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In the Parable of the Sower (Lk. 8:4-15), Jesus said that different people would respond to the gospel in different ways. Many will initially hear and obey the truth, but not all of these will endure the hardships of being a disciple and keep the faith throughout their lives. Some will become unfaithful and fall away. Those who "have no root," for example, may "believe for a while," but in time of testing and temptation they will fall away (v.13). Still others are "choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life." Jesus said that in the case of these individuals "their fruit does not mature" (v.14). So lifelong faithfulness, and not just initial obedience, is what the Lord is looking for.
The truth of the matter is, it takes a certain quality of character to serve God faithfully, and not everyone will choose to have that type of character. The call of the gospel separates those who have a "root" in themselves from those who don't. Knowing this ought to stimulate some serious thought concerning our own hearts. Do we personally have what it takes? Are we willing to be like those who have the strong inner character the gospel calls for? Seeking God requires courage, commitment, and confession. If we're not willing to pay that kind of price, then Christianity is not for us.
The fact that we may not "have what it takes" doesn't mean that we're born one way or the other by "predestination." To the contrary, personal character is a matter of choice, and the choice is our own. Our "heart" is determined by the many free-will decisions we make every day. Some of these are big and others are little, but together, these choices add up to the thing that we call "character" -- and if our character is not what it should be, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Because our character comes from our choices, we can change from one "heart" to another. In fact, this is precisely what is involved in being "converted" to Christ. Such a "conversion" is not optional. Jesus said that we must change: "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:3). Whatever we've been in the past, are we willing to demonstrate courage today? Are we willing to make a genuine commitment to God? And will our lives be characterized by a faithful confession of our commitment as long as we live? If so, then we have the makings of true discipleship!
Monday: Luke 8:4-15
Key Idea: Not all who obey the gospel turn out to be faithful disciples.
Questions for Family Growth: In this parable, what did the rocky soil represent (v.13)? What does it mean to have "no root"? What did the thorny ground represent (v.14)? How is it possible to be "choked" by things in this life?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:6-8.
Tuesday: Revelation 21:8
Key Idea: Lifelong faithfulness requires courage.
Questions for Family Growth: What group of people are first on the list of those who will be lost? What are the dangers or difficulties that Christians must be willing to face courageously? Would you say that courage is a feeling (based on our emotions) or a choice (based on our will)?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:9.
Wednesday: 1 Peter 4:19
Key Idea: Lifelong faithfulness requires commitment.
Questions for Family Growth: In daily life, what does it mean to make a "commitment" to someone? In this verse, what does it mean to "commit" or "entrust" our souls to God? In 2 Tim. 1:12, what did Paul say he had done?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:10,11.
Thursday: John 12:42,43
Key Idea: Lifelong faithfulness requires confession.
Questions for Family Growth: In this text, why would some who believed in Christ not "confess" Him? Is the confession of our faith a one-time act at our conversion or is it something we do throughout life? What did Jesus say in Mt. 10:32,33?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:12-14.
Friday: Hebrews 4:14; 10:23
Key Idea: Being a disciple means maintaining our confession with courage and commitment.
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean to "hold fast our confession"? How does knowing of God's faithfulness help us to remain faithful to Him? Should we ever back down on our confession? Consider Rev. 2:13; 12:11.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:15,16.