better to help you help others trust and follow Jesus, then Jesus. That’s the first thing I know.
But secondly, I’ve experienced Jesus’ presence personally. He is there to help you. Just this past week God orchestrated an opportunity for us to be a blessing to a couple of friends who are spiritually hungry and open to knowing more about Jesus. I was invited to play golf in a member guest at Indian Wells Country Club with an old friend. Chris and I reconnected after my father’s death. And a new friendship has come out of it. But it’s become so much more. While we were in the desert with them, God really put it on my heart to pray for them. And my prayer was that God would give me an opportunity to talk with Chris and Pam about Jesus. The funny thing is, that I had no idea how this would work. All I knew was that God had orchestrated this reunion, and I wanted to help them anyway I could. But I didn’t want to force the issue or make it awkward. I just trusted that Jesus would give us opportunity… and he did. While we were dining out Friday night at Casuelas Café, as we were just talking about life, all of a sudden I found myself telling my story of how I came to faith in Jesus. It just happened naturally. I just trusted Jesus to work and he did. He was with us. He gave me the patience to wait. Over the course of that evening and the following days, he helped both Becky and I show kindness and love and plants seeds of truth and grace about Jesus. And many times he literally put the words in my mouth as what to say. Jesus was with us, just like He promised.
And His promise is for you. He promise is for every Christ follower. If you believe in Jesus, then believe He will be with you. You don’t have to have a seminary degree to help a friend trust in Jesus. If you’re a follower of Jesus, then you have a story to tell of how He saved you, how He’s helped you or how He’s changing you. You just have to TRUST that He’ll be there for you. Trust that He’ll give you the words. Trust that he’ll give you the love. Trust that he’ll open the door. And when you trust He’s there for you, helping others trust or follow Jesus is no longer hard, it’s a joy and a blessing.
So let me repeat what I said when I started making this point about your potential to be a blessing by making disciples. You can do this if you know Jesus. You can do this because God gave you the authority of Jesus to do this. You can do this because Jesus promises to help you to do this. Here’s the good news. With His authority and His presence, Jesus takes the pressure off you to make disciples. Now all He asks of you is to trust Him and make yourself available to invest in the lives of your friends, your family, your golf buddies, your pickle ball participants – whoever God places in your life. Let God’s authority empower you. Let’s Jesus’ presence embolden you.
So there you have it. God has given you what you need to help people trust and follow Jesus. And all He asks of you is to go and do it. Trust that He has sent you to make disciples, and trust that He is with you every step of the way. Now, obviously there is a process involved in helping others trust and follow Jesus. And next week we will look at that. But for today, I really believe what God wants you to grasp is that He’s made it possible for you to be a disciple maker. That’s how He chose to include you in His plan to be a blessing in the world.
So let me ask you: Do you believe God can use you? Do you believe He can help you? Do you believe He will be with you? If you can, then let me encourage you to change how you see your life. God didn’t put you here to just enjoy life and live for yourself until you die. God has given you a purpose with every other Christ follower – and that purpose is to live as a sent one, to live as a disciple maker – and see every person as someone to help trust and follow Jesus. And if you can see yourself this way, just wait. For God will empower you and embolden you to help others trust and follow Jesus.