The Gospels of

Matthew, Mark,
Luke & John

 

January 2020:

Dr. Craig Bowers

January 1-3

Matthew 1-3

 

Dr. Kevin Calhoun

January 6-10

Matthew 4-8

 

Jonathan Norton

January 13-17

Matthew 9-13

 

Rev. JT Overby

January 20-24

Matthew 14-18

 

Dr. Craig Bowers

January 27-31

Matthew 19-23

 



  • January 1, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 1

     

    Matthew is a very “Jewish” book. It was written by a Jew to a largely Jewish audience. That is why the genealogy of the legal father of Jesus is presented in Matthew 1. Legally the Messiah had to be a direct descendant of King David in order to take the throne of David.

     

    It was necessary for Jesus to meet the legal qualifications to ascend to the throne of David. Actually the Jewish people kept meticulous records of genealogies for that very reason. If Jesus had not been of the lineage of David, the religious leaders of that day would have written Him off. He would have quickly and easily been dismissed. However, Jesus met the qualifications and they knew it.

     

    The Creator does not violate the Law. He actually establishes the Law because He is the source of all moral boundaries. He gave humanity the Ten Commandments which are moral laws to govern society. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law. Jesus is the only  human being who has ever lived a perfect life, without sin, and is therefore legally qualified to pay the price for your sin. He is also legally qualified to sit on the throne of David - which He will do for eternity.

     

    What is your legal standing before God? You are either legally guilty before the Judge of the Universe or you are declared innocent, without guilt before the Judge. The only way to stand before the Judge and not be found guilty of violating His law (which we are ALL guilty of doing) is to trust in the One who has fulfilled the demands of the Law perfectly - Jesus Christ.

     

    Application:

    What legal right do you have to enter the Kingdom of God?  
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    Prayer:

    Christ Jesus, thank you for taking on my sin so that I could take on Your righteousness! Thank you that this legal transaction is based on truth and grace.

     

     



  • January 2, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 2

     

    This incredible chapter teaches us many truths but let’s focus on this one: God’s  prophetic word will be fulfilled.

     

    First, the place of the Messiah’s birth was prophesied by Micah (5:2). The book of  Micah was written over 700 years before the birth of Christ.

     

    Second, the Messiah will be called out of Egypt, which was prophesied by Hosea (11:1), also written just over 700 years before our Lord’s birth.

     

    Third, Messiah would be called a Nazarene. The fact is that no Old Testament prophecy states Jesus would be called a Nazarene. Verse 23 has been the source of a lot of discussion among scholars. I think there is a simple explanation. “Nazarene” was a word closely associated with “simplicity, humility.” The Prophets (Isaiah 53 & Psalm 22) state that the Messiah would be common, not notable, despised. That is why Nathanael asked the question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

     

    Even though the religious leaders knew the prophecies about Jesus, they did not go to Bethlehem to see the Messiah. Why is that? Because knowledge of the Bible does not necessarily mean that one BELIEVES the Bible. They knew the prophecies but they refused to allow those prophecies to interrupt or interfere with their daily lives.

     

    Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament. Incredibly, many of those  prophecies were written hundreds or thousands of years before His birth. The evidence is overwhelming.

     

    In light of the fulfilled prophecies in Matthew 2, there is another prophecy that Jesus will fulfill in the near future. He said, “Behold, I am coming back! Quickly!”

     

    Application:

    How will the prophecy about His return impact your daily life? 
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    Prayer:

    King Jesus, may I live each day in light of the fact that You are coming back as conquering King.



  • January 3, 2020


    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 3

     

    Two key themes of the Gospel are introduced here: repentance and the Kingdom of Heaven. This was the message of John the Baptist and Jesus. It became the message of the disciples. In the first message preached by Peter after Pentecost, he called on the hearers to “repent.”

