WEEK 1 - JESUS IS OUR DISPLAY MODEL
Day 1 • Read Matthew 3:13-4:11,17
Jesus shows us how to walk with God in these chapters. Baptism is how we start out in faith. It is the initiation process of walking with God. Prayer, fasting, memorizing Scripture, and then speaking boldly about our faith are the spiritual disciplines of walking with God.
Jesus’ baptism empowered Him with the Spirit and allowed Him to feel approval from God. Jesus’ prayer life and fasting got Him connected to God. Jesus’ memorization of Scripture helped Him conquer temptation and trials. And Jesus boldly preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven helped Him rescue lost souls who are far from God.
As followers of Christ, the same spiritual disciplines are how we walk with God today. We get baptized, spend time daily in prayer, memorize and study the Word, and share our faith with others. We don’t do this because we have to; we do this because this keeps our hearts alive and our walk with God vibrant. It is not a hoop to jump through, or a box to check, but these are things that bring life to our souls and cause us to be close to God.
- Which of Jesus’ spiritual disciplines have you been neglecting?
- What if you spent an extra 15 minutes in prayer or Bible study today?
- What if you shared something good about God with one person at work or school today?
- If you haven’t been baptized, what if you did this weekend? Why wait?
- Seeking God with these spiritual disciplines brings our faith to life and helps us stay close to Him.
Day 2 • Read Matthew 1
The first time Matthew heard the story of Joseph, the "father" of Jesus, he could probably relate. Matthew was rich, had lots of friends, yet was called to follow Jesus (Matthew 9:9-10). Following Jesus could put Matthew’s reputation at risk, just like marrying Mary could put Joseph’s reputation at risk.
When Joseph found out his fiancée was pregnant, Matthew 1:24 says Joseph "did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him" and married her. When Joseph decided to obey God by marrying pregnant Mary, he gave up his reputation of being "faithful to the law" (Matthew 1:19). He was probably frustrated because his reputation had been marred, but his obedience gave him a much greater reputation. Joseph stepped into his life’s purpose. He is listed in Matthew 1 as Jesus's earthly father.
When Matthew heard about Joseph, perhaps he was still struggling with people from his past harassing him for his decision to become a Christian. Perhaps he needed the hope that his legacy would far outweigh any hassles he faced. Maybe that’s why he chose to begin his gospel with Jesus’s genealogy and Joseph’s story.
Today we know that what happened to Joseph also happened to Matthew. Matthew found his lasting reputation by following God’s will. He chose to obey God instead of listening to the world. The result? He wrote an entire book of the Bible, which now begins the New Testament. His name is a part of the Bible because he valued the higher name of Jesus Christ.
- Are you facing a choice between listening to the world and obeying God’s commands?
- How do the stories of Joseph and Matthew change your perspective on the situation? God promises to give us "a new name" in heaven (Isaiah 62:2). What choices are you making to invest in your eternal reputation?
- Do you know someone who is torn between the world’s opinion and God’s plan for his or her life? (Maybe it is you!) Take a minute today to pray for this person, and encourage him or her to keep a perspective like Joseph and Matthew.
Day 3 • Read Matthew 2
We live in a world of relentless voices telling us what we should own, where we should go, how we should live and especially what we should believe. How do we sift through them and separate what matters from what doesn’t? How do we distinguish God’s voice from all the chaos?
In Biblical times, God spoke to people through the written law, prophets, angels and dreams. In Matthew 2:13-21, Joseph heard from God in a dream that King Herod had ordered the execution of the Christ child. Angels warned Joseph to take baby Jesus and his mother to Egypt until they were safe. Though God could use this same approach to address us, Hebrews 1:1-2 explains how God speaks to us today: “In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.”
Jesus’s appearance on this planet is God saying, “I faithfully love you and relentlessly pursue you.” Jesus’s death on the cross is God saying, “I forgive you, no matter what.” Jesus’s resurrection from the dead is God saying, “You can be made brand new and live in freedom.” Because of Jesus and our faith in Him, we can now clearly hear God through His word, the Bible. And as we strive to know more of God by reading our Bible, His Spirit teaches us how to hear our heavenly Father and how to know His will for our lives.
- What's one way God has spoken to you in the past?
- What is one thing God is telling you right now?
Day 4 • Read Matthew 3
Imagine what it must have been like for John the Baptist to see Jesus walking toward him asking to be baptized. John knew who Jesus was — the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance of sin, yet Jesus, who had never sinned, sought out John to baptize Him.
