Matthew 16:13-18 – He cares what you think

Matthew 16:13-18 – He cares what you think

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'”
– Matthew 16:13-18ESV

Here in Colorado, we’re pretty proud of our sports nation. Each season brings fans rolling out their color-combos depending on which major sports team is currently duking it out in the stadiums. Did you know we have a national AND major league lacross team? Yep! The Mammoth and the Outlaws! We can even get pretty passionate about our minor-league sports.

But there’s another competition that is sacred to many Coloradans: the Rocky Mountain Showdown. This is the rival game between the two major state schools in Colorado: the Colorado State University Rams and the University of Colorado Buffalo. Hailing from different championships, they meet for one rabid game a year, often at Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos.

At once such showdown, I attended with a large group of friends. As we were passing through the gates, each one of us had shoved into our hands some sort of paper advertising. I didn’t want it, but there was not a chance of beating my way back upstream to hand the paper back. So, at the next trashcan I saw, I quickly shoved it in (comeon, they didn’t have paper recycling at the stadium at the time). Almost immediately, I heard someone shout from behind, “Hey you! In the cowboy hat! Al Gore hates you!” Considering I was currently wearing the aforementioned hat, it was clear where the words were directed. For those wondering, this was shortly after Al Gore had released his controversial film An Inconvenient Truth on global warming.

I was devastated.

In this case, by devastated I mean laughing out loud. I can’t imagine caring less about what a complete stranger, wholly unconnected with me or my life, thinks of me. I still tell that story with laughter today.

And that’s just the thing. What a total stranger thinks of me meant nothing. But if someone I love were to hate me…well that would be something else. That would be something devastating…life defining…impossible to get over. To look a dear friend, loved family member in the eye…and to be told they hate me… That is no laughing matter.

So when Matthew records in chapter 16, verses 12-18 that Jesus is interested in what the disciples think of Him, we should sit up and pay attention. Remember, this is the same Jesus who, “was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:2-5ESV). All creation was made through Jesus. His words spiraled out the galaxies, ignited stars, covered the earth with land and water, sprouted flowers, spawned the creatures of the deep and the birds of the air, and scattered life across the earth. And in His arms was gathered the frame of man, into which He breathed His own life. The same life He would sacrifice on the cross, stained with our sin.

You see, this Creator God also calls us “child” throughout the Bible. This Creator God names us inheritors of all He has made. This Creator God granted us His authority to work on earth in His name.

And this God cares what we think of Him..the beings He wove from dirt.

In fact… letting us know Him for Who He really is…that’s everything to Him. To that end He has dedicated His every act in our world, from the very beginning.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1NIV

  1. Think of the people you love the most. What would it be like to discover they actually hated you?
  2. How does it impact your perspective to think about this all-powerful Jesus caring what you think of Him?
  3. Knowing how much Jesus cares about what we think about Him, how do you think it impacts Him to see people lose faith in Him or not believe in Him?
  4. Challenge for the Week: We have a lot of ideas about who Jesus is, and not all of them are actually based in the Bible! Commit to reading through the entire book of John over the month of February and March. Make note of all the things you can know about Jesus from this Gospel account.

Luke 24:36-49 – Hardship & Purpose

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.'” – Luke 24:36-49ESV

When you’ve grown up in the United States, it can be difficult to tell what you really need. In a culture where obesity is more a problem than starvation, when the first time you experience death is often saying goodbye to Grandma or Grandpa in the hospital, when it’s shocking a house or apartment doesn’t have central heat and air conditioning, when owning a car is more of an expectation than a luxury…our sense of what’s really needed in life tends to a get a little skewed.

Our list of needs tends to look more like a list of desires…things that are wonderful to have and certainly make life better, but not things we cannot live life without. It might look like a newer laptop or smartphone to make work easier, or almond milk for our speciality coffee because we found out we’re lactose intolerant. Whatever is on our “needs” list, they’re certainly only positive things.

But what if sometimes, what we really need is something that looks like a lot like disaster from the outside. What if sometimes…the worst thing we can imagine happening to us is actually what we need to become all we are capable of being? What if sometimes, our hardships are the key to the meaning-infused lives we long for?