     

    It is crucial for us to understand what is meant by “repentance” and the “Kingdom of Heaven.” Let’s begin with repentance. Jesus said he came to “call sinners to repentance.” Mark 2:17. The word means “a change of mind.” It means that you thought about something one way and then you begin to think about it a different way. Repentance is fundamentally a change of mind. When we repent, we change the way we think about God, ourselves, and life. Repentance is always evidenced by behavior. This change of mind is life changing. It is a change of one of the pillars in our thinking. For example, all people have their own thoughts about God. Most of our thoughts about God are not necessarily Biblical. So, we must change the way we think about God to align with the Scriptures. Our behavior is powerfully impacted by that fundamental change.

     

    The way we think about something dramatically determines our response. The evidence becomes clear in our attitude and actions. While we may attempt to minimize our attitude and actions, the Lord considers them carefully.

     

    The Kingdom of Heaven is synonymous with the Kingdom of God. Both refer to the rule of King Jesus. Where the King of Glory rules, the Kingdom of God is present. If Jesus is your King, then you are a citizen of the Kingdom. Your life represents the King and His Kingdom.

     

    Application:
    How can I demonstrate the rule of Jesus in my life today?  
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    Prayer:
    My Lord and my King, may I demonstrate Your love to others in practical ways throughout today.



  • January 6, 2020
                                                                                                         

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 4

     

    “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were  fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him,” (vss. 18-22).

     

    Jesus began calling His disciples with a simple statement, “Follow Me.”  Peter and Andrew left their nets and followed Him (vs. 20). Likewise, James and John immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him (Vs. 22). The question I pose for us today is this, “what does it mean to follow Jesus?”

     

    Following Jesus involves a commitment to feast on His Word and walk in His Will. Our prayer as a church staff is that these daily devotional readings will lead us all to a deeper desire to read and learn God’s Word.  The psalmist wrote, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee,” (Psalm 119:11). Reading and studying God’s written Word draws us into close fellowship with Jesus, the Living Word. Doing so allows God’s Word to change us as we walk with Him each day.

     

    Application:

    Will you commit to reading God’s Word with us this year? ________________________________________________________________


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    What steps will you take to insure you spend time in Scripture each day? 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, lead me through Your Word as I seek to follow You each day! Amen!

     


  • January 7, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 5


    As I read this chapter in Matthew’s Gospel, I am struck by Jesus’ words in verses 23-24 concerning forgiveness and our relationships with others.

     

    “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

     

    Notice 3 things with me today:

     

    1. “If your brother has something against you.”  Jesus does not say if we are upset with someone else.  Maybe the other person has been offended by something we said or did (or something we did not say or do).  We are to be the one who seeks reconciliation.


    2.  “. . . first be reconciled to your brother.”  Again, the responsibility to seek reconciliation is on us.  We should be the one who takes the first step.  Do not wait for them to come to us.  Reach out to them for reconciliation.


    3. “. . . then come and present your offering.”  Our worship and our gifts to the Lord are impacted by the relationships we have with others.  When relationships with others are broken, our walk with the Lord can be hindered.  Certainly, we cannot force others to accept our attempts to reconcile, but we can do all within our  ability to seek such reconciliation.

     

    Application:

    List the name of someone who may be upset with you. ________________________________________________________________


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    What steps can you take to be reconciled with them? ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, lead me today to seek out those who may be upset with me.  Give me the grace to seek reconciliation with them. May my words and my actions bring glory unto You. Amen!

     


  • January 8, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 6

     

    The story is told of a man who slipped and fell over the edge of a cliff.  Fortunately he was able to grab hold of a bush growing from the side of the mountain.  As he held on for his life, the man began calling for help.  The man heard a voice reply, “Let go!  I will catch you,” so he called out again for help.  The voice came a second time, “Let go!  I will catch you.”  After the third cry for help with the same reply, the man called out loudly, “Is there anyone else up there.” 

     

    In verse 25 of our reading today Jesus says, “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life . . .” Then in verse 34, Jesus states, “Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  This sounds simple enough.  Yet we tend to worry about so many things.  I know I am guilty.  What about you? 

