Making Disciples

The Baptism Discussion

Over the last few years, I have found that one of the most spirited discussions that I could have with other Christians is that of baptism. To give you an example, here are some of the questions that we have discussed:

Who can baptize another person?

At what point should a person be baptized? How do you know that it is the right time for the person to be baptized?

How should they be baptized?

There are several more questions that we have discussed along the way, but some of these have illicited some of the longest and most challenging discussions.

Usually, the length and emotional nature of the discussion has to do with what one person in the discussion believes based on their traditions that they grew up with in their church, or what they had been taught, versus the teachings and experience of another. But for the purposes of this post, instead of looking to ourselves and our background and experience as the arbiter of the answer to these questions, let’s put the questions to the test based on what we see in the scripture.

Specifically, let’s look at what the disciples of Jesus who became the Apostles and Apostle Paul did in the book of Acts when they baptized other people. Presumably, we should be able to learn well from them as we can imagine that they would be doing baptism in the way that Jesus taught them to do it.

The Questions

Here are the questions that we want to try to answer:

  • Why was this person / these people baptized?
  • When were they baptized?
  • Where were they baptized?
  • Who baptized them?

The Scriptures

OK, so let’s go through each of scriptures. Hang in there while we take these one at a time:

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Acts 2:36-41
Why were these people baptized? They accepted the message of repentance and belief for the forgiveness of their sins.
When were these people baptized?The same day that they heard the message from Peter.
Where were they baptized?It isn’t specified in the text, but we can assume that they were still in Jerusalem where they heard Peter’s preaching.
Who baptized them?Again, it isn’t specified, but we can assume that the disciples baptized these new believers.

When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Acts 8:6-13
Why were these people baptized? They believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God.
When were these people baptized?When they believed what Philip preached to them.
Where were they baptized?Not specified except that they were in Samaria.
Who baptized them?Presumably Philip, although it doesn’t specifically say this in the text.

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

Acts 8:34-38
Why was this person baptized? He believed the good news about Jesus.
When was this person baptized?Immediately after believing, he asked to be baptized.
Where was he baptized?In water along the side of the road.
Who baptized him?Philip

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Acts 9:17-19
Why was this person baptized? Jesus had appeared to him and he was blind. As Ananias placed his hands on him, he received the Holy Spirit and was able to see again.
When was this person baptized?Immediately after receiving the Holy Spirit and being able to see.
Where was he baptized?Not specified, although he had been in a house on Straight Street.
Who baptized him?It is not specified, but presumably Ananias baptized Paul.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Acts 10:44-48
Why were these people baptized? The Holy Spirit came upon them as they believed what Peter was telling them about Jesus.
When were these people baptized?Immediately
Where were they baptized?Not specified except that they were all in Cornelius’s house.
Who baptized them?The people that traveled with Peter.

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

Acts 16:13-15
Why were these people baptized? The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to believe the message that Paul gave. It is interesting to note that it says Lydia believed, but all of her household was baptized.
When were these people baptized?Immediately
Where were they baptized?It doesn’t say precisely, but they are already sitting near a river, so it may be in that location.
Who baptized them?Paul, or possibly his traveling companions, which were Timothy, Silas, and Luke at that time.

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved —you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.

Acts 16:29-33
Why were these people baptized? They did as Paul and Silas told them, which was to believe in the Lord Jesus.
When were these people baptized?Immediately
Where were they baptized?Not specified – somewhere in Philippi
Who baptized them?Paul, or possibly his traveling companions, which were Timothy, Silas, and Luke at that time.

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.

Acts 18:7-8
Why were these people baptized? They believed in the Lord Jesus.
When were these people baptized?Upon believing.
Where were they baptized?Not specified – somewhere in Corinth
Who baptized them?Paul, or possibly his traveling companions, which were Timothy, Silas, and Luke at that time.

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 19:1-5
Why were these people baptized? They believed in Jesus.
When were these people baptized?Upon believing.
Where were they baptized?Not specified – somewhere in Ephesus
Who baptized them?Paul

What can we conclude?

Now let’s look back over each of these and think about how we can summarize what we have read and learned based on each of these passages. Here goes:

Why were the people baptized?

