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How to Choose Matthew’s Road to Joy and Life

Over the past few days, I’ve shared Matthew’s portrait of Jesus. He launches his gospel by firmly establishing Jesus’ credentials as the long-awaited, Promised King of Kings. After demonstrating Jesus’ identity as the Son of Man, he makes the cause for Jesus as the Son of God. Moving into chapter two, Matthew explains that we will end up responding to Jesus as the Son of God in one of two ways. Either we will respond with indifference or rebellion or we will respond with repentance, worship, and faith-fueled obedience.

The first road leads to destruction and death. The second leads to joy and eternal life.

Note that the magi faithfully searched for Jesus, but their odyssey initially led them to the wrong destination: Jerusalem. Sure, the capital would have been the conventional location to expect the King of Israel to be. We’re like the magi in that we search for meaning and fulfillment in conventional but wrong places – possessions, alcohol, drugs, sex, family, career, or leisure.

Ultimately, they found the Son of God when they searched the Scriptures. Like the wise men, we find God by reading His Word, the Bible. When they found the King, the wise men were overwhelmed with joy. We find unsurpassing joy, fulfillment and contentment when we gain the presence and peace of God.

What should we do when we find the King? Like the wise men, we should worship him. God explains what this should look like in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship (Romans 12:1).

It’s not really about our gifts themselves. The disciples scrounged up a kid’s lunchable, and Jesus used that to feed 5,000 people. Rather, it’s about bringing to God whatever we have (the talents and gifts He’s given us) and offering them back to Him.

What would it look like to orient your life as a living sacrifice to God?

How would it affect the way you spend your time?

Your energy?

Your money?

A living sacrifice is not giving God a couple of hours on Sunday. The truth is we want to crawl off the altar Monday thru Saturday and after church on Sunday. But a living sacrifice means giving him everything. It’s giving him control of your relationships. It’s giving Him control of your finances. It’s surrendering control of your planner and calendar.

Both Mary and Joseph trusted and obeyed God’s Word delivered through the angel. Joseph trusted and obeyed by marrying Mary, escaping to Egypt, returning to Israel, and returning to Nazareth.

God wants us to obey like Mary and Joseph and countless others did in the Bible. Noah built an ark when it hadn’t even rained. Abraham uprooted his family and moved to a distant land. Rahab risked her life to protect the Israelite spies. Ruth left her homeland to trust in the God of her husband and mother-in-law.

We obey God by obeying His Word. Specifically, we need to obey the Great Commission by proclaiming the Gospel to the nations. We must be the light of the world Jesus called us to be. We are the new Israel.

How do we obey? By building relationships. Life is all about relationships. Relationship with God. Relationships with people. Missional communities are built on relationships with the mission of proclaiming the Gospel. One resource I recommend is that Share Jesus without Fear New Testament Bible. It’s a great resource to explain the Gospel.

Jesus came to the world to fulfill His Father’s mission. As His followers, we embrace our mission to tell the world what great things the King has done. He defeated sin and death—and He will return. We love our neighbors and the nations by building relationships and serving them the way Jesus served us. We tell them the good news and share hope.

Some of you reading may be troubled like all of Jerusalem was because Jesus is threatening your kingdom. Maybe you are realizing you’ve been worshipping the god of pleasure or endless activity. Perhaps you’re attempting to appease the Fear of Missing Out god. Maybe you’re serving the idol of security (financial or career).  Jesus exposes our gods. Don’t be troubled, be tranquil. Be at peace with God. Turn from sin and pursue Christ—like the magi did. They were overwhelmed with joy in the presence of the King. Our response to Jesus will be one of these two outcomes – fear and anxiety that comes from indifference or rebelling against and rejecting Him or joy that comes from gaining His presence and peace in your life

Wise men worshipped Jesus. Joseph and Mary’s responses were marked by faith and obedience. This is what it means to follow God. When you see Jesus, the Son of God, the right response is to worship him. You worship by offering him your life as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). This is what it means to journey along the King’s highway.

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