I am teaching at my Bible fellowship on Sunday in my home and here are my notes for the teaching:
All sports have fundamental practices and rules that determine how you excel and master the sport. In football you must learn how to tackle, how to block and how to run, pass and kick. In basketball you must learn how to defend, how to shoot, and how to run an offense. Every athlete, musician, craftsman, or artist knows you can never get far from the basics if you are to maintain or increase your level of expertise. The more proficient one is in the fundamentals, the more skillful he becomes in the advanced techniques. As Christians we need to continue practicing the basics with greater zeal and consistency that we once practiced martial arts, sports, music or a craft. God desires greatly that DAILY we practice the fundamentals of discipleship so that we can excel in service to our God.
1) Seek, Desire, Love, Treasure and Devote Yourself to God to be Close to Him and Love Him Above All Else/aka/Set Up No Idols on the Throne of Your Heart
Jeremiah 30:21,22-“For Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?” declares the Lord.
“So you will be my people, and I will be your God.”
Devote=pledge, engage, occupy, devote, to be a surety.
I Chronicle 22:19a-Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God
Deuteronomy 30:20a-That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life
Psalm 63:8 My soul clings (Hebrew = dabaq = cleave; Lxx = kollao) to You; Your right hand upholds me.Cling (kollao from kolla = glue) means literally to glue, cement, join or fasten together and thus to unite (someone with or to someone or some thing). To fasten firmly together.
C H Spurgeon: My soul followeth hard after thee, or is glued to thee. We follow close at the Lord’s heels, because we are one with Him.. Who shall divide us from His love? If we cannot walk with Him with equal footsteps, we will at least follow after with all the strength He lends us, earnestly panting to reach Him and abide in His fellowship.
Samuel Chandler: The primary sense of followeth hard after is to glue together; from thence it signifies figuratively to associate, to adhere to, to be united with; and particularly to be firmly united with strong affection….The psalmist, therefore, means that his soul adhered to God with the warmest affection.
Every Christian’s calling starts with deep spiritual intimacy.
Ezekiel 14.3-1 Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. 2 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 3 “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? 4 Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the LORD will answer him myself in keeping with his great idolatry. 5 I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’
What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what God can give. If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol. Many look for the hope, fulfillment that only God can provide.
Psalm 101:3 I will set no worthless thing (Hebrew = Belial) before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip (Hebrew = dabaq = cleave; Lxx = kollao) on me (Young’s Literal = “It adhereth not to me.”).
Comment: What a vivid picture! Evil is like “Velcro” which fastens tight a shoe or a jacket! Sin will cleave like leprosy. Sin is like a leech, that sucks the spiritual “life blood” from one’s soul! Abhor it continually!
Spurgeon: I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes (This parallels Paul’s charge to “abhor what is evil“). I will neither delight in it, aim at it or endure it. If I have wickedness brought before me by others I will turn away from it (Pr 3:7, 8:13, 14:16, 14:27, Neh 5:15, Job 28:28, Ps 34:11, 12, 13, 14 Ec 12:13,14, 2Co 7:1–note), I will not gaze upon it with pleasure. The psalmist is very sweeping in his resolve, he declines the least, the most reputable, the most customary form of evil — no wicked thing; not only shall it not dwell in his heart, but not even before his eyes, (Dear Christian brothers, let us read the next words soberly!) for…
What fascinates the eye
is very apt to gain admission into the heart!
2) Study and Devote Yourself to Be In the Word
Amplified: For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Barclay For the word of God is instinct with life; it is effective; it is sharper than a two-edged sword; it pierces right through to the very division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it scrutinizes the desires and intentions of the heart.
NLT: For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.
Phillips: For the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man’s being: it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man’s heart.
Psalm 12 (NIV)
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
11 By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
God speaks through His written Word
II Timothy 3:16.17 (Amplified):
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given
by His inspiration) and profitable for
instruction, for reproof and conviction
of sin, for correction of error and
discipline in obedience, and for training
in righteousness (in holy living, in
conformity to God’s will in thought,
purpose, and action),
So that the man of God may be complete
and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly
equipped for every good work.
God breathed His heart and His life into every word of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is a perfect reflection of God’s heart and contains His purposes, His will, His designs, and His plans. The Bible contains the thoughts of God, the desires of God, the warnings of God, the righteousness of God, the love of God, the judgment of God, the wisdom of God, the salvation of God, and the light of God. The Bible is the very life of God and is a living book that will abide and live forever. The Bible is a perfect revelation of the goodness of God. The Bible is the words of the Living God and the perfect expression and communication of God in writing. The Bible is the truth of God that brings life, light, wisdom, discernment, peace, wholeness, guidance, and understanding. It is the master blueprint for life and contains every principal of truth that a person would ever need to live life in every category to its fullest. The Bible is the divine instruction book that teaches us how to live His way in power, joy, peace, and love.
The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8). The Word of God cannot be broken, overcome, or defeated. God magnified His Word above all of His name (Psalm 138:2), and He has freely given us His Word so that we may know Him and learn and walk in His ways. God did not hide his Word in some mysterious cave or bury it in some underground grave, but has publicly heralded His Word to all generations.