     

    Jesus tells us in these verses that God will take care of us.  If God takes care of the birds of the air, He will take care of us.  We are created in the image of God, and in Christ we are dearly loved. In Isaiah 43:1 we read, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.”  In Isaiah 43:4 we see we are precious in His sight, we are honored, and we are loved.  We can trust in God’s Sovereign care. 

     

    Application:

    List one or two things you are anxious about today. ________________________________________________________________

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    Write a prayer below asking God for His provision. 
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    Give thanks to God for His presence!

     


  • January 9, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 7

     

    “Therefore, however you want other people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and Prophets,” (vs. 12).

     

    In this verse of Scripture (known as the Golden Rule), Jesus instructs us about our relationship and responsibility with others. Notice three truths in this verse:

     

    1. It is others-oriented. Jesus instructs us to show concern for those around us.  Jesus makes a similar statement in Matthew 22:36-40, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  Both relationships, with God and with others, are important.


    2. The Golden Rule is a positive and an active statement.  It is not enough to refrain from treating others in ways we do not want to be treated (although that is a good start).  We are to “do” for others what we desire they “do” for us.  


    3. Our response to others will accomplish the demands of all the Scriptures (the Law and the Prophets). This is wise counsel for all of us.  Furthermore, it brings glory to God.

     

    This simple verse sums up so much for us. If we want to be respected, we need to show respect to others. If we want to receive grace and forgiveness, we must be  willing to extend grace and forgiveness. If we want to be loved, we must love (in word and deed) others.

     

    Application:

    Make a list of people you can show kindness to today.  
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, guide my heart today.  Open my eyes to people who need an encouraging word.



  • January 10, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 8

     

    Matthew 8 presents a wonderful picture of what Jesus has done for us.  Each of the narratives in this chapter reveals His power and His sovereignty.  He heals a leper (vss. 1-4), He heals a centurion’s servant (vss. 5-13), He heals Peter’s mother-in-law (vss. 14-17), He calms a storm at sea (vss. 23-27), and He casts demons out of two men (vss. 28-33). I believe Matthew has a clear message for us as we read this passage: Jesus has authority over sickness (vss. 1-17), Jesus has authority over nature (vss. 23-27), Jesus has authority over supernatural evil (vss. 28-33).

     

    The redemptive work of Jesus includes the natural order and the supernatural. Our salvation from sin also involves being rescued from powers of darkness. 

     

    “Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

    And our sorrows He carried;

    Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

    Smitten of God, and afflicted.

    But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

    He was crushed for our iniquities;

    The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

    And by His scourging we are healed.

    All of us like sheep have gone astray,

    Each of us has turned to his own way;

    But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all

    To fall on Him.

    He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

    Yet He did not open His mouth;

    Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

    And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

    So He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:4-7)

     

    Therein is our hope. Let us keep our eyes focused on Jesus – our Redeemer and our Lord.

     

    Application:

    List any struggles you are facing today.  ________________________________________________________________

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    Write a short prayer offering these struggles to the Lord for help.  
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  • January 13, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 9

     

    In this chapter we see Jesus as the Great Physician, where He came to bring spiritual health to sick sinners.  We see Jesus as The Bridegroom, as He came to give spiritual joy and new life. We also read that Jesus performs five more miracles. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why did the Lord perform miracles”? I think this is a question we must explore and answer for ourselves, but also so we can share with non-believers. In Chapter 9, Matthew provides three reason Jesus performs miracles:

     

    1. Compassion – To meet human needs (He wants to minister to the body and the soul).


    2. Credentials – To prove His claim as the Messiah. Add to the fact that these miracles also  fulfilled OT prophecies, and that His character and conduct was Godly & Pure. 


    3. Concern To Reveal Saving Truth – These miracles were sermons in action.

     

    In verse 8, we read that “The crowd was filled with awe and praised God” after seeing Jesus perform a miracle. But they missed the significance of the miracle. Jesus did not perform miracles to demonstrate that God had given such authority to man, but to demonstrate that God’s presence was among them in Him. More important than healing of a person’s body, was the cleansing of their heart. The Christian faith has many values and virtues, each of which has countless applications in the lives of believers. But its supreme, overarching truth is that sinful man can be fully cleansed and brought into eternal fellowship with a Holy God.     


