WEEK 2 - JESUS IS THE DISCIPLE MAKER
Day 1 • Read Matthew 4:18-22
Jesus begins His ministry right after coming out of the wilderness and overcoming the temptations of Satan. From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). Repent means to turn from one way of life to another. This was only the beginning of Jesus’ process of making disciples.
Jesus wanted people to turn and follow Him and His way of life, not another way in the wrong direction. “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19)! Jesus was saying that the purpose for following Him was more than leaving your old life. There is more to learn and be equipped for and that it’s more than just for you.
Jesus didn’t need anyone’s help in doing His ministry while He walked the earth. But, He understood that for it to go on after He left, He would have to train people to make sure it continued. That is what it means to be His disciple - that we continue what He began. We share the Good News of a better way to live. We train up and equip others to be a blessing. And we send them out to do the same!
- Have you truly chosen to follow Jesus by leaving your old way of living behind?
- Are you being trained up, equipped, and taught what it means to not only follow Jesus, but also be like Jesus?
- Do you have someone that you are discipling (training, equipping, teaching)? A simple way to start this is by doing a Discovery Bible study. You can find a guide at the beginning of this packet.
Day 2 • Read Matthew 7
When we hear the name of Jesus, it should not make us feel condemned or ashamed. We should feel hope and forgiveness. Unfortunately, some of us grew up hearing that Jesus only saves “good people” from hell. We believe we are “bad people” unworthy of salvation. When we believe that lie, we don’t really know Jesus.
Matthew 7:21 warns against falling prey to false assumptions about who Jesus is, stating those people will not inherit the kingdom of God. “Watch out for false prophets,” Matthew 7:15 says. “They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Believing the wrong things about Jesus could keep us from salvation.
But we can know that we know Jesus, without question. In the same way we recognize trees by their fruit, we’ll know we’ve met Jesus by the change happening inside us. Matthew 7:16-19 says, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” God is good; therefore He only produces good fruit. If the fruit in your life isn’t good, it isn’t God.
- Have you ever made an assumption about someone that proved untrue once you got to know them? When did you know you’d gotten to know the “real” them?
- What are the good fruits God is producing in your life and in the lives of people you know? Take a moment to pray that He’ll help you recognize them and give you discernment to steer clear of “bad fruits.”
Day 3 • Read Matthew 8
We place our faith in countless people and things. We believe our legs will support us, so we get out of bed. We believe our brakes will enable our car to stop, so we drive. We believe our boss will pay us, so we show up for the job. When we have faith in something, our behavior is affected. We act out of faith.
The opposite of faith is fear. We can choose one or the other. Imagine a world in which car brakes only worked half the time. We would be terrified at every intersection. God is infinitely more reliable than the finest car on the market, but we don’t treat Him that way. Our faith seems to extend just beyond our ability even though God is able to do infinitely more than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We hope for good when God promises the best. God is able to do infinitely more than we can imagine.
Matthew 8 is full of the fulfillment of God’s promises in people's lives. If we really have faith that God works in these ways, it radically changes the way we live our lives. We are willing to address sin we’ve brushed under the rug because Jesus forgives and heals. We will step out and risk something for God because we know He’ll provide for us (Philippians 1:6). Faith like this eliminates fear because our faith is in a certainty: Jesus.
When we are afraid to address an area of sin in our life and be obedient to God’s call, it is because we doubt the truth of God’s promises. Our faith is limited by our need to believe we are better equipped than God to manage our issues. Fear of condemnation and failure overtake us. God offers freedom from fear through faith in Him.
- Does your faith in an unseen God propel you to action each day?
- In what area of your life are you doubting God’s promises?
- What part does God have for you to play in growing your own faith?
Day 4 • Read Matthew 9
Matthew’s audience was mainly Jewish, and much of his writing was aimed at the Jewish religious leaders of the day. For centuries they had believed being “good people” and “obeying the rules” made them right with God. But even if their behavior wasn’t always perfect, they knew their family heritage had them covered. Really? The naked truth is these folks didn’t want Jesus. They didn’t see a need for change, nor were they willing to change. They thought they could do things for themselves. Furthermore, they hated Jesus for hanging out with all the sinful people they looked down on.
Humans love to self-improve. It feeds our pride. But if someone can fix himself, then what’s the need for Jesus? The apostle Paul said it this way, “I do not set aside (reject) the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21). In other words, if someone can work hard enough to get right with God, then what was the point of Christ crucified?
Jesus is for everyone, from preachers to prostitutes. Everyone needs God’s grace. Salvation is not a life made better. It is a life made brand new (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Bible teaches a broken and burdened life is the requirement for entering God’s kingdom (Matthew 11:28). After all, only sinners need a Savior. Forgiving sins is what Jesus does best. It is an act of worship when we release our sins and let God forgive us.
