Well, here we go. The 40 days of Scripture has begun. We pray that these 40 days will be a rich and rewarding experience for you. The purpose of this time is to simply immerse ourselves in the Word of God, and allow Him to shape us however He wills, and we are excited about the potential of a church encountering the Lord together through the reading of His Scripture. We’re also excited for those who are participating in 40 days of Scripture who are not formally connected to NewBranch. We’re glad you’re here as well.
Each day we will post a short devotional that corresponds to the reading. The purpose of these devotionals is not to give a comprehensive teaching on the reading for that day. Rather, these devotionals are meant to simply give at least one insight from the reading for the purpose of generating discussion and participation. Our hope is that you will engage with the thoughts given in these devotionals, and share some of your own. Please feel free to comment as often as you like.
Today’s reading is the first seven chapters of Matthew. Tomorrow we’ll be reading chapters 8 through 12.
The first seven chapters of Matthew covered a lot of ground: the birth narrative of Jesus, the ministry of John the Baptist, the baptism and temptation of Jesus, and the Sermon on the Mount. Trying to pick one insight from this reading is like trying to draw attention to a single gem in a sea of diamonds.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Here, Jesus ushers in a new way of thinking and a new way of living….a kingdom-perspective life. We see him explaining to the disciples the prevailing mindset of the day (whether it comes from the culture or the Law), and then He counters that with a new way of thinking and living…this “kingdom-perspective”. Several times he does this by saying, “But I say to you”.
As I read this passage, one that jumped out to me (among many) was chapter 5 verse 6:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”
Maybe it’s because I just preached on Jesus’ temptation, but this reminded me of when He responded to the devil’s temptation to turn the stones into bread with, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Jesus was certainly hungry for having fasted for 40 days in the desert, but His greater hunger was to do the will of the Father.
Do we hunger and thirst for righteousness? Is that the driving force of our lives? Do we have an insatiable appetite to do the will of the Father? Later in chapter 6 verse 33, Jesus put it this way:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Far too often I hunger and thirst for things other than righteousness. I hunger and thirst for the things of this world, rather than to simply do the will of my Father. I hunger for entertainment, comfort, and achievement. I thirst for a life of safety without suffering, peace without problems, and success without failure. In reality my hungers and thirsts often have “me” at the center, rather than My Father.
I need a present Savior to keep “me-centered” hungers and thirsts at bay, and elevate “God-centered” hungers and thirsts. I need Jesus, who is in me through His Spirit (Gal 2:20), to live His life through me, to slay my “me-centered” tendencies, and to keep me hungering and thirsting for “the kingdom of God and his righteousness”.
May the Lord use this time of 40 Days of Scripture to develop in us a hunger and a thirst for Him…a hunger and a thirst that will not be satisfied by anything in this world. May He be glorified by the focus and passion of our appetites.