Memory Verse: “but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.” 1 Peter 1:25
Mother’s Day brings different feelings for different people. There are new mothers, old mothers, those who have lost their mother, and those who desire to become a mother. My heart goes out to those who struggle with sadness on this day.
As I look at my own children I have so many moments of joy and happiness. It is easy to know how much God loves us when we consider the gift we receive through the life of a child. I also have many struggles. Feelings of doubt, fear, and failure. I do not believe that I am alone. I watch as women second guess their parenting and compare themselves to other mommies as a scale to measure success. We are all different. And those differences should be celebrated. We were given our children as a gift from God and we are to raise them according to the abilities that God has provided us. He knows you and he knew your children before he even formed them. You are literally a ‘match made in Heaven.’
This week we read from Proverbs. In chapter 31, we hear Lemuel speak the words of his mother. We don’t know much about Lemuel other than that he was a king and he was blessed with his mother. We can all learn from her in these verses.
The most important thing you can do is teach your children about God. So often, we lose sight of what is important in life. We become so involved with the world while staying busy raising our children. We feel like we need to take part in everything that comes along, dragging our children behind us. While there isn’t anything wrong with being involved in activities, we must remember that in the end, none of it will matter. What will matter is that we taught our children God’s Words so that they will be ready to answer when God calls them.
When raising children, your mission should be constantly covered in prayer.
One thing that we need while raising our children is knowledge. Ask God! He gives is wisdom that no parenting book could ever give.
Correct your children and teach them to decipher right from wrong. Show them how to repent and turn from their sin. We are moving further and further from true repentance. We want to hear things that uplift us and makes us feel superior. This is dangerous as we start to ignore the sins that need confession. We learn to live with our sins and make them part of who we are.
“For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Biblical interpretation is something that should happen on an individual level. We must be continually growing in understanding of God’s Word and how we are to apply that to life. While it is great to learn from others, we must know how to interpret scripture for ourselves.
We cannot blindly accept what others teach as we must take the responsibility to understand the Word for ourselves.
God put everything that we need to know about Him in writing, His inspired Word. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit to help him understand God’s Word. There are also some general principles that can be used in difficult times.
Monday- Approach the Bible in Prayer
We should always ask God to give us the understanding that we need to learn more from His Word. In Psalm 119, David asks God for instruction and guidance. Read through this chapter. God will reward your efforts. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.
Tuesday- Let Scripture Interpret Scripture
If you find a text that is difficult to understand, look for other scripture to help. Oftentimes, we can reference passages which are clearer to us to help us understand passages which are difficult. If you are reading about a particular topic, it is best to look for other areas of the Bible which discusses that topic. Try this today. Choose a topic and look for several scriptural references that apply. Which were difficult to understand and how did some of the other passages help with understanding?
Wednesday- Read the Bible as a Book That Points to Jesus
All scripture is Christocentric. This means that the nature of the Bible is centered on Christ. We know that the Bible points us to salvation which is found in Jesus. It helps us to understand as we move through scripture, it all points to a coming Savior. Practice this now. Find several places in the Old Testament that you favor. You have probably read them many times before but this time, try reading them with the idea of a coming Savior in mind. It helps us to see God intervening throughout history, constantly pointing to what was to come; His Son.
Thursday- Meditate on the Bible
For some, the word ‘meditate’ holds a negative connotation. The Bible, however, speaks of it often. To meditate on God’s Word is to consider it carefully. This will look different for different people. For some, it is the practice of writing the words down or repeating them in order to better remember them in our hearts. Meditating is simply digesting the words we are reading; a way of hiding them in our hearts. Try this on your own today.
Friday- Approach the Bible in Faith and Obedience
The Bible is given to us as a revelation from God which is to be believed and obeyed. We must not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. We are to have faith that God has our best interest at heart and obey His teachings. Even through times of difficulty, we can trust what God has promised us in His Word. Read Romans 8:28-29 and write out what His promise means to you. Begin practicing faith and obedience in all circumstances.
