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Resolved: Read the New Testament in 2009 Week One: Matthew, Chapters 1-5

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Welcome to week one of “Resolved: Read the New Testament in 2011.” I appreciate the comments received about the reading program so far and welcome others. The question has come up about creating a study group or two. Let me know if you are interested and your availability. You can reach me by email: pastor@claytonumc.org or phone: 314-2298486. Blessings on your reading and study—Pastor Linda

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Suggestions for Reading the Bible Try to set aside a particular time and place to read each day. Keep pencils, highlighters and a notebook handy. Light a candle or do other things to make your reading time feel sacred and set apart from the rest of your day. Start with prayer, asking God to guide your reading and your understanding. As you read, underline or jot down the words or phrases that speak to you. Underline or jot down words and phrases that seem to speak to you. Meditate by asking, What is God saying to me through this reading? Pray by asking, “What do I want to say to God?” Listen by considering, “What do I feel or how might I respond to this reading?” Act by deciding, “What will I do differently today because of this reading?” Be patient—it takes time to develop a new spiritual practice.

Week Two: January 10-14 Continue reading Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 6 -10. If you do not have a Bible, copies of the New Testament are available as a gift from Clayton United Methodist Church.

Sunday worship 11:00 a.m. 101 N. Bemiston @ Maryland Clayton, MO 63105 claytonumc.org

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As you’ve read this week, you may have noticed that Matthew makes frequent references to the Old Testament. One of the purposes of his writing seems to be to create a link between the existing ways of belief and practicing religion and this new way shown to us by Jesus Christ. The first part of Chapter 1 with its detailed is always easy to overlook. But if you look carefully, you will realize that Matthew makes reference to non-Jewish women. He is paving the way for the appearance of the mother of Jesus and for the message of Jesus to be open to everyone. What does it mean to you that God’s promises are trustworthy over the generations? Chapter 1 concludes with the story of Jesus’ birth. Have you experienced Jesus as Immanuel—“God with us”—recently? Have you prepared yourself to see the presence of God in your life during the New Year? Chapter 2 contains the beloved story of the magi traveling to visit the child Jesus. It is followed by the troubling story of the massacre of the innocents. Why did Matthew emphasize God’s watchfulness over Jesus? Have you ever felt threatened by Jesus’ Kingship? Chapter 3 is the story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. What do you make of the images of judgment spoken by John the Baptist? What do you remember of your baptism? Jesus, who was sinless and had no need of repentance, submitted himself to be baptized by John. Jesus did this in order to identify the work set before him and to embody what he would later command of those who desire to take up his cross and follow him. (John) Wesley wrote that God’s gift of baptism is necessary for all who hear the good news and want to unite with Christ. Baptism is the door to the church and the Christian life for infants and older persons alike. In baptism, sins are re-

jected, belief in God is expressed, and promises are made to persevere in the Christian faith. The revelation of the triune God at the Jordan River assures us that God is present at every Christian baptism. Baptism “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” is a reminder that God is with us from the beginning and throughout our Christian journey. (The Wesley Study Bible, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2009; p. 1165) Chapter 4 begins with the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert for forty days and forty nights. It ends with Jesus calling his first disciples. How does the temptation story affect your decision to be a disciple of Jesus? What temptations do you face and how might this story play a role in your response to temptation Have you ever been truly hungry for a long period of time? Would you consider a one-day fast in order to experience deep hunger? Chapter 5 begins what is sometimes called “The Sermon on the Mount.” The opening verses are described as “The Beatitudes.” Do you think Jesus is describing who his followers are or what his followers must do? How do the blessings described in verses 1-12 compare with the blessings we usually seek? What new standards of living does Jesus set before us in this chapter? What is your response to these standards? Notes: _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________


Study Guide Week One