What do you do when your devotional times (daily time set aside for reading the Bible and prayer) are stale? What do you do when you stop getting a lot out of a small group? What do you do when church attendance feels more like an obligation than a blessing? What do you do when your mind wanders in prayer, or you feel like God already knows everything that is happening?


If God is ALIVE, then what should we do when we go through seasons of discouragement?


Core Text: Read 1 Corinthians 15:1–11

John 15:5 (ESV) — I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides [remains] in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Have you ever thought about how a branch bears fruit? Think about it. How does the vine-dresser determine which branches are healthy and which are dying? He can tell which branches are alive by examining which branches are bearing fruit. There's no such thing as a living branch that doesn't produce more life. It's either growing, or it's dead. There's no such thing as a living branch that simply stays the same. 


Understanding Spiritual Life

John 15 uses horticultural language to describe our relationship with Jesus. According to this passage, what does it mean to abide and remain? And what are the implications of this for the way we relate to Jesus?

Fortunately, spiritual life is not something we are responsible to conjure up. Spiritual life and transformation resides in the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God resides in all who believe (2 Cor. 3:18, John 16:7-15; Phil 1:6; John 15:5). As long as the Gospel and the Spirit are alive in us, we will change, we will grow, and we will experience victory and vitality. Like a branch attached to a vine, our only responsibility is to remain connected to the source of life. In doing so, we ensure that our spiritual lives will thrive. If not, just like a branch cut from a vine, our spiritual lives will wither and die.

Jesus repeatedly compares our spiritual lives with agricultural life (Mark 4:13-20; John 15).

Mark 4:26–29 (ESV) — And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

A farmer does not need to train a plant how to replicate cells and convert sunlight, carbon-dioxide, and water into fuel. The work of a farmer is not to do the miraculous, but the mundane (tilling, sowing, watering, and harvesting). The plant contains everything it needs to grow through all stages (Mark 4:30-31). The farmer simply cultivates the environment required for life. The seed, and a lot of time, do the rest.

Living things require three things in order to thrive:

  1. a viable seed
  2. a life-giving environment
  3. time

Our spiritual lives require the same three things:

  1. a viable seed (the Gospel)
  2. a life-giving environment (remaining in God's Word, remaining obedient to his Spirit, remaining connected to the church body)
  3. time (spirituality is not a sprint)


The Tell: Apathy

Apathy is a lack of enthusiasm, interest, or concern for the things of God. It is one of the first signs of spiritual death and decay. Apathy leads from a passion for God, to passion for any or everything else. This results in “dead works” and “dead hearts.”


In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul explains the works of the flesh:

Galatians 5:19–21 (ESV) — Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


Have you ever done the right things with the wrong motivations? How does hypocrisy cause spiritual death? How is hypocritical living discouraging to your faith? How can we avoid this trap?


The Remedy: Remain Through

In John 15, the Greek word translated as “remain” or “abide” is meno. Another form of the word is hupomeno. Hupo is a Greek preposition that, when used as a prefix to meno, forms hupomeno, which means to “remain through” or “persevere.”

When Paul is speaking of love in 1 Cor. 13, he says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, ‘hupomeno’ all things.” Love doesn’t just remain, but it remains through all things. 

A lot of time our apathy comes from simply being spiritually out of shape. It is no different than our fatty and flabby bodies. We don’t need a new solution, we don’t need a new fad diet, we just need to REMAIN — doing the few things that bring about health and growth. 

This means that when my time in the Word is stale and I don’t want to sit and read or study or learn or listen, that, if I love God, I remain saturated in his truth despite my feelings otherwise.

It means that, when I don’t get along with people within my church, love would not shop for another group of believers, but love would “remain through” the awkward and disjointed relationships. 

Remaining feels like the most unattractive non-solution to progress. When something isn’t working, we think that it is because our methods are broken. But every plant goes through seasons of loss and every plant experiences seasons of drought. Still every plant needs the same few things week in and week out regardless of the season to grow and mature: water, soil, sun. 

Our greatest challenge in the faith is not conquering sin. That has been done for us in Christ (1 Cor. 15:56-57; Rom. 8:37-39). Our greatest challenge is to remain faithful to the basic practices and disciplines of the faith, even when we don’t feel like it. 

God gives us three things to remain in. Each of these components is critical for our life as believers, like soil, water, and sun for a living plant.


