Wow! What an amazing weekend! God is good! On Friday and Saturday night we held the 9th annual I AM Fall Retreat in Millersburg, OH. 190+ students and leaders came together to learn about who we are in light of who God is. The theme for this year’s retreat was “I Am Yours”.
On Friday evening, Chris Selby talked about God as the Great Redeemer. He took us all the way from creation to the cross and gave students the opportunity to respond to God’s free gift of forgiveness of sins through the shed blood of Christ. Many students put their faith in Christ alone for salvation that night. It was awesome!
On Saturday morning, I spoke about Jesus as the Glorious Savior. I unpacked the amazing truth that, according to the Bible, God has saved us (see Ephesians 2:8), He is saving us (see 1 Corinthians 1:18), and He will save us (see Romans 13:11). We celebrated our initial salvation, we came to grips with the fact that we still need Jesus just as much today in our everyday lives as we did when we first believed, and we considered what it will be like when Christ returns for His bride. I also challenged the students with the fact that this news is simply too good to keep for ourselves! God wants to make this the reality of so many of our friends, family members, co-workers, and acquaintances who do not currently know Jesus. We need to share this good news!
On Saturday night, Keith Byler spoke about Jesus as the King Forever. He helped the students identify and avoid the two prominent wrong slants of the gospel (life from God and life for God), and helped them aim for the bull’s-eye of the gospel -life with God! Through the cross, God essentially said with arms stretched wide, “I Am yours!” Keith gave the students an opportunity to respond with lives wide open, saying to God, “I am Yours!”
In the midst of all of this, we issued a challenge on Saturday morning to read through the entire New Testament in 44 days. The idea is simple: 3 chapters in the morning and 3 chapters every evening. On day 44, which will actually be Christmas Eve, there will only be 1 chapter to read in preparation for celebrating Christmas.
This blog series, “44 Days through the New Testament” will be my personal response to what I am reading each day. Feel free to take the journey with me! It just may change your life. Your willingness to contribute to the blog through commenting at the end may well change someone else’s life. Let’s do this together!
Reading through the chapters this morning got me pretty excited for this challenge and this walk through the New Testament. The biggest thing that stood out to me, probably in light of the I AM Fall Retreat weekend, was that Jesus is our King Forever!
Matthew makes it super clear that this baby who was born of a virgin came through the royal lineage of King David. Jesus is the king! The wise men pay Him honor, as king, with their gifts. There is simply no mistaking it, Jesus is the King Forever!
There is another king in the opening chapters of Matthew. King Herod shows us what an earthly king tends to be like. He is ruthless, selfish, jealous, and deceitful. In short, he is the furthest thing from the true king. Jesus is kind, selfless, loving, and honest. No earthly king can compare to Jesus, the King of all kings.
We are reminded in the opening verses of Matthew 4 of how important it is to know the word of God. While being tempted by Satan, Jesus clung to the firm foundation of the word of God. It was His true north. His feelings of hunger would have led Him astray, if not for the fact that His hunger for the word of God was greater.
Satan not only tempts Jesus with physical needs, but with spiritual needs, as well. Satan says, “If you are the Son of God…” He is doing the same thing to us today!
“If you are a child of God…”
“If God really loved you…”
“If God was really good…”
On and on and on the father of lies tries to attack our understanding of who God is, and of who He says we are.
Like Jesus, we need to realize that we don’t answer to Satan. We don’t answer to the prince of this world. We answer to Almighty God, the Great Redeemer, the Glorious Savior, the King Forever. Who are we? We are His. What He says about Himself, and what He says about us is the only thing that really matters.
Child of God, don’t listen to Satan’s lies. Listen to Your Father who loves you.
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10, ESV)