Write it Out

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Take some time today to journal and reflect on the following questions:

In what ways have you seen God at work within you this week? Within your family? Within others you may interact with? 

In what ways have you resisted God’s word within you this week? 

Take a Step: Remember to continue utilizing the One Minute Pause app throughout the week. If possible, begin to explore and practice the 3, 5 or 10 minute pause to more deeply root yourself in Christ.

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Teaching About Worry

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Matthew 6:25 That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

If somebody asked you what commandment Jesus said most often, what would you say? Some may say, “Love your neighbor,” or “Love one another.” But this wasn’t the commandment Jesus said most often. Others may guess something like, “Do not sin,” but this wasn’t at the top of Jesus’ list either. (In fact, this may be one of the least spoken commandments throughout Jesus’ ministry.) 

You may be surprised to know that the one commandment Jesus said most often is, “Be not afraid,” or “Do not worry.” There are likely a number of reasons for this. One reason is that, at best, fear leads to discontentment and a lack of peace. 

Another reason is that, at its worst, fear leads to evil thoughts or actions. As 1 John 4:18 says, there is no fear in love. The principle here is this: The opposite of love may not be hate. Instead, the opposite of love may very well be fear

READING & PRAYERS:

     MATTHEW 6:25-34, 1 JOHN 4:16-18

QUESTION: Why do you think Jesus felt the need to teach, “Be not afraid,” or “Do not worry,” as regularly as He did?

QUESTION: In what areas of your life do you need to hear those words today? Be specific. 

Take a Step: Remember to continue utilizing the One Minute Pause app throughout the week. If possible, begin to explore and practice the 3, 5 or 10 minute pause to more deeply root yourself in Christ.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I recognize that our culture often communicates a definition of fear that may be different from the Scriptures. To us, fear may lead to hiding in a closet or being scared during a movie. To You, simply worrying too much about what we will eat or wear is to be afraid. This indicates there may be a lot of other things that bring fear into my life I may not be aware of. Today, help me to become keenly aware of any unconscious fears I may have. Bring them into the light and root them out so I can experience real peace and contentment. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Teaching About Money and Possessions

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Matthew 6:19-21 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth… Store your treasures in heaven…Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

There are some who believe the Scriptures teach that money is evil. But this is false. All throughout the Scriptures there are passages about the love of money, but money itself is amoral. It is neither good nor bad. 

Unfortunately, we continue to live in a world that speaks of the need to be successful. Money is important. Power is important. Prestige is important. What you know may be of some importance, but who you know is of even greater importance. These messages are communicated to us every hour of every day. As such, we are regularly tempted to strive for more. 

But living like Jesus is to not allow a craving for money or power or success to impact our lives. Living like Jesus is to recognize that we don’t need a bunch of possessions. Possessing His love is the only real possession we ever need. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     MATTHEW 6:19-24

QUESTION: What is something you have purchased in the past week that you didn’t really need? What made you want to possess it? 

QUESTION: How do you currently distinguish between purchasing things that are truly needed, things that may be helpful, or things that you just want? 

Take a Step: Remember to continue utilizing the One Minute Pause app throughout the week. If possible, begin to explore and practice the 3, 5 or 10 minute pause to more deeply root yourself in Christ.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today I confess that even though I may not have the strongest desire to be successful or to have a lot of power or prestige, I still like…stuff. I find myself wanting to possess something I don’t currently own, as if having it will somehow bring happiness or joy to my life. Today’s reading has been an excellent reminder that the only real possession I need is Your love. Help me rest in this truth today. Amen. 

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Teaching About Giving and Fasting

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Matthew 6:3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Imagine for a moment that a Fortune 500 company gives a large “donation” to a non-profit organization. Not because they value the organization or its goals, but because they want to have a tax write-off.  

This is the kind of situation Jesus is teaching against during this passage. The main teaching isn’t just about giving in secret, but includes giving for the sake of giving, not because of something you’ll get as a reward. 

People today give of their money, time, and other forms of generosity for many reasons. Some may do it for a tax write-off. Some may do it because they want others to see them and think well of them. But then there are those who give of their time, energy, and talents simply to contribute something good to another in need. Living like Jesus is to live in this way: giving sacrificially without any desire for recognition or accolades.

