So I’m sure you probably noticed, but the temperature dropped like 40 degrees overnight this weekend. Friday afternoon my kids were playing outside in shorts and t-shirts and Saturday morning we walked through light snow flurries on the way into Einstein Bagels. Once I got past my unending confusion over Texas winters, I got to thinking that this is a good analogy for my spiritual life. Even when things are going really well, my prayer life is strong and I’m feeling very connected with God, a polar vortex of doubt, fear, etc. can come without warning – sometimes even overnight while I’m sleeping. But I take heart in knowing that if I stay the path, God will thaw my heart again.
With that in mind, we hope you’ve been doing some family readings as we read through Matthew as a congregation. Even if you haven’t, now is a great time to start. One possible idea to get you started: we got our kids their own book of Matthew and wrote their names on it, and that sure made them excited and gave them a feeling of ownership that this study is for them too, not just for the grown ups.
Monday 1/21 – A Strong Foundation
- Building a strong foundation is the most important thing we can do for our children. It will ensure that they won’t turn away from church when they leave your nest and go off to college and the real world.
- What is a foundation? It’s what attaches the house to the ground. If a house has a strong foundation, it will be strong when a storm comes.
- What do you think Jesus means that putting his words into practice is like building a strong foundation for your house?
- Talk about what you are doing as a family to build a strong foundation. What are the building blocks? Examples are going to church and Sunday school, praying, and reading the Bible together as a family. What could you add?
Tuesday – Unbelievable Faith
- There are many examples of healing miracles in Matthew, showing the power of Jesus as the Son of God.
- The second story in today’s reading is The Faith of the Centurion. A centurion is a very important soldier.
- The centurion didn’t ask Jesus to come to touch the sick man. His faith was so unbelievably, incredibly strong that he knew Jesus just needed to say the word and it would be done – even if the sick person was far away.
- Pray with your children about friends or family members who live far away. God is with them, even when we can’t be.
Wednesday – Making Excuses
- The first passage of today’s reading might seem harsh. Jesus said “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
- There should be nothing to keep you away from following Jesus.
- Let’s get real today. Discuss what the excuses – big or seemingly small – you are making and not following Jesus.
Thursday – Demons and Pigs
- Today we read about two demon-possessed men who were so mean and angry that they basically shut down a whole road. They were very scary and must have made life really difficult for the neighbors, who surely wished someone would do something about it.
- Jesus did do something. He healed them. He kicked the demons out into some pigs. But the people didn’t say thank you. They asked Jesus to leave.
- Do you think they asked him to leave because their pigs died? Or maybe because they were just scared having someone so powerful there?
- Talk to your kids about what scares them about being completely open with Jesus.
Friday – Healing Miracle
- Today’s reading is another example of Jesus’ healing miracle. People today have a hard time believing that these miracle stories really happened. But don’t forget, people who lived with Jesus were shocked by the miracles too. That’s why he had thousands of people following him.
- But today, we are less willing to admit a miracle when we see it. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one.
- These things happen all the time all around us, even just last month, here in Texas.