In his longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He called those who lived out those traits blessed because God had something special in store for them. Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society's typical way of life. In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition. The best example of each trait is found in Jesus Himself. If our goal is to become like Him, the beatitudes will challenge the way we live every day.
Monday: Matthew 5:3-5
Jesus began His sermon with words that seem to contradict each other. But God's Way of living usually contradicts the world. If you want to live for God, you must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world. You must be willing to give when others take, to love when others hate, to help when others abuse. By giving up your own rights in order to serve others, you will one day receive everything God has in store for you.
Tuesday: Matthew 5:3-12
There are at least four ways to understand the Beatitudes.
These Beatitudes are not multiple choice- pick what you like and leave the rest. They must be taken as a whole. They describe what we should be like as Christ’s followers.
Wednesday: Matthew 5:3-12
Each Beatitude tells how to be blessed. Blessed means more than happiness. It implies the fortunate or enviable state of those who are in God's kingdom. The Beatitudes don't promise laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity. To Jesus, blessed means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.
Thursday: Matthew 5:3-12
With Jesus’ announcement that the kingdom was near (4:17), people were naturally asking “How do I qualify to be in God's kingdom?” Jesus said that God’s kingdom is organized differently from worldly kingdoms. In the kingdom of Heaven, wealth and power and authority are unimportant. Kingdom people seek different blessings and benefits, and they have different attitudes. Are your attitudes a carbon copy of the world’s selfishness, pride, and lust for power, or do they reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, your King?
Friday: Matthew 5:11,12
Jesus said to rejoice when we are persecuted. Persecution can be good.
Memory Verse: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
This week we continue to look at the Good Shepherd and examine discipleship from the viewpoint of the Shepherd’s care of His sheep. We recently focused on the disciplines in our lives that strengthen our relationship with our shepherd. (Bible reading, memorization, meditation, etc….) Continue to work on those disciplines as this week we take a deeper look at the bond between a shepherd (our Good Shepherd) and his sheep (us, as Christians).
Monday: Reading God’s Word (Psalm 23)
Most people have heard of the 23rd Psalm. It is quoted in music, spoken of in our worship services, read at funeral services. There are many Psalms that come to mind when we need them most. They inspire us, comfort us, and correct us. Let’s begin this week by reading through the 23rd Psalm. Since it’s such a short read, let’s also read through some other popular Psalms.
Tuesday: Memorizing God’s Word (Psalm 23)
This week, commit to memorizing part or all of the 23rd Psalm. Scripture memorization is important as it helps us to recall important words that give us comfort, led us in instruction and correction, minister to others, and praise God with His inspired Word. A great app that was shared in my Sunday School class to help with this is Scripture Typer.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: Meditating on God’s Word, studying God’s Word, and integrating God’s Word into our lives. (Psalm 23)
Read back through the chapter. Meditate on its words. Seek wisdom, through prayer, on how God would have you interpret its words.
Example: For verse 23:1, look up John 10:11 and I Peter 2:25
For verse 23:4 Look up Psalm 27:1 and 107:14
For verse 23:5 Look up Psalm 16:5 and 92:10
For verse 23:6 Look up Psalm 25:6, 7, 10
End the week by writing a summary of Psalm 23 and also writing a prayer of thanksgiving. Continue to memorize these words and test what you’ve learned by writing out the Psalm without having to peek at your Bible.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Start this week by reading 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8.
Peter tells us that God has provided us with all that we need and it is our responsibility to put forth effort to grow. We can grow in our faith using a variety of spiritual disciplines. These will help us to be productive and effective as individuals and as a church family. We will look at a few of these disciplines this week.
Prayer is commanded in the Bible. The discipline of prayer is a way to be obedient to this commandment. Prayer requires concentration and focus. Teaching our cells to concentrate is one of the reasons we close our eyes to pray. We also need to close our ears and mind as well to the many distractions around us.
Prayer harvests humility, dependence on God, and compassion for others. Prayer should include, among other things, praise for God's greatness, gratitude for God's gifts, petitions for you and others, confession of your struggles and sins, and whatever the spirit brings to your mind.
Sometimes when we feel stuck or without words we can turn to the Bible to find prayers. Look up the following prayers and keep them close by.
Worship is more than an activity: it is an attitude- an attitude of awe and gratitude, of humble submission to God's greatness and grace, of obedience and love.