READING & PRAYERS:

     MATTHEW 6:1-4, 6:16-18

QUESTION: Think of a time when you were in need (physically, emotionally, or financially) and somebody gave you what you most needed in that moment without any expectations for the favor to be returned. What was that experience like for you? 

QUESTION: Who is somebody you know (or perhaps, somebody you don’t know) who may be in need of some help today? What may you be able to contribute toward their need? 

Take a Step: Remember to continue utilizing the One Minute Pause app throughout the week. If possible, begin to explore and practice the 3, 5 or 10 minute pause to more deeply root yourself in Christ.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I don’t generally feel like I give a tithe or offering or any other gift with a heart of wanting to be seen by others, but I recognize I can still grow in having a desire to serve others who may be in need. Continue to strengthen my heart to be more like Yours. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Teaching About Prayer

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Matthew 6:7-9 ““When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do…Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this…”

Other than John 3:16, The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 may be the most regularly recited Scripture passage in the world. All in all, there are five major categories mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer. These include (1) praising God, (2) praying to experience life in His kingdom, (3) praying for our daily needs, (4) praying for forgiveness, and (5) praying for help in our daily struggles with temptation.

These categories are revealing for a couple of reasons. First, they reveal our need to seek the Kingdom of God above all else, which is a theme Jesus will teach on shortly afterward (Matthew 6:33). Second, these themes reveal we must have an absolute and total dependency on God for everything in life. As a child climbs into the lap of a parent because they are dependent upon their parent for everything, we too climb into the lap of our Heavenly Father, resting in His provision. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     MATTHEW 6:5-15

QUESTION: How regularly do your prayers include each of the five major categories mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer? 

QUESTION: What are some steps you can take to make your prayer life a more intimate time with your Heavenly Father? 

Take a Step: This week, continue to utilize the One Minute Pause app at least twice daily to begin practicing being with God and resting in His presence. The app is free, and is available on iPhone and Android devices. See pauseapp.com for details.

PRAYER: Today, take the opportunity to write out your own prayer to God. 

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Write it Out

(Begin with 1-2 minutes of silence)

Take some time today to journal and reflect on the following questions:

In what ways have you seen God at work within you this week? Within your family? Within others you may interact with? 

In what ways have you resisted God’s word within you this week? 

Take a Step: Remember to continue utilizing the One Minute Pause app throughout the week. If possible, begin to explore and practice the 3, 5 or 10 minute pause to more deeply root yourself in Christ.

(End with 1-2 minutes of silence)

Love Your Enemies

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Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”

Some may read this passage and immediately think of somebody who really qualifies as an enemy. But others may read this passage and struggle a bit. They may wonder, I disagree with this person, but I’m not sure I would consider them an enemy.

In his book Everybody Always, Bob Goff writes, “I think Jesus meant something different when He said ‘enemies.’ He meant we should love the people we don’t understand. The ones we disagree with. The ones who are flat wrong about more than a couple of things.”

This mixes up the passage a bit, doesn’t it? It indicates that Jesus is saying, “Love — I mean really love those who think differently than you. Those who look, live, behave, and vote differently. Those who have a different perspective on something you care deeply about. Don’t talk negatively about them when they’re not around. Love them and pray for them.

READING & PRAYERS:

     MATTHEW 5:38-48, LUKE 6:37-42

QUESTION: Who is somebody you don’t understand, disagree with, or is flat wrong about more than a couple of things? What can you do to love them and pray for them today? Be specific. 

Take a Step: Remember to continue utilizing the One Minute Pause app throughout the week. If possible, begin to explore and practice the 3, 5 or 10 minute pause to more deeply root yourself in Christ.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess that today’s reading is difficult because I can think of many people who I disagree with or who are flat wrong about more than a couple of things. Continue to help me be more like Jesus. He lived with and loved those who were very, very different from Himself. Not only that, he invited them to the dinner table, a sign of true friendship. Help me become somebody who loves those different from myself, and lead me in Your ways so that I seek to experience true friendship with them as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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The Purpose of the Law

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Matthew 5:17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”

In the Old Testament, there were times when the people of God thought things like, “We’re the best! God is on our side!”It was essentially their way of saying, “God chose us, so we must be better than those other people over there.” 

