July 8 – 12, 2019


Philippians 3:10-17

The term “Christian” only appears 3-4 times in the New Testament. The word “disciple,” close to 300! Jesus chose the twelve disciples, not the twelve Christians. Then He gave them the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” So, are we doing this? Do we know what He means? Should we not be ever moving in a direction toward deeper intimacy with Christ?

Jesus wants to awaken in us unconditional commitment to Him. “A ‘disciple’ was not only a pupil, but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher.” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) In his letter to the Philippians, Paul knows he has not obtained all the knowledge of Christ Jesus and the power of His resurrection. Paul says he wants to participate in Jesus’ sufferings and become like Him in His death. It is his goal to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [him]” (v. 12). Then he says, “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things” (v. 15). This implies that we should be gaining maturity in Christ.

As believers we are expected to grow in the knowledge of Christ and become more and more like Him. We do this through spiritual disciplines like reading the Word of God on a consistent basis, praying, sharing the Gospel with others, fellowshipping with other believers, and imitating other mature believers around us who are just a little farther down the road than we are. Paul tells the Philippians (and us) to model their lives after his, just as he modeled his life after Christ’s. Following Jesus means suffering and dying to our own selfish desires and pressing on toward the goal. He is so worth it!


If you don’t feel like you are a mature Christian, then ask yourself: Why am I not more mature in my faith, and what am I going to do about it?   

Prayers for Living Stones Ministries

Pray for Living Stones Ministries, which helps families whose lives have been altered by the news of homosexuality. This ministry understands their heart’s cry and stands beside families, offering spiritual counseling and prayer. It offers monthly support groups and encourages families through its newsletters and family conferences.



Ephesians 4:11-16

Gifts. Equipping. Maturity. Body of Christ. Here in Ephesians, Paul talks about the gift Jesus gave to the Church in the form of apostles (messengers), prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. As the Church, we need to see people with these gifts as a gift in and of themselves to us, the Church. In turn, these people are then ministers of His gifts to the Body. Their purpose is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (v. 12). In the same way we raise our children and lead them to maturity, believers in Christ Jesus must be equipped for service and be built up. Unfortunately, too many Christians are left as “infants” in their faith and grow up thinking that they have nothing to offer God or that they have not been “gifted” to do ministry. This is not true; they just need to be equipped.

Our Heavenly Father wants all of us to “attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (v.13). He does not want us to be “carried away … by every wind of doctrine … by the trickery of men …” (v. 14). He wants us to be equipped and know the fullness of Christ. We are to do that for one another “speaking the truth in love … [growing] up in all aspects into Him who is the head …” (v. 15). This is not optional. It’s not a suggestion. Paul says, “as a result we are no longer children” (v. 14).

We need to grow up in Christ spiritually. We are to be a fruitful member of the Body of Christ, “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part [that] causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (v. 16). A loving Father will not leave you to flounder in your faith. He wants you to have all the fullness of Him and be an integral part of the Body. Seek out a teacher, a pastor, a prophet (okay … a Bible study) and get equipped. Grow up! And keep growing!


Who is the first person who comes to mind when you think of a mature believer you know? Interview him/her and ask who helped to equip him/her.

Prayers for Living Stones Ministries

Pray for the families impacted by homosexuality and the challenges they face.



John 15:5-12

Do you ever feel like you need encouragement to grow? Encouragement to keep learning and going deeper in your faith? Our best encouragement comes from Jesus. In this passage, He is talking to His disciples (imitators of their teacher) on the evening of the Last Supper. He says that He is the vine, and we disciples are the branches. Those who remain in Him will produce much fruit. By remaining in Him, we may ask for anything, and it will be granted. He says, “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (v. 8).

What we need to remember and be encouraged by is that we cannot produce the fruit, only He can. We need only remain in Him. Andrew Murray puts it this way: “As surely as the Husbandman made the Vine what it was to be, will He make each branch what it is to be. Our Father is our Husbandman, the Surety for our growth and fruit … The purpose is His, He will carry it out; the fruit is His, He will bring it forth; the abiding is His, He will maintain it.” (We can help each other by reminding each other that what we do is only because of what He has done and is doing in us.