(Psalm 1) God has left us his Word in the scripture. We can make all the excuses we want about how it is difficult to read and understand, but he has repeatedly told his people that his law and his Word bring life. We must saturate our minds and hearts with his truths so we do not fall victim to the lies of the world (Rom. 1:24-25; 15:4).


How consistently are you saturated in the Word? Who or what encourages you to think and pray about his Word? Have you substituted God’s word for spiritual “junk food” like popular Christian books, blogs, and the opinions of other people?


In 1 John 2:19, John is warning his congregation about false teachers by telling them that the false teachers were not “of us” for if they were truly “of us” they would have “remained with us.” If God was really speaking through these people, they would not have dissented and left; they would have stayed. If they had stayed, they would not have continued in their false teaching.

God uses other people to change, correct, rebuke, and shape us. He uses pastors, teachers, small group leaders, and other believers to challenge our thinking, to keep us accountable to our commitments and accurate in our theology. Every healthy believer is an interdependent part of the greater church. There are no exceptions. (Romans 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12-27)


How integrated are you in the church? Are you available, vulnerable, and teachable with others?



The Holy Spirit is our helper (John 16:4). We must not resist Him (Acts 7:51). The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, he will prepare hearts, he will send us out, and he will lead each of us along the unique path that God has for us (Acts 16:6, 20:28; Matt. 4:1). It is possible to silence the Spirit of God through repeatedly rejecting or disobeying his prompting (1 Thess. 5:19). It is also possible to be empowered by God’s Spirit through prayer (Rom. 8:26; Eph. 6:17; Luke 11:13).


How vital is your relationship to the Holy Spirit? How might you be rejecting or disobeying his prompting?

What is the inevitable fruit of “remaining”? 

Galatians 5:22–25 (ESV) — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.


Which of these fruits have you seen the Holy Spirit develop in you over-time as you have remained? What does it means to “keep in step with the Spirit”?



God is working in you. He is going to see it through to completion (Phil. 1:6).  Your job is to keep in step with his Spirit and “remain through” the entire refinement process. You were saved by faith in Jesus, not by any good deed. It is God who holds us and preserves us to the end, not ourselves (John 10:27-28; Ph. 2:12-13, Eph. 4:30; Heb. 4:14-16; 1 John 4:18).

Hebrews 12:2-3, 11 (ESV) — ...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the  right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted... For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


The Challenge: Daily Prayer

Truth-filled & Truthful Conversations with God

The key to a vibrant prayer life is feeling the freedom to be completely “truthful” with God about how you feel, and then learning to petition him with “truth-filled” requests and praises. Read the Psalms, such as Psalm 2, 9, 13, 32 and 37, and you will see David was very transparent and “truthful” with God. He aired all his frustrations and brought before God all his struggles. This way, David went through his most difficult times with God, rather than allowing hardship to drive a wedge between him and God. 

While he is honest about his feelings and desires, you also see David constantly remind himself of what is true about God (Ps. 22, for example). Sometimes we unload how we truly feel (truthful), but do not ask him the truth-filled requests. Other times, we stoically or begrudgingly request of God what we know we are allowed to ask for, and never admit how we are truthfully feeling. In a vibrant life-giving relationship the more “truthful” and “truth-filled” our conversations with God, the less likely we are to grow distant from him.


Pray 20 Minutes Every Day this Week 

Begin with reading Ephesians 6:11–18 to guide your prayers. Ask God to strengthen your faith in the areas you feel weak. It is not only profitable but biblical to ask Jesus for help in your unbelief (Mark 9:24). When you have exhausted Ephesians 6:11-18, move on to Romans 8:5-7 and Galatians 5:22-24 to pray about setting your mind on the things of the Spirit.

Do it every day. Wait to see what God does.

Healthy Habits

  • Pray Eph. 6:11-18 - when you are feel weak, discouraged, or under attack
  • Pray Matt. 6:9-13 - when you don’t know how to pray
  • Pray John 17 - when you have lost your passion for God’s mission
  • Create your own prayer list of passages that keep you rooted in God’s perspective (use the free Echo Prayer app to organize your prayers and reminder yourself to pray)


Optional Message Resources

Creekside Church


Acts 2:42–45 (ESV) — And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 

The picture of the early church can look very different from the church that we experience today in the West. In the West, we tend to approach church much like we do educational institutions: we gather together, we learn, we apply, and we leave. The picture that Jesus painted was very different. He went so far as to say that our families are no longer defined by who your earthly parents are, but by your obedience to the will of the Heavenly Father (Matt. 12:50, John 1:11-13, Gal 3:26-29).

