Day Five

Week Eight - Day Five
Supporting Transformation in Others

LISTEN

2 Corinthians 5:20 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his ap- peal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Galatians 6:1-3 - Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Hebrews 10:24-25 - And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

LEARN

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains how Jesus’ example is coun- ter-intuitive to how the world works. The Corinthians equate high status and fame with righteousness, but Paul reminds them that King Jesus was gloriously exalted through his su ering and death on a cross. If we follow Jesus, we will have the same lot. We will experience trials but our hope is not found in high status or worldly things. Our hope is in the promise of Jesus’ work on the cross, to reconcile us to God, and his resurrection, confirming the promise of an eternal future with God. (Read 2 Corinthians, chapters 1-7 for the fuller story.)

Paul went on to explain how Jesus’ “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18) was given to us. This ministry applies to unbelievers and the call to bring them back into right relationship with God, but there is also a sense in which we act as “ambassadors of Christ” to our fellow believers. In Galatians and Hebrews there is a strong call to “restore” and “stir one another” toward our calling as Christians. This includes “bearing one another’s burdens” and loving them well, but also speaking truth into their lives to prevent them from being “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). This reminiscent of the language used in Acts 2 where early church relationships are described (Act 2:42-47). As Paul very clearly demonstrated in his writing to the Corinthians, loving others includes reminding them of the gos- pel; pointing others to God’s truth helps them follow Jesus.

LIVE

  • The motivation for pointing others to God is the work of Jesus. What scriptures reinforce this for you? Read the referenced Scriptures in the Learn section to gain a broader understanding. 
     
  • Today, how can you encourage someone who is discouraged toward God's love and truth?

Day Four

Week Eight - Day Four
Helping others be transformed

LISTEN

1 Thessalonians 5:14-23 - And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise proph- ecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

LEARN

This section of Scripture is part of the summary in the letter Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica. He is giving the most important final points to his readers. Among commands to pray, give, and abstain from sin is found his encouragement to help others live according to Christ’s desires for them. It is our privilege as disciples to help other disciples grow.

Our tendency is to avoid speaking into the lives of others, but doing as these verses instruct can be “loving our neighbors as ourselves” (Mark 12:31). We may see some- thing in Scripture fellow believers do not see or an area where they don’t appear to be actually living out what they profess to believe. If we do not confront them in love, as Paul encourages us to do here, they may be destined to struggle for years. Jesus demonstrated this many times. For example, in John 5:39-44 Jesus goes straight for the heart of the Pharisees describing how their lack of trust in the Scriptures causes them to disbelieve he is the Messiah. Jesus gives knowledge of his word, the Holy Spirit and himself as a model to help others who need to be encouraged to change.

Loving one another requires that we help others see what God wants them to see. It should be a normal practice within a healthy group of disciples. The intent is not to accuse of sin and denigrate people but to love each other well through the power of the Spirit. We want all people to see and understand what God’s desire is for their life. When you care enough to reach out to help people who are struggling, it expresses your identity in Christ in a way that reflects God to others.

LIVE

  • Transformation is messy and unpredictable, but we can still be ready to "admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak." How will you prepare for helping your fellow Christian when the need arises? 
  • Record your response and share with a family member or someone in your Discipleship Group

Day Three

Week Eight - Day Three
Renewal as a part of Transformation

LISTEN

Romans 12:1-2 - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to pres- ent your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiri- tual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

LEARN

Paul wrote a letter to the Roman church explaining how to live as unified Christians with various ethnicities in their church. In Romans 12:2, he explains an important concept in the transformation process for all Christians. Transformation happens “by the renewal of your mind.” This idea is also echoed in Ephesians 4:23 and Co- lossians 3:10. To be clear, this is not talking about salvation, but only transformation. Salvation is a work God does in declaring us righteous and giving us a new heart and mind. Transformation is the process of growing in Christlikeness in which we participate with the Holy Spirit. In this text, Paul describes transformation as culti- vated with “the renewal of your mind.” What does that mean? It is similar to what Jesus spoke about in Luke 6:43-45; what you put in your mind cultivates your heart and flows out into your life. In transformation, there is a mind-heart-life connection.

Think of the bigger picture: Paul is calling this Roman church, and all Christians, to respond to what Jesus has done on the cross. He is inviting each Christian to respond to “the mercies of God,” namely Jesus’ sacrifice, by wholly giving their life to God. This is practically done by “the renewal of your mind” which is held in contrast to being “conformed to this world” or loving worldly things (1 John 2:15). Part of renewing our minds is practicing the Christian disciplines of studying and memorizing God’s word, listening to the gospel preached, praying, and asking God to help us discern what his will is for us in each situation. This cultivates transforma- tion and transformation results in a genuine display of Jesus’ love for one another and unity in the church.

