JANUARY

2019:

 

Dr. Craig Bowers

Matthew 1 – Matthew 5

 

Dr. Kevin Calhoun

Matthew 6 – Matthew 10

 

Jonathan Norton

Matthew 11 – Matthew 14

 

J.T. Overby

Matthew 15 – Matthew 19

 

Gary Reynolds

Matthew 20 – Matthew 24

 



  • January 1st

    Week 1, Day 1


     

    Read Matthew 1

     

    Matthew 1 is a picture of New Beginnings. It marks the beginning of the New Testament, the dispensation of grace, and the Messiah. The people listed in the genealogy of Jesus experienced a new beginning! God’s desire for you is a new beginning.  

     

    Look at the list of people in this genealogy. David, the youngest boy in the most unlikely family is selected to be the next King of Israel. Then we have another very unlikely  candidate in the list - Rahab the harlot. She was in a hopeless resident in a country who faced certain defeat. Rahab trusted in the God of Israel and her life was not only spared, she became a  member of the Royal genealogy. Then you have Ruth, a Moabite and Bathsheba, and you know her story! Aren’t you grateful that God includes those who would otherwise be rejected?  

     

    As you begin this New Year, think about the people God included in His grand plan to save mankind. How many of them were superstars? Who among them were ordinary people who may have felt “trapped” by their circumstance? Why would the genealogy of the Christ include so many “earthy” people? What does that tell you about new beginnings?

     

     

    Application:

    What are some essential factors to experiencing a new beginning? (I.e. Faith, surrender, etc.)

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Are you willing to allow others the same grace God afforded you with a new beginning? If so, what are the implications?

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    In one sentence, write the New Beginning you are praying will happen in your life.

     

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, thank you for new beginnings. Every year, month, week, and day you provide a new beginning. Trusting you as my Lord proved the greatest New Beginning of my life. Thank you for your grace that allows all to experience life transformation in Christ.

     



  • January 2nd

    Week 1, Day 2

     

    Read Matthew 2

     

    We see a lot of movement in this chapter. The Maji left their homes and traveled to Jerusalem. They maneuvered around the evil intent of Herod. Joseph moved his young family to Egypt. Then he moved back to his homeland but resettled in a different city.

     

    Life is a journey. There is constant movement. Everyone in this chapter, with the exception of evil Herod, responded to the movement of God’s direction. Their redirection was rooted in their obedience.

     

    One of the greatest challenges you will face this year is changing direction. Imagine how difficult it was for Joseph to move with a young family. Remember, he couldn’t call Mayflower! Joseph went to a “foreign” land. Most of us will not change locations but all of us will be challenged to change direction!

     

    Movement involves an initial force. Commit that you will only allow your King to be the source of that initial force. As you read His Word, allow Him to speak to your heart and move your thoughts and plans. Movement also involves change. Everyone in this chapter experienced dramatic changes. Some more than others. While the Maji eventually went back home, they were different! Joseph eventually resettled in Nazareth. And Herod encountered his eternal destination.

     

    Application:

    What is your King showing you that may require “movement” in your life? 

    ______________________________________________________________

     

    On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being resistant and 10 being open, how do you typically

    respond to your King when He prompts movement in your life? ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    My King, I confess that I do not know what kind of changes you may ask of me this year. May my life reveal a willingness to respond obediently to you. I pray my family will see an openness in my heart to respond quickly and submissively to you



  • January 3rd

    Week 1, day 3

     

    Read  Matthew 3

     

    When John the Baptist preached, he called on people to repent. So did Jesus and the disciples. Part of John’s message is verse 8, “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with your repentance.

     

    Repentance is a change in the way we think that leads to a change in behavior. Our behavior (fruit) will always reflect the depth of our beliefs. If there is a change in thinking, there will always be an equal change in conduct.

     

    The truth challenges the way we think. That is why it is so important for us to read the Scriptures. As we read, God may reveal truths that conflict with our long-held beliefs. We will experience the “renewing of your minds” we read about in Romans 12:2. That renewal is based on repentance. There are “fortresses” in our minds according to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Those strongholds can only be destroyed by the renewal of our minds. However, we have a choice – will we hold onto what we believe or will we change the way we think as we allow God’s truth to dominate our minds? The “truth” in our mind will be the “truth” in our behavior.

     

    Repentance is thinking correctly about our sin. Confession is simply agreeing with God about our sin. Before we can confess our sin, we must repent of it. Otherwise, we are not confessing our sin we are acknowledging our sin. True confession is rooted in repentance and true repentance is evidenced in conduct.