Galatians 6:10 (ESV) — So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.


Biblically speaking, the church is not a gathering of religiously-minded individuals; the church is a household, the church is a family. What does that comparison mean to you?


Core Text: Acts 2:42–47

Acts 2:42–45 (ESV) — And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

As a child in a biological or adopted family, you have no choice but to be a part of the family. Your role in the family began at birth or adoption and you didn’t get a say in it. The only choice a child really has is their level of commitment to their family. So it is with the church. Your role in the household of faith began the day you accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Once you were born of the Spirit of God, you entered a new household. The only question is how committed to and integrated you become in this new, spiritual family.



How have the sharing of your life, your things, or the Gospel been limited compared with the extent of sharing depicted in Acts 2:42-47? When have you experienced the church acting like family? Is the church life as depicted in Acts 2 appealing to you? How so?



Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-26. How does the comparison of the church to a body compliment the church’s identity as family? Practically speaking, how do we communicate “I do not belong to the body” through our actions, words, or habits, whether we intend to or not? Though we would never say this directly to another person in the church, what is the way that we communicate to one another “I don’t need you”?


The Tell: Witholding

On his final night with the disciples Jesus exhorts his disciples to love one another. 

John 13:34–35 (ESV) — A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


Love cannot be experienced from a distance, at least not Christ-like love. It doesn’t work, inspire, or encourage the household of faith when we hold back. 

Love is, by its very nature, close, personal, sacrificial, and lavish. That is why God’s greatest act of love was the sending of his son Jesus (John 3:16). We know that we are struggling to embrace Christ-like love, when we find ourselves overly concerned with protecting our lives and our resources, avoiding commitments. Self-protection causes us to withhold, preventing the growth of a healthy, interdependent family.


Let’s look at two different stories strung together in Acts 4:33-5:1-11. The contrast between these two approaches is stark, producing remarkably different results.


Acts 4:33–37 (ESV) — And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.



In Acts 4:36-37 we are first introduced to Barnabas “the Encourager.” What did Barnabas do to encourage his new household of faith?


What became of Barnabas? 

Look up the following verses and see the role Barnabas continued to play in the household of God: Acts 9:27; 11:22; 11:30; 13:2; 15:37. 



Acts 5:1–11 (ESV) — But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.



How do Ananias and Sapphira participate differently from Barnabas in the church family? In 5:3, what does Peter say is the cause of them withholding a portion of their proceeds? What was the result of Ananias and Sapphira’s deceitful withholding? In what ways have you been encouraged by the generosity and commitment of others?


The Remedy: Share Generously

The solution to withholding is sharing. The more we share our lives, our stuff, and the Gospel, the more interdependent and integrated we will be in this new heavenly family, called the church. 


The examples of Ananias, Sapphira, and Barnabas deal directly with money, but the extent of sharing goes well beyond finances. Sharing in God’s family extends into three distinct categories:

1. Share your life (1 Thess. 2:8; Heb. 10:24-25, Matt 12:50) – Shared life isn’t about how long you have been attending the same church, whether you believe the same things as another person, or share the same life stage. Shared life is about transparency, vulnerability, and a shared commitment to Jesus. A shared life includes people of all ages and cultures.

Are you vulnerable in small groups, or do you carefully craft the image that others have of you? Do you share your story of faith and listen intently to the stories of others? Do you go out of your way to participate in the activities and mission of your local church? 

2. Share your things (Acts 2:44, 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8, 1 John 3:17) - Are you generous about investing your money in kingdom work? Do you see yourself as manager of God’s resources to spend lavishly on the building of kingdom, or do you still view the contents of your checking account as your property?

2 Corinthians 9:7— 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

3. Share the Gospel (1 Thess. 2:8, Col. 1:28) – Do I proclaim the truth boldly to those whom God has placed in my church family? Do I take responsibility for speaking truth and intervening in the lives of others, or I do restrict my spiritual responsibilities to my own family? 



In what ways have you been sharing life with your family of faith? What changes need to take place so that you become more integrated in the heart and life of the family of God?



What’s wrong with giving money under compulsion (cf. 1 Cor. 13:3)? How does remembering who God help you to have a generous attitude (James 1:17, Rom. 8:32)? When does focusing on the recipient help you give cheerfully? How does trusting God’s promises (Luke 6:38, 2 Cor. 9:6) make you a cheerful giver?



