This has been one of the must fulfilling studies of scripture I have ever embarked on. Through my personal study, weekly discussions with my co-teacher and women's pastor, leading discussions with my small group of precious women, and preaching three messages to a gracious large group, four major themes emerged for me from Matthew.
Simon Peter, a former fisherman, is the third most mentioned person in the New Testament (behind Jesus and Paul) and appears prominently in Matthew's gospel. He is the spokesman for the disciples, has intimate conversations with Jesus where he questions and rebukes Jesus, and fails greatly. Here are fourteen ways Peter is every one of us.
The Pharisees put rules upon rules around the Ten Commandments in an attempt to guard against breaking them. But Jesus shares our yoke and carries our loads.
On April 5, 2022, I gave my third message to the women of my church Bible study on Matthew 20–22. Here is a written version of my message or you may watch the video.
"Why don't you take over the women's Bible study? Come along with me to a village to share your testimony. I'm planning a retreat for the church planter's wives and you can share the messages." As a young and tentative cross-cultural worker, my teammate's many suggestions for serving sometimes irritated me. But she believed in me and continued to create opportunities for me—all the while cheering me on. She spurred me on as we are taught to do by the anonymous author of Hebrews.
"How do I know the Bible is true? Is God real? Is Jesus really God? I think the morality standards in the Bible no longer apply today. God loves everyone, so he won’t send any to eternal torment. The Bible is a book of nice stories but not the foundation for truth so it doesn’t matter how I live my life." Help for dealing with these questions and comments from my friends and loved ones can be found in Jude’s short New Testament letter.
At times, I don’t know how to pray for the world around me. The needs seem too complex, too convoluted. Relationships are conflicted and the church wars against itself. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus—Mary of Nazareth's other son—prayed for the recipients of his letter to have mercy, peace, and love in abundance. This seems like a good place to start.
Today we head into the final week of waiting for our annual celebration of the birth of Mary’s son, Jesus. We expectantly anticipate the coming—the Advent—of the Son of the Most High as she did. During each week of Advent, I focused on finding the traditional Advent themes in Mary's story.