 

When the Jesus comes to the disciples in Luke 24, they are hiding in fear for their lives from the Jewish authorities. They had just watched the man they loved and followed for over three years be brutally abused and murdered. They believe the one they thought was their savior is dead and lost forever. Though they have seen an empty tomb and heard the testimony of women that Jesus is alive, they haven’t seen Him with their own eyes and can’t dare to believe good can come from all the horror they’ve been witness to the last three days. They’ve thrown their lives away. Everything has come to disaster.

In the midst of their despair, Jesus appears, and He says something interesting, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:46-48). In other words, the disciples had been allowed to go through what they had in the last few days, in order to make them witnesses. In fact, it was critical for what came next: the call to bring the message of salvation to the rest of the world.

It is the cause to which the disciples gave the rest of their lives. It was the cause they felt so strongly for that of the eleven disciples remaining at the resurrection, ten would die as martyrs and the eleventh (John) would die in exile on the island of Patmos (a prison island). The hardship they endured made them capable of enduring the journey ahead, a journey they were willing to die for.

In other words, the horror and hardship they experienced at Jesus’ death was the very thing they needed to become brave, courageous, determined voices for the truth no matter the consequences.

In our lives as believers, we will experience hardship. Sometimes hardship that is hard to imagine anyone enduring through. As long as sin and death are in the world, as long as Satan attempts to war against God, we will suffer. But our very hardships, endured through the love and presence of Jesus, can make us into the very people we long to be: courageous, determined voices of truth and love to a broken world.

  1. Think of a hardship you experienced when you were younger. What was that experience?
  2. Looking back at that experience now, can you see any good that came out of that experience that you’re not sure would have happened otherwise?
  3. Think of a current hardship you are experiencing. How would it help you endure this situation if you could see how God might use it for good in your life?
  4. Challenge for the week: Write down a current hardship you are going through. Really analyze it and try to look at it with “outside” perspective. Ask God to show you how to grow positively from this experience and pay attention for His guidance in the days ahead.

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 – We Can’t Handle It

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-11ESV

Have you ever heard the saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle”? If you’re like me, you’ve heard it more times than you can count. A lot of people believe this is actually a quote from the Bible, and it’s often stated in the face of horrific, challenging circumstances that seem insurmountable, intended as a word of comfort to “bolster” us against the hardship.

The problem with this statement is life will absolutely give you more than you can endure. Someday you will find yourself like Job in Job 16, sitting in the ashes of your life. There will be no easy out, no escape route from the agony, just the inevitable struggle stretching ahead of you to the horizon. If in that moment, all we have is “God will never give you more than you can handle”…what hopeless despair is our only gift from God! What rage would rise up in you to hollow you out inside and leave you empty! If that statement is true, God has burned our world down around us and left us up to our necks in the ashes of what we once loved intentionally. He destroys us and demands we handle the fallout alone. What a callous judge!

Imagine being the parent of one of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Imagine finding out it was your child the gunman found; it is your precious youngster, whom you still remember reaching out to you with sparkling eyes and a big smile as they stumble through their first steps, who will never come to your arms again. Imagine the heart-rending agony…and in the face of this statement you understand the God of the Universe conspired to murder your child and expects you to drag yourself from the cesspool of loss by your own sweat and labor. Such a God stands back from our spinning, blue globe and strikes us down, then with crossed arms observes us struggle through with judgement in a heart that feels no compassion.

Praise be to God this is not the God of the Bible. Christian…this is not the God we follow. This statement never appears in the Bible, either directly or through inference. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, our God is exactly the opposite of this smiting, demanding, disappointed, cosmic parent. Our God is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4a).

When our world burns down around us, our mighty God isn’t the one holding the match and gas can, nor looking at us in frowning expectation this is “within our grasp” to handle. Our God, rather, enters into the pain with us. He suffers with us. He sends His people, His Church, as His arms of love and support as we experience a snapshot of Hell on earth (2 Corinthians 1:4). He knows we cannot handle the agony of this life alone, nor are we designed to (Genesis 2:18). Fall into the arms of the Creating, Father God we worship. Lean on His strength. He is the “God, who raises the dead”. His nail-scarred hands are there, no matter what, not to deliver affliction…but to carry us through it.