     

    Application:

    Has God revealed a truth to you as you’ve read His word so far this year? ________________________________________________________________

     

    How has this truth changed the way you think?  ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    My King, show me what I need to turn away from in my mind. Give me the desire to want to think truthfully.



  • January 4th

    Week 1 day 4

     

    Read Matthew 4

     

    Before Jesus began his public ministry, He was tempted. Surely this is not the first time in his life that Satan tempted him. But it is the first time Scripture records the temptation. We learn several things from this temptation.

     

    First, it is not a sin to be tempted. Jesus never sinned. The temptation you face can be very appealing. Actually, it wouldn’t be a temptation unless there was a strong desire within you for it. Second, Jesus shut down the temptation quickly. The longer you swim in the river of temptation, the more likely you will be snake bit! Quickly throw “water” on the spark of temptation before it turns into a destructive fire. Third, Satan’s goal was to rob Jesus of fulfilling God’s purpose for His life. Satan wants to do the same with you. When you are tempted to sin, just remember that surrendering erodes God’s purpose for your life. Fourth, Jesus used the truth of God’s word as the weapon to resist temptation. If you find yourself taking the bait too often, learn the scriptures. Going into battle with Satan without a sword is foolish. The Bible is your sword. That is exactly why you are reading the New Testament through this year. Pick at least one scripture per week to memorize. When you are tempted, pull the sword out and cut the head off the temptation. 

     

    Application:

    What is one verse you’ve read so far this week that “jumped out” at you? Write it out below:

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

     

    Meditate on it. Memorize it.

     

    Prayer:

    King Jesus, as I seek to memorize your Word, I do so that “I may not sin against you.” May your Word richly dwell in my heart. Lord, I pray that my focus will be on the victory in your word and not the allure of the devil’s temptation



  • January 7th

    Week 2 Day 1

     

    Read Matthew 5

     

    Matthew records the “Sermon on the Mount” in chapters 5-7. As you read a passage ask, “What is the key verse?” In this chapter, I believe it is verse 20, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Here’s some additional questions: Why does Jesus say this? How righteous were the Pharisees and Scribes? What is the point? 

     

    Why did Jesus say this? The sermon began with defining those who are “blessed.” The first characteristic of being “blessed” is “poor in spirit.” That is the opposite of being arrogant. Someone is blessed when they recognize their impoverished condition before God. Now compare that to our key verse. The Pharisees and Scribes believed they could stand rich before God because of their works. They invented a ton a laws to add to the Law of God. They were proud of their adherence to all their regulations. Jesus is saying in the first beatitude that one must come to God empty handed to enter Heaven.

     

    How righteous were the Pharisees and Scribes? None exceeded them! So, how could anyone have a hope to enter the kingdom of heaven? Who could have a righteousness that surpassed that of the most religious? None!! 

     

    What is the point? Jesus is basically saying that if you think you can earn your way into heaven by being good enough, you will not enter! 

     

    Application:

    List at least 3 religious activities that you perform that are very praiseworthy:

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

     

     

    Look at your list. Now, mark out the ones that will not get you into heaven.

     

    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, as I read your sermon, help me understand your grace. You are at work in me. Your plan is to work in me in such a way that I live based on your grace and not on my works. I pray that everything I do will be rooted in grace - because I love you!

     


  • List Item

    January 8th

    Week 2, Day 2

     

    Read Matthew 6

     

    Matthew 6 is a continuation of “The Sermon on the Mount.”  This chapter contains various teachings by Jesus on prayer, fasting, and the giving of alms.  We are also introduced to “The Lord’s Prayer,” also known as “The Model Prayer,” vss. 9-13. 

     

    As I read this prayer, I am struck by the sense of community revealed in the words, “our Father . . .  give us . . . our daily bread . . . forgive us our debts . . . as we forgive our debtors . . . lead us not into temptation . . . deliver us . . .”  Entering into a relationship with God through faith in Jesus also places us in relationship with God’s people.  We are members together of the Church: the people of God, a community of faith.

     

    When we pray using plural pronouns, we realize our lives are joined together with others.  As members of a community of faith we bear responsibility toward others.  The sin of one person can have a tremendous impact upon  others.  Likewise, our faithfulness to God can make a difference in the lives of others.  Our daily walk with Christ touches the lives of many others.

     

    Application:

    What are some ways your life is impacted by others in your church family?

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

     

    Can you think of ways your life may impact others in your church family?

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

     

    What commitment will you make today in order to make a positive difference in someone’s life?

