the 28/14 challenge: day 4

Friday afternoon I had an opportunity to meet somebody for the first time.  He is of retirement age.  The best career he’s ever had is being a handyman.  He cannot read or write.  But…

…he’s brilliant.

This man has spent more time listening to the Bible than most have spent reading it.  He’s spent more years thinking through the hard questions in life than most people have spent in a church.  We talked about evolution. The Big Bang.  Jesus.  His death.  His resurrection.  Is the Bible reliable?  Why so many religions?  You name it, we talked about it.

The thing is, I know he’s not alone in having hard questions.  You probably have some yourself.  Maybe more than a few.

What’s fascinating is how many of these questions may be answered by diving into God’s Word.  Not all of your questions may be answered in one sitting.  But continued study will answer life’s most complicated questions.

This brings me back to the 28/14 study.  Today is day 4 of the 28/14 challenge.  And this challenge asks three of the most complex questions in life.

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who am I?
  3. What is God inviting me to do?

Here are some of the thoughts I have after reading Matthew 7-8 and answering these questions.

Who is God?

As seen earlier in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is Immanuel – God with us.  Therefore, we can learn a great deal about who God is from what Jesus has to say in these chapters.

God is a teacher – “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

God is a healer – Jesus heals a number of people in Matthew 7-8.  But one sticks out a bit more than the others (Matthew 8:5-12).  A Roman Centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant.  This is important because to the Jews, the Romans were the bad guys. The Jews were expecting a Messiah in the line of king David to free them from Roman rule!  And here’s Jesus, God in the flesh, telling the Roman Centurion – “I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!”  If that didn’t unsettle the crowd, I’m not sure what could!

God is (or at least was) homeless – “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)

When thinking about God, the first of these points makes a lot of sense.  But the other two?  Wow!  Those give a much different perspective on the character of God.

Who am I?

Jesus says, “Don’t judge others.” And…

“Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”  And…

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”  (Matthew 7:2, 3, 12).

I’m one who does the opposite of these things on a regular basis.

What is God inviting me to do?

God is inviting me to radically rethink my concept of who he is.  He’s inviting me to be a true disciple, all the while requirement me to rethink what true discipleship looks like (Matthew 7:21-23).  He’s inviting me to listen to his teaching (7:24) and continually be amazed by it (7:28).

How about you?  What are you learning about God?  Yourself?  And what he’s inviting you to do?

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This is day 4 in a series on the 28/14 Challenge.  I won’t post my thoughts each day of the challenge, but additional posts are provided at the links below.

The 28/14 Challenge: intro

The 28/14 Challenge: day 1 (Matthew 1-2)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 4 (Matthew 7-8)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 6 (Matthew 11-12)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 11 (Matthew 21-22)

 

Questions or comments?  Feel free to let me know in the comment section below.

the 28/14 challenge: day 1

Have you ever found it difficult to converse with someone you’re in conflict with?  Yeah, me too.

What’s interesting, however, is that God chooses to converse with us all the time.  And he chooses to do so in multiple ways. We simply have to provide a listening ear.

As I wrote about before, we’re beginning a new series this Sunday that focuses on The Scarlet Thread all throughout the scriptures.  And Genesis 3 paints a pretty stark picture.

Sin entered the world.

Sin carried down through every person.

Every person inherits conflict with God.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

But this ties in perfectly with the 28/14 challenge I presented yesterday as well.  It’s a great challenge, but while I know some of you may have agreed to the challenge, you’re unsure what answering these questions should look like?  Well, I’m certain it will look a little bit different for everybody.  But here’s a small sample of what I gleaned from day 1.

Reading: Matthew 1-2

Thoughts that entered my mind as I read:

  • Who in the world is Jahoiachin?  And does it really matter? (Matt. 1:11)
  • On a more serious note: There’s some text here about the Messiah. What exactly does that even mean?
  • I see several passages that say, “the prophet wrote…”.  Interesting.

And then I began to think through the three questions:

Who is God?

Jesus is called Immanuel, which means God with us.  So, God, the creator of everything decided to leave everything and be with us — the very people in conflict with him.  That’s pretty incredible.

I also note some things about how God has chosen to communicate with us who are in conflict with him.

  1. He gave us his word (the Bible) as one form of communication.
  2. He has spoken through the prophets (5 times in these two chapters, Matthew mentions something from a prophet being fulfilled in Jesus!)
  3. He even spoke to people through an angel!

Who am I?

Matthew 1-2 says nothing about me, personally.  Nothing at all.  But a couple of things still come to light.

  1. Despite being in conflict with him, he speaks to me (and with me).
  2. I’m guessing, just guessing God may be speaking in a variety of ways in order to show that he is trustworthy.

What is God inviting me to do?

Based on what I’ve read, he’s inviting me to trust him at his word.

