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Redeeming the Time: YOUR Mission to Know God & Make Disciples

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Redeeming the Time: Envisioning & Embracing YOUR Mission To Know God & Make Disciples
Jesus had a clear sense of what the Father wanted Him to do, and He gave His followers the same mission He had. This mission is what drove Him while He lived His life here on earth. That same mission is what still drives His followers today. This mission is like the engine in the cars we drive. When it idles or is off, the car goes nowhere. And when the mission is merely idling in our lives, or when it disappears altogether from our daily thinking, our lives go nowhere. What results is the feeling of being in an endless hamster wheel, going round and round and round every day, every week, every month, every year, wondering where it’s all going and how it’s all going to work out in the end. I have learned this lesson the hard way, and here is a summary of what I’ve learned. It is when we fail to daily wear that mission as the glasses through which we live our lives in this world that we succeed in confusion, frustration, stress, and ultimately discouragement. I want you to picture the mission Jesus gave us as a pair of 3D glasses, and I’m thinking in particular of the old-fashioned kind I used to wear as a kid. You remember…the white cardboard glasses with the red and blue cellophane lenses? With these glasses, a television show or movie was transformed from a barelyfocused, fuzzed with red and blue everywhere, to a threedimensional reality of wonder and awe. I think life without these 3D mission glasses is filled with the same confusion, frustration and irritation as watching a 3D movie without the glasses. You can sort of make out what’s going on, but it’s frustrating because you know something is out of place. Something just isn’t right. But because you’re interested in the movie, you keep on watching without the glasses, because you’re getting the gist of the movie. And in the same way, so many of us just keep on hanging out around “church”, without the 3D mission glasses Jesus gave us to wear, because we are at least getting the gist of things. Yet Jesus doesn’t want us to get the gist of it. He wants us to DO it! He wants us to DO and BE the mission! If the mission were a pair of 3D glasses it would have the mission divided into two statements, each one engraved on a lens. The first lens would say “Knowing God” and the other lens would say “Making Disciples.” If I could boil everything down Jesus did and told us to do as His followers it would be these two statements. He sought to know the Father, and He sought to make disciples. He couldn’t and didn’t do one without the other. They were both part and parcel of His lifestyle and ministry. And with these lenses on His spiritual eyes He was able to

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see the world and its people around Him in a spiritual, three-dimensional reality that made things appear more alive to His soul than they did to His human eyes. Things were not confusing, frustrating or even discouraging for Jesus. And they don’t have to be for us…if we will only strap these 3D missional glasses to our faces and see what Jesus sees. In this first of a three part series on Redeeming the Time, I want to explain the two-fold, threedimensional mission Jesus had and which He also gave to those who follow Him. I’m doing this as part of a final push before summer to help us continue to work diligently to reorient our thinking and living around the mission Jesus gave us, instead of the mission we have set out for ourselves.

The Left Lens of the 3D Missional Glasses: Knowing God…By Communing with the Father
Knowing God is the very heartbeat and reason He revealed Himself to His creation. He created us because He wants us to know Him, so He can share Himself with us and be filled with the deepest sense of peace and joy and gladness any creation could ever feel. He wants to be known because He is the One person who is worth knowing above any and everyone else. He wants us to know HIM! . This is your single greatest mission in life: to know the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Everything else we know or seek to know in life is to be connected to this and flow from this. Communion is the place where that happens. It is the quiet place where you meet with God and where He tells you about Himself, through the Word, through the Spirit, through praise and worship, through meditating, through sitting quietly. He tells you about Himself in such a way that you will want to love Him and know Him even more. Communion is NOT an outline of songs to sing, bible reading, and then prayer list. It is a private, personal, intimate, sweet time where the Father reveals Himself to you, and from that influences you to do what He wants you to do. This is another restatement of the greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength a. The Gospels show us what this looked like in the life of Jesus. In each instance we read of Jesus praying, His prayer is connected to the mission.

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WHAT He prayed was inseparable from the mission. Everything He prayed about was connected to knowing the Father and seeing His Kingdom come, thereby making disciples.  His prayer in John 17 is connected to the mission of knowing the Father and making disciples.