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, thank You for the relationships I have in our church family.  Give me an awareness as to ways my life touches others. Lead me this day as I seek to share Your love with those I encounter.  Make my life an instrument of Your peace! Amen! 



  • January 9th

    Week 2, Day 3

     

    Read Matthew 7

     

    In Matthew 7:13-27 we are introduced to several teachings about what it means to follow Jesus.  We read about two gates: broad and narrow; two trees: good and bad; and two foundations: rock and sand.  What truths do we learn from these pictures?

     

    Jesus wants us to understand following Him is a daily act of obedience as we trust Him.  In verse 24, Jesus states, “everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them” will stand strong in times of difficulty.  Then in verse 26, He states, “everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them” will fall. 

     

    Living a life of faith each day is not easy.  We all face times of temptation, struggle, and doubt.  Yet Jesus is always there to strengthen us as we trust in Him.  I believe that is why Jesus tells us repeatedly in John 15:1-11 we are to “abide” in Him as He “abides” in us.  Abiding in Jesus is a daily calling for us.  Thus, I want to abide in His Word (the Bible).  As I read and understand the Word of God, I am drawn into a daily relationship with Jesus.  Furthermore, the closer I grow to Jesus, the more I understand my need for Him. 

     

    Application:

    What areas of obedience do you struggle with each day each day as you seek to follow Christ?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    How can you abide in Christ more faithfully today?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, I want to walk in Your presence today.  I want to abide in You and in Your Word.  Give me grace today to trust in You, and strengthen my faith when I stumble.  Thank You, Lord, for Your ever present mercy. Amen!

     



  • January 10th

    Week 2, Day 4

     

    Read Matthew 8

     

    In Matthew 8 we read about several of the healing miracles performed by Jesus.  He healed a leper (vss. 1-4), a centurion’s servant (vss.5-13), Peter’s mother-in-law (vss. 14-17), and two men who were possessed of demons (vss. 28-33). 

     

    One would think these acts of healing would cause amazement and joy among all who saw the results.  However, in verse 34 we read, ‘And behold the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they entreated Him to depart from their region.”

     

    That is hard for me to comprehend.  Jesus demonstrates power and authority over a diversity of diseases and afflictions, and the people are more disturbed by these healings than amazed.  They are so disturbed, in fact, they ask Jesus to leave. 

     

    Chapter 9 (the subject of tomorrow’s devotion) begins by telling us Jesus got in a boat and went to another region.  But He did not stop helping, healing, and serving others.  Jesus remained committed to doing the will of His Father.

     

    I wonder – when we minister to the needs of others, how do we expect them (and others around them) to respond?  Are we offended when people do not respond well? Do we get discouraged when opposition arises?  Or do we continue to seek ways to minister to others in need? 

     

    Application:

    How do others respond when they observe your faithfulness to Christ?

    __________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________

     

    What can you do today to demonstrate a desire to follow God’s will in your life?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Who is someone you can minister to today?  What will you do?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, thank You for the opportunities You provide for me to minister to others each day.  I pray I will be faithful in all I do for You this day!  Amen!



  • January 11th

    Week 2, Day 5

     

    Read Matthew 9

     

    Matthew 9 begins and ends with more healing miracles performed by Jesus. Sandwiched in between these miracles, we see the calling of Matthew to follow Jesus as one of His disciples.  Verse 9 simply states, “And he rose and followed Him.” 

     

    What does it mean to follow Jesus? 

     

    I believe the answer to this question is found in verses 35 – 38.  In verse 35 we find Jesus teaching, preaching, and healing everywhere He went.  Then in verses 37-38 Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

     

    We are called to follow Jesus and serve Him by serving others.  We do this through teaching, preaching, and ministering in His name.  We may have different gifts, but we have one calling.  We are to follow Jesus into the fields in order to bring in the harvest.

     

    For many of us this can be a frightening challenge.  I know because I have experienced many of these fears.  However, we can be encouraged because we are told the “harvest is plentiful.”  Another promise we have from Jesus is, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20). 

     

    I find great comfort in knowing Jesus is with me at all times.  His presence gives me strength and courage to know I am never alone.  I want to follow Jesus in all I do.

     

    Application:

    How can you follow Jesus throughout today?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    To whom can you be a servant minister today?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, I want to follow You in everything I do.  Open my eyes to opportunities today to be a witness for You.  Give me courage to face my fears in the name of Jesus! Amen!



