Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Devoted Disciples

Image

The Lord’s church today needs devoted disciples! Webster’s New World Dictionary, in describing the nuances of the term “devote”, states, “Devote suggests the giving up or applying of oneself or something with the seriousness or earnestness evoked by a formal vow (to devote one’s life to a cause).” Consider the Apostle Paul’s sentiment as recorded in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” It must be stated that the only true disciple of Christ is the devoted disciple of Christ.

What constitutes true devotion? I fear that many may lack understanding of what constitutes genuine devotion to God. Many are content with a 15 minute morning “devotional”, which consists of a short passage of scripture on a particular theme, a morning prayer, and a thought for the day. They feel that after they have spent their quiet time with God, they have shown their devotion to Him, and have fulfilled their spiritual duties for the day. God is forgotten as the more pressing matters of the day present themselves. Perhaps an appeal to scripture will help to remind us of what true devotion is all about.

First, recognize that Christ is to rule our life. Our existence must be centered in service to Jesus. Jesus stated, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). We must come to God on His terms, not our own. Any practical suggestions on how to develop devotion to God will not be effective unless we each come to grips with the necessity of giving ourselves totally to Him. Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” True devotion requires the crucifixion of self.

Consider the following suggestions:

Bible Study and Meditation

The root definition of the term disciple is “a learner”. Thus, a devoted disciple of Christ diligently studies. Not a 15 minute devotional, but a systematic and thorough examination of God’s will. David said, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Paul instructed Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). Further, he stated in verse 16, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” The Bible is our road map to eternity. It is the precious communication of God’s will to man. It is the only way we can know what He would have us to do, and what He would have us to be.

Bible study alone is not enough. This truth is seen in the broken lives of so many who fall into sin despite having a knowledge of right and wrong. How many elders, preachers and deacons we hear of who know what is right, but do not do what is right. They are as the Jew of Romans 2. Paul says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” Knowledge must be yoked with application. Meditation is important — the filling of the mind with truth. After we have learned a concept, heard a sermon, participated in a class, we need to mull it over in our minds. Ask ourselves, how we can apply it to our lives? What practical things can we do to implement it? How can we use it to avoid the pitfalls that the adversary has placed in our path? As James stated, “If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of a man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:23-25). Study the word, meditate on it, and then apply it to be devoted to God.

Prayer

Prayer is an important aspect of the life devoted to God. Notice David’s words in the Psalms. “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer” (4:1). “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!” (8:1). “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (13:1). “To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever” (30:12). Prayer is communication with God. It is a privilege afforded us as His adopted children. The poignancy of David’s petitions to God touches the heart. He poured out his needs, his praise of the Almighty, his despair during difficult times in his life, and his thanks for God’s providential deliverance. These are sentiments, which if expressed, will increase our own devotion to the Lord.

The Practice of Pure Religion

James expressed what a devoted disciple is when he wrote, “Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” This verse reveals two main areas of the disciple’s life — moral purity, and compassionate concern for others. As children of a righteous God, our lives, dress, speech and conduct must be of the highest standard. We must not conform to the mores of the day, but rather transcend them in righteousness!

Equally important is a compassion and concern for others. Our Lord is the supreme example for us in this. Paul forcefully stated this obligation on our part when he wrote, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Further on in the text, in verse 10, he wrote, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” This obligation to “do good” is part of being a devoted disciple. Christians must treat others with love and deference.

Many other practical suggestions could be given regarding devotion. These suffice to illustrate who truly is a devoted disciple of our Lord. A devoted disciple is a Christian who immerses himself in God’s word; who applies it daily in his walk; who prays to his God often; who conducts himself uprightly; and who cares for and actively helps others. Now for the more difficult question, “Are you a devoted disciple?” God and His church need you to be!