Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Matthew Chapter 1

My family started reading Matthew for Lent last night.
While dinner was finishing cooking we sat down at the table and took turns reading the first chapter.  Lots of funny names in Jesus' family tree that we struggled through.
We wondered - are our names as funny to others as those are to us?  Why care about who is in Jesus' family tree?  Why weren't many girls listed?  
We recognized some names like David (no mention of Goliath).
We talked about how some of the names remind us of good stories like David beating Goliath.  But other names like Uriah's wife (Bathsheba) reminds us that people in Jesus' family made mistakes too.  We have people in our family that we aren't always happy with but they are still a part of the family.  Jesus came from an imperfect family and makes us a part of his family, which is good cause we are imperfect too.

When is your daily Bible reading time?  in the morning, afternoon or evening?  
Do you have a special place to read?
What did you wonder about or learn from Matthew this week?
Keep plugging into God!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reading Matthew for Lent

Reading your Bible for yourself is a gift and a privilege that we take for granted far too often.  In this world where we have all the information of the ages on our cell phones, we neglect the wisdom of God assuming it will be there when we "really need it".  But God doesn't want to be a wallflower waiting for us to get done with something else.  God wants to be first in our hearts and minds.  Reading God's word and reflecting on how God speaks to us through the life of Jesus is one of the first ways we can connect with God.

I'm challenging you to forget about giving up chocolate or other silly Lenten promise - take up something important instead.  Take up the practice of spending a little time everyday in God's word.

Each week I will be reflecting on my reading of Matthew and you can add your thoughts or questions in the comments section.  Lets do this together and grow in Christ!

Here is a suggested plan:
The Book of Matthew for Lent

28 chapters in 6 weeks. 
Focus on creating a daily ritual of reading your Bible & praying for yourself and others. 

Read about a chapter each day.  
The last day or two go back and reflect on what you read  - underline or highlight verses that have special meaning to you.

Week 1
Chapter 1 - the ancestors of Jesus, recognize any of those names? & birth of Jesus
Chapter 2 - Wise Men & evil of Herod
Chapter 3 - John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin) and Jesus' baptism
Chapter 4 - Jesus is tempted then begins his public ministry
Chapter 5 & 6 - The Sermon on the Mount

Most of these are familiar stories - what surprised you this week?

Week 2
Chapter 7 - Continuing  Sermon on the Mount
Chapter 8 - Healings & storms stilled
Chapter 9 - Healings and calling of Matthew
Chapter 10 - The twelve apostles
Chapter 11 - Praise for John the Baptist

Lots of healing & calling of followers this week - how has Jesus healed you? How is he calling you?
Week 3
Chapter 12 - Lord of the Sabbath
Chapter 13 - Jesus' Parables
Chapter 14 - Death of John - walking on water
Chapter 15 - what defiles? feeding of 4,000
Chapter 16 - who do you say that I am?

Jesus tells lots of parables this week - any that were new to you?  Think about the question "who do you say that I am?" from 16: 15.  Who do you think Jesus was & is?

Week 4
Chapter 17 - Jesus is Transfigured
Chapter 18 - Greatness, sin & forgiveness
Chapter 19 - divorce & money
Chapter 20 - the last will be first

Jesus surprises a lot of people this week with his transfiguration, his teaching and his parables.  What surprised you this week?

Week 5

Chapter 21 - the story of Palm Sunday
Chapter 22 - parable of the Wedding feast
Chapter 23 - denouncing scribes & Pharisees
Chapter 24 -  foretelling the destruction of the Temple & persecutions

Chapter 23 has lots of "woe to you"s in it - who do you think Jesus would say "woe to you"  to today?

Week 6
Chapter 25 - be prepare, judgment day is coming
Chapter 26 - the Passover becomes the Lord's supper
Chapter 27 - Jesus is put on trial and executed
Chapter 28 - Jesus is resurrected from the dead

Reflect on Jesus' trial and execution.  How does it read compared with how you have imagined it in the past? 

Having spent 6 weeks with Jesus in Matthew, what have you learned?  What questions do you have?  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lenten Season

Lent is one of two preparation seasons of the Christian year.   Preparation of our spirits to connect deeply with what God has done and is doing.  Preparation by mulling over the past to get rid of the excess baggage and clear the way for light and life that God brings.  Lent is preparing us for Easter - the resurrection of Christ that gives us life now and forever.   By spending time preparing our hearts, minds and spirits during Lent we make room for Easter joy & peace.

The other season of preparation is Advent - the 4 weeks before Christmas which as we all know have become full to the brim with so many activities and to do lists that very little of our time becomes about preparation of our hearts and spirits.  So Lent has become so much more important.  Its the spring cleaning of our being.  It is the season of mucking out so that newness can come in.

There are many ways to prepare during Lent.  I enjoyed this article on On Being.

The Induced Meandering of the Lenten Season

Of course we have opportunities at Calvary for your Lenten journey.  Bible Study on Monday Nights at 7:30 PM is one opportunity.

Happy Lent!