  1. Have you ever been told “God will never give you more than you can handle”? How did you feel when you were told that?
  2. Why do you think so many people think this phrase is in the Bible, when it’s easy to discover it is not?
  3. What difference would it make in a difficult situation to know God is there through it?
  4. Challenge for the week: we all have at least one friend or loved one going through hardship. How can you be the “comfort of God” to that person this week?

Luke 13:1-9 – The Patient God

“About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. ‘Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?’Jesus asked. ‘Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.’ Then Jesus told this story: ‘A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘”I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.” The gardener answered, “Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.”‘” – Luke 13:1-9NLT

When my parents bought the house they live in now, I was five years old. There were maybe ten trees on their property in rural Colorado, part of the fence was falling down, years of junk and old branches were piled in the pasture, there was almost no living lawn left, and there were years of cigarette stains on the walls and in the carpet. My parents certainly bought into a lot of work, and while some buy fix-up properties and pay others to transform them into dreams come true shortly afterward, that wasn’t an option for my family.

Instead, my dad made something that became notorious in my family… “the List”. I don’t know if it ever actually existed in a written-down form or if it was merely in my dad’s head, but we referred to “the List” with the same familiarity of having written copies. This list detailed all the things my dad wanted to do or dreamed to do to transform our home into what he knew it could be. It was a vision, a goal of what our home could be like that we all patiently worked toward year after year.

Motivated by his vision, we planted hundreds of trees (and hand-watered them for years until he got drip irrigation!), cleaned out the pasture, repaired the fences, replanted and sodded the lawn, painted the house (inside and out), remodeled the bathrooms and kitchens…”the List” goes on. Even today, my dad still has more he wants to do, dedicatedly continuing the process of transformation to make his home something wonderful. From those first days, he saw what could be in our little home…and he had the patience to take years to make it a reality.

If only we had so much patience for ourselves…for one another. When it comes to our own growth or the growth of people around us as believers, we tend to have less patience. It’s almost as though we view God as this angry, ominous figure, either sitting off in the distance looking down at us with disappointment, or looming over us, ready to send his cosmic fist down through the atmosphere to pile-drive us into oblivion. We tend to view Him as only a “righteous judge”, keeping tally of how well we are avoiding (or at least hiding) our sin and being “good Christians.”

You may protest, that you know God doesn’t judge us by our sins but by the love of Jesus, who died and rose from the dead. I won’t argue that you know it, but rather…that we so often effectively live as though God is angry with us or about to be. We look at suffering in our life, or in our world, and we say, “God is punishing us.”

But in the end of Luke 13:1-9, Jesus tells an entirely different narrative about who God is. In this parable, God the Father is the owner of the garden, we are the tree, and Jesus is the gardener. Like the tree, we are nurtured in the shelter of God’s garden. Yes, there are storms in our lives, just like weather can come to a garden, but unlike wild trees, gardened trees are nurtured and giving nutrients to make it easier for them to grow. They are protected from people who might try to cut them down. The gardener and owner pay attention to the needs of the tree of a garden.

Now this particular tree (a fig) is three years old by the time the owner of the garden is frustrated that, after years of work and gentle care, the tree still shows no sign of the care it has received in fruit on its branches. Not even a single fig! It should be noted most fig trees begin fruiting in their second year, so the owner has already given this tree an extra year to fruit when he goes to the gardener to cut it down. Even then, the tree receives even more patience, for the gardener (like Jesus for us), intervenes with the owner to give the slow-growing fig tree another year. Not only that, he promises to give the fig tree even MORE attentive care to try and bring it to fruit. And fig trees need a lot of care. If they grow too fast, they can also split, killing the tree.

