Summary: Consider the four dynamics that will change struggling disciples into dynamic disciples.
Introduction- Have you ever had a duh moment in your faith walk? Duh is a new word that has come into use in recent years. Duh is a slang term of sorts. It is used to tease someone who misses something that is obvious. Such as, if you were to fall and break your arm and I were to ask “Does it hurt?” That is a duh statement on my part. A broken arm leads to obvious pain.
In recent years, due to frivolous law suits, many companies are printing duh statements on product labels. Consider these:
The label on a particular brand of soap read: “Use like regular soap.”
The label on a frozen dinner read “Defrost before eating.”
A pudding label read “Product will be hot after heating.”
The label on a string of Christmas lights read “For indoor or outdoor use only.”
The label on a chain saw read “Do not stop chain with hand.”
The label on a rear mounted motorcycle helmet read “Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you.”
(Adapted from Travis Fitch’s contribution to Sermon Central)
What about your faith? Have you ever had a duh moment, a moment when you missed an obvious lesson the Lord had for you. Consider this text. “Now when he had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’ “ (Acts 1:9-11 NKJV) Jesus had tried to prepare his disciples for his departure. However, they struggled to grasp the significance of the event. That was a duh moment for them. A few verses earlier we find the same situation. They missed an obvious point of teaching. “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” (Acts 1:6-7 NKJV) Jesus disciples struggled to get on top. Jesus twelve disciples were a group of stumbling disciples. In our text they stumbled over the meaning of Jesus ascension and the nature of his earthly rule. In other Biblical texts we read where they stumbled over the meaning of service. They struggled to remain faithful as Jesus faced the cross. They were truly a bumbling crowd. Yet, the encouraging news is that Jesus loves, supports and uses followers who are struggling to get on top. The question I want to consider is, what is the dynamic that changes struggling disciples into useful disciples? In the Acts 1 text we find four dynamics that will transform a struggling disciple.
Before moving to our text, it is important that we define the word disciple. A disciple is someone who follows and learns from another. Thus, a Christian disciple is someone who follows and learns from Jesus Christ. A Christian disciple is not perfect. A Christian disciple is a human. A Christian has made a faith commitment to follow Jesus Christ and learn from Him. The four dynamics, we examine, will change struggling disciples into useful disciples.
1. The struggling disciple has the continuing Presence of God to support him. All through the Bible we find God’s presence continually supporting and standing beside his children, even when they struggle. Some anonymous person said “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I cannot handle.” That thought is encouraging.
When Adam and Eve sinned, in the Garden of Eden, they were expelled from the garden. However, even in their failure God’s presence provided protection. God placed the cherubim at the entrance to the garden to keep them from returning. God knew that if they returned to the garden a worse fate awaited them...they would live in their sin forever.
When David committed adultery with Bathsheba God sent a series of four punishments to bring his life back into line. God did not dessert him.
When Jesus sent his disciples out to do their work he made them an important promise. He said “lo I am with you always.” He promised that he would not dessert them.
When David wrote Ps. 23 he was assured that even when he went through the valley of the shadow of death, God would be with him. The rod and staff would comfort him.
Illustration: Thomas Dorsey was a black jazz musician from Atlanta who was known in the early 1920’s for the suggestive lyrics he combined with original music. Then God touched his life and in 1926 he gave up the suggestive music and began to write spiritual music. In 1932 times were hard for Dorsey as they were for nearly everyone trying to survive the depression. Dorsey also was having trouble finding acceptance of his music. The most difficult night of his life came one night in St. Louis when he received a telegram telling him that his pregnant wife had suddenly died. Dorsey was filled with grief and his faith was shaken, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, he expressed his agony the only way he knew how. He wrote this song. . .