Anticipate, 2017

This past Sunday we started a new sermon series, beginning a season which our church calls “Anticipate.” MBC often sets aside a few weeks before Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday to refocus our thoughts, preparing ourselves for the commemoration of Jesus’ sacrificial death and celebration of his victorious resurrection. We want to take this time to prepare ourselves for what God might speak into our own lives, for what the next step in our discipleship might be, and for who he might be asking us to reach out to by sharing the Good News.

In other words, we want to live in expectancy of what God might speak to us and in anticipation of what he is doing.

Traditionally, the season which leads toward Easter is accompanied by some sort of fasting. This is intended to rid us of distractions and the unnecessary trappings of our busy lives which draw our attention away from Jesus. After all, as we follow the narrative of the Gospels, this is the time when Jesus was preparing himself to take up his cross, and we are called to do likewise (Mt. 16:24-28). Of course, as followers of Jesus, we always need to be people who lay aside our own desires in order to follow Jesus, not just for a few weeks before Easter. However, as we approach Good Friday, this is a particularly appropriate time for us to focus on daily taking up our cross in the imitation of Christ.

This year we are using the image of a tree to help anchor our thoughts. The symbolism of trees runs all throughout the scriptures: from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane, from the Resurrection Garden to the garden at the centre of the New Jerusalem. Not only that, but the Biblical imagery of trees is often connected with fruitfulness in spite of difficulty (see Jeremiah 17:5-8). And if fruitfulness in the midst of trial doesn’t epitomise the ministry of Jesus, I don’t know what does!

So, if you have not already done so, next Sunday we encourage you to find one of the stations we have set up in the church and pick up a tree medallion and bookmark. Take the medallion and place it somewhere you’ll frequently see it (on a keychain, a necklace, a bracelet, etc) so that you will be constantly reminded to be praying and anticipating what God is doing and how we can follow him into a life of faithfulness and fruitfulness.

Psalm 1 reminds us that when we meditate on God’s Law we become like a tree which bears fruit at the right time. And so, as you’ll see on your bookmark (or below), I have assembled daily readings for Anticipate. These readings follow some of the key stories and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. These 24 daily readings can be used for personal or family devotions and, hopefully, will help draw you into the story of Jesus as we walk toward the cross with him.

  • Day 1 – Psalm 1
  • Day 2 – Mt. 4:1-11
  • Day 3 – Mt. 4:23-5:12
  • Day 4 – Mt. 5:17-20
  • Day 5 – Mt. 5:38-48
  • Day 6 – Mt.6:5-14
  • Day 7 – Mt. 7:13-27
  • Day 8 – Mt. 9:1-8
  • Day 9 – Mt. 10:16-31
  • Day 10 – Mt. 11:1-19
  • Day 11 – Mt. 12:1-14
  • Day 12 – Mt.13:1-9, 18-23
  • Day 13 – Mt. 14:1-21
  • Day 14 – Mt. 16:1-12
  • Day 15 – Mt. 16:13-20
  • Day 16 – Mt. 16:21-28
  • Day 17 – Mt. 17:1-13
  • Day 18 – Mt. 17:14-22
  • Day 19 – Mt. 20:1-16
  • Day 20 – Mt. 20:17-28
  • Day 21 – Mt. 21:1-13
  • Day 22 – Mt. 26:1-16
  • Day 23 – Mt. 26:17-35
  • Day 24 – Mt. 26:36-56