“Nurturing Relationships That Make Disciples”
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16
Intro: Today I want to talk about “Nurturing Relationships That Make Disciples.”
The Bible teaches us that relationships are really important to living a Godly life.
In the Old Testament the book of Genesis 2:18 “It is not good that the man should be alone.”
and God created a companion for Adam.
Proverbs 27 verse 17 “iron sharpens iron” so two friends sharpen one another
Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work if one falls down his friend can help him up.”
In the New Testament Mark chapter 3:14 we read the Jesus appointed 12 disciples
“so that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach”
the reason Jesus chose 12 disciples was not just so that they would go out and make other disciples
but that they might be with him also to encourage him and support him
Even Jesus needed friends and people around him.
I think we have lived into a culture where making friends and nurturing relationships is a lost art.
There are three levels of healthy friendships
1. One is you have casual friends.
You see them once every two or three months
but you have such a blending of spirits that you are able to pick up that friendship
right where it left off
2. Then you have close friends that you might see every week
and you're in each other's homes
or go out to eat together
you do things together
they understand you
you are comfortable being with them
3. Then there are intimate friends
a friend is somebody who knows you so well that you can say anything and do anything
be yourself totally
that person knows enough about you to ruin you but they don't do it
because they know you know enough about them to ruin them also
Now if you have one or two intimate friends in the course of a lifetime you are blessed
We could say that Jesus had 120 casual friends or so that he met with every few months in the upper room.
And 12 disciples who were close friends.
And then Peter James and John that were his intimate friends in the inner circle.
Hebrews 10:25 says “don't forsake the assembling of yourself together as the manner of some is,
but encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
I know he is talking about that as we are nearing the last days
As we approach the final return of Christ and the end of the age
We are to encourage each other and all the more to stand firm against the attacks of the adversary
So Christian Disciples are to meet with each other
We do this on a weekly basis
Every Sunday and throughout the week in small groups
We are to meet together on a regular basis:
To encourage one another.
To share our faith.
To get closer to the Lord
To support one another through times of struggles
To strengthen each other and grow in our relationship with one another and God.
Difficulties should never be excuses for missing church.
Rather the less time you have
and the harder life is
the greater the need and more the effort you should put into faithful attendance
and your personal relationship with Christ.
Life is not meant to be lived in isolation
It is meant to be lived in Community
It is meant to be lived in the family or household of God.
where we support one another.
Put our arms around each other
Love on one another in the spirit of the Lord.
Romans 16:16 “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
IN OTHER WORDS greet one another with Christ like love.
Today the world has become increasingly crowded
But the more people there are…, the more we struggle with loneliness
Recently I called a number to make a payment over the phone.
I talked to a computer for 10 minutes.
If you would like to listen in English please press one.
si te gustaria escuchar españolo prensa dos
Please enter the account number.
Please enter your date of birth.
Please enter the last four digits of your social security number.
Please verify your address.
Please enter your credit card number.
Please enter the name of the person listed on the credit card.
Please enter the three digit security code.
We are sorry the information you entered does not match our records.
Please try again later.
All I wanted to do was talk to a real person I just want to make a payment on my bill.
You can spend a lifetime talking to Siri or Alexa.
When you are at a restaurant just look around you.
People are not talking to each other
They are sitting across the table from one another
Texting some else.
Because texting is little safer than talking.
Have you ever been texting someone and the next thing you know they don’t answer.
You don’t feel rejected. You don’t get mad.
If you are standing there talking to someone and they just up and walk away you are offended.
You get upset.
But if they stop texting you just go on about your business.
Maybe a few hours later you hear a little ding
And they are back…, they answer you….,
The average teenager sends about 100 texts per day.
We are craving relationships
and the church sees the problem
that's why we have small groups, accountability groups, family life groups
We understand the need for interactive opportunities
People want and need more than a key board or a cold phone screen
People long for connection
People long for a relationship that is meaningful and positive.
It is the lack of meaningful and positive relationships that cause us to have so many problems in life.
It is the lack of close friends and the lack of nurturing relationships
that cause us to act on impulse
and make poor decisions.
We have no one close enough to give us good advice or hold us accountable.
So, without the wisdom of others we fumble along in the dark so to speak
Trying to find our way all alone.
When perhaps others have gone down the same road we are on
They could help us
They already know where the potholes and pitfalls are
Because they have already gone through…, what you are going through
and they could warn us…, and guide us…, and steer us clear of certain traps and encourage us to press on.
Let’s look at a woman in the Bible who was on the verge of being alone
and yet she developed deep nurturing relationships
that in her helped her through some of the most difficult times in her life as well
as helped her in her relationship with both God and others.
Her name is Naomi
and her story is found in the book of Ruth
I am going to share with you some highlights of her life
And then some practical life application ways that we can learn from her
To help us develop “Nurturing Relationships That Make Disciples.”