We do not have an angry God-in-the-sky looking down at us, disappointed we aren’t better people, punishing us for failing to live up to perfection. We have a patient God, who spends each day with us, eager to see us grow and bear fruit and willing to do the work to help us get there. Yes, He wants our lives to reflect the loving, caring relationship He has with us. He wants our lives to show the fruit of knowing Him, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22&23). But this fruit doesn’t come from us “being perfect” to avoid God’s wrath. This fruit comes from a God who comes “again and again to see if there [is] any fruit” and gives us “special attention and plenty of fertilizer”. In other words, transformation is a gift we receive as we know and walk with the Master of the Garden, the Savior of our souls.

  1. Look at Galatians 5:22&23. Have you ever tried to be more of one of these characteristics? How successful were you?
  2. Have you ever wondered if God is punishing you for something you’ve done wrong? How did that impact your relationship with God?
  3. If a changed life comes from increasing intimacy with Jesus, where do you think you could make more time to connect with Jesus in your daily life?
  4. Challenge for the week: whenever you get in the car to go somewhere this week, spend part of the drive talking to Jesus as though you were talking to your best friend about what’s going on in your life.

Mark 13:24-37 – Peace in Turmoil

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” – Mark 13:24-37ESV

In our interconnected world, news from across the ocean is before our eyes within moments. A natural disaster in South Asia can be captured on a smart phone and accessible online the minute it happens. While this instant access certainly allows for a plethora of cute cat videos and videos of incredible feats of human ability, it also means we are inundated with immediate notifications of everything going wrong in our world, so much so it feels like our society is tearing apart at the seams.

In the last year, we have faced accounts of husbands murdering their families before completing suicide, people shot to death at concerts or as they worshipped on a Sunday morning, teenagers murdering one another in school or with their words online, dictators in North Korea threatening nuclear war, men in authority using their power to abuse women, children trafficked into sexual slavery, and at every turn… political stances polarizing our nation, dividing us along lines of hate so entrenched they offer no chance for thoughtful, loving hands to join across party lines.

Focused on this world, our fixated eyes tell us to despair. In fact, I learned at the Future of the Church Summit this year the human brain cannot distinguish between threats across the world or right in your community. It’s no wonder our daily lives are filled with anxiety, depression, anger, pain, confusion, grief, and fear. The world looks like it is crashing down around us.

Leading up to Mark 13:24-37, Jesus is sitting on the Mount of Olives, outside Jerusalem, explaining to His disciples what the signs of the end of time will be. He tells them there will be:

  • wars and rumors of war,
  • people claiming to be God,
  • earthquakes,
  • famines,
  • persecution of Christians,
  • families betraying one another to death,
  • false prophets who perform miracles,
  • and stranger natural phenomenon.

As you read this list, it’s tempting to believe Jesus’ return must be imminent. Yet Jesus clearly states in verse 32, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” In fact, a cursory perusal of history will tell you all these signs have been tearing our world apart since Jesus ascended into Heaven before the disciples’ wondering eyes. Shortly after His ascension, Emperor Nero of Rome would be impaling Christians and burning them alive. Ethnic cleansing and widespread wars were a staple of the ancient world. Forty years after Jesus’ ascension, Mount Vesuvius would bury Pompeii, becoming one of the worst volcanic eruptions in European history. It would not be the last. World history is speckled with people who have claimed to speak for God or be Him, only to be proven liars. World hunger has been a known issue for centuries.

Why was Jesus so specific and yet so unclear?

Perhaps because He wanted our eyes fixed, not on the despair of this world, but on His face. The promises of verses 26 & 27 were what He really wanted us to remember: “and then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

Our world is a mess. It has been since Adam and Eve, duped by Satan, bit deep into the fruit of sin and in so doing shrouded our world in death. It will be until this promise is fulfilled.

But this promise will be fulfilled.

In an act of eternal compassion, Jesus ensured we knew He would be back, promising in verse 31, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” This broken world will never be the final story. We don’t need to worry about how He will resolve all the pain we see… because the hands which created the universe, the same hands which bore the nails at Mount Calvary, offer us a place to rest, no matter what comes.

  1. What issues in our world trouble you the most right now?
  2. What fears do you have for the future?
  3. Read Psalm 139:1-16. How does this passage offer you comfort in the midst of your fear?
  4. Challenge for the week: write a prayer to God about your fears on an index card or sticky note. Try to make it 100% genuine. Don’t try to pretty it up but be honest with the God who already knows you inside and out. Put the note someplace you will see it every day and talk to God about it daily.

