Following Jesus: Focus On The Message

 

Last Updated on by Rocklyn Clarke

This page is being updated frequently. Check back regularly for updates!

Description and Purpose

This web page supports “Focus On The Message” – the first component of our “Following Jesus” discipleship program. Here you will learn how to help other believers develop a lifestyle of understanding and obeying the Bible – God’s Word. Helping to train other believers is the best way for you to ensure your own spiritual growth.

Check back here frequently for updates. It contains both general resources for the class and ideas and resources specific to each of the chapters of Matthew that we will work through during the class

Goals

See the Following Jesus class goals.


Habits and Ministries

As your disciple works his/her way through our “Following Jesus” discipleship curriculum you will help him/her to:

  1. Develop godly habits
  2. Turn godly habits into skills.
  3. Turn godly habits and skills into his/her ministry.

Assignments

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

Throughout this material you will find sections titled “Assignments for training your crew”. They are designed to assist you with training others. Use the assignments to guide the people you’re discipling into a deeper understanding of God’s Kingdom and the life of following Jesus. The will typically involve the following:

  • Listen to God.
    • Set aside a daily time to spend with God when you won’t be disturbed.
    • Use this time to pray. Ask your discipler to teach you how if necessary.
    • Keep a notebook that you can use to write down what the Lord says to you during this and other times.
    • Review what God says to you with the person who is discipling you.
  • Read some Bible passages.
  • Watch some videos.
  • Discuss answers to some relevant questions.
    The discussion is an important part of the growth process. The relevant questions will often include the following:
    Standard Discussion Questions:

    • What did this passage teach you about God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)?
    • What did this passage teach you about people?
    • In what ways does this passage apply to your own life?
    • How are you measuring up to what God is requiring of you?
    • How can we help you in this area?

Try to pace the assignments at about one per week.


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The Bible

Doing the Bible is the first of our Core Values at Life Church and in order to do the Bible we have to learn the Bible and teach it to others. If you want to get the most out of this material then make a commitment to do the following:

  • Find a group or at least a partner with whom you can engage this material.
  • Read the Bible passages that are linked here.
  • Watch the videos. Watch the short Bible Project videos several times so that the teaching becomes a part of you.
  • Teach this to others as you are learning it. This, more than anything else, will deepen your own understanding!
    • Start with a friend or family member (including your spouse and/or your children). – Deuteronomy 6:1-9 NIV – Bible Gateway
    • Find others who are hungry to learn and have no one with whom to study.

Habits

Now is the right time to prepare your disciple for what’s coming next by coaching him/her in developing the following habits:

  • Prayer
    • Set aside a daily time to spend with God when you won’t be disturbed.
    • Use this time to pray. Ask your disciples to teach you how if necessary.
    • Keep a notebook that you can use to write down what the Lord says to you during this and other times.
    • Review what God says to you with the person who is discipling you.
    • Read “My Heart Christ’s Home”.

Approaching the Bible

Some background for urban disciples:

  • Christianity is not a western religion! It is a middle-eastern religion that has had a significant, yet sadly inadequate influence on the west.
  • Christianity is “revealed” religion – it is entirely about God taking an initiative to communicate specific truths to us and our response to his initiative. It is NOT about our finding our way to God. If God did not exist, Christianity would be meaningless. If it turned out that God exists, but hasn’t actually communicated anything, then Christianity would be meaningless. We are entirely dependent on God’s desire to make himself known. If God did not want to reveal himself to us we would have no hope of finding him or figuring him out.
  • No Europeans were involved in writing the Bible!
  • When you read the Bible you are eavesdropping on a conversation that God had with someone else. You are eavesdropping with his permission, indeed his encouragement, but you are still eavesdropping and you need to interpret everything from the perspective of the initial audience. The Bible was written for us, but not directly to us.

Understanding the Bible

Perhaps the best way to understand the Bible is by approaching it the way the founders of The Bible Project do:

The Bible is a small library of books telling a unified story that leads to Jesus.

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Watch each of the 3 videos above.
    • Discussion Questions:
      • What questions have you had about the Bible, Jesus, Christianity?
      • What do your family members and friends believe about these subjects?
      • Where have you looked for answers? Have you found the answers you needed?

Let’s add some more detail to each of these:

A Small Library of Books

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Watch the entire “How To Read The Bible” video series above.
    • Discussion Questions:
      • Has the material you’ve seen so far been helpful?
      • What remaining questions have you had about the Bible, Jesus, Christianity?

Telling a Unified Story

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Watch the “When Heaven Meets Earth” Bible Project video above.
    • Watch the “Big Picture” video with N. T. Wright above.
    • Discussion Questions:
      • What did you believe about the Bible’s story before you looked at this material?
      • Has your understanding of the Bible changed? If so, how?

Leading To Jesus

  • Our Approach
    • Starting from scratch

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Read the Bible passages above.
    • Watch the “The Gospel” and “The Gospel of the Kingdom” Bible Project videos above.
    • Review the scriptures in the “good news” and “follow me” keyword searches above.
    • Discussion Questions
      • Review what you, your family, and your friends have believe about Jesus.
      • What do you believe about Jesus now? Who is he to you?
      • Are you a follower of Jesus? If so, how did you become one?

