Series – Finding Joy in an Anxious World
Sermon – Follow Jesus
Scripture Readings: Matthew 2:1-12, Matthew 2:13-23 (Isaiah 65:17-19, 25)
Monday January 7 — Matthew 2:1-12
The Christian season of Christmas officially ends on January 6 with the celebration of the day known as Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the Magi who travelled a great distance to worship Jesus, the newborn King. Matthew’s account of their journey says that when they arrived at the place where Jesus was, “they were overwhelmed with joy”(Matthew 2:10). This is what happens when we worship: we experience joy when we are in the presence of Jesus. Think about your relationship with Jesus. Does it bring you joy? If not, what needs to change?
- Prayer:God of Wonder, thank you for the example of the Magi, who followed your star to find and worship Jesus. Help me to be overwhelmed with joy in 2019 and beyond.
Tuesday January 8 — Matthew 2:13-23
Matthew’s Gospel describes, from the very beginning, the conflict of two kingdoms: God’s Kingdom, which has come into the world in the person of Jesus, and the kingdom of the world, which is represented by Herod and everyone who opposes Jesus and his message. We have an opportunity (every day!) to choose in which kingdom we will make our home. Following Jesus seems like the obvious choice, but it is not easy. What helps you differentiate between the two kingdoms? What helps you choose to make your home in God’s Kingdom?
- Prayer:Eternal God, the Christmas story invites me to enter your Kingdom and worship you, but I’m often tempted by other kingdoms. Help me choose you every day. Amen.
Wednesday January 9 — Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus’ parable about the talents teaches us that we are stewards of God’s “talents” (don’t forget that in Jesus’ time a “talent” was a very large sum of money) and will be held accountable for what we do with everything (time, talent, treasure, the Gospel message, the mission of the Kingdom, …etc.) that God has entrusted to our care. This parable includes the commendation that we all hope to hear: “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; … enter into the joy of your master.”(Matthew 25:23). Jesus suggests that faithful living leads to “the joy of the master.”Have you experienced that connection?
- Prayer:Generous God, I am humbled that you entrust your “talents” into my care. Guide me into faithful discipleship and trustworthy stewardship of your Kingdom.
Thursday January 10 — John 15:1-12
In Jesus’ final instructions (before his death, resurrection, and ascension), he commands his disciples to stay connected to him and “abide in his love”(John 15:9). He said, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete”(John 15:11). The point is: if we want our joy to be complete, we must follow Jesus and keep his commandment to “love one another as I have loved you”(John 15:12). If joy is a sign that we are fulfilling Jesus’ expectations to love one another, how are you doing this week? Is your joy complete?
- Prayer:God of Love, strengthen my relationship with you. Grant me the courage I need to keep your commandments. Make my joy complete today and every day.
Friday January 11 — John 21:15-19
John’s Gospel ends with an example of faithful discipleship – the kind of discipleship described in John 15:1-12. Jesus challenges Peter to put his love for Jesus into action by loving others (the way Jesus loves them; see John 13:34-35). Although Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21:19 point to Peter’s death: for Peter, following Jesus will require that he lay down his own life for the sake of the Gospel. But the larger point is that Jesus simply wants us to follow him – to follow his teaching and his example. Think about what it means for you to follow Jesus in the world today.
- Prayer:Gracious God, forgive me for the many ways I fail to put my faith into action and resist Jesus’ teaching and example. Teach me how to follow him in the world today.
Saturday January 12 — John 21:20-25
The final words of Jesus in John’s Gospel are: “follow me”(John 21:22). It’s a summary of what it means to be his disciple. Following Jesus in the world today is a daily challenge, but the first step is clear: we meet Jesus when we read the Gospel accounts of his life and ministry. As we read and study the Scriptures, we learn and grow and experience the transforming power of God’s grace. By God’s grace, when we follow Jesus, we experience overwhelming joy. Follow Jesus today.
- Prayer:Almighty God, thank you for sending Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Open my heart and mind as I read and study the Gospels. Inspire me to follow Jesus. Amen.