Memory Verse: "So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter." 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Spend much time discussing religion with someone and you can quickly discover their knowledge of and opinion about the Bible. But what does the Bible have to say about itself? We learned last week that God’s Word is inspired and authoritative, with many functions that all point back to its main purpose which is to reveal God and point one towards a saving relationship with Christ. This week, let’s study scripture references where the Bible speaks of itself.
Psalm 12:6 - “And the words of the Lord are flawless. Like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.”
What beautiful words. We are so often faced with lies and deception, it is sometimes hard to know who we can trust. David, as king, probably faced many lies of those whose main goal was advancement gained through flattery. Here, he speaks sweet words of God’s words. He tells us that they are pure, like refined silver. When we are searching for truth and sincerity, we can always turn to the Word of God.
Since we know that his Word is pure, we must always listen carefully when He speaks.
2 Timothy 3:16 - “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
The Bible is simply not like any human book. It is not just a novel or a collection of stories about God. It isn’t fables or myths and it was not written solely by human authors. The Bible is God-inspired. It was written as a dual authorship. God, through His Spirit, revealed to a group of His believers, a message for His people which they then wrote using their own personal, historical, and cultural contexts. It is a message that does not have an expiration date. It is a timeless gift for us to use. This scripture tells us that we were given these words as an inspiration of God and are to use God’s Words for a purpose. How can you apply this verse to your daily walk?
2 Peter 1:19-21 - “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
In verse 19, we see Jesus referred to as the morning star. We are told that until His return, we are given a light to guide us through darkness. We have Scripture to guide us under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Bible answers questions. It reveals truth. There is no need to wonder about direction or what is right and what is wrong. Ask God to show you through His Words. The answers are already there, waiting for you to discover them.
In verses 20 and 21, we again hear it confirmed that all scripture was inspired by God and written down by chosen men. These men were used by God to relay His authentic and reliable Word. Each word that is in your Bible is there because God wanted it to be. It was intentional and was given to us as a guide for our lives. It is imperative that we seek to learn, understand, and apply scripture to our lives.
Spend time learning and applying Scripture to your life. Hold fast to God’s Words. Know them and share them with others.
2 Timothy 3:15-17
Most of us have multiple copies of God’s Word lying about in our homes. We read through the stories and learn about some of our favorite bible characters. We teach its lessons to our children and we depend on our favorite scriptures to see us through tough times. But, how deep is our understanding of the Word? What about its history?
The best place to turn to learn about biblical history is through the Bible itself. It can be overwhelming but the more that you learn, the more knowledge you will desire and the deeper your understanding will be of God working throughout time to complete His purpose through His Son.
This week we will break that history down into five, easy to study, chunks of time. Commit to spending time digging into your Bible this week and stretching your mind knowing that God will reward your effort and your daily Bible study will be forever changed.
2091-931 B.C. - Israel Chosen as the People of Promise
Some things to study:
931-586 B.C. - Disobedient Israel Disciplined
Some things to study:
586-6 B.C. - Messiah’s Space and Time Prepared
Some things to study:
6 B.C. – A.D. 30 - Jesus the Messiah
Some things to study:
A.D. 30- Current Age - The Church
Some things to study:
Memory Verse: Galatians 5:22-23
Once, there was a beautiful apple tree that lived in front of a grand church right in the center of town. The apple tree spent its time people-watching and enjoying the warm sun on its branches. But every Sunday left the apple tree quite annoyed. All of the members of the church would walk out of its large doors at exactly noon and would spend the next several minutes screaming at all the people passing by. “I am a Christian,” they would call out. “Do you see how large the Bible is that I carry?” They wore ties with scenes from the crucifixion on them and large pieces of jewelry with crosses. After they felt that others had heard their yells, they would get into their cars with their Honk If You Love Jesus bumper stickers and head home. They continued this every single week until the apple tree could not stand for it to continue. So, one Sunday, the apple tree pulled up its roots and made his way into the church. He dragged his heavy roots behind him and made his way up to the pulpit. He stood in front of the congregation and leaned in toward the microphone attached to the podium. “Do you know what I am?” he asked. Everyone looked around and began to whisper amongst themselves. A little boy who had been coloring in the back row stood on the pew. “You’re an apple tree,” he said.