    Verse 13 is among the most important statements ever recorded in the Bible: “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” That truth gives us the essence of the Gospel and the purpose of the incarnation. Jesus came into this world to call sinners to Himself. Do you believe and share this truth?

     

    Application:

    In this passage we discover three marks of a true believer:


    1. The true believer follows the Lord: Do you follow the Lord?


    2. The true believer has compassion for the unsaved: Do you have that same compassion?


    3. The true believer forsakes legalism and ritualism for a genuine spiritual relationship with Christ: Is that your desire, or are you just checking spirituals rituals off the list?



  • January 14, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 10

     

    In this chapter, Jesus sends out the 12 disciples and gives them 42 scripture verses of instructions. I believe the challenge is to read these verses and remember these are instructions for us today. Remember that the 12 apostles Christ was speaking to in this passage were just like us, ordinary people called by God to change the world.

     

    Verse 16-20 are powerful words from our Lord as we as believers today worry about the persecution we might endure IF we are living for Christ. Being a Christian in a   fallen world is dangerous and we will come under attack. So Jesus says we must be smart, be alert, be on guard and ultimately we should allow the Holy Spirit to speak for us.

     

    Two great truths are provided in this text:
     

    1. Jesus realized the world is a difficult place for His disciples, and He helps prepare us for that. We must help all believers understand that problems and persecution are part of living in this fallen world. However, we must know that we have God to walk through those difficult times with us.


    2. Jesus does not expect perfection. He allows room for failure in His disciples. He provides grace appropriately. We should provide that same grace to those we are discipling. Remember we are all like sheep. We should celebrate and praise God when we achieve spiritual victories and work through failures through His power.

     

    Being a disciple of Christ and discipling other believers is a huge privilege and responsibility. We must consume God’s Word, as well as pass on everything we can. What we should not do is try to impress others with our knowledge or pretend that we have it all figured out. We must be real, be honest and be transparent. Charles Swindoll said “Let others see the cracks in your life”.     

     

    Prayer:

    God, thank you for preparing me for the difficulties in this world. Thank you for using my imperfections and failures as catalysts for others to see Your grace in action. Amen



  • January 15, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 11


    All of the evidence has been presented. John the Baptist had introduced the King to the nation. Jesus had revealed His Person, His Principles and His Power. Now it was up to the leaders of the nation to make their decision. Unfortunately, instead of receiving the King, they began to resist Him. Chapter 11 introduces the first of four areas where we see that resistance.

     

    Here in Chapter 11 we have Resistance against His Prophet. John the Baptist was in prison because he had courageously spoke out against an adulterous marriage (Luke 3:19-20). Their attitude toward John reflected their feeling towards Jesus. Take a moment to picture yourself as John sitting in prison. What do you think his thoughts were? He was probably thinking negative thoughts such as: Is Jesus really the Messiah? How come Jesus is allowing me to be in prison? Where is this Kingdom He proclaimed? Why me Lord?

     

    Even though most of us have probably never been put in prison for our beliefs, we have probably had difficulties in our life when we have encountered those who resist God, in which we felt frustrated or even persecuted. Like John, we begin to doubt. However, Jesus reminds us through His words to John that we have not misplaced our faith – just our focus. Verse 6, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me”. So remember when you have doubts, when you feel far from God, or when you are under attack from the world – focus on God, spend time with Him in prayer, meditate on His Word, and seek counsel from those who are walking closely with Him. He will bless you with the strength you need to persevere.   

     

    Application:

    Reflect back on a time when you had doubts, or when you came under attack from the world. How did God help you through that time? 
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  • January 16, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 12

     

    Yesterday we read where the people of Israel resisted Jesus by resisting His prophet John the Baptist. Today in chapter 12, we read where they Resisted Jesus’ Principles (vs. 1-21), They Resisted His Power (vs. 22-37), and They Resisted Him as a Person (vs. 38-50). 