Hundreds and hundreds of years in the future, this idea still existed in the minds of some of God’s people. Some believed that because God had given them the Old Testament law, they must be better than others. Similarly, they believed that if they could live out those laws well enough, God would love them and bless them even more.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus countered this belief within God’s people. Jesus came to demonstrate that the purpose of God’s laws was to get His people to trust and follow Him. The law wasn’t to provide rules and regulations to earn God’s love. It was provided to draw people closer to Him, to experience His love, and then reflect it upon others.

READING & PRAYERS:

     MATTHEW 5:17-37

QUESTION: Are there any current ways in which you’re trying to earn God’s love? Take some time to reflect: What is going on deep beneath the surface in your life that leads you to think you need to earn God’s love? 

QUESTION: Is there a step you can take today to rest and reflect on the truth that You are already deeply loved by God? When will you take the opportunity to do this? 

Take a Step: Remember to continue utilizing the One Minute Pause app throughout the week. If possible, begin to explore and practice the 3, 5 or 10 minute pause to more deeply root yourself in Christ.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I know I shouldn’t fall into the trap of believing I need to earn Your love, but far too often I still live and behave as if I’m not enough. But the Gospel shows that I am worthy of the death of Christ. Jesus died for the whole world – and that also includes me! Help me to rest in this truth today. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Salt and Light

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Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”

Have you ever eaten a perfectly seasoned steak? One in which the beef has just the right amount of seasoning, just the right amount of oil, cooks at just the right temperature and for just the right amount of time? Those who have experienced this know what it’s like. You don’t ask for steak sauce, because it isn’t needed. You don’t sprinkle on more salt, because it isn’t needed. Instead, you just cut the steak into small savory bites and enjoy the meal. 

Those in Jesus’ day may not have thought of steak in the same way we do, but the illustration for His followers to “…be the salt of the earth,” would’ve been easily understood. It’s His gracious invitation for us to bring life and wonder and creativity and laughter and peace and love into the lives of the people around us. The invitation for us to bring light into a world full of darkness. Not so that others get to see us, but so others have an opportunity to see and praise Him.  

READING & PRAYERS:

     MATTHEW 5:13-16

QUESTION: What is one way God may be inviting you to bring life and wonder and creativity and laughter and peace and love into the life of somebody else today? 

Take a Step: Remember to continue utilizing the One Minute Pause app throughout the week. If possible, begin to explore and practice the 3, 5 or 10 minute pause to more deeply root yourself in Christ.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today’s reading was a great reminder that You have invited me to bring life and wonder and creativity and laughter and peace and love into the lives of the people around me. Wow, what a privilege it is to be invited to participate with You in bringing life into a broken and fragile world. May I accept Your invitation and be an encouragement to others today. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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The Sermon on the Mount

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Matthew 5:1-2 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29) is perhaps the most studied sermon in world history. While the entirety of this teaching can be read in about 20-30 minutes, it’s highly likely that Jesus taught this sermon in small chunks over a period of several days. This would give the people listening time to ponder, pray, discuss, and digest the significance of the principles He was teaching. 

According to the NLT Life Application Study Bible commentary note on this passage, “Jesus taught people what God’s Kingdom is meant to be. Position, authority, and money are not important in his Kingdom—what matters is faithful obedience to God from the heart, which leads to genuine love for God and others and transforms lives, communities, and nations.” We may regularly look to power, position, money, and prestige. But these don’t really matter in the Kingdom of God. What matters is genuine love for God and others.

READING & PRAYERS:

     MATTHEW 5:1-12 (read this passage slowly, and if possible, read the commentary notes in your Study Bible of choice)

QUESTION: The beatitudes are not a list in which we get to pick one and leave the rest behind. As a whole, they reveal what it looks like to live in the Kingdom of God. In your own words, take some time to write down a summary of the main principles taught in the beatitudes (5:3-12). Practically speaking, how can you live out these principles today? 

Take a Step: This week, continue to utilize the One Minute Pause app at least twice daily to begin practicing being with God and resting in His presence. The app is free, and is available on iPhone and Android devices. See pauseapp.com for details.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess there are many moments in which I’m more concerned about whether others are living out the beatitudes and godly principles instead of remaining focused on my own growth areas. Today, be with me as I lean into the principles You taught. Continue to mold me into the person You’ve made me to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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