1 Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. 6 I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.  Notice in verse 1 He knew the Father so well that He knew His hour of suffering had come. We can know God so well that there is a clear sense of importance about particular things and particular times.  Notice in verse 2 He knew the Father so well that He had an innate sense of authority. The more we get to know the Father, the greater we too will sense that authority He has given to us as His sons and daughters.  Notice also in verse 2 that the other part of Jesus’ mission – making disciples – included giving eternal life to them. Then in verse 3, that eternal life is summed up in simply knowing the Father and the Son.  Notice in verse 4 that there was an innate sense of completion when it came to His mission. He knew the Father so well that He knew what His mission was so well that He knew when He had completed it.  Notice in verse 6 that the part of His mission which was about making disciples was inseparable from revealing the Father to them. Making disciples is as much about teaching people to know God as knowing God is about teaching people to follow Jesus. This is essentially what Jesus is saying in verses 7 and 8. Those He revealed the Father to and taught about Himself received it and believed it.  His prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 was connected to the mission of knowing the Father and making disciples.

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MATTHEW 6:7 When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. 14 If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.  Notice the context is Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray. This is classic 3D missional stuff here. He is revealing the Father to them (to whom they pray), and making disciples at the same time.  Notice in verses 7-8 Jesus helps the disciples know the Father by discipling them NOT to pray like pagans.  Notice in the prayer He teaches them pray that are brought to more closely know the Father and what His agenda is: His kingdom, His will, His provisions, and His protection.  Notice in verses 14-15 that Jesus concludes the prayer with forgiveness, a truth which both helps people know the Father of forgiveness, thereby influencing them to follow Jesus. LUKE 11: 1 Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." 2 Jesus said, "This is how you should pray: "Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. 3 Give us each day the food we need, 4 and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don't let us yield to temptation." 5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: "Suppose you went to a friend's house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 'A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.' 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, 'Don't bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can't help you.'8 But I tell you this—though he won't do it for friendship's sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. 9 "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 "You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful

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people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."  Notice in verse 1, as the prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus is discipling His followers BY helping them know the Father.  Notice in verse 2 He teaches them know and address God as Father, again helping them know who God is in relation to them.

 Notice in verses 3 and 4 that the Father wants us to know He is a good father who wants to supply us with our needs and forgive our sins. This only makes us want to follow Him more and be like Him. Again, the two-fold mission of knowing God and making disciples is inseparably connected here.  Notice in the story that follows, in verses 5-8, as well as in the illustrations that follow that, in verses 9-13, that Jesus continues to help the disciples know the Father. He is NOT like the man at the door, but is happily willing to jump up and provide for us, because He already knows what we need before we ask! It was knowing THIS Father, THIS God, that made them want to follow Jesus and make more disciples. We also know from some Scripture that WHEN He prayed was very significant for the mission. He prayed before important decisions, and when the demands upon Him increased.  Luke 6: 12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. 13 At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.  Notice that before crucial and life-altering / mission-maturing decisions, such as choosing twelve men who would carry on His mission, He communed with the Father. Knowing the Father so influenced His mind that He knew the Father’s heart and mind.  John 17 – the night before He died, Jesus is seen communing with the Father about all those who had already followed Him, and would follow Him in the future.

Finally, we also know from some Scripture that HOW He prayed was formative for the mission. He communed as any son would with a Father: openly and with faith that He would get what He asked for.  Luke 3: 21 One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit, in bodily

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form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy."  At His baptism, He is seen praying, communing with the Father. The Father responds with an affirmation of sonship. This was at the very beginning of His mission. Jesus’ own mission therefore, begins with communion with the Father and affirmation of sonship. No doubt, this same practice is what maintained Jesus’ ministry throughout, and will for us as well.  Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, 6:46, Luke 5:16 – throughout Jesus’ ministry He made time to get alone with the Father and commune. The demands of His “job” were so great – the peoples’ needs and demands so widespread – that it was a matter of simple fact that He had to get away and commune with the Father. “It is in such undisturbed quietness (Ref. Psalm 23:2) that our souls will be ready for sweet communion with God our Father. For often God does not shout His messages to us, but gently whispers them to us (Ref. 1 Kings 19:12). And God will speak thus only to those who have shut down every other sound and every other presence to hear the voice of God” (Source: The Father communes with us in prayer, as we worship Him, be still before Him, and allow Him to show us His agenda, influencing us to love it and do it. The Father communes with us in the reading of His Word, where we read stories of His mission and discern principles and values on how to carry it out.



This is the foundation for the mission God has called us to, no matter who we are or what He has called us to right now. We are called first and foremost simply to know the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the root system from which everything else grows and produces fruit. If our communion with God is lacking or non-existence, then so will our fruit. You may be able to grow an organization or make a lot of money, but that is not fruit. That is just a lot of people and a lot of money. Fruit is that which grows within our character, our souls, and our hearts. You can be full of so-called fruit on the outside, but completely empty on the inside. This will eventually result in both the demise of your personal life as well as the life of that which you worked so hard to create. Do not compromise this part of your life. Devote much attention to your inner life, your private world, the soul’s state and make sure it is always connected and receiving sustenance from Jesus Christ, as a branch is connected and maintained by the vine. Without Him, you can do nothing.

