The Secret Practice of Discipleship – Matthew 6:1-18

Secret-Prayer“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven…Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1, 4, NLT).

When we practice the spiritual disciplines of giving, praying, and fasting we are cultivating a quality of life that helps us develop an authentic relationship with God.

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Fruit or Foliage? – John 15:1-2,5

grapevine“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit…I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:1-2,5, HCSB).

These verses contain the last of seven “I am” declarations made by Jesus in John’s Gospel.  “I am” is an allusion to God’s name by which God identified Himself to the Israelites: “God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).

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The View from the Balcony – 1 Samuel 16:7

balcony_view“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart'” (1 Samuel 16:7, HCSB).

In 1 Samuel 16:1 God told Samuel to go and anoint David as the new king over Israel. From biblical descriptions, David and Saul had contrasting appearances. Saul was tall and striking in appearance while David was a young boy with a ruddy appearance.

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Acumen-The Key to Spiritual Maturity – Luke 16:1-9

businessman-acumenIn these verses Jesus tells the parable of the dishonest manager. Although difficult to interpret, the parable of the dishonest manager can teach us a valuable lesson in developing spiritual maturity.

In the parable Jesus described a dishonest manager who mishandled the business affairs of his boss and knew he was about to be fired. But the business manager possessed a capability best described as acumen. Acumen is insightfulness–the keen insight one uses for making quick and accurate judgments. “Shrewdness” is the more common word we use to describe this capacity but usually carries a more negative connotation that acumen doesn’t.

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Fuzzy Faith – Acts 18:25-26

“This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately. (Acts 18:25-26, HCSB)

Apollos was from Alexandria, Egypt, a city of great learning. However, his knowledge of the gospel of Jesus was deficient since he apparently was a disciple of John the Baptist.

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Becoming a Spiritual Grown-Up – Hebrews 5:14

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” The Hebrews writer rebukes the Hebrew Christians for their immaturity in their faith in Christ. The writer claims the Hebrew Christians should have matured enough in the faith to instruct others about the Kingdom of God, but they seem not to have progressed to spiritual adulthood. He says that spiritually they need milk instead of solid food. In other words, they act like spiritual babies who require someone to feed them milk instead of grown-up Christians who can feed themselves solid food. The Hebrews writer identifies a Christian who is spiritually mature as one who has the ability to discern between good and evil–to know what is God’s will and what is not (cf. Genesis 3:5). This ability is acquired by constant practice–by feeding oneself spiritually. What kind of practice might train you to distinguish good from evil? Certainly the spiritual disciplines of Bible study and prayer can help you hone your discernment skills. So practice every day and grow up into a healthy, mature Christian!