Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 137/260: Read Matthew 12

Are you with Jesus? Think carefully before answering that question. What does it mean to be with Jesus? He says, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

We cannot apologize for the truth, nor can we compromise it. Everything Jesus said is the standard by which we will be judged (John 12:48), not just the parts we like or the statements we agree with. We may live a mostly good, moral life, but if we do not fully submit to Him, we are not with Him. What does He say? “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”

Think about the church with which you worship. Is it gathering people to Christ, or to a doctrine that is not revealed in the Scripture? Or perhaps to a partial truth? There are some good things being taught in every denomination, but denominations lack “the whole counsel of God.” They may be adding to the revealed Word, or they may be ignoring parts of it. Neither practice is acceptable.

Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Have you confessed that belief before men? Have you repented of your sins? Have you been immersed to have your sins washed away? Does the church you attend teach those things as necessary? Or is it scattering abroad?

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

Matthew 12:36. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”

Pray

Pray for God’s continual guidance as you search the Scriptures for the truth.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 136/260: Read Matthew 11

Do the toils of life ever get you down? Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Life can be difficult, but we can enjoy peace and hope and rest in Christ. He gives comfort and strength to get us through our struggles.

Notice, however, that it is not rest in this life that Jesus promises. Indeed, those who serve God will find themselves working harder than ever before. The promised rest is “for your souls.” It is an eternal rest from our labors. Work here, and rest forevermore.

There are too many on this side of eternity that want to be Christians in name only – that is, they don’t actually want to live like Christ lived. They want all the blessings and benefits that come with being a child of God, but do not want to put forth any effort in strengthening His kingdom, His church.

Jesus promises rest to those who work. Those who do not work cannot have any expectation of rest founded in the Scriptures. We must serve the Lord daily and sacrificially.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). If you expect rest then, you must work now.

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

Matthew 12:36. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”

Pray

Pray for opportunities to do the work of the Lord.

Are You Listening To Jesus? (Luke 9:28-36)

Transfiguration Luke 9:28-36

Luke 9:28-36

I. The participants

    A. Moses [“the Law”] and Elijah [“the Prophets”] (Luke 9:30; cf. Matthew 7:12; 22:37-39; Luke 16:16; Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:44)
    B. The topic: “His decease” [Greek exodos] (Luke 9:31; Hebrews 2:14-15)

II. The disciples’ reaction

    A. They woke up! (Luke 9:32)
    B. Peter had good intentions, but didn’t think through to the consequences of his suggestion (Luke 9:33)

III. The command of God

    A. The cloud (Luke 9:34; cf. Exodus 14:19; 1 Kings 8:10-11)
    B. “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Luke 9:35)

      1. God spoke from heaven on other occasions (Luke 3:22; John 12:28-30)
      2. Final authority rests with Jesus (John 12:48; Matthew 7:24-27; 28:18; Ephesians 1:22-23)

The Blessing of Compassion (Psalm 41)

Psalm 41

I. The Lord’s view of the compassionate

    A. Repay the mercy that was shown to you (Psalm 41:1a)
    B. Six manifestations of the Lord’s mercy (Psalm 41:1b-3)

II. Enemies will mistreat you

    A. A penitent prayer for mercy (Psalm 41:4)
    B. Our enemy’s unwillingness to forgive (Psalm 41:5-8)
    C. A betrayal of close friends (Psalm 41:9; cf. 2 Samuel 15:1-12; John 13:18)

III. Men can be fickle, but God is faithful

    A. God’s justice will be served (Psalm 41:10-11)
    B. Integrity based on repentance (Psalm 41:12)
    C. Praise the One who shows compassion on His creation (Psalm 41:13)

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 135/260: Read Matthew 10

Context is vitally important when studying the Scriptures. When considering the context of a passage, you must ask, “Who is being addressed?” God was talking to Noah when he said to build an ark. That command does not apply to us. Likewise, Jesus said some things to His apostles that do not apply to us today.

The Lord said to the apostles, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” The apostles were inspired to say what they said.

That does not apply to us. We must be diligent in our study to be sure that what we say lines up with the revealed will of God. He is not going to whisper in our ear and tell us what to say. We must prepare ourselves to tell the good news by feasting on the Word.

Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If God still spoke directly to man today, there would be no need for the inspired Word; there would be no need to study at all.

Remember context, and prepare yourself to teach others.

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for wisdom and discernment when studying the Word.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 134/260: Read Matthew 9

Don’t you just love talking about yourself? When you tell stories about things that happened in your life, you load those stories up with details, don’t you? And you always make sure to include details that make you look especially good.

That’s not how Matthew went about it. When Matthew wrote his account of the gospel, his focus was on Jesus, not on himself. Consider the incident related in this chapter of Matthew’s call to follow the Lord. Now read Luke’s account of the same incident in Luke 5:27-31. Keep in mind that “Matthew” and “Levi” are the same person. Do you notice any differences?