“You are right,” the tree said. “And did I have to tell you that I was an apple tree?”
“No,” replied the little boy.
“Did I have to carry a sign or yell out as people passed?”
Again, the little boy said “No.”
“Then how do you know that I am an apple tree?”
The boy thought for a moment and then called out, “I know you are an apple tree because of the fruit that you bear.”
Memory Verse: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.: Matt.5:8
It is important that we understand God’s word and spend time in study to further know how God would have us apply it to our lives. The following beatitudes are perfect for study. Ask God to show you what treasures He has for you in these verses and consider keeping a journal about what you learn.
Beatitude: Poor in spirit (5:3)
Beatitude: Mourning (5:4)
Beatitude: Meekness (5:5)
Beatitude: Righteousness (5:6)
Beatitude: Mercy (5:7)
Beatitude: Pure in heart (5:8)
Beatitude: Peacemaker (5:9)
Beatitude: Persecuted (5:10)
In his longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He called those who lived out those traits blessed because God had something special in store for them. Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society's typical way of life. In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition. The best example of each trait is found in Jesus Himself. If our goal is to become like Him, the beatitudes will challenge the way we live every day.
Monday: Matthew 5:3-5
Jesus began His sermon with words that seem to contradict each other. But God's Way of living usually contradicts the world. If you want to live for God, you must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world. You must be willing to give when others take, to love when others hate, to help when others abuse. By giving up your own rights in order to serve others, you will one day receive everything God has in store for you.
Tuesday: Matthew 5:3-12
There are at least four ways to understand the Beatitudes.
These Beatitudes are not multiple choice- pick what you like and leave the rest. They must be taken as a whole. They describe what we should be like as Christ’s followers.
Wednesday: Matthew 5:3-12
Each Beatitude tells how to be blessed. Blessed means more than happiness. It implies the fortunate or enviable state of those who are in God's kingdom. The Beatitudes don't promise laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity. To Jesus, blessed means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.
Thursday: Matthew 5:3-12
With Jesus’ announcement that the kingdom was near (4:17), people were naturally asking “How do I qualify to be in God's kingdom?” Jesus said that God’s kingdom is organized differently from worldly kingdoms. In the kingdom of Heaven, wealth and power and authority are unimportant. Kingdom people seek different blessings and benefits, and they have different attitudes. Are your attitudes a carbon copy of the world’s selfishness, pride, and lust for power, or do they reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, your King?
Friday: Matthew 5:11,12
Jesus said to rejoice when we are persecuted. Persecution can be good.
Memory Verse: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
This week we continue to look at the Good Shepherd and examine discipleship from the viewpoint of the Shepherd’s care of His sheep. We recently focused on the disciplines in our lives that strengthen our relationship with our shepherd. (Bible reading, memorization, meditation, etc….) Continue to work on those disciplines as this week we take a deeper look at the bond between a shepherd (our Good Shepherd) and his sheep (us, as Christians).
Monday: Reading God’s Word (Psalm 23)
Most people have heard of the 23rd Psalm. It is quoted in music, spoken of in our worship services, read at funeral services. There are many Psalms that come to mind when we need them most. They inspire us, comfort us, and correct us. Let’s begin this week by reading through the 23rd Psalm. Since it’s such a short read, let’s also read through some other popular Psalms.
