Training

  • Training
  • Luke 9:1-36
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • August 19, 2018
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8-19-18 sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

This morning we are continuing on in our new series “Game Ready.” Football season is quickly approaching and teams of all ranges from Pop Warner all the way up to the pros, are gearing up for the season ahead. This is the time of year when teams are focused on learning plays, practicing pass routes and working on becoming a collective unit with a common mission.

 

All of this got me to thinking about our calling as Christians. If you think about it, Jesus was really the ultimate coach. He went about teaching, healing and performing miracles and as He did, He formed His team. He called the disciples one by one, asked them to leave behind their former lives and to join Him in his purposes. He trained them by modeling for them how to love people. First they watched Him and then they joined in with Him. Jesus prepared them for what they would encounter as they went out into the world to share the good news of the gospel. He empowered them and gave them the “pep talk” of all pep talks as He placed his ministry in their hands and sent them out. In effect, Jesus worked to make sure that His disciples were game ready.

 

Over the next few weeks at LakeRidge we are going to spend some time talking about what it means for us to live as those who are game ready, those who are prepared to get into the game and live life as Jesus’ disciples who carry out His great commission to go into all the world making disciples.

 

Last week we took a look at how Jesus formed His team by calling His disciples to leave what they were doing and to come and follow Him. We saw how Jesus invited them to participate in a vision bigger than themselves. We discovered that, for Jesus, the ultimate value was upon people- loving people, caring for people, seeing and valuing people. We also noted how Jesus didn’t simply see people as they were, He saw the potential within them even when they couldn’t see it within themselves. As Christ followers today we seek to do the same – value people and to see the potential within them, to see them as Christ sees them.

 

This morning we want to shift gears and look at the concept of training in order to be game ready. To help us wrap our minds around this concept let’s take a quick look at this clip from “Remember the Titans.”

 

Growing up in Wheeler, Texas, high school football was king. We used to laugh and say that if a burglar ever wanted to make a huge haul they should break into houses on Friday nights because they could be certain that no one would be home, everyone in town would be at the high school football game.

 

However, long before game nights ever came around, there were preseason workouts known as “two-a-days.” We would work out in the morning at 7:00 a.m. and then return to work out again at 3:00 p.m. right in the middle of the hottest time of the day.

 

My least favorite part of the whole thing happened at the very end of the workouts – conditioning. I hated conditioning. It usually consisted of running what we affectionately referred to as “Gut Busters.” We would start out on the goal line, run to the twenty yard line, touch the line and run back to the goal line; run to the fifty yard line, touch the line and run back to the goal line, run to the far twenty yard line, touch the line and run back to the goal line; run to the far opposite goal line and run back to the goal line. Often times we would do multiples of these and it wasn’t uncommon for people who hadn’t been staying in shape throughout the summer to find themselves in the end zone “tossing their cookies.” Good times!

 

I used to think our coaches were maniacally evil and took some sort of sick pleasure out of making us run just for the fun of it because they could. Looking back, I understand more about their purpose. They wanted us to be the fittest team on the field. They wanted to know that we could go the distance against anyone. Their theory was that no one else would be better trained than our team was. I can tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they always had us game ready.

 

After having recruited and formed His team, we find Jesus in Luke 9:23 saying to His disciples as he begins to train them, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

 

I’m sure that they must have wondered what are we signing up for exactly? What does “take up his cross daily” really mean – and what does it mean for us to “follow” Christ? Jesus does some practical explanation and demonstration for the disciples in Luke 9 – and it gives us clues as to what real discipleship is about. He in effect trains them for the task ahead.

 

This morning I’d like for us to study Luke 9 to understand just what principles Jesus established as he trained His disciples. We begin with Luke 9:1-6, “One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. 2 Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. ‘3Take nothing for your journey,’ he instructed them. ‘Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. 4 Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. 5 And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.’ 6 So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.”

 

Principle #1: I’ll Go and God Empowers.

Here Jesus sends out the twelve disciples in a sort of trial mission trip. Mark’s gospel says they went out to preach repentance (much like John the Baptist) and they anointed people with oil and they were healed, and many demons were cast out (Mark 6:8). The miracles backed up the message. Jesus is teaching them to offer a ministry of spiritual and physical healing.

 

This was to be a short journey and the disciples were to travel light – depending on folks in the towns they visited to provide for them – and not to appear as beggars (carrying bags) and not receiving any money. Now, this doesn’t become the normative for all missions everywhere – this is a specific training mission for the disciples.

 

This was about their willingness to go. Likewise, it is about our willingness to go as well. It doesn’t have to be Africa. It could be to help serve food to the homeless in Lubbock, or just to befriend that neighbor that always seems alone – and eventually share your life and the gospel. The point is – are you willing to go?