Isaiah 45:18b,19 (New Living Translation):
“I am the Lord,” he says, “and there is no
other. I publicy proclaim bold promises. I do not
whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I
would have not told the people of Israel to
seek me if I could not be found. I, the Lord,
speak only what is true and declare only
what is right.
The Bible contains bold promises and declares what is right and true. God would not have given us His Word if we could not understand and believe it. I have heard so many people say that they don’t read or study the Bible because they do not understand it. God will enlighten your heart and give you more and more understanding of the Scriptures, but you must first open the book. The Creator of the heavens and earth has authored an amazing book of absolute truth that reveals His wonderful heart of goodness and His purposes for our lives. He has authored a book that shines as a brilliant light in the darkness of this world and shows us the proper path to live our lives. Shouldn’t we want to study it, read it, meditate upon it, think about it, and follow it?
E.W. Bullinger, in How to Enjoy the Bible, states:
Attention to diet is becoming more and
more recognized as essential to nutrition
and growth. A low condition of bodily
health is produced by inattention to the
laws of nature as to suitable diet….A low
condition of spiritual health is produced
by improper feeding or neglect of
necessary food, which is the Word of
God…The root of all evils which abound
in the spiritual sphere at the present day
lies in the fact that the Word and the
words of God are not fed upon, digested
or assimilated, as they ought to be…Thus
the way of discovery still lies open to us in
Divine things if we have only the moral
courage to go to the fountain-head of truth…
It is not at all incredible that a book that
has been so long in the possession of
mankind should contain many truths as yet
undiscovered…Like Ezra of old, our desire
is to “Open the Book” and let it speak for
itself, with the full conviction if this can be
done it can speak more loudly and more
effectively for itself, than any man can
speak on its behalf.
We live in a diet crazy society, where every conceivable diet is available to help people lose weight and be healthy. Our physical diet is important, but what about our spiritual diet? How much of the Word of God are we feeding upon, digesting, and assimilating into our heart and soul? If we ever want to be spiritually strong and excel in our gifting before the Lord, we cannot neglect the spiritual food of the Bible. If we want to be strong in our service for the Lord and abound in good works for His glory, we must spend time in the Word. We don’t have to be a biblical scholar or go to seminary school, but it must be a top priority in our lives to read, study, and think about the Bible and its words in our daily living.
I promise you that if you set sometime aside everyday to read and meditate upon the Scriptures, your life will be energized and transformed by the mighty power of His Word. There is life in the Word, and it will change the heart to become more like Him. There is light in the Word, and it will extinguish the darkness of everything that may hold us in bondage. There is comfort in the Word, and it will overcome the worries and fears of this age. There is wisdom in the Word, and it will guide our paths into the right way and help us avoid the obstacles set up to distract us and make us fall. There is healing in the Word, and it will restore our mind and body in complete wholeness. We need to open the book and let it speak to our heart. Pray that God enlightens your understanding and directs you to the words that you need to hear and believe. Just be faithful with being in the Word, as you will begin to realize that the more time you spend in the Word, you will begin to crave, desire, and cherish the time that it is just you and God in the Word. We cannot stand effectively for God without it. If we spend two minutes a week in the Word and twenty hours in front of the television, our spiritual lives will be out of balance. We will be anemic and weak spiritually, as our hearts will be receiving little nourishment from the words of God. It is like trying to put your life together without the training manual of life provided by your Heavenly Father.
3) Devote Yourself to Fervent Prayer
Colossians 4:2 (NASB)-Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
One’s devotion to prayer affects everything in one’s life. Think of a husband devoted to his wife or vice versa. The idea is that one dedicates himself or herself to the other. Devotion implies a strong attachment, allegiance, ardour or affection for some one or some thing, in this case prayer and the act of praying. To devote one’s self involves allocation of ones’ time and resources. There is a giving of one’s self. One who is devoted is ardent, caring, committed, concerned, constant, dedicated, loyal, staunch, steadfast and true. One who is devoted is not disloyal, inconstant, indifferent or uncommitted. These are some of the ideas involved in the picture of one who is devoted to prayer. How does your prayer life compare with these descriptions? Would you say you are devoted to prayer? If not, then to what are you devoting your life…to things temporal or things eternal? What needs to change, so that you might joyfully fulfill the command to continually devote yourself to the high and holy privilege of prayer to the Almighty.
Devote (proskartereo from prós = in compound Greek words prós implies motion, direction = toward, to + karteréo = be strong, steadfast, firm, endure, hold out, bear the burden) means to be earnest towards, to persevere. It describes a steadfast single-minded fidelity to a certain course of action. It means to persist obstinately in a task, to keep on with devotion, to continue to do something with intense effort, to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing, to continue all the time in a place, to persevere and not to faint, to be constantly diligent, to attend assiduously all the exercises, to adhere closely to, to attend continually or wait on continually, to tarry or remain somewhere.
