Siblings in the Faith

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 43 & 44

Psalms Reading: Psalm 24

New Testament Reading: Matthew 23

Jesus, the great King of God’s Kingdom, told us that he came to “serve, not be served” (Mark 10:45). His entire ministry revolved around giving up his life for the sake of those around him and for the entire world. Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that Jesus considered others as more important than himself, and Jesus himself tells us that he was not trying to accomplish his own will, but the will of his heavenly Father (John 5:30). You see, Jesus wasn’t interested in titles, status, or holding a special office; he only cared about serving the needs of those who he loved. Jesus calls us to be the same way, which is completely different than what the world around us wants us to do. We are told over and over to keep shooting for higher and higher status, and for more sophisticated and respected positions, but this isn’t the way things are supposed to be in the Church: we are all equals.


In Matthew 23, Jesus tells us that nobody among his disciples should seek after any title: not “Teacher”, “Leader”, or “Father”. Instead, we are to consider each other “brothers and sisters” (equals), like the apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” None of us is to think too highly of ourselves, even if we do hold official titles in the Church, like “pastor”, “elder”, “youth leader”, or anything else: we are supposed to be like Jesus and only care about serving each other, not exalting ourselves to some high position. We should be humble and lead like Jesus led: by stooping low and washing feet.

This also means that we all have an equal responsibility for the Church and the mission of Jesus to make disciples. It’s not just the job of the pastor and other leaders; it is every believer’s responsibility. We are all supposed to care for what God has given us in this world, since it’s all His anyways (Psalm 24:1). It doesn’t matter if we get to sit in on Board meetings and make major financial decisions for our church buildings; we all have a share in the Church’s larger plan and the later Kingdom of God.

Brothers and sisters, let’s all contribute and serve each other. We will only be as healthy as we are humble. Be like Jesus today and consider others as more important than yourself, and don’t seek after those titles and statuses, even if they do eventually come your way. Our focus should be on loving our siblings in the faith and doing what Jesus has called us to do.

-Talon Paul

Reflection Questions

  1. Would you rather…exalt yourself now, OR be exalted by Jesus later? Why is it only one or the other?
  2. Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11) How are you doing as a servant?
  3. What do you think of Talon’s statement: “We will only be as healthy as we are humble”? How healthy, or ill, are you currently? What could you do to improve your health and your humility today?
  4. What did God reveal about Himself in your reading of His Scripture today?

Take the Lowly Position

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 33 & 34

Psalms Reading: Psalm 19

New Testament Reading: Matthew 18

In our daily life we find ourselves interacting with others. It may have been less often over the last few years, but still we were created to be social beings. So it should come as no surprise that a lot of the teachings of Jesus would have to do with how we should treat those people when we come in contact with them. 

Here in Matthew 18 he begins by correcting his disciples over a fight they were having, on who would be the greatest among them, when they were in the Kingdom. So often we, like the disciples here, find ourselves trying to one up each other. We want to be the one in charge. We want to be the one who has the biggest slice of cake, the one who gets the best parking space, or the one who gets to be at the front of the line. I’m not saying that these things are bad. I’m just saying that in this culture we live in, where everyone is putting their wants and desires above everyone else around them, we are called to be different. We are called by God to put others ahead of ourselves.

I think one of the best examples of putting other people first comes from our greatest example, and who we are to model our lives after, Jesus. In Matthew 14 we find the story of one of the coolest miracles in the Bible. It is the time that 5000 men plus all the women and kids that were with them, were fed with only five loves of bread and two fish. But look at what happened right before this. The beginning of the chapter tells us that Jesus’ own cousin, John the Baptist had just been killed by King Herod, and Jesus got word of it. When he found out, Jesus decided to have some alone time, most likely to mourn for his cousin and to pray. So Jesus and his disciples traveled by boat to a solitary place. But the crowds seeing that he had left followed him. When Jesus arrived and found everyone waiting for him, he didn’t get mad at the crowds and tell them to go away so he can be alone. Instead, the Bible says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matt 14:14) Jesus did take some time for himself, to mourn over John later that day, going up on the mountain, while the disciples headed back across the water. But he still put the needs of the crowd ahead of himself.

As you read Matthew 18 today, be sure to notice all the ways that Jesus teaches us to treat others: reaching the lost with the gospel, approaching other believers who have sinned and forgiving those who wronged you. And as you read Jesus’ teachings, think of the examples he set for us, in these regards, by the way he lived his life.

-Jonny Smith

Reflection Questions

  1. In what situations do you have a harder time putting the needs of others before your own? When is it difficult for you to happily and humbly take the lower position?
  2. In what ways is Jesus calling you to be different from the world? In what ways is Jesus calling you to be different from what you were last year?
  3. In what ways does Jesus’ example line up with his teaching?
  4. What can we learn of the Kingdom designer and Father of Jesus in your reading today?

Growing Out of the World

Yesterday we talked a little bit about the idea of remaining in Jesus/the vine from John 15. Continuing on in that chapter today, we see that we are called to be set apart from the world’s “garden” of goods. We are to belong to Jesus and be called out from the world. And it sounds like we shouldn’t anticipate popularity for this.