Each of the baptisms were based upon their believing the message about Jesus. In addition, a couple of the situations included a message about, or having received, the Holy Spirit.

When were these people baptized?

Again, there is consistent response to this question. Each of the baptisms took place immediately upon having believed in the message of Jesus. There was no additional waiting or learning that took place in these cases. Repentance and belief are the only things that we can see was required for the people within these stories.

Where were they baptized?

I think we can essentially say that they were baptized where there was water. At times, we can see a body of water such as a pond or a lake. Other times, we can see a river within the story. Most of these stories took place prior to a church being developed, so it would be unlikely that these baptisms would have taken place within any type of church building.

Who baptized these people?

The apostles, or those that they appointed, baptized these new believers.

Making Disciples

A Strange Type of Evangelism

In Luke 10, we see Jesus send out his disciples. Very often, we find that Jesus does his ministry work in a way that is different from how we might think to do it, but this story is a strange one indeed.

Reading through the story initially, it appears that Jesus is sending his disciples out to evangelize within the towns where he is about to go, putting into practice many of the things that he has been teaching and showing his disciples as they have been following him. But is that truly what is going on? Let’s take a look at the story and see if we can determine what Jesus is doing here.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’

Luke 10:1-11

If you would like, you can also see the story (although all of the way to verse 24, not just verse 11) in this video:

OK, so let’s take a look at what is happening in this story and see if we can ask a few questions that will help us to understand what is happening.

What is the first commandment?

Jesus is sending the disciples out to all of the places where is about to go. But after they get into groups of 2, what is the first thing that he tells them to do? He tells them to pray. They are supposed to pray for workers to go into the harvest field.

But wait a minute… Where are these workers supposed to come from? Remember, there are no other workers at this time. There are no pastors. There are no evangelists. There are no missionaries. And yet Jesus tells them that they are supposed to ask the Lord of the harvest for workers.

Obviously, Jesus isn’t speaking of a harvest of plants or grains. He is talking about a harvest of souls, of people who will believe in him. But workers are needed to collect and bring in the harvest, so this is the first thing that Jesus wants them to do – ask for workers!

What should they take with them?

At this point, the disciples are completely dependent upon the words of Jesus, and for their physical needs, the provision that they may receive from the people that they will stay with when they arrive. They don’t have a specific place that they are expecting to go yet. Instead, they are supposed to take nothing – no purse, no bag, and no sandals. They will just go and everything that they need will be provided for them.

Who should they speak to?

OK, here is where I think that the story takes a turn and becomes a little difficult to understand, especially if we aren’t sure what Jesus is doing. Who should they speak to on the way? No one. Jesus tells them that they shouldn’t even greet anyone on the road.

When they arrive in the town where they are going, how many houses should they go into? One! Jesus says that they shouldn’t move around from house to house.

So we at least have to ask the question… What kind of evangelism is this? If you are evangelizing and telling people about the Kingdom of God, aren’t you supposed to tell everyone? Shouldn’t they be stopping everyone on the road? Shouldn’t they be going from one house to the next, telling every house the message?

Jesus decides to have his disciples do evangelism differently. He says that they should offer peace to the owner of the house and then stay there, if the owner will accept them. But why? Why just stay there?

Return to the beginning of the story

Let’s not forget what Jesus told his disciples to do in the beginning. The first commandment is that they are to ask the Lord of the harvest – God – for workers for his harvest field. We also said that there are no other workers at this time, so if there are going to be new workers, the workers must come from the harvest field.

In this situation, the harvest fields are the towns where Jesus is sending his disciples. And the workers that Jesus tells his disciples to ask for are those with whom the disciples will be staying.

Our lesson

So often, as we think about evangelism, we might get a picture in our minds of famous evangelists such as Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon, or Jonathan Edwards. In these scenarios, though, we see one person preaching the Gospel to hundreds or thousands of people at one time. We see people repenting and coming to Christ to be saved. And this is good!

But we can also lose sight of one of the most important parts of evangelism. We aren’t just supposed to be looking for new believers. We are supposed to be praying and looking for new workers. The work of the ministry isn’t supposed to just be formed around us. It is supposed continue to spread as one disciple makes a disciple of another.

