Sunday, June 26, 2011: Day 2
Read: Matthew 5:1-12; Galatians 5:13-26
Food for Thought: Reorientation into the Kingdom of God
For the week, we are going to read primarily from the Sermon on the Mount. The theme for the VBS this week is “Peace.” Peace is one of the manifestations of the Spirit in the life of a believer (cf. Gal 5:22-23). The fruit of the Spirit are the natural outflow of the new life in Christ that believers experience because of their having been made new through repentance and baptism (cf. Acts 2:38; 2 Cor 5:17). Jesus lays out what this new life in Him looks like in the Sermon on the Mount. As Matthew 5 opens, notice the intentional comparison that is made with Jesus and Moses (cf. Matthew 5:1; Ex 19:3, 20; Ex 24:4, 12). We know Moses to be the divine law giver, and Matthew portrays Jesus as a new Moses giving the law again to his people. It is important to recognize here in this moment in Matthew 5 that as Jesus begins to teach, like a new Moses that Jesus’s words, his kingdom agenda is also a new exodus. We remember Moses too as one of the key figures of the Exodus narrative (God obviously was the central character), but here in Matthew 5 Jesus is portrayed as a new Moses, leading God’s people on a new exodus.
Pay attention to how the Sermon on the Mount begins. The section we know as the Beatitudes opens and closes with reference to the kingdom of God. This sermon on the Mount is in every way, a reorientation to what it means to be God’s people. Life in the kingdom of God includes, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, poverty of spirit (recognizing our desperation without God), mourning over our sin (being heartbroken over our sinfulness, our brokenness), meekness (humility), mercy, purity, peacemakers, and persecution – these are the indistinguishable marks of life in the kingdom.
Remember to try and use the SOAP method each day in your Quiet Time. You don’t have too, but the SOAP method is a tool to help you get into the text each day a little deeper. God Word’s Word is important, and if we want to know the mind of God we need to know the Word of God. So, take time each day on this trip and dig into the Word of God. You too will be filled with God’s good stuff.
Monday, June 27, 2011: Day 3
Read: Matthew 5:13-48 (Exodus 20:1-21)
Food for Thought: Holy Moses
We have already encountered yesterday mention of the comparison between Jesus and Moses, notice the similarity between the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount continues. God gave Moses, and the Israelites the Law to help them live in relationship with him. We mistake the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law that God gives Israel as being just being rules that limit what they can and can’t do. The Law is about life in the boundaries that God has set. These boundaries are defined as “holiness.” God wants his people different, set apart from the unbelieving world they live in. God’s intention was that Israel would be a light to the Gentiles (cf. Isa 49), declaring the wonders of what Yahweh had done and was continuing to do in the world. Later on in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus sums up what the Law was all about (cf. Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus sums up the Law as loving God with the totality of our being and loving our neighbors as our selves.
The ebb and flow of the Sermon on the Mount also includes this central element, love for God and love for neighbor. At the heart of the Sermon on the Mount is the importance of being devoted to kingdom rule of God. Jesus uses two metaphors to describe the influence we are to strive for in the world, salt and light. Salt had many uses in the ancient world, and was important. Salts main two uses were preservation and flavoring. Light is an important theme from the beginning of Scripture, it’s the first work of God, light brings order to chaos at creation, Israel was a light to the nations, and now we are called the Light of the world.
This week, you will have lots of opportunity to let your light shine in front of the adults on this trip, your peers, and the staff that works here at Impact, and the kids you will be spending the majority of your time with. Look for ways that you can be salt and light in the life. You have one week to make an impact on these young people, don’t be afraid of letting God use you to brighten someone’s day, or life.
Don’t forget to use your SOAP today!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011: Day 4
Read: Matthew 6:1-34
Food for Thought: Who is your provider?
Life is more than food, clothing and shelter. If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes, really many times it seems we take these things for granted. According to the Sermon on the Mount, especially Matthew 6, Jesus hammers home one of the central truths in all of Scripture; God is good and provides for his children. I think we should be careful to notice, that Jesus calls God “our Father.” Jesus revolutionized the relationship that humans have with Yahweh. Jesus really brings God come up close and personal! As a matter of fact, we see Jesus calling God “Father,” 12 times in this chapter.
I know that not all people’s experience with their fathers have been good. But, regardless of how your past experiences with your earthly dad have been – the revelation of God as Father is designed not to drudge up hurtful moments from someone’s past, but to demonstrate what God’s perfect, good, and transforming love can be and is. The heavenly Father we are introduced to in the Sermon on the Mount is good, wants what is best for us, offers us new life, provides for us, loves us, forgives us, holds us, knows us, desires us, and intertwined with every part of our lives.
Worry. Five letters that can wreak havoc in our walk with Christ. We worry about all sorts of things, from clothing choices, to food choices, to money issues. Yet, the promise we have is that God is aware of what we need, and is actively involved in providing what we need. Sometimes we miss the provision of God, I think, because we are focused on what we want. But, Jesus provides a remedy for our wants too, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” May our first thoughts each day, be to be more like Christ. May our desire each day be to let God have the reins of our heart fully.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011: Day 5
Read: Matthew 7:1-28
Food for Thought: Building for tomorrow?