Tuesday: Memorizing God’s Word (Psalm 23)
This week, commit to memorizing part or all of the 23rd Psalm. Scripture memorization is important as it helps us to recall important words that give us comfort, led us in instruction and correction, minister to others, and praise God with His inspired Word. A great app that was shared in my Sunday School class to help with this is Scripture Typer.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: Meditating on God’s Word, studying God’s Word, and integrating God’s Word into our lives. (Psalm 23)
Read back through the chapter. Meditate on its words. Seek wisdom, through prayer, on how God would have you interpret its words.
Example: For verse 23:1, look up John 10:11 and I Peter 2:25
For verse 23:4 Look up Psalm 27:1 and 107:14
For verse 23:5 Look up Psalm 16:5 and 92:10
For verse 23:6 Look up Psalm 25:6, 7, 10
End the week by writing a summary of Psalm 23 and also writing a prayer of thanksgiving. Continue to memorize these words and test what you’ve learned by writing out the Psalm without having to peek at your Bible.
This Week’s Memory Verse:
Characteristics of a Shepherd
Read 1 Peter 5:2-5
Peter describes several characteristics of good leaders in the church:
Praying For Our Shepherds
Read Jeremiah 3:15
God promised to give His people shepherds who would follow him, filled with knowledge and understanding. God saw Israel's lack of direction, so He promised to provide the right kind of leadership. We look to and trust our leaders for guidance and direction. But if they do not follow God, they will lead us astray. How often do we complain about those in leadership positions? How can we be of help to them so that they may stay on track as they provide leadership? We must uplift them and hold them accountable while accepting their guidance. Pray for God-honoring leaders in our nations, communities, and churches-those who will be good examples and bring us God's wisdom.
A Shepherd’s Authority
Read 1 Peter 5:1,2
Peter, one of Jesus' 12 disciples, was one of the three who saw Christ's glory at the Transfiguration. Often the spokesman for the apostles, Peter witnessed Jesus' death and resurrection, preached at Pentecost, and became a pillar of the Jerusalem church. But writing to the elders, he identified himself as a fellow elder, not a superior. He asked them to "shepherd the flock of God," exactly what Jesus had told him to do. Peter was taking his own advice as he worked along with the other elders in caring for God's faithful people. His identification with the elders is a powerful example of Christian leadership, where authority is based on service, not power.
The Ultimate Shepherd
Read Psalm 23
In describing the Lord as a Shepherd, David wrote out of his own experience because he had spent his early years caring for sheep. Sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd for provision guidance and protection. The New Testament calls Jesus the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd. As the Lord is the Good Shepherd, so we are his sheep – not frightened, passive animals, but obedient followers wise enough to follow one who will lead us in the right places and in the right way. This Psalm does not focus on the animal-like qualities of sheep but on the discipleship qualities of those who follow.
Look up John 10:11, 1 Peter 5:4, and Hebrews 13:20
Which scripture describes Jesus as the good shepherd, great shepherd, and chief shepherd?
This week we learned about the role of scripture in our lives. We learned about the disciplines of reading, memorizing, meditating, integrating, and studying God’s word. Over the next five days, we will put those disciplines into practice.
Monday: Reading God’s Word
Today we will set up a reading plan which we will follow for the remainder of the week. Choose any book of the Bible and divide the number of chapters in that book by five. This will tell you how many chapters you need to read each day to complete the book by Friday. Ask God to help you commit and set aside time each day.
Tuesday: Memorizing God’s Word
It is important to memorize God’s Word. Knowing God’s commandment helps us know how to live our lives in a way that is acceptable to God. Memorizing Scripture also helps us to be ready to witness to others. Read Psalm 119:11. I memorizing God’s word to heart, we can better keep ourselves in check, thus setting a greater example to others.
Consider memorizing some of the Scriptures that you are reading during your reading plan this week.
Wednesday: Meditating on God’s Word
Read Philippians 4:8
Here Paul says to think about these things. He is telling us to ponder and reflect. Meditating will mean different things for different people. For some it is simply pondering Scripture quietly for deeper meaning. For others it may mean speaking the Scriptures aloud and having a conversation about them with God as a means to attain understanding.