In chapter 1 of the book of Ruth
Naomi and her husband Elimelech move from Juda to escape a terrible famine.
They make the decision to move 100 miles from Bethlehem where they live to the land of Moab
Moab was and enemy land of Israel
It was on the east side of the Jordan
It was a little more mountainous.
So there was more rain in that territory.
It is ironic that the word Bethlehem means house of bread
Bethlehem is going to be the place for the Bread of Life
the Messiah is going to be born there
but they move from Judah to Moab into the enemy territory
I want you to think about this for a moment.
They had a choice to stay in Bethlehem at the risk of starving their bodies
but they moved to Moab at the risk of starving their faith.
This Israelite family abandoned their clan and leave the land of God’s promise.
They weren’t just turning their backs on their hometown of Bethlehem and its people:
they were turning their backs on God.
Emilelech “walked by sight not by faith…” and took his whole family right down with him.
If leaving Judah was not bad enough, the place he chose to go was even worse.
Moab was a pagan land that worshipped many false gods and practiced human sacrifices.
The Moabites had been horrible to the Israelites,
refusing to give them water
or feed them during their exodus from Egypt.
God said that Moab was strictly off-limits for the Israelites.
This little family of four basically had two choices when they found themselves at the crossroads:
Stay in Bethlehem: risk starving their bodies.
Move to Moab: risk starving their faith.
And off to Moab they went!
Think about that for just a moment.
Have you ever been guilty of choosing the physical things in life?
Over choosing the spiritual things in life?
Not long after they move…, tragedy struck
And Elimelech dies and Naomi is left alone.
Her sons are already married to Moab women.
So they decided to stay there.
One married a Moabite woman by the name of Orpah
And the other a Moabite woman named Ruth.
Did you know when Oprah Winfrey was born
her mother wanted to name her after Orpah
but the morning she was born she misspelled it Oprah
So that is how Oprah got her name. True story
Then as time went on a terrible tragedy happened and both of these sons die
Have you ever noticed how that suffering is not distributed equally
there are some of us who go thru life and have very few problems
while other people go through life one tragedy after another
I know a family Judy and Randy who had three kids
one died in infancy
at age 13 their daughter was killed in an automobile accident
years later their son committed suicide
how do you comfort people in that kind of tragedy?
Let me tell you “without God it is impossible”
Naomi lost her husband and then her two sons
So she decides now to move back to Bethlehem
the Bible tells the Jewish people not to intermarry with people of other religions and nations
Naomi is probably wondering if maybe God is punishing for her disobedience
now her two daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah said they loved her so much
they said if you are going…, we are going with you
and so they head out of town
but as they leave Naomi had second thoughts
she said return home my daughters
She uses the Hebrew term for daughter not daughter-in-law
She is very affectionate and excepting of these as she would her own daughters
Original Word: ????
She said why would you come with me
you'll be foreigners in Judea
you are still young
you need to stay here in Moab and worship your gods.
You will meet a young man…, remarry…, build a life here.
You both should go back
Orpah weeps about it…, but she finally decides to turn back and stay in Moab.
But Ruth decides to go with Naomi.
She embraced Naomi and would not let go.
Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.
Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.
Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16
I promised you some life application and practical lessons.
“Nurturing Relationships That Make Disciples”
One of the first things that we have to
1. Overcome the Barrier of Not Having Things in Common.
When you think about this…., Naomi and Ruth were an unlikely friendship.
Daughter-in-law and Mother-in-law.
Two different generations.
Two different nationalities
Two different religious backgrounds
Two people who started out with very little in common.
Now there is a relationship that has created a bond between two people that are inseparable.
When we think about making disciples
We all have a lot more in common than you think
We have the struggle with temptation and sin in common
We might not have the same addiction but we all have addictions, bad habits, faults
We might not have had the same past but we all have skeletons in our closet
There are no big sins and little sins.
Sin is still sin.
I was just as lost as you are.
I was bound to spend eternity separated from God.
But God cares
God is very close
What God has done for me, God will do for you.
Break down the barrier of not having things in common.
2. Opportunity to make disciples often happens in unlikely places.
I guarantee you if you leave out of here today and look for opportunities
You will meet someone who wants to talk…,
It might be at a restaurant
In a checkout line
On the street
You will meet someone that if you ask them the question “How are you doing?”
Then say, “Tell me how you are really doing?”
Look them in the eyes
Watch for the tears.
Listen to their tone.
While this generation has seen a shift away from traditional church and religion
There is one surprising shift that we must notice.
The unchurched are more willing to listen about religion
Than the churched are willing to talk to them about their values and their faith.
That is an alarming shift.
Naomi was in a strange and foreign land surrounded by pagan gods.
But she was able to share her faith and nurture Ruth in a caring and supportive way.
