Resetting Our Lives Around What Really Matters - Radical

Resetting Our Lives Around What Really Matters

In the busyness of our schedules and the pressing needs of everyday life, it’s easy for us to ignore the things that matter most—things that have eternal significance. In this message, David Platt urges us from Genesis 1:27 (and other Scriptures) to resolve to live for what really matters now and forever. We need to be able to answer questions like, “Who am I?”, “What is wrong in the world?”, “How can it be made right?”, and “How can I experience life to the full, both now and forever?” The start of a new year is a good time to reset by pursuing life to the full through praying, fasting, and hearing and obeying God’s Word.

If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with—I invite you to turn with me to the very first page, Genesis 1. As you’re turning there, I want to welcome those of you in our other locations across Metro DC, as well as others who are not able to be with us in person today. It’s good to be together around God’s Word.

I love what “together” looks like here. I was just in the lobby and saw that we’re together with others from countries like Iran, Afghanistan and India. A brother is visiting from India today. We have a delegation at Tysons from the Bahamian consulate, which is celebrating 50 years of independence. Who knew? I don’t even know where you guys are in the room, but we’re so glad you’re here. That’s just from one location and a few conversations. So it is good to be together from the nations around the Word of God. Let’s dive in.

Life is fragile. Millions of people felt that in a surprising way this last Monday night as they watched a football player, Damar Hamlin, collapse suddenly on TV. Word spread immediately through social media and other outlets, so most of us heard about CPR being administered on the field, then he was taken to an area hospital, where he is improving but still in serious condition, as we and many people are praying for his healing.

In a moment like that, on Monday night football, we suddenly remember what really matters. It’s not a game on a field, nor the money people make. It’s not the million other things that capture all of our attention in this world. What matters is life, not just now, but life forever. Monday night was just a reminder that none of us is guaranteed another breath, which means it’s wise for each of us to step back and reset our lives around what really matters.

So here at the start of this new year, I want to help you reset, to remember what really matters about your life and others’ lives, to resolve to live for what really matters, now and forever.

We’ve started a new year in our church’s Bible Reading Plan, which I invite you all to be a part of. Don’t worry if you’re starting late; it’s definitely not too late. This Bible Reading Plan involves reading two chapters of the Bible each day, so over the course of two years you’ll read through the entire Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice. I invite you to join us in reading the Bible, even if you’re not a Christian. After all, this is the most famous book in the history of the world. Shouldn’t you at least figure out why?

There are others of  you who are Christians, or followers of Jesus, but you’ve never read the whole Bible. Certainly you don’t want to stand before God one day and say, “I was too busy to read Your Word.” And for those who have read the whole Bible, I trust you know by now that there’s so much more to be gained by meditating on God’s Word again and again and again. We’ll get to that in a minute.

The reason I mention this here at the start is because our Bible Reading Plan has begun in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, and Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. Both of these books are so helpful for resetting our lives and remembering what matters. What I want to do today is highlight how these opening chapters in Genesis and Matthew reset our lives by refocusing us on the most foundational questions of life. So if you’re taking notes, we will look at four foundational questions today. I’ll go ahead and give them to you here at the start:

  • First, “Who am I? Who are you?” At the core, what is your identity?
  • Second, “What is wrong in the world?” All you have to do is open up a newsfeed on your phone to see things are not right in the world. We can just look around in our lives and see things are not all right. Why is that? What is wrong in the world?
  • Third, “How can it be made right?” Is there any hope that that which is wrong can be made right or is this just the way it is forever?
  • Then finally, in light of the answers to these three questions, we’ll ask, “How can I experience life to the full, now and forever?” Which I assume we all want, right? Who of us doesn’t want to experience life to the full, now and forever? So how can we experience that?

Obviously, that’s a lot to cover in a little bit of time, so we really are just going to hit the highlights of these opening chapters of the Bible, hopefully in a way that will help us all reset our lives at the start of this year.

1. Who am I?

Who are you? From the first chapter of the Bible, after everything else in creation comes into being, we read in Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Wow! What a picture of the dignity that marks you and me from the beginning of creation. Who am I? Who are you? According to this first chapter in the Bible, each one of us are a man or a woman personally made by God in His image to enjoy and exalt Him in all of His glory.