- No one becomes God’s child by having Christian parents or being born into a Christian family. You must have your own personal relationship with Jesus. How would you describe your relationship with Jesus today? If you aren't sure, find out more information here.
- Are you still trying to earn God’s acceptance by “being good” and “obeying all the rules?”
- What is one thing you’ve been trying to fix on your own that you need to let God handle instead?
Day 5 • Read Matthew 10
Jesus knows our hearts better than we do. When He sends out His disciples in Matthew 10, Jesus gives specific commands, not to limit the disciples, but to prepare and encourage them for the experiences ahead.
Live simply. Freely you have received; freely give (Matthew 10:8b). This command guards our motives. Greed and pride quickly ruin character. In the same way, heartfelt generosity can be a game-changer in someone’s life.
Be wise. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). A life dedicated to Jesus Christ might be lonely, difficult or even dangerous. Committing your life to Christ is never guaranteed to be easy, but Jesus knows how to bring joy into our lives, even in tough times.
Don’t be afraid. God give us the words to speak under pressure and calms our worrying hearts by telling us that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing. God knows every hair on our heads. Jesus tells us, “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
You are precious to God. You were created to glorify Him and bring others toward Him. “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). Jesus has called us to love a simple, wise, fearless life because He knows His strength is all we need.
- Living simply isn’t easy because we’re prone to listen to an “I want it now!” mentality. What changes can you make in your budget in order to spend money more wisely? If you need help with this, check out these financial planning resources!
- If Jesus was generous with the resources He had, how can we be generous with ours?
- Are you being wise in your conversations, money, and time? If not, what changes do you need to make?
Day 6 • Read Matthew 11
Do you unload all the groceries in one trip? Loading way more than you should on each arm, you awkwardly and barely close the trunk. Bag handles cut into your arms. You can make it. Just a little longer. If you are a one-trip un-loader, you know the relief you feel when you make it to your destination, or better yet, someone meets you and takes some of your load.
Have you tried the same trick spiritually?
I can handle all this on my own.
I can carry the weight of my sin, my sorrow, my to do list.
Yes, it hurts. I should ask for help, but I can do this.
Carrying a load of groceries is probably not going to cause any more damage than a broken jar. Carrying our sin or sorrow is more serious. We cannot do it. It is too heavy for us. Thankfully, we don’t have to. Jesus is ready to take our heavy load. Only He has the power to heal our hearts from the damage done by sin and sorrow. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus invites us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Here are a few ways to give our load to Him.
Ask Him to forgive your sins and give Him control in your life (Romans 10:9-10). Spend time each day talking to God and reading the Bible. This is how our mind is renewed and we learn to rest in Him. Talk to someone else who loves Jesus when you are dealing with sin or hurting (Galatians 6:2). God places people in our lives to support our growth. Don’t beat yourself up when you mess up. Ask God to forgive you and remember you are forgiven. Focus on Jesus instead of your sin (Romans 8:1).
- Have you given control of your life to Jesus?
- What's one load you are trying to carry on your own that you need Jesus' help with? Tell Him how you're feeling and ask for His help today.
Day 7 • Read Matthew 12
Have you ever felt disliked? Maybe even hated? Most of us have at some point in our lives. Jesus did, too. The Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders, hated Jesus. They treated Him like a suspected criminal — always following close behind, watching Him, waiting to see if He did something against the rules they had studied, memorized and defined.
Jesus was born into a humble family, and many may have considered Him to be the underdog. He was not what the Pharisees were expecting as they anxiously awaited the arrival of the Messiah, so they discounted Him. Matthew 12 records a time when Jesus went into the synagogue, knowing the Pharisees would be there to condemn Him. Still, He approached a man with a shriveled hand. As the Pharisees watched to see if Jesus would heal this man on the Sabbath (a day of rest when no work was to be done), Jesus healed him by restoring his hand, just as sound as the other.
The Pharisees thought they had caught Jesus in the act. Now they had evidence that Jesus was unlawfully performing miracles on the Sabbath. Jesus had gone after the one, a man whose life needed to be changed, in the face of persecution. Jesus explained this man’s life was more valuable than recovering a lost sheep on the Sabbath. Whereas the Pharisees thought it was more appropriate to keep the letter of the law. Jesus still goes after the one. He accepts us for who we are no matter who is watching. You are valuable to Him.
- What is something in your life you need Jesus to restore?
- Do you ever find yourself trying to conform to rules instead of following Jesus’ example?
- What can you learn from Jesus when it comes to showing your faith in the face of adversity?
Some of these devotionals were used with permission and courtesy of NewSpring Church, South Carolina.