LIVE

  • To which of these practices (reading the Bible, listening preaching/teaching, praying) are you most drawn? Record specific examples of how they have enabled your mind to be renewed. 
     
  • As a disciple-maker what are some ways you can help others in their transformation?

Day Two

Week Eight - Day Two
Do I need help being Transformed?

LISTEN

Ephesians 4:17-19 - Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

LEARN

The verses describe a person’s natural state due to sin - alienated from God. In these Scriptures, Paul explains that an unbeliever’s “hardness of heart” is the reason God’s desires aren’t obvious or understood. This resembles the “heart of stone” that God desired to replace when he spoke through Ezekiel to the Israelites (Ezekiel 36:26). An unbeliever has a heart that focuses on and pursues his/her own desires. Without God revealing himself, those who do not believe will continue to choose to remain in the dark.

Thankfully, God declares us righteous and gives us salvation when he gives us a new heart with new desires. But, the process of transformation is di erent; even though we are declared righteous by Jesus’ death on the cross, we are not made perfect in this life. The process of salvation is God’s work alone (Titus 3:5), while transformation is a gradual process in which we are invited to participate with the Holy Spirit.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). In the process of transformation, we don’t always know what is in our own heart or what is coming out of it. Sometimes we hold onto the pleasures we once knew and continue to pursue them more earnestly than following after Jesus. Our heart coaxes our minds into coming up with all kinds of justifications for why this is “right.” We say we believe what the Bible says, but the way we live does not reflect that reality. This is called a “gospel gap.”4

When we have a gap between what we say we believe and our actions, God gives us his Holy Spirit and other believers to help us become aware of this disparity. God does this so we can help others recognize the gap in themselves and encourage re- pentance when needed. But, he also gives us each other so we can rejoice with one another in victory as the promised transformation occurs in our lives.

Live

  • List 2-3 victories God has given you over the sinful desires of your heart and/or gospel gaps.
  • As you grow in transformation, what may be one way the body of believers can help you? In what ways are you open and available to help others with their transformation?
  • Write that down and share it in your Discipleship Group this week?

Day One

Week Eight - Day One
Transformation is known by its Actions

LISTEN

Luke 6:43-45 - For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

LEARN

In Luke 6, Jesus gives his famous Sermon on the Mount. In these particular verses, he makes an analogy between fruit trees and people. Jesus makes a direct connec- tion between the “fruit” (how we’re recognized by others, see Matthew 7:15-20) and our hearts. It is from what is in our hearts that we speak and act. What does Jesus mean, “treasure of his heart” or “abundance of the heart”? It’s similar to the image of a storeroom; what is put in is what is going to come out.

So, how might others perceive your heart when they view you? Do they associate you with being a “religious” person or a “good moral” person? Do they think you love Jesus? On what evidences do they base their assessment? Outward appear- ances, what is said and done, is witness to what is actually in our hearts. While only God truly knows our hearts, our actions should be producing the kind of fruit people see as good.

Christians are called to live differently than before they experienced God’s salvation. For disciples of Jesus, the Holy Spirit places new desires in our hearts. When we cooperate with the Spirit, we cultivate those desires in our hearts by praying, studying God’s word, loving others and submitting to our calling from the Holy Spirit. This change isn’t immediate though; we will be changing through time as God works in us. The transformation God promises is initiated by the Holy Spirit and this means we will be gradually changing for the good (2 Cor 5:17). God’s transformation of his disciples starts when we become Christians and continues producing fruit in ever-increasing abundance.

Live

  • Write down the fruit you have seen God produce in your life.
  • How has this changed over time?
  • In what ways does this encourage you?

Discussion Questions

  • How does Jesus transform our heart's desires?
     
  • What role do spiritual disciplines play in our transformation?
     
  • How can you encourage others to change ("walk in step with the Spirit")?
 

Apprenticeship Module - Activity

Bruce’s Questions:
                                                                                                                    

  • Is there any place that you're struggling with obeying the Lord?
  • What was the desire you had in that moment?
  • Why did you desire that?
  • Is God calling you to desire something different?
  • What would be different if you had the desires of the Holy Spirit in that moment?                          

                                                                                                                                     
Examples of other Why-type questions:

  • Why do you think you are struggling with this?
  • Why do you think that is?
  • How does the Bible apply to this situation?

                                                                                                                          
Examples of What-type questions:

  • What do you fear will happen if you...?
  • Why do you believe this fear will happen?
  • What do you believe Jesus would want you to believe about this situation?
  • What do you think God is calling you to desire?