Just think about this and how important resetting this is in our world today. I’m a man or a woman. God created each of us uniquely male or female. His creation of our gender from the beginning was good. Obviously, God didn’t have to create us this way. He could have created us gender neutral. But He created a beautiful distinction between man and woman, a distinction that is divinely designed, not humanly constructed. Contrary to ideas in our culture, gender identity is not chosen by people. It is given by God, for our good, for our flourishing, from the start of creation, in unique, wonderful, beautiful and awesome ways, with equal dignity. Both men and women are created in God’s own image. From the start of Scripture, God is speaking directly against any kind of male or female superiority or dominance, which means in any culture, in any country.

In any relationship where man is thought to be better than woman or woman is thought to be better than man, or where woman or man are treated as inferior, then we are going against the design of God. It is never right to disparage or belittle women or men. Sexual inferiority or superiority, misogyny, male dominance, female exploitation—all of these things are sinful violations of God’s Word and there is no place for them anywhere in the world or in our lives and relationships.

I am a man personally made by God. I’m borrowing here from some language later in the Bible—Psalm 139—that describes how God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb. The focus here in Genesis 1 is on how God personally creates us “in His own image.” The language here is climactic, after all of creation.

Just think of God, up to this point in Genesis 1, creating light and dark, earth and the heavens, sky and waters, mountains and oceans, sun, moon and shining stars, fish and birds, small insects and large animals. Yet after all of that, at the pinnacle of creation, God made people, unlike everything else, “in His image.” Which means we have the capacity to be in personal relationship with God.

Apart from everything else in all creation, we have minds that are innately able to reason, remember and communicate in complex abstract language. We have emotions that are deeply personal and intricately complex, ranging from love and compassion to grief and anger—sometimes all at once. We have moral intuition, a sense of right and wrong, woven into the fabric of our being.

While we have intricately designed physical bodies, we are also spiritual beings which, as an important side note in our world today, will always set us apart from artificial intelligence and machines. No matter what we, in our ingenuity, can manufacture physically with our most advanced technology, we cannot make a spirit.

With all of these capacities, we’re able to know and relate to God in a way that nothing else in this world can. God made you for this reason: so that you will enjoy Him in a personal relationship with Him. You were made by God to enjoy God, in all of His glory, all of His attributes, and not just to enjoy Him, but to exalt Him in all of His glory. Maybe God is a lot greater than we think He is. Maybe the God Who made this entire universe and every single one of us is worthy of more than some religious exercise, attending a service every once in a while, or maybe even every week. Maybe this God is worthy of the worship of your entire life, of all that you are and all that you have. This is who you are: a man or a woman, personally made by God in His image to enjoy and exalt Him in all of His glory.

Do you realize what nobility you possess? What is your identity? Do not look down on yourself. When you look in the mirror in the morning, behold the wonder of a man or a woman made in the image of God, made to enjoy Him.

Which then leads to our second question. After we ask, “Who am I?”, we inevitably ask, “What is wrong in the world?”

2. What is wrong in the world?

It takes a mere three chapters of the Bible to get an answer to this question. In Genesis 2:16-17, we read that in at the beginning of creation, “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

Adam could enjoy the fruit of every tree in creation—except for one—and in the next chapter, Genesis 3:1-5, Satan tempts Adam and Eve around that one.

1b He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

In other words, “You cannot trust God. He’s not good. God is keeping you from what’s really good and you know better than He does what’s best for you.” So verse six tells us, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” From Genesis 3 on, Adam and Eve’s story becomes your story and my story. Every single one of us has believed the same lie, that we cannot trust God, that we know better than God what is best for our lives.

This is what’s wrong in the world. Every human, except One, Who we’ll talk about in a moment, has sinned against God, marring God’s image in us and warranting God’s judgment forever. Our stories are all different, yet in this sense, they’re all the same. We have all believed that we know better than God what is best for our lives. We’ve all turned from God and His Word to ourselves and our own ways, in our thoughts, our desires, our words and our actions. As a result, the image of God in all of us has been marred. Just as clearly as God said to Adam and Eve, “You will surely die,” because of our sin, we will all surely die. And not just physically. Our sin separates us from God, so if we die in this state of separation from God—no matter how much good we’ve tried to do to overcome our sin—the reality is our sin still separates us from Him. If we die in this state of separation from God, we will spend eternity in holy judgment due our sin. This is why this world is filled with evil and injustice, war and pain, sickness and suffering. It’s because this world is filled with sin and its effects are all around us.