  • January 14th

    Week 3, Day 1

     

    Read Matthew 10

     

    Matthew 10 has always been a very challenging passage for me.  The chapter begins with Jesus gathering the disciples and providing them with instructions for service.  Jesus is quite clear that “following” Him will not be easy.  The disciples, and all who turn to God by faith in Jesus, will face difficulties in their daily lives.  Toward the end of these teachings Jesus states, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost His life for My sake shall find it,” (vss. 38-39).

     

    I am sure we have all heard someone exclaim, “I guess this is just the cross I will have to bear.”  That may or may not be true.  While in seminary I heard a pastor distinguish between crosses and burdens.  Burdens are those difficulties that come into our lives quite unexpectedly, and they can happen to anyone: illness, accident, loss of job, etc.  Crosses, however, are those difficulties we face because we have chosen to follow Jesus as His disciple: persecution, abuse, neglect, etc.  Crosses are obstacles we know we will face because we claim faith in Christ Jesus.

     

    I wonder – what difficulties am I willing to experience because of my faith in Christ?  Am I willing to speak up and stand up for the message of the Gospel?

     

    Application:

    What opportunities might you have today to share your faith?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Are you willing to speak up for your faith in the face of opposition?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, I pray I will remain faithful and true to You today.  If opposition comes my way, I pray I will walk by faith trusting you to keep me strong.  Amen



  • January 15th

    Week 3, Day 2

     

    Read Matthew 11

     

    In the last two passages of this chapter Jesus gives us both a “warning” and an “invitation“.

    In verses 20-24 we read where Jesus says “Woe to you” when talking about the unrepentant cities in which judgement would ultimately come. How tragic that these cities would ignore their opportunity to see and hear from Christ and be saved. Capernaum, like us today, had been privileged to both see and hear of the many great works Jesus had done. With that privilege brings greater responsibilities as a follower of Christ. The “warning” is we must repent of our sins and follow Him.

     

    The “invitation” in verses 25-30 is one that has three commands. In verse 28 Jesus says “Come to me” and in verse 29 he says “Take my yoke upon you and Learn from me”. This invitation to come to Him means to trust in Him, and it is an invitation for all people. He is telling us to daily come to Him with our burdens, our exhaustion and our sins. Repent and He will give us rest. When we take His yoke and learn, we find rest knowing we have surrendered our lives to Jesus. Through our obedience to Him we experience both peace with God (Romans 5:1) and the peace of God (Philippians 4:6-8). When we submit to Him we find that doing His will is not a burden (1 John 5:3), but rather a process of becoming more like Christ.            

     

    Application:

    What do you need to repent of today? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

    What do you need to Take to God and Learn from? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

     

    Prayer:

    Heavenly Father, I come to you now and repent of any sin in my life. I bring to you all my burdens and problems and ask that you give me rest. I pray that I learn from your word how to be more like you and how to point others to you. Thank you for blessing me with the opportunity to find rest in your presence Lord. Amen.



  • January 16th

    Week 3, Day 3

     

    Read Matthew 12

     

    We are reminded today in verse 32 what we learned yesterday in chapter 11.  A greater

    responsibility lies with those of us who know and follow Jesus , than those who have never been exposed to Christ’s divine power and presence. They are ignorant and still can be forgiven. (See Paul in 1 Timothy 1:13). However, when we know Him and reject Him we sin against the Holy Spirit. We grieve the Holy Spirit.

     

    In verse 33-37 this truth is revealed through reminding us that every word we speak we will give an account for. Our speech is the fruit from our heart. Every one of us will be judged by our words, because they reveal the state of our heart. The phrase “idle word” or “careless word” in verse 36 means words that accomplish nothing. Author Warren Wiersbe warns us “If God is going to judge our small talk, how much more will He judge our deliberate words? It is by our conversation at unguarded moments that we reveal our true character and heart”. So if our heart is filled with good, we will speak good to others. But if our heart is filled with evil, we will speak evil to others.              

     

     

    Application:

    How would you relate the following statement to Christians in America today – “The greater the opportunity, the greater the judgement”? ________________________________________________________________

     

    What fruit are you bearing today that will attract others to Jesus? What fruit might turn others away from Jesus?  ___ ___ ___ ___ ___________________________________________________________

     

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, may every word that I speak glorify your holy name. My prayer is that my heart bear much fruit that attracts others to you Jesus. May your Holy Spirit convict me of any careless word that I have spoken, and may you bless me with a divine opportunity to speak truth into another person’s life this week. I pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.