In what ways are you withholding your things from the family of faith? What changes need to take place so that the things God gave to you are invested in the work and mission of God’s church?



In what ways are you withholding the Gospel from the people God has surrounded you with? What changes need to take place so that the proclaiming the Gospel to others is an integral part of your life?


We Reap What We Sow

2 Corinthians 9:6–12 (ESV) — The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully... He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

It might be that your experiences with church have felt nothing like “Family.” But Paul makes it very clear that when we give abundantly, we receive abundantly. Maybe the reason we don’t experience the communal reality of the early church is because we’ve sowed for independence and reaped isolation in return. 



What role does the body of Christ play in your family life? How might God be asking you to take steps as a family towards more generosity and sharing?



The Challenge: Share a Meal

Call somebody in the church that you don’t know very well and invite them to coffee or a meal. Ask them about their testimony, when they became a Christian. Ask them how you can pray for them.


Optional Message Resources:

Creekside Church

Will You Lay Down Your Life So Another May Live?

John 15:13 (ESV) — Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.



Can you point to a specific person who played a vital part in you becoming a believer or in you growing in your faith? What did it cost them to share the Gospel with you or to help bring you to maturity in your faith?

What Are We Becoming?

What is the end goal of all this following? Where is Christ leading us? 

Some think that teaching, training, proclaiming, and shepherding are tasks reserved for professionally trained pastors and uniquely gifted individuals. There is certainly truth to the idea that God has gifted us each uniquely to complement one another. But, gifting is a matter of “how” we do what we are called to do. This lesson is about “what” we are all called to do. This is a lesson on our new identity as followers and imitators of Jesus. When some read the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20), they think it was a message directed only to the Apostles as the next generation of leaders. But when you look at the whole message of Jesus, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The essence of discipleship is becoming like Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). After all, Jesus did say he was THE WAY, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He also called his followers to take on “his yoke” (Matt. 11:29). If it is true that we all follow Jesus so that we will be like him, then the more closely we follow and the longer we journey with him, the more we will think like him, pray like him, serve like him, and spend our lives the way that he spent his. Certainly, none of us are the Son of God, and there are limits to the degree that we can be exactly like Jesus, but the spirit of discipleship is to become like the master.

When Jesus recruits followers he is very clear about the end goal.

Mark 1:17 (ESV) — And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Should we expect our journey with Jesus to “make us become” something different than the disciples in the Gospels?


The Tell: Spiritual Rut

Have you ever felt like your spiritual life is stuck in a rut? You go to church, you read your Bible, but it doesn’t feel like there are any new and profound lessons.

“When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what will be.” – A.W. Tozer

When we fall into these ruts, two things tend to happen in the church: either the church primarily becomes a social club, where we spend time with good moral people; the church becomes an educational institution, where we bury ourselves in the study of God’s word, going from Bible study to Bible study, lesson to lesson. 

When you read about the life of the disciples in the Gospels, or Paul in the book of Acts, there are in anything but a rut. There is constant life, vitality, fear, faith, risk, and reward waiting in every chapter. Why?


By Now You Ought to Be Teachers

Hebrews 5:12 (ESV) —For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food. 

The recipients of the letter of Hebrews were in a rut. They were stuck, unable to move forward, because they never moved beyond the basic principles to become teachers. They were perpetual infants or students.

People get stuck in spiritual ruts all the time.

  • They attend Bible study for years, they learn and discuss the Bible, but never mentor, disciple, or evangelize.
  • People get stuck in ruts when their ministry is always limited to “church work” — setting up chairs, making coffee, running events­—and they never dream to think that God may use them to lead, to teach, to share, or shepherd.
  • People get stuck in ruts when faith is just about filling in the gaps between marriage, work, family and fun so that life has “purpose” and “values.”    Church and God are just another part of a compartmentalized life.



Question: When and how have you been stuck in a rut?


Peter Experiences a Rut

Peter is stalled. He followed Jesus for three years. He was used by Jesus to proclaim the gospel to hundreds and thousands of people. But after his denial of Christ, Peter goes back to fishing. Peter stalls. He settles for fishing, rather than fishing for men like he was originally called and trained to do. When Jesus approaches Peter in John 21, he does so to get Peter back on track.

John 21:15–17 (ESV) — When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.