Having the same life blood flowing through us from the Vine, which is then from the Husbandman, the Father, we can love one another the same way Jesus loves us. We can love one another the same way the Father loved His Son! Jesus tells us, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love” (v. 10). It is like the old hymn, “Trust and Obey”: “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” Andrew Murray captures it once again: “It is the wholehearted surrender in everything to do His will that gives access to a life in the abiding enjoyment of His love. Obey and abide …” So, disciples of Christ Jesus, encourage one another by loving one another as Jesus loves you.


Who do you know who needs to hear this encouragement right now? Bless them by sharing these verses with them and encouraging them that it is Jesus, our True Vine, who is doing the work through us. We need only to remain connected to the Vine.

Prayers for Living Stones Ministries

Pray for loved ones to find healing through their identity in our Lord, Jesus Christ.



Luke 9:57-62

Jesus had more followers than just the twelve chosen disciples. He had a following of men and women who travelled with Him from town to town. In this passage from Luke, as Jesus and His disciples were walking along the road, “a man said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go’” (v. 57). Was the man saying, “I will pay whatever cost there is to be your disciple”? Jesus’ reply is not an encouraging one to hear: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” (v. 58). In other words, are you sure? Because I really don’t have a place called home.

Then when Jesus says “‘Follow Me’” to other men, He got excuses from them. One man says, “Let me just run home and bury my dad” (v. 59). Another man says, “Let me just say goodbye to my family” (v. 60). Jesus’ reply should cut all of us to the quick. “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God’” (v. 62). This is a saying that the peasant class of people following Jesus would have understood. Once a farmer starts plowing, he does not look back at what has already been done, but he must keep looking forward to keep his attention on his plowing. Jesus does not want us to have regrets that would pull us backward from following Him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it this way: “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” (The Cost of Discipleship)


How have you felt the cost of following Jesus? Do you seek His costly grace again and again? What does that look like for you?

Prayers for Living Stones Ministries

Pray for additional volunteers to assist with the bulk mailing for Living Stones.



Colossians 1:28-29

First and foremost to Paul is the proclamation of Christ Jesus. As a mature Christian, Paul is preaching about Jesus to other believers. We cannot know Him enough. We need to keep studying the Scriptures so that He might continue to reveal Himself to us. Paul then talks about admonishing/warning and teaching every man with all wisdom. “‘Warning’ is connected with repentance, refers to one’s conduct, and is addressed primarily to the heart. ‘Teaching’ is connected with faith, refers to doctrines, and is addressed primarily to the intellect. These are the two heads of evangelical teaching.” (Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown)

As we disciple younger believers, we are charged here by Paul to “admonish” or “warn” them in relation to their conduct. We cannot be afraid to correct others’ behavior or point out their sin. As members of one Body, we must encourage one another in how to be more and more like Jesus. Then we are to teach so that others’ faith might grow. This definitely means little children, but it also means each other. We cannot shy away from admonishing and teaching because we are to present everyone “complete in Christ.”

We are growing here on earth to get as close to Jesus as possible and to know what kingdom living means, for the day is coming when we will see Him face to face and be like Him in all ways. “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:29). We cannot take a break from our faith. Always we should be working, according to His power, toward the goal of knowing Him.

“Your kingdom come … Your will be done … on earth … as it is in Heaven.” The closer we are to Jesus, the more we will know the will of the Father. And when we know the will of the Father, we will be doing it here on earth. So encourage one another. Proclaim Christ. Admonish and teach one another. His power is working mightily within us!


In what ways have you encouraged others to be more like Jesus?

Prayers for Living Stones Ministries

Pray that Living Stones Ministries will always follow God’s direction and God’s path for them in all that they do.



  • W. E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of  Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995).
  • Andrew Murray’s quotes can be found at https://www.biblestudytools.com/classics/murray-mystery-true-vine/obey-and-abide.html
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995).
  • Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments (A Classic Reprint from 1882).

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