Let’s think again about the situation with the disciples that Jesus sends out. If they were to go from one house to the next, how easy would it be for them to talk to all of the people in that town? It wouldn’t be easy! Why? Because they don’t know all of those people.

But what if the disciples stay there in the one house and speak about the Kingdom of God, healing the sick as they do to help the people and confirm the message of the Kingdom? If they do this and the people in that house then tell others what they had heard while the disciples were there, how much greater would the effect of their work be?

I believe, therefore, that the lesson for us is that we must also pray for workers to be sent out into the harvest fields. As we look around us for new disciples, sharing the Gospel with others, we must remember that Jesus is calling us to not only find new believers, but to find new workers.

Making Disciples

Am I Good Soil?

I have frequently heard people speak about the parable that Jesus told, recorded in Matthew 13 and Mark 4, about the four different types of soil. Here is what Jesus said, as Matthew recorded it in chapter 13:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Matthew 13:3-9

Among those that I have heard speak about this parable, the “good soil” is typically referred to as those who believe in Jesus and follow him. But I think it is important to examine this a little further to see if this actually is what Jesus is saying.

Four Different Types of Soil

In this parable, the seed is the Word of God, or the good news of the Gospel, which is being scattered by a farmer so that he can produce a crop.

Meanwhile, the four different types of soil are the people to whom the message of the Word of God is coming.

The first type of soil is the hard path. This type of soil is pretty obvious. These people simply do not believe and the seed never enters into the soil. The seed never even germinates but instead is left outside, sitting on top of the soil because of the hardness of the ground. Jesus says that the birds come to eat it up, which he later says is the evil one, or Satan, coming to take away the seed that has been sown.

The second type of soil is the rocky soil. This type of soil actually receives the seed, the seed germinates, and the plant begins to grow. However, at a certain point, the plant stops growing because of the rocks within the soil, preventing the roots from growing deeply into the ground. Jesus says that when the sun comes out, the plant withers, meaning that this type of person will fall away from their new faith because of troubles or persecution that have arisen as a result of their new faith.

The third type of soil has weeds and thorns. Again, the seed actually does germinate and takes root. The plant even begins to grow but because of the weeds and the thorns crowding the plant, the plant eventually dies. Jesus says that, in the life of this person, the cares of the world take over their life of faith. The weeds and thorns are things like money or success, or even commitments that crowd out the person’s time and opportunity to spend with God.

Finally, the fourth type of soil is the good soil. This soil is characterized by growth of the seed into a plant. But not just one plant, but instead a crop. One seed produces thirty plants, or sixty plants, or even one hundred. Jesus is referring to a spiritual process of growth and reproduction because this person has truly understood the seed of the Word of God that has grown within them.

What Does This Mean For Us?

I think that there are at least three things that we can take away and learn from this parable.

First, as I mentioned in my last post, we must sow seed broadly. As we do this, though, we must expect that there will be several different types of responses, both initially as these individuals receive the Word of God, but also differences in responses over time.

Some people will not believe at all. Some will believe but will fall away because of trouble or persecution. Others will shrivel and die in their faith as a result of the cares of this world crowding out their faith. And still other people will both believe and go on to be fruitful and produce a crop.

The second thing that I want to note here is that there are three different soils – or three different types of people – that believe. The second, third, and fourth soils all believe. They all receive the Word of God, they all germinate, and they all begin to take root. For us, in a practical way, this might mean that these people have all believed in Jesus, have possibly been baptized, and could also be a regular part of our church services.

We can easily understand from this parable that Jesus is only referring to the good soil as the correct example, the example that is doing what he wants and what is right in the Kingdom of God. And so this leads me to the final thing that we can learn:

Being good soil does not just mean believing in Jesus. Instead, it means that we produce a crop. Jesus is saying that one seed is sown, but from that one seed, a crop is produced: thirty times, sixty times, or one hundred times what was sown. Jesus is saying that the good soil is the one that does what the plant should do. It should reproduce. As the plant matures, it sows its own seed. It produces a crop. It produces a harvest for the kingdom of God.

Practically Speaking

Given this, we must go back to the title of this post, and each of us ask ourselves:

Am I the good soil?