What was Jesus communicating to Peter when he asked him three times to feed his lambs? Why do you think he asked the same question three times? What is the link between Peter’s love of Jesus and his role as multiplier?


The Remedy: Make Disciples

How do you break out of a rut? Make disciples! If we take seriously the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20) or the Great Compassion (Matt. 25:31-46) or the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36-40), we will never find ourselves out of work. As long as there are people on this earth that need to be loved, led, served, and saved, then there is a life of adventure that awaits us.

Matthew 28:16–20 (ESV) — Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 


What Does Making Disciples Look Like?

Making disciples doesn’t require that we be an overseas missionary or pastor who earns their living from full time ministry. Jesus intended disciple-making to be a part of everyday life because making disciples is less about what you are doing and more about the priorities you have in all you are doing. You make disciples when you develop relationships with people outside your usual group of friends for the sake of exposing them to the gospel. You make disciples when you pray for a lost friend and when you invite someone to a small group, church or retreat. You make disciples when you personally take on the responsibility of helping someone grow into a disciple of Jesus himself. You make disciples when you talk to people about Jesus even though it’s hard and scary and sometimes uncomfortable. You make disciples when you take on a role with children or youth that gives you the chance to speak spiritually into their lives.

THE BOTTOM LINE: You make disciples when you connect PEOPLE to JESUS. 



List a few ways that God has used you to make more disciples.


Regardless of how you have been used in the past, or how God has specifically gifted you to be used in the future. There is a very important and radical shift that must occur in the life of every follower of Christ: the shift from student to teacher; the shift from disciple to disciple-maker. 

 You will begin to recognize this shift when your life becomes less oriented around your wants, desires, and dreams and more defined by the spiritual needs of others.


The Costs

1 Corinthians 9:19–22 (ESV) — For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.



What are some of the costs that Paul has to pay so that as many as possible can be saved? Who do you feel God is calling you to make disciples of? What would it mean for you to apply the principle of v. 19-23 in order to communicate the gospel to them?


What Does Laying Down Your Life Look Like?

  • Does it mean eliminating dearly loved and profitable hobbies so you can lead a small group?
  • Does it mean less time with cherished friends, creating space for unbelieving friends?
  • Does it mean leaving a city you love, to reach an unreached population?
  • Does it mean leaving a career that dominates your schedule so that you have more time for people and the mission?
  • Does it mean staying longer than you want in a situation because God is using you to minister to the people he has placed around you?
  • Does it mean pushing through relational anxiety to build new relationships with people?



What do you think laying down your life for another looks like for you?



Let’s be honest. On the surface, most of us would prefer that our faith was about us ­—our forgiveness, about God making us better people, parents, and spouses. That is what we all want. 

Do you really want to pour your life into a person only to have them walk away? Do you truly enjoy the awkwardness of sharing your faith? Wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier if it was just about our relationship with God? 

It doesn’t do anybody any good if we pretend that we want something to please God, but never intend to follow his lead. We must move beyond the perpetual guilt and embrace what the Holy Spirit longs to do through us.


The Blessings

1 Corinthians 9:23–26 (ESV) — I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

1 Thessalonians 2:19–20 (ESV) — For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.


What is his motivation for shaping his life around the needs and concerns of others (v.19,22,23)? How much of your life is shaped around the needs and concerns of others?


God Is Not Done with You

Mark 1:17 — “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men."

Jesus took ordinary men. He trained them and equipped them to become the founders of the church. The men you read about in the book of Acts are different men then those who were called from their nets. All of this happened in a matter of three years. God isn’t done with any of his disciples until they are all transformed into fishers of men. Do you believe that is even possible?

“Calling is not only a matter of being and doing what we are but also of becoming what we are not yet but are called by God to be.” – Oz Guinness


The Conclusion: Final Call

The cost of this shift of priorities is death. The benefit of this shift is that others get life.

Will your love of God allow the Holy Spirit to transform you into one who would lay down his life for sake of another?

If your answer is “yes,” then there is a great adventure for you in the life of faith. If your answer is “no,” “not yet,” “I’m unsure,” then here is where you stall. If you stall too long, it is where your faith begins to rot. 

This last lesson in FOLLOW, isn’t the last of six lessons; it is really the beginning of the rest of your journey with Jesus here on this earth. You are freed for a purpose. You are freed so that you can free others with the same Gospel that freed you. You are now freed from having to spend the rest of your life looking for an agenda worth living for and serving, because your agenda is his mission. You are now freed from wondering if you are living your life within God’s will because he has made his will clear, he wants YOU to feed his sheep. 

