Read Mt 5.13-20 – “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Another shocking statement from Jesus! Later in His discourse He would says something that sounds even more preposterous! “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Mt 5.48) What?! Impossible!!! That is, unless you understand the Great Exchange; “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5.21). Jesus made our “Mission Impossible” possible through His substitutionary death on the cross. Are we resting in His righteousness to free us up to be more like Him?
Read Galatians – Paul is rebuking the Galatian church on their departure from the true gospel. They had been hoodwinked into a gospel that included the works of the Law for salvation. It was a gospel of legalism (which, as Paul put it, is no gospel at all). And these false gospels continue to spread today. Whether it be the gospel of legalism or the gospel of license, it is false. How do we guard ourselves from being bamboozled by a false gospel? The only remedy I can think of is saturation in the Scriptures. To read them so much that it would be very unlikely to be swayed this way or that. Are we getting adequate input of the Word of God to shield ourselves from the lies of Satan and our culture?
Read 2 Cor 1.12-14 – The Apostle Paul speaks of the instruction he gave to the Corinthian Church. He says that this will be a basis for mutual pride “on the day of our Lord Jesus.” I’ve been pondering this question recently. “When we stand before Jesus, will we have a desire or need to review anything we accomplished on earth?” Apparently we will be reflecting on the disciples we made for Him. I can’t think of a better investment!
Read Mt 23.13-36 – “Woe to you!” I don’t know about you but I cringe every time I read this. Jesus comes off the top ropes on the religious leaders of His day. I can’t help but notice some of the same characteristics in my own life, Yikes! But here’s the deal. There is cleansing on the “inside” when we simply confess, “Yup, I want to be called by some noble title so people will think I’m better than I really am.” That’s step one. Step two is to begin to let the Holy Spirit knead that stuff out of us. Are we confessing and repenting in the power of the Spirit?
Read Mt 22.34-40, Mk 12.28-34 – Knowing the right answers is not enough. Jesus was very impressed with the scribe who knew Loving God and Loving People was far more “important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” But as impressed as Jesus was with his observation, He replies, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” He was close but not in. What was the scribe missing? The King! The King is the key to the Kingdom. Are we focused on doing what is right or on the ONE who can make us right?
Read Mt 21.20-22, Mk 11.20-26. Why is it that Jesus transitions from prayer to forgiveness so often? It’s pretty evident that unforgiveness is a logjam to answered prayer. We want so desperately to see God in action through our petitions. But He wants to see us in action too. He wants us to forgive the way He forgives us. And let’s face it, with how often we are so easily offended, we could spend all day practicing the godly art of forgiveness. Is lack of forgiveness a bottleneck to our answered prayers? If the discipline of forgiveness as strong as any other spiritual discipline in our lives?
Read Mk 1.35, Lk 5.16, Lk 6.12 – If God knows all, why pray? Well, first and foremost, because Jesus did. We can get wrapped around the axel and get into deep theological discussion but my mind it put at ease when I simply look at the example of the Master. But how did He pray? It seems to be a priority from morning to night, from start to finish. And there were times to pray with others and alone. I must admit, for years I struggled with this discipline (and still do). But in recent years, prayer has become more of a delight than discipline. Keep at it! The Father enjoys spending time with you.
Read Mt 4.4,7,10 – Three times Jesus responds to the temptations of Satan with “It is written…” and some twenty times in the gospels as He interacts on various topics. He actually alludes to the Old Testament over 70 times. Jesus saw the Word of God as His primary source for authority when discussing any subject. Most of the time it appears Jesus is quoting the Scriptures from memory. If you poked Jesus, the Word of God came pouring out. Are we giving ourselves to the Word as Jesus did? Is it our first reference when answering questions about life and ministry? Are we “hiding it in our hearts” so that is readily available when needed? My Simple Scripture Memory Plan – https://drive.google.com/…/1–c0uGIOy6aHpg3czyA4TBCgWKG…
Read Mt 4.4, Jn 6.34 – Jesus taught us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” But when we are intentionally trying to become like Jesus we come to discover that daily bread is a whole lot more than what we put in our stomachs. Jesus saw the Word of God and the application of it as His very food. I’m sometimes asked, “Where are you fed?” (meaning what good preacher are you sitting under). I believe hearing sermons is good but reading the Scriptures for yourself and applying them is where I’m getting my meat. Are we being like Jesus and putting a premium on knowing and applying the Word of God?
Jn 5.19, 12.49 – So how did Jesus abide in the Father? Fasten your seatbelts and be prepared to be blown away. Jesus was so connected that He never did or said anything that wasn’t in perfect alinement with the Father. WOW! That seems as impossible as trying to swim to the moon. We feel so inferior to Jesus we say things like, “Well He was God.” or “It’s impossible so why even try.” And yet this is His example that we are to conformed to (Rom 8.29). The key is to begin the journey. Are we studying Jesus and taking one step at a time to align ourselves with Him as He is with the Father?