3. How can it be made right?

So how can it be made right? Can it be made right? If so, how? Right here in Genesis 3, God makes a promise to Satan. It says in verse 15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Follow this. God promised that One would come from the offspring, specifically of woman, and Satan would bruise His heel. But this offspring would bruise—some translations say crush—Satan’s head. Now would you rather have your heel crushed or your head crushed? One hurts; the other delivers a fatal blow—and that is the point.

God was promising One Who would come from the offspring of woman Who would crush sin, Satan and death itself. We read Matthew 1:20-23, centuries after this promise was made in Genesis 3, that God tells this to a man named Joseph:

20b “Son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”(which means, God with us).

How can that which is wrong in the world be made right? God has made a way through Jesus for us to be saved from our sin and restored to relationship with Him, and for all creation to be completely redeemed. Jesus is God with us. God has come to us in this state. In this world He has lived a life of no sin, unlike anyone else in all of history. Then, even though He had no sin for which to die, He chose to die on a cross to pay the price for our sin. Then, three days after He died, Jesus rose from the grave in victory over sin and death. He crushed the serpent’s head, so that anyone who trusts in Jesus as Lord of their lives will be saved from their sin and restored to relationship with God.

I ask every person right now the question that determines life. Have you put your faith in Jesus to save you from your sin and restore you to relationship with God? Have you trusted in the Lord of life to give you life? If not, I invite you to do that today. Right now where you’re sitting, you can be made right with God, not through doing a certain number of things to overcome your sin—you can’t do it—but through trusting in the One Who has overcome sin and death for you. By trusting in Jesus, you can be forgiven of your sin and restored to relationship with God.

When you do—and for all who have trusted in Jesus—obviously there are still things wrong in our lives and still things wrong in this world. We are all still prone to sin. We all still experience suffering. We will all still die. But we can know that because of faith in Jesus, sin will not have the last word in our lives. Suffering will not have the last word in our lives. Death itself will not have the last word in our lives. Jesus will have the last word in our lives.

Then one day He’s going to bring a full and final end to all the evil and all the injustice in the world. One day He’s going to take all that is wrong in the world and He’s going to make it right—completely redeemed. He’s going to make it all new.

4. How can I experience life to the fullest, both now and forever?

So then, how do we live now? In light of this, how can I experience life to the fullest, now and forever? The answer is clear, isn’t it? I’ll show it to you in God’s Word: by walking with God through praying, fasting, hearing and obeying God’s Word. I use this language specifically and intentionally, based on what we see in the beginning of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament alike, this phrase, “by walking with God.”

Genesis 5:24 describes a man named Enoch. The Bible says, “Enoch walked with his God, and he was not, for God took him.” What a description of life! Taking a walk with God—not just anybody—God, the One Who made the universe, walking beside Enoch. Same thing in Genesis 6:9, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Life is found in walking with the One Who made you, Who loves you and Who knows better than you what is best for your life.

It’s no surprise, then, to read Matthew 4 and hear Jesus’ first words to His would-be disciples. Jesus—God with us—says, “Follow Me. Walk with Me.” This is life: walking with God. There are admittedly many things I could include here, but this is a summary based on what Jesus says in His very first sermon: praying, fasting, hearing and obeying God’s Word. So how do you walk with God? Here are the means by which you walk with God.

Praying. In Matthew 6:6, Jesus says, “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Do you see this promise of life? Go into your room, shut the door and pray. Spend time with God your Father. He’s not distant from you. He’s a Father to you. You’re His child and He wants you to experience reward. Every single day, reward is waiting for you in a room alone with you and God.

I was meeting with God this morning. Ha! He was listening to me. The God Who rules the whole universe was listening to me! He was speaking to me, comforting and encouraging me! I was spending time with Him! This is not just for me. It’s for anybody, through Jesus—anybody, anywhere. So find a room, close the door, get alone and experience reward.

Then a few verses later Jesus says this in Matthew 6:17-18. Just like when you pray, “When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Jesus says, “Periodically fast, set aside food, seek God your Father more than even food, then you will experience reward.” He’s better than a sandwich, a steak or vegetables, if that’s your preference. He’s better!