  • January 17th

    Week 3, Day 4

     

    Read Matthew 13

     

    Many people have asked, including the disciples, why did Jesus teach using parables? The word parable means “to come alongside”. It is a story or comparison that is put alongside something else to help make the lesson clear. But these parables are what Jesus called “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” (v.11). These mysteries are spiritual truths understood only by those who learn from the Lord and obey him. So what is the purpose Jesus used parables? We have two main reasons here in chapter 13: 1.) Because of the lack of understanding of the people (v. 10-17) and 2.) Because it was prophesied (v. 34-35 and Psalm 78:2).

     

    Jesus did not teach in parables to confuse or condemn us. He actually seeks to excite our

    interest and create within us a thirst for more of His teaching. These parables bring light and clarity to those who trust and seek Him. But they bring darkness to the unconcerned and unrepentant.  Jesus wants to come alongside of us to clearly teach us how to be more like Him.          

     

    Application:

    Read Chapter 13 – What parable is God using to teach you a spiritual life lesson today?  

     

    “As believers we do not search after truth; rather we search into the truth.”

    What does this mean to you? 

     

     

    Prayer:

    Most gracious father, thank you for your teachings and your word. May your Holy Spirit spark a hunger and thirst for your teachings like never before. I pray that as I read your word each day that you reveal truth to me that transforms how I live for you. May you give me an understanding of your word that allows me many opportunities to teach others about you? And may I use your teachings to guide every area of my life. I ask these things in the sweet name of Jesus, amen. 



  • January 18th

    Week 3, Day 5

     

    Read Matthew 14

     

    In this chapter we see three groups of people: Christ’s enemies, the needy, and the disciples. We also see our Lord’s response to each group. In verses 13-21 we see Jesus feed the five thousand. The lesson for us in this miracle is that as His servants we are distributors, not manufactures. If we take what  we have, give it to Jesus, obey His commands; then  He will bless it and give back to us to serve others for His glory.

     

    In verses 22-33 we see Jesus walk on water. He performs this great miracle as His disciples were in the midst of a storm. The disciples’ experience in this storm encourages us to lean on Him as we go through storms in our lives. There are two types of storms: 1.) Storms of Correction, when God disciplines us, and 2.) Storms of Direction, when God helps us grow and He redirects our path.

     

    Many Christians believe that obedience to God will produce smooth sailing in life. This is simply not biblical truth (read John 16:33). The storms of life are not easy, but they are necessary. They teach us to trust Jesus and to obey His word no matter our circumstances. The disciples helped feed five thousand people, then God permitted them to go into a storm. In Acts 4 the disciples won five thousand people to the Lord and then faced a great storm of persecution.”  God does not always calm the storm, but He will always see you through it.           

     

    Application:

    What storm has God brought you through recently? How did it help you grow closer to Him?

     

    What miracle have you seen God perform in your own life?

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, thank you for the storms that you bring into my life to help mold me and shape me into the person you desire me to be. Thank you for the miracle of my salvation through Jesus! May I use each storm in my life to grow closer to you and to trust you more. Amen



  • January 21st

    Week 4 Day 1

    Read Matthew 15

    As Jesus continues his mission of bringing the Kingdom of God into the world, and also 
    teaching of the ways of the Kingdom, the people get small tastes of what is to come when God’s Kingdom comes in full. This is what is happening as the people see and  experiences healings and other various miracles. In verse 31 it says that the people “wondered” at what they were seeing. They were in awe and were glorifying God for all that was being done. 

    While this is happening, we still see the tension between Jesus and the religious leaders. They are still concerned with all the externals and not the heart. They want God on their terms, not his. We see them angry and offended at Jesus for his teachings  despite what they see. We can fall into this trap as well. We can love Jesus with our mouths, but in our hearts love the things of the world. How do we know when we have fallen into this trap? When we lose the wonder at who Jesus is and what he has done and is doing. When we stop glorifying God and praising him for all his goodness. When we are more concerned with the world and our circumstances, and less about living lives dependent on God’s grace and mercy. He is waiting to feed us, too. In our desolate places (v. 33) he wants to satisfy us. Are we missing him because we are too preoccupied and in love with the world?

     

    Application:
    What consumes your thought life, your emotions, your time and energy throughout the day?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

    How much of your life is spent reflecting on God, being amazed and in awe at who God is, what he has done, and what he is doing in your life and in the world?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

    Are you trusting in him in the desolate places in life, or are you too concerned with your circumstances to trust in him and live dependent upon him?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:
    God, give me grace to love you and live in constant awe of your goodness and glory. God, remove the callous from my heart that dulls me to how amazing and worthy of glory you are. God, may I be satisfied by your goodness and not seek for satisfaction and life elsewhere. May you be the treasure of my heart.