If the cost of laying down your life for the sake of another seems too high or more than you bargained for, then you have your answer to the question I asked in Lesson 03. Are you willing to follow Jesus anywhere he leads? No, not anywhere.

Many walked away from Jesus, because what he taught wasn’t what they wanted to hear. That is why our response to the word of God always comes down to faith and trust. We don’t need to desire everything he has for us at first. We just need to trust him and remain with him in the process, believing that somehow losing our lives may be the only way to find them (Mark 8:35).

The closer you follow Jesus, the more you fall in love with God the Father, and the longer you are led by the Holy Spirit, these three guides will always converge back on the same question. Will you become like Jesus and lay down your life, so that other people might live from the message that you bring?

Romans 10:14 (ESV) — How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death for you.” – CS Lewis


The Challenge: Make Disciples

  • Who are the people that you have the most proximity and contact with in your daily life (i.e. co-workers, clients, children, friends, soccer families)? How would making disciples look in these contexts?
  • Find someone who would benefit from going through FOLLOW and offer to take them through it.
  • If you are willing to be tapped as a resource for new members, or new believers, let your FOLLOW leader know when you go through this lesson together. 



Scripture to Read: John 8:31-32

Prayers to Pray: Pray that God develops in you a heart for the lost and the faith to believe that you too are called and empowered to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20).

Steps of Faith:

  1. Disciple someone
  2. Join or start a Gospel Community
  3. Invite a friend, neighbor, or coworker to join your Gospel Community
  4. Read The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman


Optional Message Resources

Creekside Church

Do You BELIEVE God Is Exactly Who He Claims to Be?

Romans 1:24–25 (ESV) — 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Romans 10:9 (ESV) — 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Mark Beuving
Intro (cut and paste form here)

How to Do This Study

When you sit down to do your FOLLOW study, anticipate that each session will take you a couple hours. Especially when you take the time to look up several passages, write out your answers, and pray. So don’t plan to do each lesson in a single sitting. You will get out of this what you put into it.

When the study asks a question, take the time to actually record your response, either digitally or in a journal. This is where you will record the ways God is challenging you. These notes will also be a key reminder for your FOLLOW discussion. The more you write down the more detailed you will be able to be when you share with your leader. It will also prove to be a helpful tool for personal prayer. If you are faithful to journal throughout the next 6 weeks, you will be more likely to see the work that God is doing over time and it will help you to focus your prayers.


The Main Goal Is Transformation

Make sure that you try and avoid treating the FOLLOW study as homework. The goal is not to complete an assignment in as little time as possible. The goal is to have your mind and life transformed by an encounter with the living God (Rom. 12:1-2).

Romans 12:1-2
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual 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."


Why Does FOLLOW Matter?

FOLLOW walks through the foundational components of life as a follower of Jesus. 

These are the essential building blocks for a healthy life of faith. But do not confuse foundational with basic or rudimentary. To any student of the Scripture these biblical mandates are self-evident. Yet, there isn’t a believer alive today who can exhaust the simple yet revolutionary call given to each of us by these six simple verbs.

When you read FOLLOW, think of yourself as a child receiving gentle instruction from your heavenly Father. FOLLOW is about the freedom offered to all who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is derived from six biblical mandates that God gives his people repeatedly throughout the entire canon of Scripture. They are the essence of God’s way for man to discover abundant life in a fallen world. Missing even just one of these truths is like trying to grow plants without water, soil, or sun. FOLLOW asks six difficult questions in light of God’s commands.

BELIEVE – Can you believe God is exactly who he claims to be? 
REPENT – Is anything too broken for God to heal? 
FOLLOW – Will you truly follow Jesus anywhere he leads you? 
REMAIN – When you become discouraged will you walk away? 
SHARE – Are you an individual or do you belong to a family?
MULTIPLY – Will you lay down your life so another can live?


Two Identities

There are two essential identities to the life of every believer and every living thing:

1) The identity of the child
2) The identity of the parent

Children receive and consume. My parents spent thousands of dollars and hours, teaching, training, loving, supporting, coaching, and leading me so that I could become a healthy adult. My role as a child was to receive their love and instruction and follow their lead. As a child of God I have this exact same role. God gives; I receive. Jesus speaks; I listen. The Spirit leads and I follow. (John 10:1-19; Psalm 23)

Parents have an entirely different role than children. As a parent I give, so others can receive. As a parent, I speak so others can listen. As a parent I lead so others can follow. The parent sacrifices their life and preferences for the health and well-being of their children. 