Then He closes this sermon with these words in Matthew 7:24-27:

24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

You and I have a choice for how we can live this year. None of us knows what the year holds, what rain or floods or winds are coming our way. But we do know this: we can either live standing on a rock or sinking in sand. So which do you choose? If you want to stand, then hear the words of Jesus and do them. If you want to sink, then hear the words of Jesus and don’t do them. That makes sense, doesn’t it? If God is the Author of life, the One Who knows what is best for our lives, then of course we would listen to what He says and do it.

So, I want to challenge you today to reset your life around walking with God, through praying, fasting, and hearing and obeying God’s Word. I want to remind you of the acrostics that we use around here to help each other focus on these things. How are you going to set aside time every day to get alone with God and PRAY? Let’s be clear. It’s not because you’re trying to earn your way to God, earn your way to heaven, nor trying to gain some kind of credit with God. No. Jesus has already made the way to God and heaven. When you trust in Him, you’re credited with His righteousness. We pray, not because we’re trying to get ourselves to God. We pray because we are in relationship with God. So here’s the acrostic as a reminder:

  • Praise Him for Who He is. Thank Him for what He’s done and what He’s doing in our lives.
  • Repent. On a daily basis we examine our hearts, minds and lives. We confess our sin quickly, knowing that Jesus covers over our sin so we can live in close relationship with God.
  • Ask for specific needs in our lives and in others’ lives. God has invited you to pour out your life and heart to Him, asking Him for things in your life, your family and the lives of people around you and people around the world, in concentrated times during the day, and then continually throughout the day.
  • Yield your life to Him. “God, lead my life however You want. I trust You’re good, You’re wise, You know what is best, so lead my life to the full.”

That’s PRAY. Then we should also FAST. Just as you pray, also fast. It’s not just for the super-spiritual. It’s just basic. “When you fast.”

  • Jesus expects His followers to fast, to set aside time to Focus on God. Don’t do this for others’ approval in the world. Do this because you’re seeking God above everything else in the world, including food.
  • Abstain from food. Decide not to eat for a meal, for a day, for multiple days, maybe a week or more.
  • Instead of those times when you would normally eat, Substitute that time with prayer and time in God’s Word. Say to God, “More than I want breakfast, lunch or dinner, I just want to be with You. You’re better than everything in this world.” Spend extra time praying, praising God, repenting of sin, asking for things, yielding your life to God and His direction for your life. Spend extra time meditating on and memorizing God’s Word. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
  • Then in the process, Taste and see that God is good. Discover in a fresh way that your soul is designed to be satisfied in God over and above everything in this world, even things like food that you definitely need. Discover that God’s Word is your most important daily bread and truly live by every word that comes from His mouth.

That leads to the last acrostic—MAPS—that we use as a journey to discover God’s Word, to hear and obey it:

  • Meditate and Memorize. Open the Bible, read a chapter or two, like in our Bible Reading Plan. Ask questions. What does this passage say? What does it mean? To meditate means we don’t just read the Word, we read it slowly. We soak in what each passage is teaching us about Who God is and who we are, Who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him.

As we meditate, we look for verses, passages or even chapters to memorize. Memorization is one of the most practical ways to meditate. When you memorize something, you’re saying it to yourself over and over and over again, until it becomes part of you.

Here at Tyson’s this morning, in our worship gathering, Caroline, one of our students from the Rock, just quoted Psalm 25. It’s now part of who she is. Praise God for students, for teenagers, who are hiding God’s Word in their hearts. God, help us follow their example.

So how will you memorize God’s Word? Maybe a verse a week, maybe more?

  • Apply. We don’t just want to read the Word; we’ve got to do the Word. If we just hear the Word, we’ll sink in sand. We saw this in Matthew 7. Think head, heart, hands. How does what I just read in God’s Word affect the way I think? How does what I just read in God’s Word affect what I desire, what I want for my life, for my family, for the world around me? Hands—how does what I just read in God’s Word affect the way I live, the way I speak, the way I act, the way I serve, the way I love, the way I work?
  • Pray. We praise God according to His Word. We repent according to His Word, as we just read. We ask for things in our lives and others’ lives according to what we just read in God’s Word. We yield to God’s Word—everything we just talked about with prayer applied to God’s Word.
  • Share. We write down reflections. I would encourage you to keep a journal. Write down with a pen or type it your reflections on God’s Word each day and how it applies to your life. Write down the prayers that flow from that. Then share with others what you’re seeing in God’s Word, Christians and non-Christians alike. Encourage them with the Word of life.