  • January 22nd

    Week 4 Day 2

    Read Matthew 16

    In Matthew 16 we see Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one sent from God, to bring God’s Kingdom, and save the world from its sin. Yet, when this confession is given and Jesus blesses him for his confession, Jesus then goes on to tell his disciples not to tell  anyone that he is the Christ. Why? 

    The next section shows us that Jesus as the Christ, came to bring God’s Kingdom and save the world from sin by dying on a cross, not by coming with military might to destroy all the enemies of the Jews. That was Jesus’ goal and he didn’t need his disciples trying to make him an earthly king who could save them from earthly oppression. The disciples struggled mightily with this and Peter even rebuked Jesus for saying that he would be killed. 

    We are tempted, just as the disciples were, to allow the teaching of the world (v. 12) into our hearts. We are tempted to find life by taking it for ourselves. That is the way to death. Nothing in this world can satisfy. The only thing that can satisfy is the love of our King who died for us. If we carry our cross and follow him, we will find true life in Him, because in his death and resurrection he gives life to all who believe.

     

    Application:
    What are areas in your life that you need to put to death so that you can experience true life in Jesus?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

    What are teachings of the world that you are tempted to believe in to obtain 
    satisfaction and joy?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    How is Jesus and what he does in the gospel so much better than those areas that the world is tempting you with? 
    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:
    God, search my heart and know my thoughts. What areas of my life do I need to put to death? How am I looking for true life in things of this world? Show me the immeasurable riches of your grace towards me in Jesus that I may follow you and die to self.



  • January 23rd

    Week 4 Day 3

    Read Matthew 17

    Despite Peter’s confession of Jesus being the Christ in the previous chapter, the disciples still have a weak faith and a distorted view of who Jesus is and what he came to do. Jesus continues to show them grace and mercy in the midst of their struggles. 

    We see this as Jesus calls Peter, James, and John up on the mountain with him. While there, Elijah and Moses appear talking with Jesus, and Jesus himself in seen in glory. These are two of the greatest heroes and leaders of Israel in Scripture. Moses and Elijah are also two men who experienced God’s glory on a mountain (Exodus 34 and 1 Kings 19). What were they talking about? And why did God the Father show up and tell Peter, James, and John to listen to Jesus?

    In Luke 9:31 we see that Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were talking about his departure, or better translated, exodus. The exodus was the central story of Israel in the Old Testament as we see God redeem Israel and make them his own. However, Israel struggled with a weak faith and a distorted view of God, not unlike Jesus’ disciples. 

    Jesus came to bring about a greater exodus when he would redeem all who would believe in him through his death on a cross and resurrection. He came to bring the salvation Moses and Elijah couldn’t bring. And so we hear too, “Listen to him.” He is our salvation.

     

    Application:
    Do you struggle with a weak faith and distorted view of Jesus?
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    In what ways do you need to listen to him, and trust that he has brought you through a greater exodus, freedom from slavery to sin? 
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    Prayer:
    God, we pray for the grace to have an increasingly right view of you. We know that can only happen as we listen to you. Give us grace to listen to you in your Scriptures as we ought.



  • January 24th

    Week  4 Day 4

    Read Matthew 18

     

    In chapter 18 of Matthew we get a glimpse of how seriously Jesus takes sin and also how great is his love and forgiveness. Jesus talks about the necessity of humbling ourselves and becoming like little children in order to be part of the Kingdom. We must receive it as a gift, not trying to exalt ourselves over others. It is this sinfulness and causing others to sin that is deserving of God’s judgment. God is a loving and just God, and he will bring judgment on those live in sin and cause others to sin. 

    We also see his love and forgiveness. This chapter ends with Jesus teaching his disciples how they ought to forgive. He tells them of a king who forgives a man a debt that would be impossible to pay off. Jesus also tells of the shepherd who leaves behind the 99 sheep to go and save one who is lost, and how there is much rejoicing over the one who was lost being found. Both of these stories give us a glimpse at just how gracious God is. God has forgiven us of an impossible debt by sending Jesus to die for our sins to pay that debt. It is only because of Jesus’ love towards us that we can have life. May we love, and show mercy and forgiveness just as Jesus does to us.

     

    Application:
    Are you living in sin? Are there sins in your life that you ignore and brush off as not that big of a deal?

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    Are there people who have sinned against you that you need to forgive? What can you do to make peace in that situation?

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    How does knowing Jesus’ love for you, you who were once a lost sheep, give you strength to love those who don’t deserve it?

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    Prayer:
    God, give us grace to love ad forgive others just as you love and forgive us of our sins. Help us to know the love of Jesus so that we can do so. God shine your light in the dark places of our hearts and rescue us from the grip of sin, and help us know the salvation we have in Jesus.

