Jan. 1 – (Matt. 3:1-6) HAPPY NEW YEAR!  How do we have the best year yet? Study and apply His Word to your life!  So simple...yet it takes discipline...but you can do it!  To begin this year, let’s continue to study the life of Jesus on earth.  Since we have just covered His life through Matthew 2, we will pick up at chapter 3.

                Let’s look at John the Baptist first.  We know he was the forerunner of Jesus to announce who Jesus is.  Even in his mother’s womb (Elizabeth), he jumped at the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb!  He was much like Elijah in dress and habits and was prophesied about in Isa. 40:3, and Mal. 3:1; 4:5.  Jesus said of John the Baptist, that he was more than a prophet – that among those born of women no one greater than John had arisen (Matt. 11:9-11).  I wonder what it was like when they got together as cousins.  They were probably the only two who knew what each other’s purpose was, as they played together.   Hmm    

Jan. 2 – (Matt. 3:7-12) John the Baptist is talking to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Pharisees were Jewish laymen, popular with the common people and connected to local synagogues.  They followed extensive extra biblical traditions which they carefully obeyed as a means of applying the law to daily life.  The Sadducees were a small, aristocratic, priestly group.  They received their authority from the activities of the temple. The Pharisees and Sadducees counted on their heritage with Abraham as reason to be “safe”.  Do we count on our parents’ “Christian heritage” to get us into heaven?  I would hope we are beyond that.  But are we just coasting or really pressing into the kingdom of heaven?   

Jan. 3 – (Matt. 3:13-17) The voice from heaven seems to use words from Ps. 2 and Isa. 42:1-9.  What other phrases in those passages remind you of Jesus?

Why do you think John was reluctant to baptize Jesus?  How does II Cor. 5:21 and Hebrews 4:15 contribute to an answer to this question? 

Jan. 4 – (Matt. 4:1-11; Gen. 3:1-5) Compare Jesus’ response with Satan’s temptations to Eve’s response to Satan’s temptation.  Were the questions similar?  How were the responses different?  Let’s so know the Word that it overrides whatever words or voices are tempting us!

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  Quote by Jim Elliot (a missionary killed by the Auca Indians)

Jan. 5 – (Matt. 4:12-17) It’s amazing what you miss so many times in reading the Word. Then, it’s there and you never saw it before!  When John TB (The Baptist) was imprisoned, Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum. Why is this important?  For one thing, it fulfilled prophecy (Isa. 9:1,2).  The people in this area are now the first to see the great light of God’s deliverance in Jesus. Second, this becomes Jesus’ base of ministry in and around Galilee.  He also began to preach and the words He spoke repeat what John TB announced.  “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”  We will be doing a series on kingdom living this month so let’s focus on that as we study His Word.

Jan. 6 – (Matt. 4:18-22) One of the first things Jesus did was to call disciples.  Create a brief description of what is required for “citizenship” in His kingdom according to these verses. For these disciples, it meant leaving job and family and following Jesus wherever He went.  How has discipleship affected your life? 

One description said that Peter and Andrew had been followers of Jesus for about a year (John 1:35-42).  Tell me what you think.

Jan. 7 – (Matt. 4:23-25) When Syria (a Gentile region north of Galilee) heard of the healings, they brought their sick and were healed.  I tend to think Jesus dealt mainly with the Jewish culture, but from the very beginning, He included all mankind. YAY!!

                Verse 25 says great crowds followed Him wherever He went.  They were not disciples. What part of us is a “disciple”? What part of us is just part of the “crowd”? Selah

                DID YOU KNOW?  The Galilee region where Jesus ministered had 200 or more villages and towns, but no major cities.