We must look for opportunities to make disciples.
Often times that happens in the most unlikely places.
3. Instead of saying “I can’t” focus on God’s unlimited potential
Instead of saying I can’t
Make a list of what you are willing to do.
When you are in a group instead of talking about things that you don’t like or you think need fixing.
Start off your sentence with the words, “I am will to…”
Winning others to Christ has never just been an optional thing for Christians.
I believe when Jesus said, “go make disciples.”
He meant for everyone to go make disciples.
Don’t think about your weakness
Don’t focus on your fears
See God’s limitless potential.
If a disciple makes a disciple who makes a disciple
Mathematically the process looks something like this.
If one disciple makes three disciple makers every five years.
If those disciples do the same every five years
In ten years there will be almost 180,000 disciple-makers
If they continue in seventy years (less than the average life-span)
There are potentially 14 billion disciple makers.
That is twice the number of people currently on the planet.
Certainly not everyone will choose to follow Jesus
And some disciples will go to heaven empty handed.
I don’t want to go to heaven…, stand before the throne of the Father…, empty handed.
But the point is this disciple making is based on multiplication not on addition.
It is based on being able to reproduce the model and process of Jesus’ life.
Sharing the Gospel with the spiritually dead
Sharing your life and basic teaching with spiritual infants
Connecting spiritual children in relationships within God’s family (Family Life Groups)
Helping spiritual young people to mature through ministry
Releasing spiritual parents to disciple others
God’s plan is for disciple to make disciples and that has unlimited potential.
4. Adversity often strengthens relationships
I read about a lady that was complaining about everything
on that day she said God why did you let so many bad things happen to me
my alarm didn't go off I was late to work
they made the wrong sandwich at lunch and I had to send it back
driving home the phone call dropped right in the middle of the conversation
when I got home all I wanted to do was put feet in the foot massager but it didn’t work
nothing went right today
All right God said, let me go down the list
your alarm didn't go off because there was a drunk driver on the road
I delayed your travel on purpose so you wouldn't get hurt
I had the wrong sandwich made because the first person wasn't feeling well I didn't want you to catch what she had and become sick.
When the cell phone call dropped on the way home that person was about to fill you with gossip
and I didn't want you to be contaminated with all of that
your foot massager had a short in it if it had turned on it would have shorted out the power
and I didn't think you wanted to sit around in the dark all night
Could it be what's frustrating you is really the hand of God
could be he is behind-the-scenes working
God is protecting you
nothing happens without Gods permission
we're not always going to understand
this is why we have to trust God
put our faith in Him.
5. Nurturing relationships bind us together in the Lord.
1 Samuel 18:1 we read that the ‘soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David,
and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.’
Johnathan and David’s friendship was based on their commitment to God.
Brothers and sisters we are also to be knit together
Woven together by the spirit of the Lord.
Unity by empathy
Understanding that we are more alike than different
We might have made the same choice if we were in the other persons shoes.
Even if we would not have made the same mistakes we have made others just as grievous to our Lord.
Colossians 2:2 “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love,
so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding,
in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,”
The Apostle Paul was counting on the relationships of Christian love
to bring the people of the churches together.
Relationships Matter and Connects require investment.
In a small group session Brandon and Jim began to share their friendship together.
They talked about hunting together, cook-outs together, and what God was doing in their church.
As the discussion went around the room Doug began to tighten up.
His body language revealed he was tense and nervous.
Then he began to tear up.
Like a car skidding to a stop, the group halted.
Jim asked, “What’s going on with you?”
Through the tears Doug said, “I have no friends. My family doesn’t talk to me. We don’t get along.
Doug said, that in the short time the group had been together
he felt closer to you guys than anyone in a long time.
Doug was in a church but had no connect with anyone and felt separated from others and God.
God’s design for the church is to be a place where you get connected in deep nurturing relationships,
But Doug was all alone and hurting.
How in the world does someone in the church get into that kind of isolation and loneliness?
Do you know anyone like Doug?
Closing: Naomi is a little woman who was about to be alone
she winds up having an abundance of friends including Ruth and later the whole house of Boaz.
Ruth and Naomi were bonded together by common grief
They shared the pain
They shared the load
They helped one another
Encouraged one another
Loved one another
Our relationship with God changes us.
Who we are.
How we love.
How we forgive.
How we live.
When God is the most important thing in your life, it will result in you sharing that with others.
A disciple-makers helps the unchurched, the lost, the new Christians, spiritual children connect with God,
Think of someone you know who is experiencing struggles.
Write their initials on the bulletin .
How could the family of God encourage this person?
What could you do to nurture and support this person through their problem?
I am going to share what God has done for me in such way that it “Nurtures others”
I am going to be intentional about “Making Disciples”
Will you join me? Will you make that promise…, will you make that commitment with me today?