All of this leads to a practical step that I want to invite every person to take. You can start right now as I walk through this, or maybe later today, but by the latest tomorrow morning in your time alone with God. We have designed an intentional way for each of us individually and all of us together to reset our lives here at the beginning of this year,  specifically for the next 21 days. So don’t think all of 2023. Just think, “Okay, for the next three weeks in my life, how am I going to walk with God?” Can we all do this? Visit mcleanbible.org/21days. You can go there right now, at some point today or tomorrow morning. There’s a place for you to put in your name and email to say, “I’m in.” The whole purpose of this is to send encouraging emails to spur you on for the next three weeks,.

There are tons of resources all over this site. You can find our Bible Reading Plan there. You can find the link to the daily podcast I do, called “Pray the Word,” which goes along with our Bible Reading Plan. It’s just five minutes, praying according to a verse in one of those chapters. You can find practical help for fasting. There are tons of resources there. Specifically you’ll see a “21 Days of Prayer” checklist which is intended to help you think practically through a plan for these 21 days.

There’s encouragement to identify three things you want to pray and seek God for specifically over the next 21 days. There’s a place to help you answer these questions: “Where is my place? When am I going to be alone with the Father in prayer and the Word each day? What’s my plan for fasting? Over the course of these 21 days, what would fasting look like?

There’s encouragement to share whatever you’re going to be doing with others in your church group, family or  friends for mutual encouragement and mutual accountability. There’s also information there about a late-night prayer gathering we’re going to have on January 20th. This is a Friday night, from 8:00 to midnight. About mid-way through this journey, I want to encourage every member of this church. Attenders and guests, you’re more than welcome also. But especially every member, set aside this time from 8:00 to midnight. We’re all going to be together from all our locations, right here at Tysons, seeking God together. This is the most important thing we do as a church family. Please prioritize this.

So big picture: let’s do this together. Over the next 21 days, let’s reset around walking with God. Why? Because this is who you are. You are a man or a woman personally made by God to enjoy God, to be in a relationship with Him. Though you and I have sin in our lives, Jesus has made a way for that sin to be covered, for us to be restored, for us to experience life to the fullest, walking with God. Why would we not step fully into that? In the process, invite others to do this. Let’s fast. Let’s pray. Let’s hear from and obey God’s Word. Then in the promise, let’s take God at His Word and trust that there is a reward waiting for us when we do this.

So will you bow your heads with me? I want to give you a moment right now, just between you and God, in your seat right now. First and foremost, I would ask do you have a relationship with God? Have you put your trust in Jesus to cover over your sin and to restore your relationship with God? Do you know, if your next breath were to fail, where would you spend all of eternity? If your answer to that question is not a resounding, confident “yes,” then I invite you right now to say to God—just pray in your heart— “God, I know I have sinned against You, but I believe that Jesus has died on the cross to pay the price for my sin. So today I ask You to forgive me of my sin and restore me to relationship with You.”

The Bible says by faith you can be made right with God. Not by your works, not by doing a bunch of stuff, but by trusting in Jesus’ love for you. When you trust in Jesus—and for all who have, for all who know Jesus as Lord of your life—can we pray, “God, we want to walk with You. We want the description of our lives to be that we’ve walked with You. We praise You for this privilege and for making this possible for us. Who are we to be in relationship with You and walk with You?”

So, God, we pray, take us deeper. Draw us closer. I pray this over every single person within the sound of my voice who knows You. God, draw them closer to You. Deepen their prayer life. Help them discover Your sufficiency through fasting in greater ways than they’ve ever experienced before. Help them, help us, to hear and obey Your Word.

God, we want to enjoy You to the fullest, exalt You to the fullest. We want to experience the full reward that is found in You. Please bless especially these next 21 days. Reset our lives. Don’t let us be distracted, God. Help us reset and refocus our lives on what matters forever. In the name of the One Who makes all of this possible, in Jesus’ name we pray. And all God’s people said, “Amen.”