     

    We see Jesus purposely violate the Sabbath traditions on multiple occasions because He wanted to teach that the external laws could never save them or make them holy. He was teaching the principle that true righteousness had to come from the heart. In regards to the Sabbath, Jesus was teaching that He offered rest to all who will come to Him; there is no rest in mere religious observances. However, the people resisted this principle.

     

    When Jesus delivered the man who was blind, unable to speak and possessed with a demon, the Pharisees were jealous of His power. So they accused Jesus of having the power of Satan, not God. Jesus warned them that their words gave evidence of their evil hearts. We all must understand that the power of healing and overcoming a demon only comes from the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

     

    In verse 38, the teachers and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign to prove He was the Messiah. This was actually a sign of their unbelief and resistance of who Jesus really is. We must understand today, as believers, that if Jesus would have given them a sign, it would have catered to their unbelief and allowed them to set the standards for faith. That is not how God works. He is the standard. His Word provide us the standards for living a Christian life as we seek to Glorify Him in all we say and do. 

     

    Prayer:

    Heavenly Father, may we never resist You in any way. We pray that we fully understand that You do not come in and out of our lives to simply pick us up morally. May we know our hearts need to be completely surrendered to You. We declare our full allegiance to You, Lord! Thank you for being fully devoted to saving us Jesus! Amen.  

     


  • January 17, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 13

     

    In Chapter 13, we find the word “hear” 19 times. It is important that we hear God’s Word because that is how we grow in our faith, as well as how we learn to live a life that honors God. Jesus teaches seven parables in this chapter so that we not only hear His Word, but so we can also see His Word in action. Have you ever heard the phrase “Let me plant a seed in your mind” or “Let me plant an idea in your head”? Well, when we read these parables, the seed is God’s Word. The various types of soils represent different kinds of hearts, and the variety of outcomes reveal the different responses to His Word. Think about why the Word of God is compared to a seed. Because His Word is “Living and Active” (Hebrews 4:12). Unlike our own words, the Word of God has life in it, and we as believers can experience abundant life when we study and apply His word.

     

    I encourage you to look at these parables as three stages of Spiritual Development:


    1. The Origin of the Gospel.


    2. The Opposition against the Gospel.


    3.  The Outcome of the Gospel.

     

    In our spiritual journey, we all pass through these stages where we are bon again, come across opposition, and then ultimately come to a place of victory. The challenge for us in these stages is to not let our vibrant faith get choked out by thorns and weeds. These things do not just take root overnight. If we do not stay rooted in God’s Word, we begin to let up just a little here and there-we compromise. Dr. Richard Seume calls these temptations “The Lure of Lesser Loyalties”. He goes on to say, “Like thorns and weeds choke out healthy plants, the lure of lesser loyalties can suffocate what was once a   simple and slid faith”.

     

    Application:


    Where are you in your spiritual development? 

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    What seed is God planting in your heart at this time in your life? 

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  • January 20, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 14

     

    In Scripture, the waters are a metaphor for chaos and evil. In chapter 14 we see Jesus walking on the stormy, chaotic waters as One who has power over all things. It also serves as a metaphor for all going on around Him. 


    His cousin, John the Baptist, had been imprisoned for speaking out against the  adultery of Herod, and is beheaded to fulfill the desires of Herod's brother's wife, whom he had taken. Jesus then withdraws to a desolate place in His grief for His cousin's death. But as He withdraws, He is followed by thousands who are in want and need and are desperate for what Jesus can do for them. 


    In this desolate place, grieving for the death of His cousin, Jesus feeds and satisfies this massive group of people to the point where there is even an abundance of food left over. He has compassion on the crowd and His grace and mercy towards them overflows. 


    Jesus is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus, God-in-flesh, comes to us in our fallen and desperate state and enters in to our sorrows and grief, and there He loves and gives in overflowing measure. While He walks on the chaotic waters in chapter 14, we will later see Jesus give Himself up on the cross as He lets the chaotic waters of evil do their worst. But there He shows us His overflowing love and grace for us. What a Savior!