     



  • January 25th

    Week 4 Day 5

    Read Matthew 19

     

    “What good deed must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus, being the great physician, gets to the spiritual heart with the rich young man. The rich young man was a very moral person, knew the Scriptures, and was doing all he could to follow God. Jesus lists off the last half of the commandments, best summed up by his quotation of Leviticus 19:18, to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus does not mention the first commandments about our relationship to  God and his position in our lives. 


    It is here that he gets to the heart. The rich young man has put other gods before the one true God. He has valued his possessions. He has valued his comforts. He has worshiped his security and pleasures. His heart has treasured up created things instead of the Creator. We live in a land of great wealth, many comforts and securities, and people can be gluttons for pleasures. We in the church are not excluded from this. Just like the rich young man, we may know much about God, know the Scriptures well, and be very moral people, but in our hearts serve other gods. Pastor Timothy Keller says that what our minds go to when they are idle, may reveal our idol. Put yourself in the shoes of the rich young man. Is there anything in your life that you would be sorrowful to give up if Jesus asked you to? Are you making idols out of things or people in your life? Eternal life is found only in knowing Jesus, not in knowing and having things of the world.

     

    Application:
    Do you feel like anything is lacking in your relationship with God? You are going through the motions but feel no real depth of relationship?

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    Are there idols in your life that are keeping you from truly loving and worshiping the one true God?

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    Prayer:
    God, give us grace to feel the emptiness of the things of this world. Give us grace to know the fullness of your presence and your love. God, we thank you for sending your son to set us free from the idols and sins that enslave us so that we can know true life in you. Help us to know that life more and more.



  • January 28th

    Week 5 Day 1

     

    Read Matthew 20

     

    “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave, just as the Son of Mad did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many”

     

    Do you ever think about why you do what you do?  Do you ever say the word’s “What’s in it for me.?” If we are honest, in worldly matters, we probably say or think this more than we realize. I mean, we want to make it, to make a name for ourselves, to leave behind a mark to be remembered. Who doesn’t want to be the best at what they do? Who doesn’t want to be the greatest at _______________, you fill in the blank? We as humans are innately self-centered and desires to gain for himself whatever he can.

     

    The Disciples wanted to be great in God’s kingdom, but they thought about it in worldly standards.

     

    Jesus reminds us in this verse that the path to greatness in His kingdom is very different from the world. To be great in the Kingdom means becoming a servant. But even further than that, to be first, you must become a slave, which was even lower than a servant as a slave was owned by his master and could only do what the master wanted.

     

    Paul, the apostle, often referred to himself in this way… a bond-servant, a slave of Christ.

     

    While there are many who claim that Jesus is their Lord, only a few are His slaves. Jesus gives us His example to follow, as He came to serve and not be served and to give His life as a ransom.

    Application:

    How are you becoming great? Is it by worldly standards or by the example of Jesus?

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    How can you serve someone today that would be pleasing to Jesus?

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    Prayer:

    Father show me a new and fresh way to serve You today. Change my heart and make me your slave, of my own free will, so that I can serve others in the precious name of Jesus.



  • January 29th

    Week 5 Day 2

     

    Read Matthew 21

     

    Matthew 21 marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and begins a series of parables and teaching moments. Each of these parables brings a very special emphasis to how we respond to God’s leading and will for our lives.

     

    The parable of the 2 sons is such a powerful example of how many in our day respond to Christ’s leading. Often times, we hear God’s call for a specific response, whether it be a life calling or something as simple as a specific instance of service for Him.

     

    Our lives sometimes get so busy, that we hear the call and commit and then back out or don’t follow through because other things seem so much more important at the time. Sometimes we do as the second son and say no, but as we dwell on God’s will for our lives, we go ahead and follow through with what God is leading us to do.

     

    There is nothing more important than hearing and following the call and will for God in our lives. Even those “little things” that seem so simple to us, could have a life changing effect on others.

     

     

    Application:

    Where are you in following the voice of God when he speaks?

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    Are you so busy that you push it aside or do you earnestly seek to follow God every time He speaks to you?

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    How can you be more proactive in following the will of God in your life today?

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    Prayer:

    God, give me the desire and patience to hear AND follow your voice when you speak. Forgive me when I fail to respond to your leading and encourage my heart to be so sensitive to your voice that I don’t miss out on anything that you are doing in my life and in the lives of those around me.



