A PRAYER TO START
This exhortation from Isaiah 55:6-9 as be re-phrased to be a prayer for you and I. Begin your time praying it 3xs…
Father, I will seek you while You may be found and call upon You while You are near. May my sinful neighbor, friend and self, abandon our way of life, and the evil their way of thinking. Father, may we come back to You, who is merciful. May they come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.
You tell me Father, that You do not think the way I think, and that You do not work the way that I would work. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way You work surpasses the way I work, and the way You think is beyond the way I think.
May I then, Father, be led by You who are so great, into today beyond my anticipation with joy and peace.
When someone does something that you did not think they would do, generally your reaction is surprise! Am I right? Now, depending on the unexpected nature of the action or language that was so unexpected, you might describe the sensation as being astonished, in wonder, or even shaken. Such are the reactions of the people in Matthew’s gospel upon witnessing and listening to Jesus:
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching… (7:28)
…the men marveled, saying ‘What sort of man is this that even winds and sea obey him?’ (8:27)
…when they say him, they begged him to leave their region. (8:34)
When the crowds say it, they were afraid [awestruck], and they glorified God… (9:8)
And all the people were amazed… (12:23)
…they were astonished…And they took offense at him… (13:54, 56)
…they were astonished at his teaching. (22:33)
…the governor [Pilate] was greatly amazed. (27:14)
It seems that Jesus leaves quite an impression! Does he still startle you in the same way? Does he still surprise us with his actions in our lives and his teachings from Scripture? The hope is that he will over these next several months and, by his grace, forevermore. So, let your prayer and expectation for our journey through Matthew be one prepared to be surprised! Knowing that his way is higher than our way, we should expect nothing less!
To help start the journey on the right foot, spend some time reflecting on the following exhortation from Jesus,
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (10:39)
Our culture expects us to find ourselves, our abilities, our calling, our identity, our purpose, our…Jesus expects us give up searching for ourselves and find him. Only in finding Jesus can we find what it is actually pressing us to look.
Use these questions to help you prayerfully reflect individually and/or discuss as a DNA group.
- Where have you found / are looking to find, life: your career, your relationships, your children, your community, your social affirmations, your…?
- Are you satisfied in your searching?
- How are you looking for Jesus?
- What will it cost to find him?
- What will you gain when you do so?
Wendell Berry offers a reverberating invitation for us as we journey through Matthew. May his invitation echo in your mind, in your heart, and into your actions this week.
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute.
Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
What can you do today and this week that will not compute? But, might just surprise others as you live like Jesus!