As you dig deep into God’s Word this week you see an example in Christ on how to live. The Sermon on the Mount is filled with traits He would like to see in His followers because they are in Him. Then He says come to me and talk to me about your challenges in prayer and I will help you become like me. Living this way is very different from the way the world teaches. He gently leads you the same today as He did when He walked this earth, to turn away from your “self” centeredness and “self” control and turn your life over to His direction and control. As you act in a way He would you discover true joy, peace and the abundant life we all seek. The more time invested in God’s Word the more you will have a “knee-jerk-reaction” to live like Christ. “By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” Psalm 119:105
Perfection or flawlessness is never the goal because we are not Christ. Aspiring to be as much like Christ as possible should be every believer’s Spiritual Fitness Goal. We see in Matthew 5:14-15 the result of living this way. “…You’re here to be a light bringing out the God colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine!” You are a bright light in this world showing others who Christ is and ultimately giving glory to God.
Be aware that you share that light in the same amount you receive it. You cannot help others until you allow God to help you first. You help others more by who you are than by what you say. Therefore there must be both an inward life directed by Christ and a clear outward passion for Him if you are to be His light. If you look in your own circle of family, friends, co-workers, you see many confused, unhappy, board or lonely people who might respond to you if you are responding to Christ. Can you see the positive ripple effect you have in the power of the Spirit of Christ? Go and Shine!
- How are you making room in your life to receive the life-giving Spirit power of Christ so you can shine?
- What are the current challenges in your relationships this week? How are you acting like Christ and reflecting His traits in your circle of influence?
Ash Wednesday is a day of self-reflection on our humanness and sinfulness in the light of the cross. Our Matthew Challenge chapter for today couldn’t be more fitting. In humility, John the Baptist not only clarifies his role in the God is writing, but explains to the crowd what life in the in Kingdom of Heaven is like.
“I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.” Matthew 3:11-12 (The Message)
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking life is all about me. In our humanness, we’re wired to think of ourselves as the main focus of our life. But John is saying there is another way in the kingdom of heaven. Life in God’s kingdom is about something greater than myself. I’m merely a stagehand in the bigger story God is writing in this world. Christ is the main character. He is the giver of life, the redeemer of life and the focus of life. As we reflect on Ash Wednesday, here’s a few questions to ask during your prayer time:
- How am I allowing Christ to change me from the inside out?
- What areas of my humanness and sinfulness am I currently resisting His kingdom work in my life?
- How can I shift my focus from “me” to glorifying Christ with my life?
You should approach this challenge to read through the book of Matthew expectantly. God’s Word is truth, life and nourishment to your soul. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God, my soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 43:1-2. As you read you will receive help, direction, wisdom, knowledge and love to help you through your day.
We sometimes see in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament a list of genealogy. I have wondered about the relevance of such information. You have learned in the past at Epic that in order to develop emotional and spiritual health, it is essential to look back at our family so that we can move forward in a healthy way. This is most important in knowing who, why and where Jesus came from. How can you believe in and follow someone you don’t know. The more you learn about Him the more your faith will grow.
All through the Old Testament the prophets point to the coming Messiah. I find it very interesting how Matthew ties the Old and New Testament together by beginning with the genealogy of Christ. As you approach the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1:18-25, an angel of the Lord appears telling Joseph two names will be given to May’s son, Jesus and Immanuel.
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel which means ‘God is with us.” Matthew 1:23
- How does knowing Jesus is your Savior and is always with you have relevance to you in your daily life?
- Do you thirst for God? What is one thing you can do this week to quench that thirst and know Christ more?
A lot of people think following Jesus means to believe and behave, but when he said “Follow Me” it wasn’t about religion, but an adventure.
As we journey though “Matthew Series” together, it’s a great time to read through the entire Gospel of Matthew between March 3-April 6. Download the reading guide and come back to discuss what you are learning.
Matthew – DAILY READING GUIDE
Written through the eyes of a religious outsider who became a follower of Christ, the Gospel of Matthew became the most widely read and most quoted book in the early church. As we journey through the life and teaching of Jesus, we will discover what it looks like to be a modern day disciple.
Follow – March 2
Blessed – March 9
Fearless – March 16
Grace-Filled – March 23
Empty Chairs – March 30
The Fine Print – April 6
Epic Church Sundays: 9:43, Emagine Theatre