Sunday’s are all about worship. This was the day of rest God wanted for us, and on that day of rest we need to worship our creator and our savior. The right church makes worship easy. Worship should be energizing, moving, powerful, and even fun. If you don’t have a church that does all that, maybe you need to find a new church. In this devotional for 2020, I will challenge you to not only find a church that you love, but to also get involved with that church. Surround yourself with positive, spiritual people.
3”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful, for they will show mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:3-10)
The Bible I took with me on my first deployment was The Jesus Bible by the Passion group. It is, and will most likely always be, my favorite Bible. I recommend it to anyone and everyone, especially those who have never read the entire Bible. The amount of excellent research and side notes will enlighten even the most vetted Biblical scholar. The Jesus Bible I have does not have the words of Jesus printed in red letters. Still, those powerful words command authority and jump out when I read the text. I honestly feel that the words captured by the authors of the four Gospels, and Acts, that depict what Jesus said, are the most important script in the Holy Bible. These are the words that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John knew they had to write down, knowing who Jesus was, these words were the most important to get right. And while so much of what Jesus said during His time on Earth was never recorded, what was recorded needs to hold extra weight. In the passage above, we have read “The Beatitudes,” the first lengthy sermon (known as the Sermon on the Mount) recorded by Matthew. This was yesterday’s reading and is the beginning of a sermon that lasts two more chapters in the Book of Matthew. The Sermon on the Mount is the only full sermon recorded in the Gospels. While Jesus goes on to give more and more wisdom and many parables, this chapter is the figurative one-two punch to wake the world up and show us how Jesus came to change the world. Every idea and principle in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount challenged the Mosaic Laws of the Hebrew faith. Jesus challenged all those listening, and all of us reading His words today, to rethink their lives and actions. Just beyond The Beatitudes, Jesus gives a very demanding call to service:
“20For 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.”(Matthew 5:20)
Gulp. That’s a tall order. And Jesus wasn’t referring to the Pharisees that He would later be chasing out of the Temple with a bull whip. He was referring to the Pharisees and teachers of the Hebrew law that actually practiced what they preached. And then Jesus asks His followers to take it a step beyond all of that!
So, reader, to give you my full disclosure, I plan on challenging you like Jesus challenges His followers throughout this year. I am going to ask you to step out of your comfort zone and most likely do a full reversal of the life you are currently living. Do not be afraid though. On December 31 you won’t find yourself in a dangerous country secretly meeting with a handful of new converted Christians in a dark and secluded location. But if you were, how incredible would that conversion and faith be! We’ll leave that for next year. This year, let’s just focus on learning the Bible and slowly turning the wheel on our current course to point our bow more and more in the direction of Jesus.
Reading plan: Matthew Chapter 6
Deeper reading plan: add on Genesis Chapters 18-21
Prayer and meditation: continue to pray for your request from day 1 and ask God for His guidance throughout this coming year.
Fitness challenge: Rest
Journal: use the next page to write down your thoughts on everything you have read so far and where you want your faith to take you. Jot down a faith goal, anything from “take a mission’s trip to the Bahamas” to the ultimate leap of faith: “launch a Christian Church in a foreign country (hint-it would not be Sweden, could be, but there are a lot of areas that desperately need to hear the word of Jesus, like Afghanistan).”