     

    Application:
    What waters do you feel consuming you? 
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    Spend time in prayer about those issues. Pray for grace to see your Savior who rescues by dying for you on the cross, and now lives to give you grace and mercy in times of need.



  • January 21, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 15

     

    In our unseen arrogance we can often fool ourselves into thinking that by our efforts we can firmly plant ourselves into the household of God. We make rules, form boundaries, and decide to live our lives in a certain way that we think is a holy and blameless way. We do this at the neglect of keeping God's Word. Instead of living our lives based on the Word of God, we live it based on how we interpret God's Word and how we think we should then live. But the Word of God must continually shape us and change us to look more like Christ. 


    The Canaanite was certainly experiencing a change in her life. She comes begging and pleading with Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus, who came to save His people, looks at the woman's great faith and saves her daughter. 


    God, in His grace, plants His people. His people are people of faith, not  people who strive to enter through their own works. We must come completely dependent upon His grace and mercy. We must see our hopeless state for what it is. We must see the righteousness of Christ and pray that God would declare us to be righteous by faith in His Son. 


    Jesus is a compassionate Savior. He came to seek and save the lost. It will be much better for us if we put away the arrogant self-sufficiency that we are tempted to live with, and live dependent upon Christ in faith. There we will experience healing and change.

     

    Application:
    What man-made rules are you following to the neglect of truly keeping God’s Word? 
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    Spend time in prayer, asking the Lord for grace to live more and more dependent upon His grace by faith.

     



  • January 22, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 16

     

    In one breath Simon Peter is confessing Jesus to be the Christ.  In the next breath, he is rebuking Jesus, leading to being rebuked by Jesus. Why is this? Peter had false  expectations based off of teachings from the Scriptures on who the Christ was to be, and what He was to do. He expected the Christ to come in and wipe out opposing  nations and to establish the kingdom of Israel, not be killed by the priests, scribes, and elders of Israel.


    We must guard what teaching we take in and accept as well. We do well to stand against obvious false teaching, like certain forms of the prosperity  gospel, for example. The problem is that a lot of false teaching can sound quite Biblical and we must watch out for the leaven of these false teachers. The Pharisees knew the  Scriptures and were right about a lot of things, so their teaching was quite convincing.


    We must be people of the Word and the Church. The Word abiding in us is what makes us true disciples of Jesus (John 8:31). The Church, in history and in its current state, helps protect us where we are vulnerable. We need each other.


    False teaching often has the scent of Christianity, but lest we be deceived from  following the true Christ, we must abide in the Word and with each other.


    Application:

    What are areas in the Word that you need to grow in?  ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

    How can Wynnbrook help you, and how can you help others where you are strong? ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________


    Think and pray through those things.

     


  • January 23, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Matthew 17

     

    Here on the mountain, the curtain of Heaven is pulled back for a brief moment and Peter, James, and John get to see Jesus in His glory. They see heroes of their faith as well, and ask to set up three tents. They were not meant to remain on the mountain though, and these were not equals standing with Jesus. Peter was amazed to see Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah were more amazed than even he was to be seeing Jesus, the true Son of God who had come into the world. Moses and Elijah had seen God's glory on the mountain before, but now they get to see Jesus face to face-- something infinitely better than they ever dreamed! 


    The Gospel according to Luke gives us a clue as to what they were talking about. Luke records that they were talking about the departure, which could be translated "Exodus," that Jesus was about to have in Jerusalem. 


    Moses could not set the people free from sin. Elijah could not bring massive revival in Israel. A new and better Exodus needed to occur. It would come through the death of the Son of Man. Jesus, the beloved Son of God, robes Himself in human flesh in order to take upon Himself the curse for all of our sin, to take upon Himself the  payment and penalty for our sin. Jesus would give Himself over to those that he   created, and they would do all they could to kill Him.


    A better Exodus has come! We can know true freedom from sin and life with God forever! We must listen to the Son. He has the words of life, and in Him do we find salvation.

     

    Application:
    The day is coming when we will stand in the New Jerusalem and see Jesus face to face. Do you long for that day, or find yourself distracted by all that is going on around you? 
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    Spend time in prayer thinking about the glorious day to come!