The spiritual discipline of worship is not limited to the activities we do on Sundays. Every activity and every relationship in our daily life can be a way to worship God. Sunday worship is the best initial training ground for this discipline. As we continue developing this habit of worshiping God, we will see Sunday worship as the beginning of our worship, rather than as the only worship time.
Look up the following verses which give the biblical basis and examples of worship. Pay attention to how we can incorporate this into our daily lives.
Fasting is not a spiritual discipline that you hear much about. Many times it is dismissed as an old practice. However, fasting is an important opportunity for meaningful spiritual growth.
So, what is fasting and how do I do it?
Fasting fosters humility, reliance on God, compassion, gratitude, and self control. Fasting is not simply giving up something but rather giving up the time that something would fill and dedicating that time to God through prayer and Biblical reflection. Fasting from food is a good way to practice fasting. However, there are other things which you could abstain from that may be more effective. Television and social media often consumes much of our lives. When we fast from these things, as well as other things, we are reminded that our dependence on God is sufficient. In the Bible, we can see how fasting was often a way of seeking God's favor or guidance. Look up the following verses and spend time in prayer asking God what area of your life would benefit most from a time of fasting.
Evangelism is an important spiritual discipline. Evangelism is a command that is given to Christian but sharing one's faith with others doesn't always come natural. Studying the scriptures helps us to become more confident which will in turn help us evangelize. The more we know about God and His plan, the better we can share it. Prayer is also a helpful tool in preparing for evangelism. The closer we are to God, the more likely we are to share with others. It is important that we train ourselves instruments used by God.
Read about Jesus’ command to his people to spread the gospel in Matthew 28:19-20
Look up 1st Peter 3:15. Peter is telling believers that they must be ready to give an answer concerning the hope they have. Are you ready to give an answer?
Friday: Wrap up
Spiritual disciplines should be....
Practices that permeate every area of our lives. Ones that help us focus on God as well as building up other believers. Disciplines help us to realize our dependence on God and give us the desire to follow His will.
Spiritual disciplines should not be....
Impossible or unrealistic. They should not be used as a benchmark to judge other people spiritual maturity. And they should not be used as an outward way to cover up inward sin.
Be sure to spend time focusing on what disciplines you already have in place in your life and how you can improve those practices. Reach out to God and ask Him what discipline you are missing and be open to the changes He will make in your life.
Memory Verse: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of world.” John 17:14
Monday: Disciples Must Go Into The World
Read Acts 1:8
This verse describes a series of ever-widening circles. The gospel was spread, geographically, from Jerusalem, into Judea and Samaria, and finally to the whole world. It would begin with the devout Jews in Jerusalem and Samaria, spread to the mixed race in Samaria, and finally be offered to the Gentiles in the uttermost parts of the earth. God's gospel has not reached its final destination if someone in your family, your workplace, your school, or your community hasn't heard about Jesus Christ. Make sure that you are contributing in some way to the ever-widening widening circle of God's loving message.
Tuesday: Disciples Must Love The World
Read John 3:16
The entire gospel comes to a focus in this verse. God's love is not static or self-centered. It reaches out and draws others in. Here God sets the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships. When you love someone dearly, you are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice. God paid dearly with the life of his Son, the highest price he could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that he had bought for us. When we share the gospel with others, our love must be like Jesus'- willingly giving up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God's love.
Wednesday: Disciples Must Remain Separate From The World
Read John 17:14
The world sometimes hates Christians because Christians' values differ from the world. Because Christ's followers don't cooperate with the world by joining in their sin, they are living accusations against the world's immorality. The world follows Satan's agenda, and Satan is the avowed enemy of Jesus and His people.
We must go into the world without becoming part of the world. The key to doing so is staying in the word, keeping tight the lines of communication with God, and maintaining spiritual integrity. This is often easier said than done because we don't like standing out or being different from the crowd.
Thursday: Disciples Must Be Patient
Read Galatians 6:9
It can be discouraging to continue to do right and receive no word of thanks or see no tangible results. But Paul challenged the Galatians and he challenges us to keep on doing good and to trust God for the results. In due time, we will reap a harvest of blessing.
Read again this week’s memory verse. Commit to memorize this verse. Make a plan of how you will be a disciple to the world while staying committed to Christ. Pray and ask God to help you see ways to go out into the world while also guarding your heart against worldly things.
Riverview Family Devotion Guides
Family devotion guides are provided to help reinforce the "Big Idea" that is studied in Sunday School and presented in the Pastor's message each week.