Grow, Pray & Study Guide: Next Level Living, Week 1

Our hope at River City is that you grow daily in your walk with God! One way to do that is to spend time with God every day. This Grow, Pray and Study Guide (GPS) is just one easy way to connect with God on a daily basis.

Monday: Matthew 5:1-12

The Beatitudes are a reverse of the value systems that people have had throughout history. In many cases people feel blessed based off what has happened to them in the past or present. Jesus is saying that you are “blessed” because what will happen to you. The future hope that you have as Christians. Yes, this is the hope of heaven, but it is also the hope of the Kingdom of God breaking through in the everyday circumstances. We can realize that we can be blessed in our mourning and when we show mercy to those that it might be hard to offer mercy. Take some time today to read through the Matthew 5:1-12. For each verse in 3-12, can you think of a person in your life that exemplifies that verse? Now read each verse and find one of the Beatitudes that you think is evident in your life. Is there a beatitude that jumps out at you that if it were more evident in your life would lead you further to next level living?


Tuesday: Matthew 5:13, Romans 5:1-5

Salt was used in the time of Jesus to preserve, purify, or bind together. Basically salt produced results in the long run. Real results require perseverance, character and hope. As you look at the goals for 2017, do they require perseverance? Do they grow your character? What hopes do they produce for yourself and even others? Goals such as these constantly take us to next levels of living because they continue to open new doors and lead us to new goals. We must ask ourselves, “Are our goals salty?” Salty goals are ones that not only make our lives better, but they also make the lives of others better. Salt preserves…purifies….and brings together. Take a look at your goals for 2017. What difference do the make in your life and the lives of others in the long run (preserve)? In what way do they draw you and others closer to God (purify)? In what ways do they unite people (bind together)?


Wednesday: Matthew 5:14-16, First John 1:5-7

Light draws us in and then reveals hidden things. In the time of Jesus light was scarce. A city, fire, or torch could be seen from far away and would draw people in from miles around. Once they arrived to the source of the light different parts of the city or home could be seen. If they stayed in the light for a long time they could see all parts of the city or home. If they hurried along away from the light not as much could be revealed. God asks us to walk in the light. To center our lives around the light that God provides. This light reveals things in our lives that God might want to tweak for the better. It also reveals new possibilities that God has for us. Take some time this week to light a candle and reflect on the light it provides. Ask God to reveal to you things in your life that God might want to tweak. Ask God to reveal new possibilities that you might be missing. Ask yourself if you consistently place yourself in the light of God or if you consistently walk away from the light.


Thursday: Matthew 5:17-19, Exodus 20:1-21

The Law of the Prophets and the Ten Commandments were provided as guides for the people of the Old Testament to be in right relationship with God. Jesus came into the world so that it would be based off our faith in him that we are right with God. It is not based off what we do or don’t do, but we do or don’t do is still very important! If you play the game Monopoly it is always great to have the “get out of jail free” card! Jesus wanted to make it clear that he did not come into the world to say that right living was not important anymore. Instead he came to fulfill the law that was given and by fulfilling it he gave it new meaning. No longer did The Law make you “right with God.” Jesus made you right with God, therefore Jesus gave more meaning to the things God asked of Christians. Jesus even took it to a higher level. If you read the rest of Matthew 5 you will see that Jesus takes some of the 10 Commandments and raises the bar. Are there things in your life that you just do and you don’t even know why you do them? Rules you follow? Activities you attend? Is there a greater purpose to these things? The Sermon on the Mount provided greater purpose to the Laws and Rules that people kept. Can you find the greater purpose in the day to day?


Friday: Matthew 5:20

The Pharisees and Jesus do not get along. Jesus loves to call them out and the Pharisees love to get people crucified. The righteousness of the Pharisees was based upon keeping rules and regulations. For example, they did not want Jesus to heal on the Sabbath. They would even limit the number of steps you could take on the Sabbath. No hiking around the Sea of Galilee on the Sabbath Day. I guess you could swim though b/c there were no rules against that! Jesus wanted more than rule followers when he called his disciples. He wanted them to get the spirit of the message. Do you see your Christian life as a list of “do’s and don’ts?” If so, I think we are missing the point. The Pharisees “religion” hinged on the law, but Jesus’ offer of a new way extended to the ends of the earth. It offered grace to those who the Pharisees excluded. Maybe you have made a list of spiritual goals. Some of them might include: read your bible, go to church, be a part of small group, etc. These are great! We must allow what we read, hear and experience to invade every other area of our lives. If we are simply following rules we aren’t following Jesus.