Based on Matthew’s account, what happened when Jesus said, “Follow Me”? Matthew says that “he arose and followed Him.” Pretty straight-forward, isn’t it? But Luke adds one other detail, saying that the tax collector “left all.” He made a great personal sacrifice in his decision to follow Jesus, but Matthew didn’t want to brag on himself.

Look at Matthew’s account again. Whose house did they eat in? He doesn’t reveal that information, does he? But Luke does! “Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house” (Luke 5:29). Matthew did not mention that it was his house; he humbly left himself out, wanting the focus to be on Jesus.

Where is the focus of our story? Let’s give Jesus the position He deserves—front and center. Put Him in the spotlight, and let us stand in the shadows. It’s not about us. It’s about Him.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will ____________ it, and he who loses his life for My sake will ____________ it.

Pray

Pray for humility when spreading the gospel.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 133/260: Read Matthew 8

Living the Christian life is not an easy task. Following Jesus does not guarantee wealth or safety. A scribe came to the Master and said he would follow wherever Jesus went, but Jesus warned, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” You will face difficult situations in this world if you follow Jesus.

One of the Lord’s disciples said that he would not be free to follow Jesus until after his father had passed away. “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus rebuked the man’s procrastination. Following Jesus is an urgent matter and may require us to sacrifice personal matters. “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Again, living the Christian life is not an easy task.

Matthew relates the incident on the tempestuous sea. The disciples were freaking out, but the Savior was asleep. They frantically woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

Sometimes it may feel like we are perishing, crushed under a load of worry and care in this life. Stress pushes us to what we think is our breaking point. But Jesus says, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

Jesus is able to calm whatever storm you are facing. You will face difficulties every day, but Jesus is right by your side. Focus on Him. Focus on the faith. Be at peace knowing that you have a powerful friend named Jesus.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Matthew 10:39. He who ____________ his life will lose it, and he who ____________ his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for peace in your life’s situations, focusing on Christ.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 132/260: Read Matthew 7

What is your reaction to the teachings of Jesus? Do you read an incident from His life, read what He said, and think, “That was a nice story”? Perhaps you are drawn to His love and grace, or perhaps to His compassion and humility. And certainly, those are excellent qualities that we should all strive to emulate. But do you dig in to the actual words He said? The demands that He makes on His followers?

In the first century, when people heard this Man teach, they were “astonished.” The things He taught were so radical when compared to what the religious elite taught that it blew their minds. He wasn’t just reading from the Old Law, but He was applying the principles of God to the life of individuals. The gospel writers said that “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Do we read the words that Jesus said and apply it to ourselves, or do we think they were meant only for the other guy? Do we honestly compare the way we live and interact with the folks around us to the way Jesus said we should live and interact with them?

If we hear and do the sayings of Jesus, He will call us wise. Our spiritual foundation will be built upon the rock of truth. Sadly, there are many who hear but fail to apply the Lord’s saying. Christ says such are foolish. Are you wish or foolish?

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for a greater desire to live as Jesus taught we should live.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 131/260: Read Matthew 6

Motivations are important, aren’t they? In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks a lot about motivations. In the sixth chapter, He tells His followers that if their motivations are not proper, their reward will be non-existent.

You want to do good by giving to charity? Don’t seek praise for doing it. You want to pray to God? Don’t do it so everyone else can hear you. You want to fast? Don’t make a show of it. If you do these things to glorify God, that’s good; if you do these things to receive the praise of men and to show how holy you are, then that is all you will get out of it. God will not reward you because your motivations are misguided.

A lot of people are motivated by money. Paul warns against the love of money, calling it “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warns against making money a priority in one’s life.

Yes, we need money to live, to provide shelter and food for our families, and God approves of such proper use of money. But there is a warning against hoarding riches. Jesus says that we must focus on spiritual treasures rather than earthly treasures, and promises that God will take care of His faithful children.

The bottom line is this: be motivated by God; be motivated by eternity. Don’t worry about the things of this life to the point that you take your eyes off Jesus.

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for a sharper focus on the things of God.

The Christ and His Kingdom (Luke 9:18-27)

The Christ and His Kingdom

Luke 9:18-27

I. Who is Jesus? (Luke 9:18-20)

    A. John the Baptist declared Jesus’ divinity (John 1:29-30)
    B. His enemies spread lies
    C. His admirers stopped believing He was the Messiah, but still held Him in high regard (Luke 9:7-8, 18-19)
    D. His apostles declared “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20)

II. Predicting His death and resurrection (Luke 9:21-22)

    A. A warning to tell no one (Luke 9:21)
    B. The apostles’ reaction (Matthew 16:22-23; Isaiah 55:8-9)

III. Submission to God’s will (Luke 9:23-26)

    A. Desire, denial, and daily walking required (Luke 9:23-24)
    B. Nothing in this world is worth losing one’s soul (Luke 9:25-26)

IV. The kingdom (Luke 9:27)

    A. The kingdom is not still-future-to-us (Acts 2)
    B. Premillennialism is a false doctrine

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)