 

When I was playing sports growing up, one of the things that I remember is that there were always kids who would come out for the team who were a lot more athletically gifted than me, but that didn’t always matter because they weren’t willing to put in the hard work. It became pretty clear to me that of course coaches wanted talented athletes, but all of that talent didn’t matter if they weren’t willing to be trained and coached. A teachable, trainable athlete was often worth more to the team.

 

Notice that Jesus gave them power – and He gives you power too – power to do the things He wants you to do. It might not be healing or casting out demons – it may be providing money to you to support mission, or words of comfort at a time when someone really needs them. The principle is “I’ll go” and “God empowers.”

 

God isn’t going to ask you to take on a task and not give you what you need to accomplish the task. He wants to see us depend upon Him.

 

As the disciple’s training moves forward Jesus places the disciples in the midst of an intense situation to teach them another important lesson. We find it in Luke 9:10-17:

 

10 When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida. 11 But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick. 12 Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.” 13 But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” 14 For there were about 5,000 men there. Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 So the people all sat down. 16 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. 17 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!

 

 

Principle # 2: God Has the Resources

The disciples had a taste of what it’s like to go out in Jesus’ name. Now He’s going to show them how low their sights really are. He purposefully puts them into a situation that they could never handle on their own. It’s one thing to heal or preach individually – but to actually have to feed 5,000 people?

 

There are many lessons from this miracle – the disciples were using their senses and logic to show how a problem couldn’t be solved – Jesus was busy enlarging their scope of what is possible.

 

Our tendency when faced with a dilemma is to break down the problem into its constituent parts, use logic to determine the possible outcomes – then give up if we can’t figure it out on our own.

 

This is the pattern with Jesus: give what you have, let Him bless it, break it, and give it back out. Some of us here this morning need to do exactly the same with the situations we find ourselves in today. We need to examine what we have and then offer it to God. Then we need to pray and ask him take it and do whatever it is that He wants in the situation.

 

I think about this story of Jesus and his disciples and I think about how LifeSong, the church I started in Florida, came to call Alafaya Village, which was a strip mall shopping center, our home. Originally when were in the starting phases of launching the church we needed a place to meet, but nothing seemed to be working out. Meeting in a local school wasn’t an option that was working out.

 

One of our original members emailed me and asked if I checked on Alafaya Village. She had been to get her hair cut at a salon that used to be here. I had driven past that same day and came by to peak in the windows. I went home and looked on the Alafaya Village website. On it was a link for approved usages. Do you know what the very first item on that list was? Church space with preschool usage. It was like God sent a giant blinking sign to show us the way.

 

A few years later the property went into foreclosure. We felt like God was leading us to buy the property, but doors kept getting closed in our faces over and over. Many of our members walked this property and prayed over it. Then, miraculously, God brought the right person into our path that was able to go the bank who owned the property and negotiate a deal so that we could own all of Alafaya Village.

 

Jesus wants His disciples to know that He has all the resources He needs. When there seems to be no way, God is capable of making a way.

 

Luke 9:18-20, “18 One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ 19 ‘Well,’ they replied, ‘some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.’ 20 Then he asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’ Peter replied, ‘You are the Messiah sent from God!’”

 

Principle #3: Recognize Jesus as Lord

I wonder what Jesus was praying about. Whatever it was, suddenly He looks up and asks this probing question. The disciples give what the people have been saying.

 

Notice that the crowds came up with only three options – a resurrected John the Baptist, Elijah – who was supposed to be a forerunner of the Messiah, or another prophet. But they missed the answer – that He was indeed the Messiah.

 

Who do you say Jesus is? A good man, a prophet, even a god? To truly be His disciple is to believe, like Peter, that He is the Messiah – it means “anointed one” – the One sent to save us – you cannot be saved.

 

But for our purposes today, it is also an important declaration for us to make each day and in each situation in which we find ourselves. At work Jesus might just be a distant acquaintance. In church, of course, He is Lord. But in some places or with some actions, we might as well not even know Him. Is He Lord in all your life?

 

Luke 9:23 – 27 “23 Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.’”

 

Principle #4: I Willingly Lay Down My Life.

Part of being Lord, for Jesus, was to suffer for our sins on the cross. But His statement that each one should take up a cross and follow Him would have been incomprehensible for the disciples to understand. Carry around an instrument of torture, shame, and capital punishment?

 

But Jesus tells them that everything you thought you would gain here in this life will be lost – but if you give up those hopes and place your hope in Him instead, you will gain the most important things.

 

Are we willing to lay down our hopes and dreams? Let them die on the altar? Are we willing to have Jesus resurrect us to do His will? Are we willing to die to self and let Him raise us up to new life with each day?