So it is with our spiritual identities. Not only are we children of God, we are also called to be disciple-makers (Matt. 28:18-20) and teachers (Heb. 5:12). The biblical pattern goes like this: 1) Receive Jesus 2) Obey Jesus 3) Be Jesus. The 12 disciples were disciples (pupils & adherents) before they were apostles (“sent ones”). Abraham followed God in faith well before he fathered many nations. Paul surrendered his life on the road to Damascus well before he was planting churches. 

Every believer must first follow before they multiply. But, every true disciple will mature into a multiplier (Heb. 5:12; Matt. 28:16-20; John 17:18). This shift from spiritual child to spiritual parent never supplants our identities as children of God. It only builds upon it. 

As Jesus asked Peter to feed his sheep, he reminded him that the older he became the more he would be led places he never intended to go, namely death on a cross (John 21:17-19). So it turns out that if we want to be greater and greater multipliers we must become more and more dependent followers.

The closer we follow the more we will multiply. 

This curriculum is broken into two parts. The first is FOLLOW which unpacks the mandates of life as a child of God. The second is MULTIPLY which unpacks the mandates and life of disciple-maker or spiritual parent. 

May you follow and multiply!


A Letter to My Children

To My Children, 

You have changed my life forever. Until you were born I didn’t know that I could love something the way that I love each of you. I am fortunate to be the recipient of a lot of love in this life; first from my parents, then from my friends, and more recently from your mother. I also have given out my fair share of love, but there is something unexpectedly different about loving my own child. I love you not because of what you give me but because your are part of me, I don’t just mean that you are my flesh and blood, I mean that I am responsible for you, YOU ARE MINE. It is your existence that makes you worthy of my love and nothing more.

This type of love is a frustrating type of love because it is binding for life. You never earned it, so you can’t loose it. I also never cognitively gave it; so I can’t stop it. It is instinctual for me and because of that I’m forever shackled to you and your decisions in a way you can’t possibly understand. 

You still think the blast radius of your folly begins and ends with you. What your immature mind can’t even begin to fathom is that it is actually far more difficult for me to watch you hurt yourself, or become a hurtful person, than it is for me to deal with the hurtful things you say and do to me. 

I know that in your little minds, you think that if you don’t look out for your own interests at all costs somebody may get the best of you, fool you, take something you love or make you do something that you will hate. As real as these fears may feel they simply aren’t the full truth. People do take advantage, people will fool you, but freedom isn’t actually found in your independence or self-preservation. True freedom can only be found under the care of someone you fully trust. 

Your greatest enemy is your willful impulse to control, manipulate, rule and protect your life and in the end it will lead you to the most pain, despite the fact that pain is the very thing you are trying to avoid. I know this is difficult to understand. If you would let me coach you, teach you, or walk with you, so much of your struggle could be alleviated. But you insist that you have it covered.

I’m not sure you will ever understand the heart wrenching pain involved each time your actions force my hand of discipline. You question my love when I discipline you, but it wouldn’t be love if I quietly stood by while you marched down a path of self-destruction. All I really want is for us to find joy in one another.

You are selfish beyond comprehension and your ungratefulness is blinding, but none of that affects my love for you. Not even a little bit. I don’t need your appreciation, understanding, or obedience to love you. My love for you supersedes all of that. I love you because you are MY child. Nothing will change that. 

Children, you have changed my life forever and simultaneously my love and appreciation for my Heavenly Father, for I too am the defiant, selfish, and ungrateful child struggling to protect my self-interest at all costs. My love for you has made me believe it is possible that God may look upon me the same way I look upon you. That his intolerance of my rebellion and sin is because he longs to truly enjoy our relationship and it cannot be done when I refuse to trust him. It might just be that he too whispers words of guidance, wisdom, and instruction that I willfully reject. 

This curriculum is dedicated to all five of you. I wish for nothing more in this life, than for each of you to discover, in your own ways and His time, that true love, joy, peace, and life are found only in relationship with our Heavenly Father. You can’t trust people, you can’t even fully trust me, but you can trust Him. May you follow and multiply! 


Your Dad

Creekside Church