Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, ask participants, “What is your response when someone asks, ‘Who are you?’” (name, parent, child, job title, nationality, etc.)
What was God’s response when Moses asked for God’s name? ["I AM WHO I AM." (Exodus 3:14)] Who do you say God is? [Creator, Father, Rock, Alpha and Omega, Lord, Ancient of Days] What do those names mean to you?
“Our experience of unworthiness is often a starting point in our discipleship. But it must be the final experience of unworthiness. As we grow closer to God, we begin to see ourselves as worthy because we are made worthy by God’s love and transforming grace. We see the delight God takes in us as a part of God’s creation, blessed in so many ways. Our prayers begin with confession but then can move on to commitment, from acceptance of grace and forgiveness into intercession and calls for justice and for peace. We don’t stay in a state of shame but move into grace because of God’s call on our lives.” (September 3 Preaching Notes)
- God called Moses to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. Moses did not think he could do it, but God assured him that God would be with him. Are there things in your life that God may be calling you to do but you are unsure if you can?
- Can you think of someone who is stuck in a place of unworthiness and struggles with who they are? What could you do for this person?
In today’s Matthew passage, what did Jesus say he needed to do? [“Jesus must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16:21).]
Before today’s scripture, Jesus had commended Peter for recognizing Jesus as Messiah. Yet Matthew 16:23 says, “But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’" Why do you think Jesus said that to Peter? How do you determine whether something is divine or human? Have you ever felt you were the stumbling block of ministry?
Read Matthew 16:24: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” What does Jesus mean by "denying oneself" and "taking up the cross"? How might the passage apply to your life?
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End with the following prayer, a similar prayer, or the Lord’s Prayer:
Gracious and Loving God, Moses encountered the Divine through the burning bush, may we also encounter your divine call in our daily routines. Teach us to listen attentively to your voice and to respond with obedience, knowing that you are the great "I AM."
Grant us the strength to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus’ path of selflessness. Guide us to embrace the transformative journey of faith, finding life by losing it for Christ's sake. Amen.
Click here to subscribe and receive the Discipleship Ministries email newsletters.
Does your church have an international discipleship path?
We at Discipleship Ministries invite each congregation and worshiping community to develop an intentional discipleship plan in their local context. There are resources and mentors that you can access on our website to help you develop and implement your plan. Please call upon us to help you if you have not already begun such a journey (https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/discipleship-system-example).
Rev. Motoe Yamada Foor, Director of Adult Discipleship, served in local churches for twenty years. She is passionate about moving churches toward a more missional and spiritual focus so that they can make more disciples of Jesus Christ. She has a wealth of experience at various organizational levels of The United Methodist Church and in ecumenical organizations such as the World Council of Churches (WCC). She also enjoys serving as a coach to help people grow as disciples.