Before you Begin – Lesson Four

Before you begin: Spend time reflecting on these, writing down your answers, or even discussing with a friend.

Most people abandon their New Year’s resolutions before February first.  What most have in common is that they had the desire to change, but they never put together a plan to work towards the change.  Have you ever been able to make a lifestyle change “stick?”  What things did you do that helped you to be successful?
Every good thing we want to pursue will cost us something.  (If you want to lose fifteen pounds, it will cost you the freedom to have dessert after dinner every night.)  What will it cost you to live this way?  What will you gain?
When you are chasing after a goal, how do you know when you are successful?  What marks or measures do you look at to know you are making progress?

What Does The Bible Say?

We have learned that as we follow Jesus, we are to become more like Him.  Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 4:11-15
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (emphasis added)
How does Paul describe a “mature” Christian?
What does the measurement (the ruler) of maturity in Christ look like?

Paul knew that in order to become like Jesus, we need to do the kinds of things that Jesus did.  John backs this idea up in 1 John 2:3-6.
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
How does John say we “know” we are growing in our relationship with Jesus?
How must we live?

Pretty straight-forward, isn’t it?  If we are followers of Jesus, we will obey what He taught and do the things that He did.
When you see the life of Jesus in the Gospels, you see five characteristics marking His life in everything He did.  These are what we must do if we want to grow into “the full measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Jesus lived obediently.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. (John 14:28-31)

Jesus obeyed the Father’s commands in all He did.
Jesus served selflessly.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)  Jesus modeled servant leadership – He served others.
Jesus connected intentionally.

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15-16)  Jesus was intentional about spending time with the disciples.
Jesus gave generously.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 11-14)

Jesus gave all He had, his own life, so that we could be reconciled to the Father.
Jesus shared willingly.

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Jesus shared his story with others to lead them to a relationship with God.

 

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