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Commitment: Developing Deeper Devotion to Christ

Commitment: Developing Deeper Devotion to Christ

by Bill Hybels

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What does it mean to be truly committed to Christ? Jesus’ answer to that question forms perhaps the greatest sermon ever delivered. In Commitment, you’ll revisit the Sermon on the Mount to discover practical ways for assessing your present level of commitment and setting goals for its growth. You’ll find out what the Master expects from those who


What does it mean to be truly committed to Christ? Jesus’ answer to that question forms perhaps the greatest sermon ever delivered. In Commitment, you’ll revisit the Sermon on the Mount to discover practical ways for assessing your present level of commitment and setting goals for its growth. You’ll find out what the Master expects from those who follow Him and what rewards await them. You’ll also learn how to sidestep common barriers to commitment and draw closer to Christ than you’ve ever thought possible. As you explore the themes of Jesus’ famous sermon and apply them to your own relationship with God, you’ll discover the confidence that comes from being fully committed to Christ. Interactions—a powerful and challenging tool for building deep relationships between you and your group members, and you and God. Interactions is far more than another group Bible study. It's a cutting-edge series designed to help small group participants develop into fully devoted followers of Christ.

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Zondervan Publishing
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399 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


Developing Deeper Devotion to Christ
By Bill Hybels


Copyright © 1996 Zondervan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-20683-9

Chapter One

Hang On for Heaven


Have you ever heard someone use the expression, "I thought I'd died and gone to heaven?" A business woman from Chicago goes on a business trip to Phoenix in February. She is looking forward to getting there so she can get some sun between business meetings. Her single room is unavailable so they have to upgrade her to a luxury suite with a sun-drenched balcony overlooking the pool. The next day her meetings are canceled and she is free to spend the whole day relaxing. She phones a friend and says, "I feel like I've died and gone to heaven."

After a round of golf, a guy in a bar "tips a few" and begins to tell about his putt on the eighteenth green. He recounts how he hit his ball with a perfect stroke, how it took two huge breaks, going up a hill and then down and finally rolled straight into the heart of the cup. He finishes by saying, "I won a ten-dollar bet and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven."

A fan at a Bulls' basketball game gets to take a shot from half court. He's told, "If you make this shot, we'll give you a million bucks." He makes it! When he tells that story, he probably says "and when that ball went through the hoop, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven."

When we use that expression, we're trying to explain an experience that resulted in a euphoria that goes beyond description. Sometimes I want to ask people, "Do you know where that expression originated? Do you know the origin of the concept of heaven?" It was not from Greek mythology or Persian fantasy. It's not a Shakespearean concept. It is not simply an invention of the English language to express great joy. I think a lot of people use the expression and don't even realize that the concept of heaven is uniquely biblical. It comes right out of the teachings of Jesus. And brace yourselves. Jesus taught about heaven and made it sound as real as earth. He really believed in such a place and spent a lot of time and energy convincing other people that heaven was real.


1 Describe your image of heaven when you were a child.

What is your image of heaven now?


Read Matthew 5:10-12

2 How do you feel when you hear the statement, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness ..."? Blessed means "truly happy." How can the persecuted be truly happy?

What kind of persecution do you think Jesus was talking about?

3 Jesus assures His followers that the persecutions and sufferings of this life can't compare with the rewards and joys of heaven. How does the hope of heaven impact the way you live your life today?


4 Jesus gives His followers a sobering and tough piece of information when He tells them that they will pay a price for following Him. In light of the world we live in, how are followers of Christ persecuted today?

Read Snapshot "Moral Irritations"

Moral Irritations

One reason Christ followers will take hits in this world is because they unwittingly become moral irritations to family, friends and colleagues when they follow Christ diligently. It's like the gangly fourth grade girl in my elementary school. Her name was Ardith. We froze her out of our social circle for the simple reason that her grades broke the curve for the rest of us who weren't as diligent with our studies. She would get an "A" on a test and mess up the curve for all the rest of us. We just wanted to say, "Hey, Ardith, would you chill out a little bit on the grades thing? You're making the rest of us look really bad." She was becoming an academic irritation to the rest of us. This very dynamic often unfolds in the relational network of Christ followers who are just trying to do their best in leading God-honoring lives. However, like Ardith, we can become an irritation when our lives look different than the lives of those who don't follow Christ.