Am I being the good soil now?

Am I sowing seed broadly?

Am I working to find those who are this fourth type of soil, helping them and teaching them to follow Jesus so that they can reproduce and become the most fruitful that they can be?

Making Disciples

Sowing Seed Broadly

Jesus’s disciples asked him why he taught the people in parables instead of speaking to them directly and in a way that would be more plain to them. Jesus explained that the secrets of the kingdom of God were meant to be given to the disciples, but not to the rest of the people.

As believers in Jesus, we are called to make disciples. And as those who make disciples, we should pay very close attention to these parables because many of them speak to how Jesus thinks about the way that the kingdom of God grows. If Jesus is speaking about the way that the kingdom grows, and making a disciple is the growth of the kingdom, then these parables should have a direct impact on how we are making disciples.

Today, I want to look at one of my favorite parables from Matthew 13, which you could call the parable of the sower or possibly also the parable of the four soils, and make a simple observation that I think that we can use in our disciple-making work.

Let’s start with the parable itself:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Matthew 13:3-9
(Read the whole chapter)


Let’s break this story down quickly into a few observations:

First, there is a farmer and he is sowing seed in an effort to produce a harvest.

We see that the farmer sows a lot of seed, but he does so pretty indiscriminately. He doesn’t seem to care too much, upon sowing the seed, where the seed lands. He doesn’t create rows or try to place the seed in precise locations as you might think a farmer would do.

The seed, in fact, lands on hard paths, on rocky soil, and even in the midst of thorns.

Only some of the seed lands on the good soil where it can produce a crop.

What is this farmer doing?

OK, so there are several things that we could say about this story, many of which we will cover in future posts. But for now, I want to make one simple point: The farmer is sowing the seed very broadly.

Jesus told his disciples that this is how the kingdom of God works. He spoke of a farmer who sowed seed that lands on hard paths, in rocky soil, and amongst thorns. He isn’t being careful to put the seed in specific areas. He isn’t even trying to prepare the soil in advance of sowing the seed.

I’ve heard stories in the past and retelling of work for the kingdom of God where people have said that they were working in hard soil, or soil that was so rocky that they had to go in and remove the rocks before the seed could be sown. Some people even said that they were “tilling” the soil.

But in Jesus’s description of the sower, you don’t see any tilling of the soil, nor removing of the rocks, nor uprooting of the thorns, nor and weeding of the ground prior to sowing the seed. This farmer just sows the seed.

How do we apply this parable to making disciples?

While this may not be a great plan for agricultural efforts, Jesus really isn’t talking about growing plants. These are the secrets of the kingdom of God. Jesus is talking about how God’s Word and the Gospel must be sown among all different types of people without regard for whether or not we believe the seed will grow in that particular person.

God is the only one who can germinate the seed of the Gospel within the person that has received the seed. God is the only one who can make this seed take root and come alive as a new plant. We must not predetermine whether or not a person is ready for the Gospel. That isn’t our job. Our job is to be the farmer and sow the seed.

The farmer in the story didn’t wait until he thought the time was right to sow the seed. He simply sowed it. He didn’t try to figure out if the ground was ready to receive it to grow and produce a crop. He simply sowed the seed. If the time was right and the ground was ready, the seed grew and produced a crop. If the ground was not ready to receive the seed, then it didn’t grow.

In this story, we are the farmer. We must sow the seed of the Gospel broadly, doing our part as sowers of the seed and allowing God to do his part to grow the seed into a crop of plants.

So here are some questions that we can use and ask ourselves, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us in our answers:

  • How broadly have you been sowing the seed of the Gospel?
  • How much seed have you sown recently?
  • Have you been trying to find the right soil in which to sow the seed? Why is that?

Now that you have considered these questions, consider what God may be asking of you. Is there anything that needs to change? What specific actions does God want you to take at this time? When will you put those changes into practice?

Making Disciples

Remain in Me

A few years ago, we met together as a team on a retreat outside of our city. A friend came to help guide the team through a series of discussions, several of which were challenging because they were touching on some of the points where we hadn’t yet agreed and confirmed together how we would work together as a team, something I had hoped we would be able to dig into during our time at this retreat.

