Well hi there! Long time no see…;) I know I already posted once this morning, but I really want to still start my new Saturday series, New Testament Saturdays, to complement my Sunday Psalm Sunday series.
I am part of this really incredible non-profit ministry network, CMConnect. CMConnect aspires to network children’s ministers and volunteers around the globe, especially under-resourced ones. I am incredibly excited to be attending their CMConference, which starts Monday, and for all I learn and will be able to take back to my ministry settings. I am sure multiple blog posts from the conference will come next week!
I am also incredibly honored to be part of CMConnect’s first year of their Discipleship Program. According to their website, it is a “relational approach to ministry development based on the model and life of Jesus Christ.” I have been part of one video chat and several online conversations with my group, and I can’t overstate how amazing I find it. I can’t wait to continue to learn and grow with these other fantastic ministers!
Part of the plan is reading through the New Testament, thus why this series was born. We’re using YouVersion Bible’s “Read through The New Testament” plan. I also wanted a devotional plan to complement the Bible reading, so I’m starting with “God Is…28 Days through Matthew”, from iKan Ministries, also available on YouVersion.
We’re starting with Matthew, and one of my group members shared this great video, which gives an awesome overview of Matthew’s history and context.
There were a lot of really great gems both in the Bible reading and the Ikan devotional this week, but the most resonant and powerful pieces for me were from The Sermon on the Mount, which we will continue reading next week. It is found in Matthew chapters five, six, and seven.
The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most famous sermon, was so strikingly rebellious, revolutionary, and counter-cultural when it was written, and the amazing part is it is still all of those things today. It contains Jesus’ moral teachings, and so many of the things he teaches are so hard and unnatural for us to do as sinful humans: even for Christians, even in the church. Matthew 5 & 6, which we covered this week, cover myriad challenging topics, like “happy are the poor”, the last being first, not having unresolved conflicts with others, lust being like adultery, and a lot more hard stuff. Jesus called his followers to be different from the world, and he calls us to the same things today.
I would really encourage you to read Matthew 5-7 now. I read them regularly, as they are both some of my favorite scriptures, and some of the hardest. Different things pop out at me each time, though consistently, the most challenging for me has always, even when I was a child hearing it for the first times, were the parts about not worrying, found in Matthew 6:25-34.
My iKan devotional really helped give me new perspective on these verses. The devotional reads, “God loves you so much that He will provide for all of your needs if you let Him. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”This does not mean that you get to sit idly by and wait for things to fall into your lap. Play an active part in what God has planned for you. Show up and pay attention to the directions that the Holy Spirit gives you!” The devotional ends by raising this question, “How has God provided for you recently?”
It’s a very important question to ponder, and I firmly believe that spending time thinking about God’s provision in my life specifically is one of the best ways to worry less. God has given me some incredible provisions in my life: a fantastic support system, a great job ministering to incredible kids, new amazing opportunities. Focusing on these makes it much, much easier for me not to worry about the future.God has provided so much to me in the past, all according to God’s own timing, and despite the many challenges each day holds, I can be confident that my God is much, much bigger than any of them, and will continue to provide for me.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on these chapters. I hope you all have a blessed week!