Matthew 6:25-33 – God’s Character

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:25-33ESV

I was a horse girl growing up. Some girls liked dolls or makeup or playing dress-up… but for me, it was all about horses all the time. Naturally, the majority of my toys were plastic horses, and there aren’t enough pages to record all the stories I wove out of their flashing hooves and flowing manes. At one time, I think I remember counting around 250 horses of varying sizes and colors stashed in my closet (the “barn”).

Inevitably, in these valiant horse-stories, there were also casualties. Sparring stallions sometimes broke legs. A foal slipping from careless fingers would lose an ear. My favorite toy horse (a black stallion named Spark) even had two broken legs. My horses were well-loved, thoroughly played-with, and they showed it. Broken legs, in particular, were a cause for tears. How can a horse with broken legs roam free?

But I always knew where to take my anxiousness. His oversized coffee-cup proudly proclaimed him “Mr. Fix-It”…and in my world he was better known as “Dad”. I knew if anyone could fix my horses, he could. I also completely trusted him to never turn me away. He never had before, and even if it took a long time, I knew my horses were well-cared-for in his hands.

In Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus tells us “do not be anxious about your life.” It is easy to get caught on these words and frame the rest of what He says in the context of an impossible command. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with anxiety constantly. I am uncomfortably familiar with the knotting stomached, pounding-hearted, sleepless nights that leave you feeling exhausted and even more worried the next day. Viewing this passage only as a command would easily leave me anxious about trying not to be anxious.

But to stop at “Do not be anxious” would be to miss the life-giving truth Jesus points us to over and over again throughout this passage:

  • verse 26 – “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Emphasis mine).
  • verse 30 – “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you…” (Emphasis mine).
  • verses 31 & 32b – “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Emphasis mine).

Jesus is reminding us not to be anxious because we don’t need to. I didn’t need to be anxious about my horses’ broken pieces because I knew the character of my father. He loved me and wanted to help me. In his hands, I knew my horses would be fixed.

We don’t need to be anxious our lives because we can trust in the character of our God, who…

  • is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13),
  • is patient (2 Peter 3:9),
  • created all things (Genesis 1:1),
  • is more powerful than anyone on earth (Isaiah 40:23),
  • provides all good things (James 1:17),
  • sacrificed His only son to save us (John 3:16),
  • keeps promises (Numbers 23:19),
  • is perfect (Psalm 18:30),
  • is compassionate, gracious, and righteous (Psalm 116:5),
  • and even more!

Compared to our anxiety, our God is far more mighty and able to handle what we cannot control. The creator of the universe, in the midst of your anxiety, taps you on the shoulder and reminds you “Look at me. Remember me.” He whispers quietly in your ear “I am with you always, to the end” (Matthew 28:20b).

 

  1. What are the things causing you anxiety right now? It may be helpful to list them out.
  2. Search for a list of bible verses about the character of God online. How do the characteristics of God speak to your list of anxieties?
  3. When anxiety is ruling you, how does that impact your decision making?
  4. Challenge for this week: using the bible verses you found about God’s character, pick one characteristic that really spoke to you and spend a little time each day reading Bible passages that explore this characteristic of God.

Matthew 20:25-28 – Kingdom Culture

“But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'” – Matthew 20:25-28ESV

I grew up in rural Colorado, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. When sunset would come, I remember running outside to climb the fence and then up onto the roof of the chicken shed. I would sit there, knees tucked up, watching the sun set fire to snow-capped peaks and blue hills. The whole world seemed to still, gaping in wonder at the shouted evidence of God’s creativity and love of beauty. I made up a thousand songs of worship above the sleeping chickens; I cried out the glory of God as fire faded to twilight, a yellow line along navy peaks as the stars began to flare to life out of the veil above me. When I finally climbed back to earth, I carried with me a stillness…a quietness… I knew I had just sat in a privileged seat to watch God at play. It was as though Jesus and I sat for a moment to enjoy wonder together.

In John 1, we learn Continue reading