I don’t precisely remember how we ended up in the topic, but toward the end of the meeting, our friend who was leading the meeting asked how we were doing in prayer as a team. We sort of all looked at each other and described how we found it to be challenging to find a specific time to meet together and to coordinate schedules amongst all of us, but we definitely wanted to do this more. But we knew we weren’t doing very well in this area of our lives and our friend who was leading said something simple along the lines of, “Well, I think we found our next steps for the group.”

He was right, but it was difficult to hear. For myself in particular at that time, I was supposedly leading the team, but in addition, this was supposed to be the core to who we were as a team, people who led others to follow Christ, but we didn’t have a great practice in how we were doing it corporately ourselves. There could be a lot that we could say about why that was, but after removing all of the excuses, the truth was that we weren’t really doing what we would have hoped that the people we were working with would do.

I’m thankful to say that has changed. A small group of us have decided to meet daily during the week for prayer and encouragement, whether in our regular meeting location or out on a prayer walk in public, praying for others on the streets.

I don’t know very many other situations nor other teams very well, but I have a sense that this is a common need amongst many groups. Whether they be ministry teams or just families and friends, we have a need, before all other solutions, to remain connected to Jesus. Not in a flippant, “Yes, of course that is important…” kind of way, but in a “Yes, this is what we are doing to remain in him…” kind of way.

In John 15, we see Jesus having an intimate discussion with his disciples shortly after the Passover dinner. The time was short as Jesus will from this point, within the next few hours, be arrested, beaten, and hung on the cross.

Yet Jesus teaches them that they must remain in him. Here is what he says:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:1-8

As we think about our lives in Christ as individuals and our role in our work as a ministry team, it is very important that we remember that all things begin with Jesus as the lifeblood in all that we do. There is no replacement for our time and connection with Jesus.

Jesus essentially begins by saying that God the Father desires that we bear fruit. But if we as the branches do not bear fruit, he will cut us off from the vine. Even if we do bear fruit, he desires that we become even more fruitful, so he will prune us, guiding us so that we will become more fruitful.

Next, Jesus says that he has made his disciples clean but as his disciples, we are to remain in him and he will remain in us. If we do this, then we will bear fruit. But if we don’t, we will not be able to bear any fruit at all!

Jesus knew that his disciples would soon no longer be able to see him face-to-face, so how would they remain in him? The answer is that they must do it the same way that we must also do it today. We must spend time with Jesus in prayer, take time to worship him, read the Word of God, and otherwise find ways to spend time with him, asking him what he wants in each situation and listening to what he has to say.

However, experientially, I can say that this doesn’t “just happen”. We get caught up in daily life. We have things that need to be done. Family time, work and all of its pressures, errands, activities, and even time to rest…and before you know it, all of the time is taken and gone, leaving you hoping to do better tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

So, both for us as individuals as well as for us as ministry teams who are making disciples, I believe that we must schedule our time to spend with Jesus, remaining in him through scheduled and intentionally set times. Apart from our times with those we are ministering to and working with, we must read the scriptures, pray, listen, and align ourselves with the will of the Father, using this as a base from which we continue throughout the rest of the day, remaining connected to Jesus as branches connected to the vine, bearing fruit because the life of Jesus flows into us and through us.

So the question I want to ask is this: When is your scheduled time to spend with Jesus? Which days? What time? Individually? As a team?

Jesus explains that, if we remain in him, we can bear fruit. In fact, he says that we can ask anything in his name and it will be done. This happens because we have remained connected to him. His lifeblood runs through us. His words abide within us. We are connected to him so we understand his will and what he wants to happen, and this allows us to ask him to move and work and change things amongst us.

But if we are not connected to him, we can’t do anything. It was true of his disciples at that time, and it is true of us also today.

I know that all of us desire to bear fruit. It is the reason that we are doing what we are doing. It is the reason that we have rearranged and reconfigured our lives to do what we are doing today. Our desire is to bring glory to God and Jesus says that we will bring glory to God when we bear fruit. But the only way to bear fruit is to remain connected to the life that Jesus gives to us. Just as a vine gives life to a branch and allows it to bear fruit, Jesus gives life to us and allows us also to bear fruit in our lives.