Plan to spend your reading time today in a quiet place. Meditate on God’s words.
Thursday: Integrating God’s Word into our lives
Before focusing on today’s reading plan, pray and ask God to show you as you study His word, how it can be applied to your life. A great way to start is to personalize the Scriptures you’re reading by putting your name into each verse. If you like to journal, consider writing what you’ve learned and making a plan to apply it to your life. The more Scripture that we put into our lives, the more our lives will reflect the Scripture that we read.
Friday: Studying God’s Word
It is important for us to study the instructions and stories that God has given to us. 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17 says that Scripture is profitable for teaching, correcting, training, and equipping.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Start this week by reading 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8.
Peter tells us that God has provided us with all that we need and it is our responsibility to put forth effort to grow. We can grow in our faith using a variety of spiritual disciplines. These will help us to be productive and effective as individuals and as a church family. We will look at a few of these disciplines this week.
Prayer is commanded in the Bible. The discipline of prayer is a way to be obedient to this commandment. Prayer requires concentration and focus. Teaching our cells to concentrate is one of the reasons we close our eyes to pray. We also need to close our ears and mind as well to the many distractions around us.
Prayer harvests humility, dependence on God, and compassion for others. Prayer should include, among other things, praise for God's greatness, gratitude for God's gifts, petitions for you and others, confession of your struggles and sins, and whatever the spirit brings to your mind.
Sometimes when we feel stuck or without words we can turn to the Bible to find prayers. Look up the following prayers and keep them close by.
Worship is more than an activity: it is an attitude- an attitude of awe and gratitude, of humble submission to God's greatness and grace, of obedience and love.
The spiritual discipline of worship is not limited to the activities we do on Sundays. Every activity and every relationship in our daily life can be a way to worship God. Sunday worship is the best initial training ground for this discipline. As we continue developing this habit of worshiping God, we will see Sunday worship as the beginning of our worship, rather than as the only worship time.
Look up the following verses which give the biblical basis and examples of worship. Pay attention to how we can incorporate this into our daily lives.
Fasting is not a spiritual discipline that you hear much about. Many times it is dismissed as an old practice. However, fasting is an important opportunity for meaningful spiritual growth.
So, what is fasting and how do I do it?
Fasting fosters humility, reliance on God, compassion, gratitude, and self control. Fasting is not simply giving up something but rather giving up the time that something would fill and dedicating that time to God through prayer and Biblical reflection. Fasting from food is a good way to practice fasting. However, there are other things which you could abstain from that may be more effective. Television and social media often consumes much of our lives. When we fast from these things, as well as other things, we are reminded that our dependence on God is sufficient. In the Bible, we can see how fasting was often a way of seeking God's favor or guidance. Look up the following verses and spend time in prayer asking God what area of your life would benefit most from a time of fasting.
Evangelism is an important spiritual discipline. Evangelism is a command that is given to Christian but sharing one's faith with others doesn't always come natural. Studying the scriptures helps us to become more confident which will in turn help us evangelize. The more we know about God and His plan, the better we can share it. Prayer is also a helpful tool in preparing for evangelism. The closer we are to God, the more likely we are to share with others. It is important that we train ourselves instruments used by God.
Read about Jesus’ command to his people to spread the gospel in Matthew 28:19-20
Look up 1st Peter 3:15. Peter is telling believers that they must be ready to give an answer concerning the hope they have. Are you ready to give an answer?
Friday: Wrap up
Spiritual disciplines should be....
Practices that permeate every area of our lives. Ones that help us focus on God as well as building up other believers. Disciplines help us to realize our dependence on God and give us the desire to follow His will.
Spiritual disciplines should not be....
Impossible or unrealistic. They should not be used as a benchmark to judge other people spiritual maturity. And they should not be used as an outward way to cover up inward sin.