     

     



  • January 27, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Matthew 19

     

    The Bible clears up a lot of confusion – IF we believe it! The first twelve verses deal with the sacredness of marriage. In this passage, Jesus teaches us several truths.

     

    God is the origin of marriage, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Verse 5) Marriage is between one man and one woman.

     

    God is the origin and ordainer of gender. Verse four lays out the origin of gender. God created male and female. Make no mistake about this truth. God determines a person’s gender! Biblical marriage is between one who is born male and one who is born female.

     

    God sets the purpose for marriage, “and the two shall become one flesh.” While this certainly encompasses physical oneness it means much more. Marriage is to reflect an intimacy of relationship that reflects the oneness of God.

     

    Man is the origin of divorce. Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of man’s heart. God’s goal is reconciliation. Divorce may be the only option in some cases due to the “hardness of heart.”

     

    There is only one explanation as to why our culture is so confused about marriage and gender- our culture has removed authority! To accomplish this you must remove the source of all authority – God. So, we removed God from our culture. That naturally leads to the removal of all moral boundaries which fosters chaos, confusion, anarchy, and hopelessness. Today, we see the attack on the most obvious representation of authority – law enforcement officers. All of this stems from the removal of God. Why has this happened? Because for man to be in authority, man has to remove any authority over himself – including God. This eventually leads every civilization to utter chaos and ruin.

     

    Application:

    How can I tell who is the ultimate authority in my life? 

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    Prayer:

    Lord God, if I am seeking to usurp Your rule and rightful place over my life, please reveal it to me. Even if I do not like it.



  • January 28, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Matthew 20

     

    What is the Kingdom of Heaven like? In, Chapter 13, Jesus shares that it was like the seed sower, a mustard seed, Leaven, hidden treasure, a costly pearl, a dragnet. In Chapter 18, He compares the Kingdom to a king settling accounts. In this chapter, He compares the Kingdom to a landowner hiring laborers for his vineyard.

     

    The central truth of this story is this: Regardless of the season of life you trust in Christ, you are saved by grace. Some trust Christ early in life. Some at the “eleventh hour.” Yet both enter into Heaven the same identical way – by grace. This passage is not about the rewards awaiting those who enter Heaven. Paul makes it very clear that believers who enter Heaven are going to be rewarded based on the quality of their deeds (read 1 Corinthians 3 & 2 Corinthians 5).

     

    Those who trust Christ early in life have more time and opportunities to serve Him. Those who trust Him late in life may only have hours, if not minutes. This passage is about the grace of God that is available for all people at all times at all stages of life.

     

    While “death bed” salvations are rare, they do happen. This speaks to the incredible patience and grace of God. Beginning at the Cross of Calvary with the thief who repented and died hours after confessing Jesus as Lord, we continue to see people who wait until the last “minute” of life to trust in Christ. It is not our responsibility to determine the legitimacy of death bed confessions. We know it is possible!

     

    The Parable of the laborers teaches us that at every stage of life God’s Spirit is at work and God’s grace is sufficient.

     

    Application:

    Rejoice in the grace of a patient God.

     

    Prayer:
    Thank you Jesus for Your patience in my life. May I never give up on the salvation of others regardless of their season.

     



  • January 29, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Matthew 21

     

    Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey is called the “Triumphant Entry.” It does not appear to be that triumphant when Jesus is brutally crucified that Friday. However, Sunday is coming!

     

    What does the Triumphant Entry teach us? First, we learn the important lesson of the sovereignty of Jesus. He knew where the donkey would be located and the response of those who owned it. His disciples had only one job – obey Him. That really is our one job in life – obey our King. He will work out everything else. That does not mean He will work it out to your particular pleasure, but it does mean that you can be assured that your obedience is more important than the response of others.

     

    Second, it teaches us the humility of our Lord. He rode a donkey into the city He will eventually rule. Why not a stallion? One day He will return on a stallion but triumph begins with humility! Jesus is the perfect model of how we are to live. Our hearts are to be filled with humility.

