(NOTE: Write out the BIBLE KEY at least once this week, perhaps in your personal journal. Then, before you begin to read the devotional thoughts for each day, read the BIBLE KEY for that week. Become familiar with it and, perhaps, even memorize it.)
BIBLE KEY: (John 14:23, NIV) Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
(Matthew 12:46-50, NIV) 46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
At first glance, these verses appear to reveal a conflict between Jesus and the rest of His earthly family. However, that is probably not the case.
Apparently, Jesus’ mother and brothers had traveled to see Him. Knowing Jesus’ great love, I don’t believe He turned them away. Instead, He used their arrival to teach an important lesson to His followers. I wouldn’t be surprised if He met with his family shortly after He finished teaching the disciples.
The important lesson here is found in verse 50. Jesus says that a person’s obedience to God reveals his or her relationship with Jesus. He says that those who follow God’s will have a close kinship to Him, as close as a mother or siblings.
Obedience to God can be difficult for us. It can put us at odds with other people, including our own family members. However, obedience leads us to a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father, as well as our Big Brother.
(Luke 6:46-49, NIV) [Jesus speaking] 46 “Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Have you ever noticed that some people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, but their lifestyles are no different than anyone else’s? They don’t try to follow all of Jesus’ teachings or commands. They are like the man who built his house without a strong foundation. They are satisfied with their disobedient lifestyles. They don’t think about the possibility that a flood may strike their house. They feel false security in their non-dedicated relationship with God. Unfortunately, the flood will come and strike them, someday. Then, their lives could collapse.
In contrast, Jesus says that His obedient followers are like a man who built His house on a solid foundation. This man was prepared for future, potential catastrophes. When the flood came, his house stood strong. His faith remained intact. His obedient faith had strengthened his relationship with God to make him strong enough to endure whatever circumstance might come his way.
When the Lord tells you to do something, you are supposed to obey Him. This means that we should listen carefully to the God’s instructions. So, pay careful attention to what God is trying to tell you when you read the Bible.
Let’s listen and obey God’s Word. It will build our faith on a solid foundation, which will withstand all kinds of tests.
(1 John 2:3-6, NIV) 3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
Apostle John speaks passionately against hypocrites who claim to know Jesus Christ, but fail to obey Him. He calls them liars and he says there is no truth in them. You see, their lack of obedience reveals their lack of real faith, even though they want other people to believe they have a genuine faith in Jesus.
One of the highest respected leaders of the early church, James, explained their condition this way. (James 2:26, NIV) As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. He’s saying that inactive faith is hollow. It has no real substance.
In contrast, Apostle John says that a person who obeys God’s Word also allows God’s love to be made complete in him. His love is growing in size and substance.
Here’s how it works. The true knowledge of God’s Word leads us to obey His laws, including those related to our moral actions. And, as we practice obedience to the Lord, His love fills us and matures in us.
So, let’s strive to be genuine believers, who study God’s Word to learn its truth. Then, let’s obey the truth, living the kind of life that Jesus lived. Thus, we will allow God to flood our lives with His love.
Don’t forget to read the Bible Key each day.
(Psalm 119:33-35, NIV) 33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. 35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
The psalmist cried out to God for knowledge of His truth. He was passionate in seeking it.
But also, you can hear a tone of humility in his voice as he comes before God. You can sense his dependence on God to provide the knowledge he needs. He knows that God is the only reliable source of this knowledge. After all, it is God who must interpret His own revelation to us.
So, when we humble ourselves before the Lord and seek to know His truth, He will begin to teach us how to follow His decrees, His law, and His path. Then, we will find real delight in the Lord—joy will fill our lives. Our cups will overflow with it.
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31, NIV) 26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Apostle Paul was writing to the Christians in Corinth. They came from a variety of backgrounds before they gave their lives to Jesus. After that, their lives changed dramatically, as the Holy Spirit began to work in them. Some of them were once the worst of the pagans, but then they became part of a church that was called out of the world to be the holy assembly of the Lord. They had been sanctified by Jesus to be holy, so they could bow before the Holy God, Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 1:2) It’s amazing what God can do with a person’s life when it is surrendered to Him.
However, human nature sometimes raises its ugly head by taking credit for what God has done. Motivated by vain pride, a person boasts about how he changed his life or what he has accomplished in his life. This makes the person feel special, but it robs God of the glory He deserves.
We must recognize that whatever goodness we have in our lives comes from the Lord. Because of His grace toward us, He works to change us and to produce His fruit. Of course, we have an important role to play when we choose to follow Him by faith, but we couldn’t do it without His power working in us.
When you say something about what happened when God worked in your life or through your life, don’t let your pride lead you to brag. This is the devil’s trap. Instead, give God the glory that He deserves.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons we gather for worship on Sunday—to give God the glory He deserves. Why not join other Christians in a worship assembly this Lord’s Day?
["Devotional Guides for the Journey" are written by Philip Walter. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2012.]
(Scripture quotes are from the New International Version [NIV] of the Bible, copyright © 1984, International Bible Society.)