Be sure to spend time focusing on what disciplines you already have in place in your life and how you can improve those practices. Reach out to God and ask Him what discipline you are missing and be open to the changes He will make in your life.
What is discipline?
A systematic instruction intended to train a person, sometimes literally called a disciple, in a craft, trade or other activity, or to follow a particular code of conduct or "order."
What are spiritual disciplines?
Spiritual disciplines are means by which individuals can very literally "practice" their faith. There are three main types of disciplines typically practiced in the life of a Christian; inward disciplines, outward disciplines, and corporate disciplines.
Place the following 12 spiritual disciplines in their correct category. Some may fit into multiple categories. Be sure to spend time studying the scripture reference.
What is the outcome of spiritual disciplines?
Commit to memorizing this week’s memory verse. Pray and ask God to show you what disciplines He desires you to work on this week. Keep a journal on each and how you can better your efforts and build a stronger relationship with your Father.
Memory Verse: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of world.” John 17:14
Monday: Disciples Must Go Into The World
Read Acts 1:8
This verse describes a series of ever-widening circles. The gospel was spread, geographically, from Jerusalem, into Judea and Samaria, and finally to the whole world. It would begin with the devout Jews in Jerusalem and Samaria, spread to the mixed race in Samaria, and finally be offered to the Gentiles in the uttermost parts of the earth. God's gospel has not reached its final destination if someone in your family, your workplace, your school, or your community hasn't heard about Jesus Christ. Make sure that you are contributing in some way to the ever-widening widening circle of God's loving message.
Tuesday: Disciples Must Love The World
Read John 3:16
The entire gospel comes to a focus in this verse. God's love is not static or self-centered. It reaches out and draws others in. Here God sets the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships. When you love someone dearly, you are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice. God paid dearly with the life of his Son, the highest price he could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that he had bought for us. When we share the gospel with others, our love must be like Jesus'- willingly giving up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God's love.
Wednesday: Disciples Must Remain Separate From The World
Read John 17:14
The world sometimes hates Christians because Christians' values differ from the world. Because Christ's followers don't cooperate with the world by joining in their sin, they are living accusations against the world's immorality. The world follows Satan's agenda, and Satan is the avowed enemy of Jesus and His people.
We must go into the world without becoming part of the world. The key to doing so is staying in the word, keeping tight the lines of communication with God, and maintaining spiritual integrity. This is often easier said than done because we don't like standing out or being different from the crowd.
Thursday: Disciples Must Be Patient
Read Galatians 6:9
It can be discouraging to continue to do right and receive no word of thanks or see no tangible results. But Paul challenged the Galatians and he challenges us to keep on doing good and to trust God for the results. In due time, we will reap a harvest of blessing.
Read again this week’s memory verse. Commit to memorize this verse. Make a plan of how you will be a disciple to the world while staying committed to Christ. Pray and ask God to help you see ways to go out into the world while also guarding your heart against worldly things.
Memory Verse: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, by the love you show to one another.” John 13:34-35
I had memorized John 13:35 within a couple of months of joining my first church. The worship leader started each service by having us shake hands with visitors and other members. We knew when it was time because he had us all recite this verse together before the music started. I am grateful for this as it helped me memorize a very important verse in the Bible and also showed the importance of welcoming visiting guests. The concept behind the verse goes so much further than extending a welcoming hand during greet-time. The words spoken by our Savior are ones not to be taken lightly. We are to heed them within the church walls as well as outside the doors. If a visitor was to follow your footsteps within the church today, would they see a true disciple? Would they feel God’s love and acceptance through your actions? What if they followed you home?
Pray and ask God to keep you aware of your actions. Keep in mind that others are watching, looking for the love of a Savior through an earthly disciple.
Review John 13:34 and try to recite it from memory.
