John 8:31 – Disciples Indeed

John 8:31
31
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

Luke 9:62
62
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

-A disciple by definition is a follower of a particular discipline; the word “disciple” is right there in the root of the word “discipline”.  It take discipline to keep your hand on the plow and not look back (Luke 9:62); just like it takes discipline to read your Bible every day (Psalm 1:2), pray every day (1 Thessalonians 5:17), be a light and a witness every day (Matthew 5:16, Acts 1:8), etc.  It’s a lot to expect, but the Lord doesn’t expect it from everyone; He expects it from His disciples.  How can any of us call ourselves disciples if we lack the discipline to follow Jesus?

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Matthew 15:8-9 -Doctrines or Commandments of Men?

Matthew 15:8-9
8
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

-Jesus here compares the two prevailing philosophies in the world; 1) Doctrines, which are God’s words, and 2) Commandments of men, which are men’s words.  Jesus tells us that those who teach men’s words offer nothing but empty worship.  It must also follow that those who receive men’s word get nothing but empty worship.  Never forget this truth; the wisdom of man may be edifying in some cases, it may even seem profitable, but ultimately it will leave you empty.

Exodus 20:25 – The Unpolluted Gospel

Exodus 20:25
25
And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

– What is an altar but a place to worship the Lord?  Christ is both where we go to worship God and the way that we should go. (John 14:6)  The Lord commanded Israel that they not lift a finger to shape an altar used for worship; it must be kept just as it’s found.  The same principle applies to our faith; Christ is polluted if we attempt to add anything to or take anything away from what the Bible says about Him.  That was Paul’s warning to the Church at Galatia; not that there was “another gospel”, but rather that the true gospel had been twisted and perverted.  (Galatians 1:6-7)  Paul’s warning is preserved so that we would not make the same mistake.  “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

Proverbs 30:8-9 – Just Enough

Proverbs 30:8-9
8
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

-So prone to err is the human race, so quick to turn out of the way.  Agur wisely recognized this trait in himself when he prayed to the Lord for nothing more or less than just enough.  Just enough to live; any more and He would surely slip into sin out of pride, any less and would slip into sin out of necessity.  Jesus taught a similar prayer when He said, “give us day by day our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3)  Jesus didn’t ask for food enough for tomorrow or for a storehouse of food; only enough day to day.  What’s the lesson?  “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Luke 22:31 – Sifted As Wheat

Luke 22:31
31
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

-Satan.  He’s been called the Great Adversary, and with good reason.  Not to make light of the negative influences of the world and our own flesh, but if one single being could be held responsible for leading a multitude of souls to Hell, it would be him.  Here in Luke 22, Jesus gives us some important insight into Satan’s character when He tells Peter why Satan wants him; to sift him as wheat.  Allow that imagery to play out in your mind.  Satan doesn’t want us so he can make things difficult for us or to make us fearful of him, he wants nothing less than our absolute destruction.  It is said that the first rule of warfare is to know your enemy.  Know this; where the Lord God is very compassionate and longsuffering, Satan is completely devoid of mercy and forbearance.  He will do everything he can to completely tear you apart every chance he gets.

Romans 8:32 – A Special Price

Romans 8:32
32
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

-Even though it defies reason that God Himself would have any care for the human race; we are obviously very special to Him, because He paid a very special Price to save us.  If the Lord would go that far to rescue us when we were nothing but sin, how much more will He shepherd and protect us once we are saved and have identified with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 11:2-5 – Sustaining Faith

Matthew 11:2-5
2
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

-The same John the Baptist who stood in the face of Jewish authority and plainly declared that Jesus was “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), now sends his disciples to Jesus seeking confirmation that He is the One.  How could such a thing be?  How could such a great prophet of God begin to doubt?  Was he exposed to some new doctrine that caused him to wonder?  No.  Did the terrible circumstances behind his imprisonment shatter his faith?  No.  Jesus’ answer to the disciples tells us the reason behind John’s doubts, “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see.”  You see, being locked away in prison meant that John was not able to “hear and see” the Word of God.  Faith is not self-sustaining, it is authored and completed by Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), which means that even the strongest faith will wither if not fed constantly by the Word.  That’s why when Paul the Apostle found himself similarly imprisoned, he urged Timothy to bring “especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13); Paul needed many things while in prison, but he understood that the thing he needed most was the Word of God.  What’s our lesson from this?  We may be avid church-goers and prayer warriors and strong believers, but if we skip the Scriptures, soon we will start to waiver and doubt.  The remedy for us is the same remedy that Jesus prescribed for John.  It is not a new word or a new revelation, it is to “continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of.” (2 Timothy 3:14)

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 -Earthen Vessels

2 Corinthians 4:7-8
6
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
-There is no limit to the tools and resources at God’s disposal when it comes to His works.  Yet when it comes to His most important work, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, He chooses to use plain old human beings.  Why human preachers instead of 8-foot Angels with flaming swords?  Why human missionaries instead of 6-winged Seraphim?  The answer is given right there in verse 7, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”  If God’s unseen wonders were walking the earth they would no doubt get our attention, but they might also get our praise and glory; praise and glory that should only be given to God.  But when God uses a wretched, broken human being who has been washed in the Blood of the Lamb to bring light to another broken human being, God’s presence will be uniquely felt.  Like a candle in a cracked clay pot, God’s divinity will shine out through the cracks in our humanity.

Joshua 24:15 – The Freedom to Choose

2 Corinthians 3:17
17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Joshua 24:15
15
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

-The freedom to choose; it is a founding precept upon which this great nation was built.  Whether a person wanted to be a Christian or an atheist, to pray or not to pray; whatever choice they wanted to make, they were free to do so.  But the freedom to choose is one that has been severely distorted over time.  From the beginning, America recognized the importance of protecting individual liberties, but America also recognized that those liberties are ultimately granted by God.  In the modern age, it seems that the only way America can defend personal freedom is to remove God from everything and so, in the name of “freedom”, we have made ourselves slaves; slaves to sin, slaves to whatever God-less philosophy finds its way into our culture, and ultimately, slaves to Satan’s desire of removing God from the human equation.  It is often said that freedom isn’t free; if the price of American freedom is separating a people from their God, I’d say the cost is very high indeed.

1 Samuel 17:40 – Five Smooth Stones

1 Samuel 17:40
40
And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

-Why did David choose five stones when there was only one giant?  The most obvious answer involves numerology.  In the Bible, 5 is the number of grace and it’s only by God’s grace that we can overcome the Goliaths in our life.  But there is another lesson being taught here that is equally important.  The Holy Spirit is teaching us that no matter how big of a challenge we may be facing on a given day, there will always be more obstacles and more battles down the road.  David chose five stones; after he beat David he had four left.  David understood that there would be more “Goliaths” in his life.  But just as with the first stone, he also understood that God would be with him on the day he needed to use the next one.