Today is the third day of VBS, congratulations! You have nearly made it through a full week here at Impact. You have been asked to make relationships with the children that have come from all over the inner city area of Houston to VBS. You maybe have seen where some of these kids live, and if you are fortunate, you have begun to hear stories of their families. Some of these kids come from rough family situations. Some are from single parent homes, others have parents in prison, or still others live in a multi-family home with their relatives. But, there is nothing as precious as when one of these Impact kids smile and warm up to you. Don’t forget that you are showing them the love of Jesus. This week is bigger than just putting on a VBS in Houston. You are building for tomorrow. Let’s be honest, we may never see these kids again. They will remember you, or more accurately, they will remember how you made them feel. So, be intentional again today about getting on your kid’s levels. Laugh with them, smile, have fun, give hugs. These things are difference makers.
Notice, how Matthew 7 closes, with Jesus talking about building houses. One man builds his house on sand. The other man built his house on the rock. Both experience the same storms of life, and yet the outcome is very different for these men. The man whose house was built on sand, Jesus calls foolish and relates a life of disregarding his words to a foolish man building his house on sand. Jesus calls the man who built his house on the rock, a wise man, and relates a life of putting into practice his words.
I chose the sermon on the Mount this week, because I think we need to be reminded where discipleship starts. Where does it start? Right at the feet of Jesus. Following Jesus is about loving God with the totality of ourselves, and loving others as ourselves. As we walk with Christ, and let him have our heart, we are people under construction. He is working in us to make us more like Jesus (cf. Phil 2:13; Rom 8:29; Gal 4:19).
Thursday, June 30, 2011: Day 6
Read: Matthew 8:1-34
Food for Thought: A day in the life…
Today is the last work day of the Mission Trip. You have worked hard, played hard, and hopefully have prayed hard as well. You had opportunity after opportunity to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus this week to a few children from the inner city of Houston, Texas. Your days have been busy, from wake up, to breakfast, to packing up your stuff once again each morning, to our early morning group devotionals, to bus routes, to reading groups, to morning assemblies, lunch, games, crafts, story time, to field trips, not to mention your evening activities. You have given much this week, you have poured out self you are tired. This is a good kind of tired!
Consider a day in the life of Jesus for a moment. Today’s reading came from Matthew 8:1-34. Here’s a brief outline of the chapter:
- Jesus encounters a man with Leprosy – vv1-4 (and touches him and heals him)
- Jesus then encounters the great faith of the Centurion – vv.5-13, who petitioned for Christ’s help but saw himself as unworthy to have Jesus in his home, and recognized Jesus was powerful enough to heal from a distance!
- Jesus heals many, and Peter’s Mother-in-law –vv14-16
- Jesus encounters some would be disciples who are interested in following but try and dictate their own terms of when and how they would follow– vv.17-22
- Jesus calms a storm –vv.23-27
- Jesus encounters two demon possessed men in Gentile territory. This showdown between the forces of Satan and God’s Son is a no-contest. Jesus sends the demons scurrying into a herd of pigs –vv.28-34.
Needless to say, Jesus was busy. Day in and day out his routine included similar experiences. In all of these moments, notice, not once does Jesus give up on those in need. Does he get tired? Sure, he is human too. But he is also the Son of God, and he has all the power of his father available to him at his request. It was enough power to keep him going.
So, today if you are feeling like you are running on empty. Dig down deep, and spend sometime in prayer, asking God today for his strength!
Friday, July 1, 2011: Day 7
Read: Psalm 24
Food for Thought: Who is the Lord?
Today is another day in the van. I am hesitant to write the phrase, “travel day.” I am hesitant because the whole week has been a “journey.” Each day you traveled with each other, and the students under your care. Good byes are tough. It is not easy to say farewell to friends, but listen you don’t come home alone. As brothers and sisters in Christ, you are surrounded a by a community that loves you. The other teens on this trip are your fellow journey-mates, members of CTYG (Chisholm Trail Youth Group). You share your lives, your triumphs and failures. You serve the same God. You are a part of the same Story; the Story of what God is doing in the world in and through his church, through the power of the Holy Spirit. You are a part of something so much bigger than you could ever imagine. You are children of a God who is larger than we think.
Look again at Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” The rest of the Psalm asks the question, who may stand before this amazing, good, and big God? Then, the psalmist does something neat to further the notion of the bigness of God, look again vv. 7-9, the image here is of the King of glory coming into the city, but because of his size, he doesn’t fit through the gates. So, the people welcoming the King of glory have to remove the gates, and take the doors down just to let their majestic God in. Notice, the psalmist calls the Lord “strong and mighty, and mighty in battle” in v 8. A town without gates was helpless against outside attack, but now with the King of glory in their midst, they have nothing to fear. He will fight for them, defending, and protecting them.
How big is God? I wish I could give you calculations that were even quantifiable, let alone comprehensible. God is bigger than we sometimes give him credit for. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and always present. We need to remember those three truths. We all live with the danger though, of downsizing God. Making him fit our preconceived ideas of what deity should or shouldn’t do, or be like. Isaiah 55 remind us that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, that his ways are higher than our ways.
The Psalmist closes with a question, that you would do well to spend sometime this afternoon, and the next several days after the Mission Trip, reflecting on. The Psalmist asks, “who is he, the King of Glory?” I can’t answer that question for you. How you answer this question will have important ramifications in your life. The psalmist asks the question to reaffirm and dazzle our senses with the shear immeasurable nature of God’s glory. I pray that for you, as you consider this question, you have already had it answered in a major way for you, and the group as a whole. I pray that you have seen God this week do amazing things at Impact, through you, and through the little ones you spent so much time with. Your being here this week was no accident. God placed you here for a reason, and I pray that you come home in awe at how awesome our God is!