Devote in the present verse is a command (imperative mood) in the present tense, calling for continual devotion to prayer. Devoted means that we must take steps to ensure that prayer with thanksgiving is a central part of our spiritual life, even as are eating and sleeping. Seek times of quiet communion with God.
Acts 6.4 “we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word”
Piper writes that prayer is…
A Wartime Walkie-Talkie, Not a Domestic Intercom. Prayer is the walkie-talkie on the battlefield of the world. It calls on God for courage (Ephesians 6:19). It calls in for troop deployment and target location (Acts 13:1–3). It calls in for protection and air cover (Matthew 6:13; Luke 21:36). It calls in for firepower to blast open a way for the Word (Colossians 4:3). It calls in for the miracle of healing for the wounded soldiers (James 5:16). It calls in for supplies for the forces (Matthew 6:11; Philippians 4:6). And it calls in for needed reinforcements (Matthew 9:38). This is the place of prayer—on the battlefield of the world. It is a wartime walkie-talkie for spiritual warfare, not a domestic intercom to increase the comforts of the saints. And one of the reasons it malfunctions in the hands of so many Christian soldiers is that they have gone AWOL.
I Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB)-Pray without ceasing.
Phillips-Never stop praying.
Romans 12:12 (NIV) Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
When you are weary in body and soul
Cumbered with many a care
When work is claiming its strength-taking toll
Make it a matter of prayer.
And when you’re discouraged, distraught or dismayed
Sinking almost in despair
Remember there’s One who will come to your aid,
If you’ll make it a matter of prayer.
And when you are lost in this world’s tangled maze
When life seems a hopeless affair
Direction will come for all of your ways, if you’ll make it a matter of prayer.
James 5:16,17 (Amplified):
16Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].
17Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months. [I Kings 17:1.]
KJV- The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Luke 18:1-7 Persistence of Prayer-We must never lose heart in our prayer life.
1ALSO [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to [a]turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up).
2He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither reverenced and feared God nor respected or considered man.
3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary.
4And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man,
5Yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will defend and protect and avenge her, lest she give me [b]intolerable annoyance and wear me out by her continual coming or [c]at the last she come and rail on me or [d]assault me or [e]strangle me.
6Then the Lord said, Listen to what the unjust judge says!
8I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [[h]persistence in] faith on the earth?
Our best example of a vibrant prayer life is, of course, Jesus, who counted prayer as an indispensable priority. He rose early to pray, sought out solitude to pray, and prayed before every major life decision, like praying all night before he chose his Apostles. He also prayed in times of great need, like in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was taken captive. He also told us to pray until we get our answer.
4) Fervent Deep-hearted Fellowship with Other Christians/Our Hearts and Souls Knit Together In Love
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The Church Epistles use the metaphor of a body to describe the relationship Christians are to have to each other. When a body is healthy, each part is in communication with the other parts. It is when parts of the body miscommunicate or become out of sync with the rest of the body that illness and disease take over. Christianity is “a team sport,” and we are to develop intimate relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. How can we fulfill all the commands to love one another, submit to each other, or serve one another if we are not in relationship with one another? Isolation often leads to deception, so we must fight to stay connected. Sometimes I hear people who do not fellowship with others use the excuse that there is no one near them with similar beliefs. I too love to fellowship with people who are like-minded on doctrine and practice, but when that is not available we should still seek out others who at least love Christ. Discipleship demands that we seek out relationship with other saints.
Hebrews 10:24- Amplified: And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,
Barclay: and let us put our minds to the task of spurring each other on in love and fine deeds.
NLT: Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.)
Phillips: and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds.
Wuest: And let us constantly be giving careful attention to one another for the purpose of stimulating one another to divine and self-sacrificial love and good works,
Young’s Literal: and may we consider one another to provoke to love and to good works,
Amplified: Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.
Barclay: Let us not abandon our meeting as some habitually do—but let us encourage one another, and all the more so as we see the Day approaching.
NLT: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
Phillips: And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another’s faith, and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing ever nearer.
Wuest: not letting down on the assembling of ourselves together, even as the custom of certain is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you are seeing the day drawing near.
I Corinthians 12-One body-all parts have equal concern for one another because we all belong to each other..
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Romans 12 (NIV)- 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:5 (NLT)- so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.
Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)-Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Our fellowship is designed as a small group of Christians that come together in the midst of our busy lives to go deep, support one another, and journey through this season in our lives together. We purpose to do these things in an effort to jointly pursue God and Jesus Christ. Our cozy fellowship is designed to strengthen and encourage one another, which in turn enables us to go out and be God’s hands and feet. Each one of us is unique in our personalities, experiences, circumstances, and relationships. One of the beautiful things about our fellowship is that each of us can bring our own individual experiences and meet one another where we are.
Brethren(adelphos from a = prefix which speaks of unity + delphus = womb) means literally one born from the same womb.
As Christian brethren we have been birthed by God and are all born out of the same womb figuratively. Christians have been divided for too long biting and devouring one another full of strife envy and divisions. As brethren isn’t it time we start loving each other?