Bible Class Curricula - First Principles - Lesson #13 - Preparing Your Heart for Service
As Christians, we are to present our bodies "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God" which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1-2). After all, "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 1:10). We must remain faithful servants unto death in order to receive eternal life (Revelation 2:10). Otherwise, we will forfeit our salvation (Matthew 25; Galatians 5:4; James 2:26).
In order to become a Christian, we all confessed Jesus as Lord or Master (Romans 10:9-10), and we were baptized into Christ to put on Christ and become His slaves, the slaves of righteousness (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6). Jesus became the author of our eternal life because we obeyed and continue to obey Him (Hebrews 5:8-9; Philippians 2:12-13). The psalmist has much to say for our learning about the kind of heart God desires in our service to Him (Romans 15:4). A godly heart is key to our godly service. As such, we must meditate within our heart (Psalm 4:4; 19:14); be upright in our heart (Psalm 7:10); praise God with our whole heart (Psalm 9:1); speak truth in our heart (Psalm 15:2; Hebrews 10:22); be pure in heart (Psalm 24:4; 51:10; Matthew 5:8; Acts 15:9; 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22); gladly trust the Lord with our heart (Psalm 28:7; Acts 2:26; 8:37); be humble in our heart (Psalm 34:18; Acts 2:46); have God's law in our heart (Psalm 37:31; 40:8; Hebrews 10:16; 1 Peter 1:22); and have a heart that steadfastly and wholly seeks the Lord and His ways (Psalm 112:7; 119:2; Matthew 22:37; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). Furthermore, the New Testament teaches us that we must store up good, spiritual treasures in our heart (Matthew 6:21; 12:35); that a noble and good heart hears and keeps God's word and bears fruit for Him (Luke 8:15); that through faith, which comes by hearing God's word, we must continue to allow Christ and His word to dwell richly in our hearts and allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts as well (Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 3:15-16; 1 Peter 3:15); and that whatever we do, we are to do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Colossians 3:23). In preparing your heart for service to the Lord, the following are five essential actions for Christians to incorporate in their Christian walk:
First, you must pray to God. Your prayer should be daily and constant (Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). According to 1 Timothy 2:5-6, you should pray through Jesus, for He shed His blood for the church and continues to cleanse His pure bride (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:22-27). Among the things for which you should pray would include daily food (Matthew 6:11), forgiveness of your own sins (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9), and the spiritual well-being of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Js. 5:16). By talking to God daily through prayer, you are steadfastly letting your requests be known to God who will provide you with peace and will guard your minds and hearts through Christ (Philippians 4:6-7).
Second, you must diligently study God's word by rightly dividing it (2 Timothy 2:15). For the power of God's word is like a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Psalm 119:105); it is like a two-edged sword, able to cut into your very soul and spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of your heart (Hebrews 4:11-13); it is like food which, properly digested, will enable you to discern what is evil and what is good (Hebrews 5:13-14). Approach God's word with the goal of meditating on it night and day so that you can continually develop the thinking of Christ (Psalm 1:2; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5; Colossians 3:1-3); rejoice and be in awe of God's word, for you are sure to find very valuable, spiritual treasures (Psalm 119:161-162); and receive the word with all readiness as you search the Scriptures daily for the truth of God's word (Acts 17:11; John 17:17). By renewing your mind with God's word and being a doer of God's word and not a hearer only, you will be able to become mature, thoroughly equipped for every good work (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Js. 1:21-25).
Third, you must worship God in spirit and truth with the saints of the church of Christ every first day of the week (John 4:23-24; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; Hebrews 10:24-26). When Jesus established His church on the Sunday of the day of Pentecost after His resurrection, those whose sins were remitted by repenting and being immersed "continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread (Lord's Supper) and in prayers" (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; 1 Timothy 2:8; Matthew 16:18-19; Leviticus 23:15-16). The Christians of the Ephesus church of Christ and the church of Christ at Colosse were commanded to sing spiritual songs to one another in praise to God (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). When we meet together, we are not only worshipping God, but we are encouraging and admonishing one another to do good works (Hebrews 10:23-26).
Fourth, when you were born of water and Spirit and thus entered/were added/were translated into Jesus' kingdom, the church, you became God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (John 3:5; Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 2:10). You are to be enthusiastic about doing good works for the Lord (Titus 3:8, 14). Some of those works include proclaiming the gospel to your neighbors, relatives, etc. because you know they are lost and are headed for everlasting destruction – and your heart's desire is that they do not perish (Mark 16:15; Acts 8:4; Romans 10:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Js. 5:20; 2 Peter 3:9). You also want to do kind deeds to others, especially those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 12:13; Galatians 6:10). We must practice pure and undefiled religion and take care of the orphans and widows any way we can (Js. 1:27).
Finally, in preparing your heart to serve Christ, you must keep your eyes on Him at all times so that you do not become tired and discouraged (Hebrews 12:2-3; Galatians 6:9). Because you put to death the old man of sin when you were immersed into Jesus, you were crucified with Christ and no longer live as or for yourself, but for Christ (Galatians 2:20). You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). You must focus on living (walking) as Jesus did, confessing your sins continually so that you may remain in fellowship with Christ and with your fellow, faithful Christians (1 John 1:7, 9). In other words, we must be constantly examining ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). My mindset should always be focused on how to be better (Philippians 3:12-16). I will always be growing, and therefore, I should never become sluggish (Hebrews 6:12). I should be a better Christian today than I was yesterday, and I should be a better Christian tomorrow than I am today (2 Peter 3:17-18).
- How must we present our bodies as Christians?
- What kind of heart must I have?
- Give several different passages from the book of Psalms that talk about the heart followers of God are to have.
- Why is prayer important to my daily walk?
- How often should I study God's Word? What does studying do for me?
- Explain how one must worship God.
- As a Christian, what are ways I can help those less fortunate than myself?
- Explain the importance of having the correct mindset of always growing and never getting lazy in our behavior.
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