  • January 30th

    Week 5 Day 3

     

    Read Matthew 22

     

    A Lawyer asks Jesus a question in an attempt to trick him, “What is the greatest commandment in the law?”  Jesus’ response was twofold: first, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. I’m sure that as the lawyer listened to this first part of Jesus’ answer, he was thinking….This is easy…. How easy it is to love the Lord God! I can even love the Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. Look at me, I’m following the greatest of the commandments!

     

    But when Jesus continued with his answer in the second part, that you should love your neighbor as yourself, and that on these two commandments, depend the whole law and the Prophets. Can you image how quickly the lawyer’s attitude changed?

     

    You see it’s not just loving God, it’s about showing the love of God through loving others! We can all get very comfortable when we just look at ourselves in relationship with how we think we love God…. I read the Bible, I go to Sunday school, I worship in church, I give my money, I even sing in the choir.

     

    The real question is, how are we doing with loving our neighbor? And who is our neighbor???How are we doing with showing the love of God to those who are different from us, who are not in our circle of friends, who look, do things and act differently than us.

     

    The Message version of the Bible states it this way… These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and Prophets hangs from them!

     

     

    Application:

    How can you show love to your neighbor today?

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    What are ways that I can specifically reach out to someone who is different and show the love of God to them?

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    Prayer:

    Lord, help me to love YOU with all my heart, mind and soul today and every day. Help me to not be so focused on myself and my world and that I neglect loving You with all my being. Father give me the strength, passion and courage, yes courage to show the love of God to others, to those who are different and those that are hard to love.



  • January 31st

    Week 5 Day 4

     

    Read Matthew 23

     

    WOW! What a chapter….

     

    Webster defines hypocrite as a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie those stated beliefs.

     

    It is so easy to look at this chapter and at the persons involved, the scribes and Pharisees and agree with Jesus and say woe to you!! We also have the unique ability to look at those around us and do the same thing…even in church!

     

    What is so hard, is to look at ourselves and see the scribe or Pharisee that lives with in each of us. We don’t want to imagine that WE could really be one. Why, we would NEVER be like them! After all, we love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, right?

     

    How often do our lives truly reflect the ways of the scribes and Pharisees? How often do we say one thing to impress someone, act in a certain way to be accepted, and profess to believe a particular theological thought to appear knowledgeable, or just simply “put on” to keep from showing our true selves?

     

     

    Application:

    Identify one area in which you are not truly expressing what’s in your heart. Pray daily for God to reveal that to you and to show you how to change.

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, reveal in my heart where I am not being honest and truthful and where I may be possessing the traits of the scribes and Pharisees. Give me the strength to acknowledge and to agree with You what you reveal. Lord, give me the grace to overcome and may my life truly reflect what I believe and know to be of You.



  • February 1st

    Week 5 Day 5

     

    Read Matthew 24

     

    Who is your favorite celebrity? Is it a movie star like Tom Hardy or Will Smith? Maybe Jennifer Lawrence or Blake Lively. Maybe a cooking star like Guy Fieri or Ina Garten. What about a famous person from history…Oswald Chambers, George Patton, Ernest Hemmingway or Mother Theresa. Think about the most famous person you have ever heard of or someone that you would like to spend an evening with.  Got it?  OK….

     

    This person sends you a personal note, email or phone call (I know, use your imagination a bit) and they tell you that they are coming to visit at your home for the evening on April 10th, 2019.  What are you going to do? If this person is a movie star, are you going to watch all their movies prior to the evening? If they are someone from history, are you going to read up and study all you can about the person? If it’s Ina, are you going to clean your kitchen and stock up the pantry?  The big question is, “How are you going to spend your time between now and April 10th?” What would you do differently if you knew you were going to spend an entire evening with the most famous person of your dreams? OK….What would you do if this person says I’m coming for a visit during the week of April 10, but not sure which day they will be there. Now, how do you plan and how do you prepare? It could be Monday… it could be Thursday or Saturday…

     

    Let reality now set in….The King of all kings, the creator of this world, the Savior of your soul is coming for you. He’s already sent the notice, the catch…He’s not saying when He’s coming. How are you living? How are you planning and preparing for the Lord Jesus to arrive?

     

    It could be tomorrow! It could be next week or next year!  But what if it’s today? We need to live like today is the day, every day!

     

    What a wonderful promise!  We don’t know when, but we do know He is coming!

     

    Application:

    Start with today… what would you do different if you knew today is the day!

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    Tomorrow…. (It could be)

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    Prayer:

    Father, thank You for the promise of your return. Prepare my heart to be ready! Help me to live expectantly as if I knew that today is the day!