Bible Versions

We strongly recommend that you read or listen to the Bible in a modern word for word translation such as one of the following:

We do not use the King James Version (KJV) since it uses outdated English that will get in the way of your understanding of the text. We also do not recommend using paraphrase, or idiomatic versions such (The Message, The Living Bible, etc.) since these make it harder to directly engage the words from the original languages. We do not recommend using the Amplified Bible since it can give the misleading impression that all of the potential meanings of various Biblical words are actually intended at any given point at which that word appears. Finally, you should never use the New World Translation by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (The Jehovah’s Witnesses).

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • If you haven’t done so already, begin using a modern English translation (e.g. NIV, ESV, etc.) of the Bible.
    • Put your King James Version of the Bible away.
    • Discussion Questions
      • What versions of the Bible, if any, have you used?
      • Have you found the Bible difficult to read, easy to read, or somewhere in between?
      • If you have any favorite Bible passages, compare them one or two of the versions that you are now aware of.
      • How do you feel reading a modern English version of the Bible?

Online Bible Resources

The Bible Project

The Bible Project is an amazing resource that includes dozens of excellently produced videos and study guides that will greatly enhance your understanding of the Bible. There are links to videos from The Bible Project in the section above and throughout this web page.

The site also includes a 1 year Bible reading plan that you can download.

The One Year Bible Online

This Bible reading plan is the online version of the One Year Bibles available in print in various versions (NIV, ESV, etc.). From this web site you can do your Bible reading on the standard plan (January 1 – December 31) or you can create a plan with a start date of your own choice. You can even order the One Year Bible in print!

Bible Gateway

Bible Apps

    • Bible Gateway

Other Online Resources

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Review the resources above and choose a plan for reading through the Bible in 1, 2, or 3 years.
    • Discussion Questions:
      • Have you ever read through the entire Bible before? If so, how many times have you done this?
      • Do you like to read? What types of reading, if any, do you enjoy?
      • What Bible software/apps have you installed on your computer and mobile devices?
      • How much of the Bible do you think you can faithfully read per day?
      • What will you do when you run into problem or have questions about your Bible reading? How comfortable are you with asking for help?
      • What’s the best way for me to help you grow in faithfulness in your Bible reading?

Habits

Here are the habits that your disciple should develop next:

    • Review the resources above and choose a plan for reading through the Bible in 1, 2, or 3 years.
    • Establish a regular time for reading through the Bible. You may choose to combine this with your prayer time.

Purchase Bibles

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Review the Bible vendors above and purchase two modern English hardcover or softcover Bibles:
      • A Study Bible
      • A convenient Bible for mobile use.
    • Set up access to online Bible resources on your computer, and mobile devices.
    • Discussion Questions
      • Do you need help buying an appropriate Bible? When, where, and how will you buy it?

Resource Lists (for your convenience)


Matthew

This section will include notes and resources related to each chapter that we will be reading

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Read and watch the material in the Bible Project link above.
    • Order the “Matthew for Everyone” commentators above.
    • Discussion Questions:

Matthew 1

Main text and related passages:

  • Matthew 1 NIV – The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah – Bible Gateway
  • Isaiah 7:1-14 NIV – The Sign of Immanuel – When Ahaz son of – Bible Gateway

Topics to explore in discussion:

    • The backstory to the Gospel.
    • The women in Jesus’ genealogy.

Additional resources to check out:

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Read the main passage and related passages above.
    • Watch the “Yahweh Saves” video from the Tim Mackie series on Matthew above.
    • Discussion Questions:
      • What does this chapter say about who Jesus is?
      • How does this chapter compare with what you’ve believed about Jesus in the past?
      • How does this chapter compare with what you believe about Jesus now?

Habits

    • Make a list of the people in your sphere of influence (i.e. people you connect with at least once a week) who aren’t followers of Jesus.
    • Begin praying for them regularly.

Matthew 2

Main text and related passages:

Topics to explore:

    • How many Magi were there?
    • Why does God allow tragedies to take place?
    • “Out of Egypt” – redoing Israel’s history the right way.

Additional resources to check out:

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Read the main passage and related passages above.
    • Watch the “God With Us” video from the Tim Mackie series on Matthew above.

Matthew 3

Main text and related passages:

Topics to explore:

    • Baptism was the onramp for converts to judaism. By submitting to John’s baptism, repentant Jews were behaving as if they were gentile converts – starting from scratch. What would it look like for “repentant” Americans to renounce their citizenship and voluntarily go through the immigration and naturalization process?
    • Jesus’ baptism is unique. The Father speaks from heaven to make clear what Jesus’ status was – he had nothing to repent for.

Additional resources to check out:

Matthew 4

Main text and related passages:

Topics to explore:

    • Jesus continues to redo Israel’s history the right way. Demonstrating obedience in the wilderness where Israel repeatedly disobeyed.

Additional resources to check out:

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Read the main passage and related passages above.
    • Watch the “God With Us” video from the Tim Mackie series on Matthew above.
    • Watch the “Overview” video from the “5 thresholds” video. Which of the people in your sphere of influence fit into the “Trust”, “Curiosity”, Openness to Change”, “Seeking”, and “Following” categories?

Assignment for training your crew (using this material to bring others to spiritual maturity):

    • Read the main passage and related passages above.
    • Watch the “God With Us” video from the Tim Mackie series on Matthew above.
    • Watch the “Overview” video from the “5 thresholds” video.
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