We know that we are to love the Lord with all of our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Now we hear Jesus tell us to love others the way that He loved us. To love others isn’t a new commandment as seen in Leviticus 19:18, but to love others as much as Christ loves us is revolutionary. Now we are to love others based on Jesus' sacrificial love for us. Such love will not only bring unbelievers to Christ, it will also keep believers strong and united in a world hostile to God. Jesus was a living example of God's love, as we are to be living examples of Jesus' love. Pray and ask God what this looks like in your life. Be open to changes God may desire for your life.
Read John 13:35 and try to recite it from memory.
Love is more than warm feelings; it is an attitude that reveals itself in action. How can we love others as Jesus loves us? By helping when it's not convenient, by giving when it hurts, by devoting energy to others welfare rather than our own, by absorbing hurts from others without complaining or fighting back. This kind of loving is hard to do. That is why people notice when you do it and know you are empowered by a supernatural source. The Bible has another beautiful description of love in I Corinthians 13. Read it today and ask God to show you ways to extend His love to others.
Read I Corinthians 13. We can have gifts and talents to offer. We can have money to give and time to spend. But if our actions aren’t backed by love they are nothing but the noise of “a clanging cymbal.”
Re-read verses 4-7. List 8 things that love isn’t or does not do. Then list 7 things that love is or does. Take a moment to consider which category you fall into. Look for ways to show love to others. Make a commitment to reach out to a person that you find it hard to love. Ask God to help you. He will grow you in your faith and give you the heart to care about others that you may never be able to care about without His help.
Commit to read I Corinthians chapter 12, 13, and 14. In Chapter 12, Paul gave evidence of the Corinthians lack of love in the utilization of spiritual gifts; chapter 13 defines real love; and chapter 14 shows how love works. Love is more important than all the spiritual gifts exercised in the church body. Great faith, acts of dedication or sacrifice, and miracle-working power produce very little without love. Love makes our actions and gifts useful. Although people have different gifts, love is available to everyone. Love is the greatest of all human qualities, and it is an attribute of God himself. Faith is the foundation and content of God's message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action. When faith and hope are in line, you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves.
Read Luke 14:25-33
Jesus was very plainly teaching that there is a cost to be His disciple. He expects our highest devotion, and He couldn't have made His standards more clear.
First, we must love Him even more than the people we love the most: our fathers, mothers, spouses, children, brothers and sisters. In fact, Jesus said we must love Him more than our own lives. True disciples of Jesus are sold out to Him. Jesus is not just a part of their lives; He is the center of their lives.
Second, Jesus said that we must carry our own cross in order to be His disciples. What did He mean? He wasn't saying, of course, that His followers must literally carry a cross on their backs wherever they go. The carrying of the cross that Jesus talked about must be symbolic of something.
In Jesus' day, when crucifixion was a common means of punishment, the expression He used was probably common. It would have meant, "Do the thing that you would naturally not want to do," or "Deny your selfish desires for a greater cause." Those who are Christ's true disciples have done just that. The most important thing in their lives is no longer pleasing themselves, but pleasing God.
Third, we must love Jesus more than any material thing if we are to be His disciples. Jesus owns us and everything we own. Therefore, He should have control over everything we possess, and we should do with it as He directs.
1. Disciple = Worship
The apostle Paul described true worship perfectly in Romans 12:1-2: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.”
True worship is God-centered worship.
Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth:
It’s also important to know that worship is reserved only for God. Only He is worthy and not any of His servants:
True worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of praise and worship is obedience to Him and His Word. To do this, we must know God; we cannot be ignorant of Him:
Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration to our Father.
2. Disciple = Servant
Characteristics of a servant of God:
3. Disciple = Witness
Matthew 5:13: You are the SALT of the earth.
Be salt — that is, flavor and a preservative to all around you.
Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world.... it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Riverview Family Devotion Guides
Family devotion guides are provided to help reinforce the "Big Idea" that is studied in Sunday School and presented in the Pastor's message each week.