John 15: 16-19:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Verse 19 tells us that that world will love us when we belong to it.  It seems like many days it is easier to be loved by the world than it is to be set apart. If we watch what the world watches, busy ourselves with its entertainment, immerse ourselves in its news and social media, agree with its “wisdom” and ambitions, share its worries, and dedicate our time and energy to pursuits of this world, we can easily find ourselves part of it. With some pretty deep roots. We will be accepted and liked. We won’t offend anyone. We will fit in. Or at least we won’t stand out? We might have some temporary fun. People will smile at us, agree with us, boost our ego, and…..we will belong.  But, we will belong to the world, and there are consequences.

Scripture speaks heavily to the idea of being “called out” or “set apart” from the world. This passage is one of those. We are currently living in a world abounding in evil and deceit. Deceit that runs so deep in so many places that anyone who follows Jesus likely will be hated at times. Looking at Jesus’s example, being watchful for times the world’s ideas contradict that example and his words, and seeking to love and obey are crucial to ensure that we are growing “out” of the world and not “in” it.  I look forward to a day when Jesus reigns and is no longer hated ,when we are in God’s perfect kingdom without sin, and when this world and its problems have passed away!

–Jennifer Hall

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway here – Job 11-12 and 2 Corinthians 7

Love & Compassion

Mark 5

Mark 5 2

Coming off the week of Fuel is always hard; we go from an amazing week of worship and fellowship back to our regular lives. However, it is important not to return to that pattern. We should be able to have people around us see the difference that has been made. We want people to know we are Christians by our love. This chapter, Mark 5, is an excellent example of that. In the latter half we see Christ commend a woman’s faith that helped make her well. He also brings a child, of whom he doesn’t know, back from the dead. He showed that love and compassion to random strangers, but more interestingly to me, he showed love and compassion to a demon in the beginning.

At the beginning of this chapter we see he goes to the other side of the sea to the region of the Gerasenes. There he finds a man who is possessed by the demon legion, who has broken all restraints that have been used against him and has been cutting the man’s body as well. As soon as Christ arrives there the demon possessed man came running to him and was begging him to leave the area, and to not torment him. There are other stories where the demon has been cast out and they move on, but Jesus takes the time to ask his name, he even gives legion permission to take over the pigs nearby rather than just cast him out. He leads by example here, for he said to love your enemy. He could’ve not listened to the demon and driven him out to be done, but he didn’t. He took the time to talk to legion and showed mercy in letting him possess the pigs.

Sometimes we struggle enough showing compassion to people we work with and see on a daily basis, maybe we find them a little too talkative or annoying but that is no reason to not show love. I know plenty of teachers I work with who just get on my nerves sometimes because they have problems everyday with the little things, like their password or volume on their computer. It’s important though that I don’t get mad or angry with them because we are called to love and being upset when someone is having trouble or struggling will only make it worse. If Christ can show compassion to a demon possessing and harming a man, we should be able to find compassion in ourselves for those around us, even when it is hard.

So, start today.  Sit down with that one person we might try to avoid, talk to the one who seems out of place, have patience with them and put yourself out there to be known as the one who shows kindness and compassion to all. Try to lead by example and show compassion to others in our lives, even if they seem to torment us like a demon. It’ll be hard but just maybe from this we can learn to be a light and hopefully inspire them to follow suit.

 

Have a great week and hold strong,

 

-Kyle Cheatwood

A Hope, a Command and a Reassurance

Matthew 28

Matthew 28 20b

In the matter of a few sentences, we have a hope, a command and a reassurance. This hope is the greatest hope that anyone could have: the hope of a resurrection. The simple fact that Jesus walked out of His grave is proof enough that we too will walk out of our graves. God has given us a taste of His power, showed us that death isn’t something to fear. All throughout Matthew, we have seen the way that Jesus has lived and have heard His words. We know the way in which we are to live our lives. Jesus was the perfect example for us. If we follow in his footsteps just imagine the reward the we will receive knowing that Jesus was rewarded with eternal life.

This hope that Jesus left us with is accompanied with a command, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples all the commands I have given you.” This command is a heavy one, although it seems straightforward. First Jesus commands us to go. We need to move to carry out this command. The second part is to make disciples. This is a daunting task these days. It seems like no one wants to hear about religion of any kind, let alone discipleship. Maybe people don’t want to listen to you, this just means that you must go. Jesus said in Matthew 10:14, if someone won’t receive you, then shake the dust off your feet and move on. This applies to us in our daily lives even if we aren’t going to move to Peru to minister. If our friendships aren’t moving towards discipleships, then perhaps it’s time to go.

Jesus, knowing how hard this command would be to follow, provided a reassurance to go along with it. He said, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus held firm until the very end of His life. He weathered the taunts and the persecution, the beatings and the crucifixion. If anyone understands hardship, He does. And He is with you always. When you are struggling in the face of trial, look to Jesus. Understand how he endured His trials and let His way work in your life. Allow Jesus to give you strength as you strive to follow his command, holding fast to the hope that we all share in the resurrection to come.

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

His Example

john 13 14

Pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith, we know what these are and how to achieve them but a better way to see this is through Jesus Christ. He constantly showed God’s love through his actions, by caring for those you wouldn’t expect him to. He was the son of God and he humbled himself to all around him, to show that we are here to serve. By following Jesus’s example in serving and loving others we can do good, and have a positive impact in the world around us.

-Blair Simon

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