Those are just a few of the thoughts I had from day 1.  I’m not planning to blog something all 14 days of this challenge, but I’m sure I’ll give some additional insights I’m learning sometime next week.  Until then:

You’ve now read Matthew 1-2.  What did you learn about God, yourself, and what God may be inviting you to do?  Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

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This is part two in a series on the 28/14 Challenge.  I won’t post my thoughts each day of the challenge, but additional posts are provided at the links below.

The 28/14 Challenge: day 1 (Matthew 1-2)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 4 (Matthew 7-8)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 6 (Matthew 11-12)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 11 (Matthew 21-22)

 

the 28/14 challenge:

It was colder than I wanted it to be this morning.  Much colder.  As I walked into McD’s to meet a group of friends one of them asked, “How are you doing?”  In one breath I said, “It’s a bit chilly this morning.”  In the next I ordered a large ICED coffee.  When will I learn?

But I’m not writing today to discuss the weather.  Not at all.

As I met with this group of friends one thing seemed apparent.  We all realized our lives are hectic.  We all realized our lives are complex.  We all realized we need to spend more time with God.

So, today I want to present you with a challenge.  It’s something that will better prepare you for your hectic life.  It’s something that will help you deal with the complexities in life.  It’s something that will help you spend more time with God.

Here’s the challenge: Over the next two weeks, read the gospel of Matthew.  That’s twenty-eight chapters in just fourteen days.  So let’s just call it the 28/14 challenge.  But this is only part of the challenge, there’s a little more to it.

Take the opportunity as you read a couple of chapters each day to ask yourself three important questions.  Answering these three questions will help the text sink in.  Answering these three questions will help you better know God and His will for your life.

  1. What does the text say about God?
  2. What does the text say about me?
  3. What is God inviting me to do?

That’s the 28/14 challenge.

Two chapters a day.

Three questions a day.

Fourteen days.

Will you join me in the challenge?

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This is part one in a series on the 28/14 Challenge.  I won’t post my thoughts each day of the challenge, but additional posts are provided at the links below.

The 28/14 Challenge: day 1 (Matthew 1-2)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 4 (Matthew 7-8)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 6 (Matthew 11-12)

The 28/14 Challenge: day 11 (Matthew 21-22)

Questions or comments?  Feel free to let me know in the comment section below.

the scarlet thread: part 1 (Genesis 3)

Hi, I’m Justin…one of the pastors here at South Ridge Church.  On a Sunday morning you’ll likely find me hiding in the A/V booth, or maybe on stage behind a guitar.  Or maybe looking for more coffee.   Mmmmmmmm coffee.

But I digress.

I’m beginning this little blog for a number of reasons.  One is that it gives me more of an opportunity to interact with you.  And you’re totally worth interacting with!  Another is that it gives you a little bit of insight into my life, as well as what’s happening here at South Ridge.

And just in case you didn’t know, we’re beginning a new series this week called “The Scarlet Thread”.  *you should have read that with a deep James Earl Jones voice*  — THE SCARLET THREAD

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this series for a lot of reasons.  But there’s one reason that stands above all others.

I hurt.

I hurt because I’ve lost family members I love.

I hurt because I’ve lost relationships with people I love.

I hurt because I’ve seen marriages fail for countless reasons.

I hurt.

And something tells me I’m not alone.  You may be hurting too.  You’re hurting but you’re afraid to tell your small group.  Why be vulnerable?  You’re hurting but you’re afraid to talk with your ministry leader.  Why be open?  You’re hurting but you’re afraid to tell your spouse.  Why be a burden?

It’s my hope that as we dive into this series you’re willing and able to wrestle through those hurts.  Confess them.  Pray for healing.

Now, you may be wondering, “What does this have to do with ‘The Scarlet Thread’?”  Good question.

This Sunday morning we’re beginning this series with a good look at Genesis 3.  Have you read Genesis 3 recently?  No?  Well, take a quick opportunity to do that.

Ever wonder why we experience suffering?  Ever wonder why we experience pain?  Ever wonder why we experience hurt?  Read Genesis 3.  The answers are right there.

But there’s something else that happens in Genesis 3.  Something you may miss the first time through.  It comes in Genesis 3:21.  Here’s what it says:

And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

Did you catch that?

No?

Right there is the first recorded sacrifice in history. Adam sinned.  Eve did, too.  And God himself provided a sacrifice.  The scarlet thread begins.  The story of Jesus begins.  Right there, in Genesis 3.

There’s much more to this story.  MUCH more.  But for now, take a short opportunity to think through the following:

  1. What hurts have you been experiencing?  What’s been holding you back from sharing them with others?
  2. What is one thing you learned from reading Genesis 3?
  3. Who are you going to share that with?

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Questions or comments?  Feel free to let me know in the comment section below.