Paul described discipleship in a complex way when he wrote, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within us” (Col. 1:29). God’s work and our efforts are both expected for our growth. In the last session, we studied the need for discipline as we toil for progress, but any successful improvement is due to God’s power rather than our abilities. God is the means for our growth even when we use methods for our growth.
Heroes have a way of inspiring us or immobilizing us. That’s what makes discipleship so complicated yet glorious. God is the undeniable hero. He does the work, but he also calls us to do part of the work. Some people expect God to do all the work, and we are not required to contribute anything to the process. Others claim that we are fully responsible for the outcome and leave God out of the equation. What is dangerous about both of these extremes?
- What is the danger of refusing responsibility for our growth?
- What is the trouble with assuming total responsibility for our growth?
In this session, we will discover that our dependence on God does not lead us to negligence but ambition. If you truly comprehend God’s power to move, it should encourage you to attempt even more personally.
In teaching the church of Philippi, the Apostle Paul highlighted the need for joy in the Christian life. Writing from within a prison cell, he knew firsthand the weight of that necessary perspective. Read his description of Jesus in Philippians 2:1-11.
- How does focusing on the life of Jesus bring joy to our lives?
After this description, he introduces a thought that initially seems contradictory. Read Philippians 2:12-13 and write out the two seemingly competing thoughts about “work.”
- Describe the work in verse 12.
- Describe the work in verse 13.
God working through our work is a common theme throughout the Bible. Get volunteers to read the following verses or read them together. As you study them, write words or phrases down beside the reference that shows the nature of God’s work in our lives.
- Psalm 16:1-2
- 1 Cor. 4:7
- 2 Cor. 4:7
- 2 Chron. 30:12
- Rom. 12:3
- Heb. 13:21
- 1 Cor. 12:6
- 1 Cor. 15:10
While we know he is the power behind all spiritual successes, what are you uniquely presenting before him in need of his strength?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Rom. 8:31-32)?
Do you believe that God is for you? Really? Do you envision God eager for you to succeed in your spiritual growth?
A confident belief that God wants to move in your life is vital for your discipleship. If God is for our growth, who can be against it? You might think of a few different candidates. While nothing should be able to succeed against us, many things, unfortunately, hinder our spiritual growth and development. In your honest assessment, what are the things working against your growth right now?
Regarding your growth right now, what is entirely out of your hands? What must be a matter of prayer? Think of items within your control and those outside your control.
- What must you pray about WITHIN?
- What must you pray about OUTSIDE?