RESETTING OUR LIVES AROUND WHAT REALLY MATTERS

Genesis 1:27; Matthew 1:20-23; 7:24-27

Church Group Sermon Discussion Guide – January 8, 2023

SCRIPTURES

Genesis 1:27

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Matthew 1:20-23

20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

SERMON RECAP

Foundational Questions and Answers for Today

  1. Who am I?
    • I am a man or a woman personally made by God in His image to enjoy and exalt Him in all of His glory.
  2. What is wrong in the world?
    • Every human (except for one) has sinned against God, marring God’s image in us, and warranting God’s judgment forever.
  3. How can it be made right?
    • God has made a way through Jesus for us to be saved from our sin and restored to relationship with Him and for all creation to be completely redeemed.
  4. How can I experience life to the full, now and forever?
    • By walking with God through praying, fasting, and hearing and obeying God’s Word.

Practical Steps to Guide Daily Living

PRAY FAST MAPS
Praise: Worship God for who He  is. Focus on God. Meditate and Memorize: What does the Bible say? What does it mean?
Repent: Confess your sin to God and acknowledge your need for Jesus. Abstain from food. Apply: How does what we read transform our thoughts (head), desires (heart), and/or actions (hands)?
Ask: Intercede for specific needs in your life and others’ lives. Substitute that time with prayer and God’s Word. Pray: Praise, repent, ask, and/or yield according to the Word.
Yield: Surrender your life to following Jesus wherever and however He leads you. Taste and see that God is good. Share: Write down your reflections and talk about them with others.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What do these passages say?

  1. Read these passages aloud as a group and take some time to let group members share observations about them.  Don’t move into interpretation or application, simply share what you observe.
    • What do you see in Genesis 1:27?
    • Knowing our history of sin since Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:1-6), what do you observe about Matthew 1:20-23?
    • What does Jesus desire us to do?  (Matt. 7:24-27)
    • Summarize these passages in your own words.

What do these passages mean?

  1. God created us in a very particular way for a very specific purpose.  (Gen. 1:27)
    • What does God’s creation say about Him and about us?  (Psa. 139:13-16)
    • What is significant about being  image-bearers of the triune God?
    • What is God’s purpose for us and how does knowing Him free us to fulfill it?
  2. The world is not the way God created it to be.  (Matt. 1:20-23)
    • What are some ways that the world strays from God’s intentions?
    • How does human desire influence disobedience, which leads to death?  (Gen. 3:6)
    • What does God do to right our wrongs, and what does faith in Jesus do for us?  (Matt. 1:20-23)
  3. Walking with God is not a passive intention, it is an active experience.  (Matt. 7:24-27)
    • How can biblical examples of obedience help us?  (Gen. 5:24, 6:9; Matt 4:19, 6:6, 6:17)
    • What happens to our lives and to our relationship with God when we obey Him more fully?

APPLICATION QUESTIONS

How can we apply these passages to our lives?

  1. Obedience is surely an expression of our faith.
    • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your obedience?
  • What challenges do you have with obedience and how can our Church Group help you?
  • What steps can you take to grow in faith, improve your trust in, and obedience to the LORD?
  1. Obedience comes from following Jesus through prayer, fasting, and studying His Word.
    • What might you do to improve your prayer life this year?
    • How might you incorporate fasting into your walk with Jesus this year?
    • How might you study and obey God’s Word more fully and consistently this year?

LEADER NOTES

Church Group Leaders, please share the following information with your Church Group:

  1. Looking to serve? Check out mcleanbible.org/localoutreach for serving ideas and/or to register your event, or contact us at [email protected] for additional assistance.
  2. 2023 Short-Term Mission Trips – MBC sends short-term teams to help fuel the spread of the gospel among all nations. We invite all MBC members to consider joining a short-term trip. 2023 late Spring and early Summer trip applications are now open for the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, France, Italy, Middle East, and more! Visit mcleanbible.org/globaloutreach to see upcoming open trips and apply today! (https://mcleanbible.gomethod.app/!/)

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical, a ministry that exists to equip Christians to be on mission.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the following volumes in the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series: Exalting Jesus in MatthewExalting Jesus in JamesExalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, and Exalting Jesus in Galatians.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Resources from David Platt can be found at radical.net.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!