Our Roots (Mt.1:1-17)
Matthew takes Jesus’ ancestry back to King David and Abraham. Interesting inclusions in Jesus’ family tree are the mention of people such as Rahab and Bathsheba. God redeems - he takes even what is hurtful and wrong and uses it for His purposes. Our heritage is important. Know where you’ve come from. Of course, we are now ‘in Christ’ and we are a new generation. God is our Father and we are part of His family tree.
God Guides (Mt.1:18-25)
God guides his people. He speaks to us and tells us what he wants us to do. He does not hide himself or his will from our lives. He may choose to speak directly or through angels, dreams and other people. We just need to hear and obey. Do what God says, even if it requires personal sacrifice. What has God been saying to you lately? Have you had any significant dreams?
What’s in a Name? (Mt.1:21, 23)
The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘saviour’. He was born to save people from their sins. He is also ‘Immanuel’ which means ‘God is with us’. Names have meaning and significance. They often portray a person’s future. What’s your name and do you know what it means? What does it say about who you are and about your future?
Christmas Trivia (Mt.2:1-12)
How many wise men were there?1 Where was Jesus when the wise men visited?2
Prophecy (Mt.1:22-23; 2:5-6, 14-15, 17-18, 23)
God often foretells, or speaks ahead of time, things that he is going to do. With the coming of Jesus there were lots of prophecies that had been spoken many years earlier that suddenly came to pass in amazingly accurate detail. Have you ever received a prophecy? True prophecies aren’t automatic. They are God’s ‘intentions’. However, if we co-operate with them they will come to pass in God’s way and in God’s time. Is it time to pull out a copy of them and read them through again? Paul told Timothy to ‘fight the good fight” through giving attention to the prophecies given over his life’ (1 Tim.1:18-19).
Enemy at the Gate (Mt.21-18)
King Herod was an insecure leader who was threatened by the arrival of Jesus. He had every baby boy under the age of two killed. What violence and conflict we see here between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen.3:16). Remember, you have an enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy (Jn.10:10).
The Message (Mt.3:1-12)
Both John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching the same message - "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” To ‘repent’ means to turn from your sins and turn to God. It is a change of thinking that leads to a change of behaviour. The kingdom of Heaven refers to God’s rule and reign which is now entering history.
Good Foundations (Mt.3:13-17; 4:1-11)
Before Jesus began his ministry he was baptised in water and the Holy Spirit came upon him. We too need to ensure we have our spiritual foundations well laid (Heb.6:1). Then Jesus had a time of further preparation as his fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. There he overcame the temptations of the Devil which positioned him to be able to set other people free through his ministry. What temptation is coming your way right now? What are the long term ramifications of giving in or of overcoming – for you and other people?
Kingdom Living (Mt.5-7)
Jesus’ first recorded sermon contains a description of what life in the kingdom is like. These are not additional laws we are required to keep ‘in order to be’ accepted into the kingdom. They are a description of life in the kingdom ‘because of’ the fact that we are redeemed and the Spirit of God now lives within us empowering us to do God’s will.