The Practical of YOUR Mission
It seems most fitting to create space and time in your daily, weekly, and/or monthly schedule to commune with the Father. This involves two essential elements.

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1. The When & Where. Carve out the time which you know works best for you…when you are fully rested and can give the best part of yourself to the Lord. A fully-rested and opened-heart can hear the Father much better than a tired-body and distracted- heart. Look to the rhythms of your life daily, weekly, and monthly to find those times. Then schedule them and treat them as non-negotiable so that nothing – not even doctor’s appointments or other people’s emergencies – will be able to penetrate that time. That is you and God time and no one else may intrude. 2. The How & How Often. Pick a simple method, so at least you have a game plan. Without a bulls eye you will hit nothing every time you do this. Emails, phone calls, books you’ve always wanted to read, unfinished business or housework, interesting websites, etc. will all be crouching at the door of your heart to distract you from the most important thing in your life. A method of communing with God helps keep all of this off your radar so you can concentrate on the most important things which are worshiping and listening to God. Pick a SIMPLE method, though, because the more complex it is the more distracted you will become in trying to keep up with it, or in trying to make sure you’ve completed your steps. If the goals are simple – worship and listen – the method should flow from the goal. Worshiping God in audible praise, listening to praise and worship music, praying in tongues, the Lord’s Prayer, Bible reading, and journaling are perhaps the simplest elements, all of which are continually focused on the bulls eye of worship and listening.

If you’ll notice, more time has been spent this morning on the first lens of the mission, which is knowing God. And that’s for a reason. When you know God…AS you know God, you will find that making disciples becomes somewhat second nature. When you meet God, when you meet WITH God regularly, something significant has happened to you. You know it is something significant when you have to tell other people. You really believe it is something significant when you begin to walk alongside other people to bring the presence and knowledge of God to bear on their lives, and to show and share the unconditional love of God with them. The bottom line is that your consistent pursuit of knowing God will lead you to a consistent pursuit of making disciples. Let me share an example. Jesus was on a mission in John 4. It was to go through Samaria, which was very much like the ghetto of that area. A group of people lived there – Samaritans – and the Jews looked at this has half-breeds, much like whites in America looked at blacks during the first seventy-five years of the 20th century in America. There were all kinds of theological reasons and sermons and encouragements to stay away from them and have nothing to do with them. The sum result in the South at least was an ever-deepening passionate hatred for blacks. If you could read even some of the literature about blacks and slaves in the 1800’s you’d be shocked at how they viewed them. And that’s how Jews viewed the Samaritans. But Jesus had a mission. That mission was that Samaritans too would know about the Father’s love and plan to be rescued, to be a part of His kingdom. He needed to travel from Judea to

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Galilee, and while the average Jew would travel all the way around Samaria to get to Galilee, Jesus knew He had to travel right through it. So He did. And at a well built by Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, hundreds and hundreds of years earlier, Jesus sat down at that specific well to meet with a specific woman He had in mind. He asked the woman some key questions, all of which got her attention. Within minutes, from the story in John 4, it is clearly evident that she saw this man was like no other man. He called her out on her adulterous lifestyle, having been married five times, and at that time enjoying a live-in relationship with yet another man! He called her out on her heretical worship and theology, but in a loving way. He told her that she didn’t know what god she was worshiping. Through all of this she made a startling statement, and Jesus a spectacular revelation to a Samaritan. John 4 - 25 The woman said, "I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." 26 Then Jesus told her, "I AM the Messiah!" This woman had met THE Messiah! She had met God Himself. She had met Jesus Christ! In just a few minutes God revealed Himself to her. And what do you suppose the response was? John 4 - 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 "Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?"30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him…39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, "He told me everything I ever did!" 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world." In a short time, when you are really meeting with God Himself, He too will reveal Himself to you. He will call you out on many things, and display His unconditional love and acceptance to you, no matter how much of a half-breed you think you are, or no matter what kind of things you think you’ve done. And when He does, there is a swelling of something significant inside of you. It is that thing that says, “Everybody else has got to know about this! Everyone MUST know about this God!!!” And you too will become like this woman at the well. You too will find that when you know God you will make disciples. So make knowing God your ultimate priority. THEN we can work on the particulars of making disciples.