5 In what ways might fully committed followers of Christ be a moral irritation in today's world?

In the marketplace

In their homes

In friendships with seekers

In school settings

How have you experienced this in your life?

Read Snapshot "Stand Firm and Smile"

Stand Firm and Smile

What is a Christ follower to do when persecution comes? Jesus gives us some answers in this passage. When you follow Christ and model His value system, you're on a collision course with people. He says to do two things. First, stand firm. Don't run scared. Don't cave in. Don't shrink back. Stand firm. Second, smile on the inside. Even though you are taking a beating on the outside, smile on the inside. Actually, His phrase is "Rejoice and be glad." Smile on the inside, knowing why you are smiling. It's not because it feels good to be beat up. It's because you know that Christ is going to make it worthwhile some day in heaven. Heaven will make our battle scars on earth worth it many times over. Stand firm and smile, knowing that "great is your reward in heaven."

6 What can you do to stand firm even when persecution comes?

Read Snapshot "What If?"

What If?

Have you ever been on a flight and heard a flight attendant use the phrase "In the unlikely event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device"? I heard that on a flight from Atlanta to Chicago. Think about it. There is not a great chance of ever needing a flotation device on a flight between those two inland cities.

However, there is another "What if" situation we should all be ready for. I want to ask, "In the unlikely event that you end up living in a culture where there is overt hostility and persecution, are you certain how you would respond?"

Let's be honest, for most people reading these words, things are pretty comfortable right now. But there are places right now where people gather to worship, to listen to teaching from the Bible, and to pray, and they do so at the risk of imprisonment and death. Now, in the unlikely event that human history were to take a drastic change and we were to be in a culture like that, and the threat of imprisonment was possible because you were worshiping with other Christ followers, would you still be committed to gather for worship?

What are some outward signs that a Christ follower is smiling on the inside?

7 How do you think you would respond to a life-threatening, full-scale persecution of Christians?

What can you do to prepare yourself to be able to stand for Jesus and hang on for heaven no matter what the cost?

8 What can the members of your small group do to help you grow in you commitment to live for Jesus, no matter what they face?


Honest Reflection: Am I an Irritation?

Jesus never asked us to be needlessly irritating. However, He was clear that fully devoted followers will sometimes become moral irritations by virtue of their unwavering commitment to follow Him no matter what the cost. Take time in the coming days to reflect on your own life.

Are there ways in which you are needlessly irritating others that might drive those who are seekers away from Christ? If so, commit yourself to change these behaviors and practices. Also, ask a friend in your small group to keep you accountable as you learn to stop doing things that could push people away from Jesus.

Are there ways you are an irritation because you have committed yourself to an uncompromising lifestyle of seeking Jesus? If so, thank God for bringing you so far that your life is being transformed and making an impact on the world around you.

Discuss how you can support one another when you take one on the chin for being a moral irritation.

Commit to memorizing Scripture

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:10).


Excerpted from Commitment by Bill Hybels Copyright © 1996 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., and chairman of the board for the Willow Creek Association. The bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Leadership Axioms, Holy Discontent, Just Walk Across the Room, The Volunteer Revolution, and Courageous Leadership, and classics such as Too Busy Not to Pray and Becoming a Contagious Christian, Hybels is known worldwide as an expert in training Christian leaders to transform individuals and their communities through the local church. He and his wife, Lynne, have two adult children and two grandsons, Henry and Mac.

Kevin and Sherry Harney serve at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California.  They have authored Finding a Church You Can Love and Loving the  Church You’ve Found  and more than sixty small group Bible Studies. Learn more at: kevingharney.com and sherryharney.com

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