     

    Third, it teaches us the volatility of people. The people cry out, “Hosanna” and less than a week later they shout, “Crucify Him.” If your top priority in life is to please people, you will be sorely disappointed. Prioritize pleasing King Jesus!

     

    Fourth, Jesus teaches us the reliability of Scripture. The prophets, Isaiah and Zechariah, prophesied that the “king” would enter Jerusalem riding on a “foal of a donkey.” That is exactly what happened. Why? Because all prophecies about Messiah were fulfilled exactly and completely as prophesied. We can be assured of the accuracy of God’s word to us.

     

    Application:

    Contemplate these four lessons: The sovereignty and humility of Jesus. The volatility of people. The reliability of Scripture. Which of these speak to your heart today? How?

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, thank you that Your Word is reliable and You sit on the throne over all. My goal today is to please You in the thoughts of my mind and the expression of love  toward others.



  • January 30, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Matthew 22

     

    Wedding are a joyous occasion. I’ve been to a few!!  Planning and pulling off a wedding can be challenging at best. Two key questions need to be answered: Who is invited and what is the dress code.

     

    Jesus tells us about a King who plans a wedding banquet for his son. He invites people but they are “unwilling” to attend. They give all kinds of excuses. The king sends ambassadors to remind them but they mistreat and even murder the messengers. The parallel is obvious. The Lord invites the people of Israel to honor His son. Instead, they dismiss God’s invitation and abuse the prophets who encourage them to honor Christ. Their foolish rejection resulted in their own demise.

     

    The Father, King, sent out invitations to others. All who would come were welcome. Many attended the wedding. But there is one guy who does not follow the dress code. He is thrown out to a place of “outer darkness in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That place is hell.

     

    What is the dress code? Only those dressed in complete righteousness can enter this wedding feast! Who then can enter since all of us have sinned? Only those who humble themselves and confess their unrighteousness before the King and trust in His Son! Then they will be given a robe of righteousness to wear. It is a fulfillment of 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf (on the cross) so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

     

    Application:

    If you were to attend the marriage feast of the Lord Jesus, how would you be dressed? Anything other than the total righteousness of God will be rejected!
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    Prayer:

    My King, thank you for inviting me! May I enter eternity dressed appropriately.

     



  • January 31, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Matthew 23

     

    Once again, the first part of this chapter emphasizes humility. Humility is a rare quality, especially in religious circles. That is why we must be careful of practicing a “religion” and focus on our “relationship” with Christ!

     

    Jesus identifies five differences between RELIGION and an authentic RELATIONSHIP with God. Religion prioritizes the position of your seat at the table. Religion appeals to the “alpha male” pecking order because in religion, you can decide for yourself what you want to be. You are the captain of your ship. However, in an authentic  relationship with God, He decides your position. Your role is not determined by your desires or ambition, but by His Holy Spirit, who gifts and calls people as His sovereign will dictates. 

     

    Religion exalts the talk while relationship exalts the walk. The Bible explicitly warns us about smooth talkers who will deceive others. False religious teachers appeal to inherent fear, an immoral bent, or intellectual pragmatism. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is based on security, purity, and His ultimate authority.

     

    Religion prizes the accolades of men while a relationship with Jesus prioritizes the applause of Christ. Amazingly, many in religion will be deeply offended if they are not “appropriately recognized” for their contribution. Christ followers know the only one worthy of being recognized for any good within us is Jesus.

     

    Religion is concerned with the position of power, while a relationship with Jesus is grounded in only one position of power – that of King Jesus! He rules over all.

     

    Finally, religion seeks to be served. This is a fatalistic and almost unnoticed quality in many religious circles. Everything becomes about “me.” Religion demands that you serve me. Jesus teaches us the opposite. Our relationship with Him allows us the freedom to serve others. Actually, we die to ourselves. Our preferences take a back seat to His priorities.

     

    Application:

    Think about our Lord’s comparison of religion and relationship. How does this apply to your life? ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Christ, my heart is open for You to reveal to me if I emphasize my “religion” over my “relationship” with You.