Scripture Read: Mark 9 - 10
Title: Idols of the Heart
(H) Highlight verse: "And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!;" Mark 10:23
(E) Explain: A young rich man came to Jesus one day and asked him what “good thing” he must do to inherit eternal life? This meeting with Jesus was doomed from the beginning. Why? Because the young man was asking what work or good act does HE have to do to get eternal life? He was looking for a good moral act to be his savior and not Jesus.
(A) Application: The Bible is very clear in saying there is NOTHING WE CAN DO to have eternal life. Salvation has nothing to do with what we do or what we possess, but it has everything to do with what Jesus did. It has all to do with responding (by the calling of the Holy Spirit) to call of God to salvation and following Jesus. The Gospel tells us that we are all sinful and in need of a savior and it is only by the grace of God that we can be saved from our sin and to be declared righteous before God.
The Bible tells us to have no other gods except the true God and we are to have no idols. While I am pretty sure most people reading this article do not have little statue gods or altars set up to foreign gods in their home, but you may have idols of the heart that you must bring to the Lord.
We live in a society who has fully bought into materialism. People love to have stuff. People love their comfortable lives, money, security, possessions and power. So what is the true follower of Jesus’ proper perspective on this young man's encounter with Jesus? I don’t think the main point alludes to material possessions are necessarily bad, however the point is our possessions begin to own us and take the place of God in our lives then we have created an idol of the heart. Jesus says in John 6:26 – 29 to not to waste our time, energy and resources working to acquire or invest in material things of this world. Instead we are called to invest in the spiritual things or the important things in life. Use your time, energy, resources and even possessions for the Kingdom of God.
So if you were to put yourself in this story today, where would you fit? Is there something in your life that could be an idol of the heart for you? Are there things in your life that are hindering you from following Jesus? These things do not necessarily have to be possessions and wealth. Anything you elevate above God is an idol. Are you willing to allow God to be sufficient for you?
(R) Respond: Lord, may you are enough for me. May I not spend my life pursuing empty vain things. May I spend my life pursuing you and your will. Protect me from idols of the heart.
Scripture Read: Luke 9:10-62
Title: The Art of Denying Self
(H) Highlight verse: "And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'" Luke 9:23
(E) Explain: In the above scripture Jesus is speaking to his disciples. He continues to talk to them about the cost involved in following him. Jesus informs them that he must "suffer many things and be rejected by the elders... and be killed, and on the third day be raised." He foretells his upcoming death and resurrection that MUST happen.
Jesus tells his disciples that they must live lives of self denial. He tells them the cost of discipleship is living a life of self denial. He says that they must deny themselves, which means to submit their lives completely to God, to not seek after personal pleasure and gratification, but to seek to live a life that is glorifying to God. He then informs them to take up their cross daily and follow him. This means that self-denial is a daily thing.
(A) Application: Discipleship is a costly thing. In fact, entering a life of discipleship (which is every Christians call) costs everything, it is committing to a life of self-denial. This is an extremely difficult concept for people today because we live in a day and age where we are encouraged to seek personal pleasure and fulfillment (yes even in Christian circles) and self denial goes against our natural inclination. When we look at the revolutionary teachings of Jesus they go very much against the teachings of the world. The world tells you to look out for yourself, Jesus says to put others before you. The world tells you to seek justice and vengeance, Jesus tells you to forgive your enemy. The world tells you to do whatever makes you happy and content, but Jesus says, to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow him. I personally believe that all Christians would benefit greatly if we started truly practicing the fine art of self denial and completely submitting ourselves to God because this is what Jesus tells us to do.
(R) Respond: Lord, may I live a life of self denial, not so I may appear holy and self-righteous, but so I can bring glory to your name and truly experience the life you have called me to live.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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