Why would Jesus take a step that clearly was not necessary? He told John that His baptism would “fulfill all righteousness.” He came to be baptized not because He needed to be, but to be obedient to His Father. After Jesus’s baptism, a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus’s act of obedience was pleasing to God the Father.
Baptism is a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. It is a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. And finally, it is an act of obedience, an opportunity for us to clearly follow Jesus's example.
If we are followers of Jesus Christ, what circumstance or excuse should keep us from following our Savior’s example? Jesus began His ministry on earth by coming to John to be baptized. Similarly, baptism should be our first step as His followers. Why wait any longer to take this important step?
- If you are a follower of Jesus and you have not been baptized since receiving Christ, what has been holding you back?
- If you have been baptized since your salvation, you have taken your first step, but there is always a next step as we walk with Jesus. What is your next step? What can you do today in order to take it?
Day 5 • Read Matthew 4
We’ve all been tempted. Sometimes it’s something small, like a delicious dessert when trying to lose weight. Other times it’s something big, like believing that God could not possibly love us or we’ve been too sinful for Him to care anymore. Lies and temptation have been coming our way since Satan convinced Adam and Eve that God was holding out on them, and they fell for it.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Our God knows we will be tempted, and God Himself will provide an escape plan. Matthew 4:1-11 tells the story of Jesus’ own temptation and how to defeat temptation as He did:
1. Temptation comes when we seem weak and defenseless, so be alert. (Matthew 4:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 12:10)
2. The scriptures are our weapons against temptation, so arm yourself. (Ephesians 6:17 and James 1:25)
3. God is faithful to protect us and provide for us so we can endure. (John 14:27 and Matthew 6:30)
If we give up and give in, temptation leads to sin (James 1:2-15). But this doesn't have to be the case! Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us and remind us whose we are (John 14:23-24). God is faithful to protect and provide an escape plan. The question is will we be faithful and take it?
- What are you most tempted by?
- Jesus was hungry, so Satan tempted Him with food. Satan knows our weaknesses, and like Jesus, we can defeat temptation by knowing God's promises.
Day 6 • Read Matthew 5
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus compares his followers to light, saying we "are the light of the world," unable to be hidden. No one puts a lamp under a bowl because a lamp is designed to help people see in dark places. Christ's words and actions showed the true nature of the world around Him. Christ-followers give light to those around them by doing and saying what Jesus did. By growing in relationship with Jesus every day, following Him step-by-step, we partner with Him in spreading the truth.
Another of Jesus's disciples, John, said it this way: "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:5-7).
Light cannot be anything other than what it is. It's bright; it dispels darkness; it enables people to see what they are doing. God is light, and since He sent His Holy Spirit to live inside believers, so are we. As his ambassadors on earth, we shine even when we don't know it.
Jesus told His followers to "let your light shine before others," calling them to live an active faith, not a passive one. Put your light on its stand. Your circumstances are an opportunity to shine brightly for the Lord and to share God's overcoming truth with those around you. Your family and community can tell what you believe by how you live.
- What situation are you in right now in which you have to exercise faith in God?
- How can you share your faith with others in the midst of your circumstances?=
Day 7 • Read Matthew 6
Worrying can be an everyday occurrence for some people. Sometimes it becomes such a normal part of life that it’s not even noticed. It becomes a piece of who they are. Many anxious people find themselves wishing to be more laid back, and they begin to think, "Okay, today I will not worry as much. Today I'm going to stop myself from worrying." But, the worrying doesn't stop. Instead, it becomes an even bigger mess of worrying about not worrying.
So, just how do we get rid of worry? Beginning in Matthew 6:25, Jesus talks specifically about worry. In fact, Jesus instructs us not to worry at all about anything. Such things even as simple as food and clothes worry us day-in and day-out. These worries are rooted in our doubt that Jesus will provide for us. Jesus says in verse 33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you." We must hold on to and trust in the promises of Jesus. He will provide.
The best way to begin not worrying should not begin with us; it begins with Jesus. We must look to Jesus and build a relationship with Him, and as His promises unfold before us, we will see His faithfulness. Then and only by Jesus, our worries will begin to fade.
- What is the one thing you spend most of your time worrying over? How can you begin to give control of that worry to Jesus?
- Do you fully trust God to provide for you? Why or why not?
- Is worrying keeping you from having a better relationship with Jesus? What can you do to worry less and trust God more?
Some of these devotionals were used with permission and courtesy of NewSpring Church, South Carolina.