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Unexpected Gift, Shifted Perspective

March 5 | DNA Guide

Be Real Together

Take a few minutes to catch up, tell stories, and laugh together. Trust and friendship take time to build. If you’re launching a new DNA, one person should tell their story — what do we need to know about you? Next week, have another person in your DNA share their story.

Read Together: Matthew 1:18 - 2:12 CSB

Grow Together: Observe & Apply

Following Jesus is an invitation into having our perspectives shifted. Let’s look at three accounts of people whose perspectives changed when Jesus showed up on the scene.

1.  Joseph - Thrown Off by The Unexpected
Joseph probably expected a marriage that was relatively pain-free, without notoriety or controversy. But, Mary was pregnant, and it was impossible for him to be the dad. Although Mary had been faithful, God had done a supernatural work inside her body, but Joseph had no idea what was happening. In those days, unfaithfulness resulted in shame and even a death sentence. So, Joseph decided to quietly divorce her, because it would likely save them both a lot of heartache, maybe even their lives. Sometimes our first inclination in crisis is to solve the problem OUR way before exploring GOD’S way. But an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David,” reminding him who he was (the Son of David), that he was part of David’s lineage (royalty) and that the Messiah could possibly come through HIM. So, Joseph canceled his plans and stayed with Mary.  

God has a plan. The question is whether we'll come into alignment with it. A lot of times, we experience unexpected circumstances in our lives, many that feel like a total disaster. We feel shaky and afraid and might even start making hasty decisions that aren’t always the best. We might have felt the urge to blame God for what we were experiencing. Even when you can’t see the big picture, God is always working a plan that’s for your good. We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 CSB). This doesn’t mean you’ll never have hardships or deal with the effects of living in a broken world. But when you trust God in the midst of the unexpected, he promises to work everything together for your benefit in the end. Maybe today you need to be reminded to trust God in the uncertainties of life, like Joseph had to do.

Questions to Discuss: Have you ever tried to solve a problem in YOUR way before exploring God’s way? Have you considered that God might be doing something in your life that’s actually for your good, but you can’t see it clearly yet?

2. The Wise Men - Seeking Something Spiritual
History tells us that these “wise men” (“magi”), were known for their interest in spiritual phenomena like dreams, astrology, magic, prophetic writings, even the occult. They followed the leads (particularly an unusual star) into Jerusalem looking for answers. They had read prophecies and heard rumors of a new King being born in Israel. They might not have realized that, for centuries prior, God had been moving the pieces and setting the table for this moment. After a long journey, when they finally saw Jesus, they knew that his future was going to change the world.  And when they saw him, they fell down and worshiped him as King.

The majority of us are on some sort of spiritual journey. You might say “I’m spiritual but not religious.” You’re halfway there. We were made as spiritual beings because that’s what God is like. But the answer is not to be spiritual and religious. The answer is found in the example of these men: To be spiritual and to know Jesus. Being a Christian isn’t about rule-following. It’s not about intangible spiritual concepts, or practicing empty rituals. Christianity is a response to the coming of a king. A king who saw messed up people, unable to save ourselves and love like we should, and yet he got down on our level to forgive us and restore us into the people he designed us to be. But even these “the wisest of the wise”, realized that the appropriate response to an encounter with Jesus was to bend a knee, to recognize his authority and worship him. If you’ve got a spiritual curiosity and have been chasing random leads, God led you to this moment to introduce you to Jesus. He wants to give specific direction to your spiritual journey that can change everything. If you’re on that journey, dig deeper and pursue Jesus, because HE is the destination your heart is longing to find.

Questions to Discuss: Where are you at in your spiritual journey? Do you resonate with the wise men? What do you think of the statement: "The answer is not to be spiritual and religious. The answer is to be spiritual and to know Jesus"? 

3. King Herod - Threatened by Outside Authority
The wise men approached King Herod in Jerusalem about the star they’d seen and the King they were seeking. He was a cruel leader, so power-hungry, that he was known for executing friends, family members, associates. Hearing about this new “King,” the scripture said he felt “disturbed.” He summoned all the religious leaders and thinkers in the kingdom to confirm the prophecy that a King would be born in Bethlehem. When Herod summoned the wise men and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship him" (Matthew 2:8 CSB), he had no interest in worshiping Jesus. Instead, he wanted to devise a plan to find and hunt Jesus down so he could squash the potential threat to his leadership.

Many people say that their problem with faith is that it requires them to give up their autonomy. They fear having to give up their lifestyle or their right to pursue whatever they want. It is one of the greatest fallacies of our time. Many people believe that freedom is access to unlimited options and to be truly free, you should have zero restrictions on your life. But it is not freedom if:
  • Bad habits lead to lifelong addictions.
  • Shady business dealings lead to incarceration.
  • Sketchy internet searches lead to infidelity.
  • An obsession with money leads to insurmountable debt.
Many think that Jesus wants to take away their freedom, but the Gospel message is that Jesus wants to give you TRUE freedom. To free you from the things you thought would satisfy you but haven’t. To show you what real freedom looks like.

Questions to Discuss: How have you struggled with the authority of Jesus? Have you experienced true freedom in Jesus? If so, what has that looked like for you?

Final Question to Discuss: As stated at the beginning, following Jesus is an invitation into having our perspectives shifted. Is there a place in your journey with Jesus where you would like to shift your perspective?

Pray Together

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the plans you have for our lives. When we face unexpected, hard events, let us remember your love for us and trust in you. Don’t let our insecurities, fear, vanity and pride stand in the way. Let us see things with your eyes, feel things with your heart and think like your mind. Show us where it would benefit us to change our perspectives.
In Jesus’ name, AMEN.