The Challenge – Week 4

He was known as a traitor, sinner, thief. He was considered beyond redemption. He was hated, scorned, rejected, exiled from the temple. This had become Matthew’s life, his identity, an outsider amongst his own people. Perhaps, the money, the parties, the comradery of his fellow tax collectors had inoculated him from the pain of being rejected by his people. Their rejection perhaps fueled his resolve to steal from and swindle his own people. So Matthew, the tax collector, sat at his booth day in and day out, taking advantage of his own, working for those who oppressed his people. At night, he eased his conscious with loud parties, fast women and strong ale. This was Matthew’s life. But then, suddenly…

This day, Matthew sat at his tax booth like he had done every day before, earning his wealth by cheating his fellow countrymen. Each of them looking at him with disgust, hatred, unforgiveness. But then this Man walked by. Their eyes met. This Man looked at Matthew like no one had in a very long time. There was not hatred, no disgust in his eyes. This man looked past Matt’s occupation, past his lifestyle choices, past his hurt and saw who Matt was called to be – a disciple, a writer of the Gospel, an evangelist, a healer, a son of the Most High. Jesus looked at Matthew and immediately accepted him, immediately extended an invitation to “Come, follow me.”
Perhaps it was this unconditional acceptance that prompted a successful businessman to leave all and follow the one who had unconditionally accepted him. Maybe, Jesus’ acceptance was all that was needed for this former sinner turned disciple, to forsake his life of dishonest gain. It is after all the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

Today, Jesus is beckoning us as He called Matthew 2000 years previously. He looks at us and sees past our sins, past our hurts, past our past. He sees sons and daughters, disciples, teachers, prophets, evangelist, pastors, apostles, writers, businessmen, engineers and doctors. His acceptance is unconditional. He accepts us even when our behavior is unacceptable.

Brothers and sisters, you have been accepted in the Beloved. Completely. Unconditionally. Eternally. Allow that acceptance to spur you to shed fear of man. (The God of the Universe accepts you, why do you care what anyone else has to say about you?) Allow his acceptance to free you from a life of searching for acceptance through money, prestige, or sin. Rest in his unconditional, free acceptance.
You are accepted in the Beloved. You are highly favored.

Lord, I thank you that I dwell in the shelter of the Most High and I rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Lord, you are my refuge and my fortress. You are my God in whom I trust. Surely you will save me from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. You will cover me with your feathers and under your wings I will find refuge; Your faithfulness will be my shield and my rampart. I will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness nor the plaque that destroys at midday. Lord, You are my refuge and I have made you my dwelling place. No harm will overtake me, no disaster will come near my tent. Thank you Lord that you command your angels concerning me, to guard me in all my ways. I will not strike my foot against a stone. I will tread on the lion and the cobra; I will trample the serpent. Lord thank you that you rescue me, you protect me and you acknowledge my name. When I call you, you will answer me. You will be with me in trouble. You will deliver me and honor me. You will satisfy me with long life and show me your salvation. May your favor rest upon me and establish the works of my hand. (Based on Psalms 91 and 90:17)

Memorize it – meditate on the scripture, quietly repeating it over and over again throughout your day until you can declare it without reading it.

Actualize it – make the scripture real to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fresh revelation of its meaning; how can you apply this to your daily life? Then journal what you feel the Holy Spirit is speaking.

Personalize it – Rewrite the scripture using personal pronouns such as “me” or “I”. For instance: “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” Remind yourself that the scripture applies to you personally.

Week 4 Memory Verses
Focus: I Am Accepted in the Beloved
(Unless otherwise noted, all scripture are NIV)

DAY 1 MEMORIZE: “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV)

WEEK 4 DAY 2 MEMORIZE: “Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield (Psalms 5:12)

WEEK 4 DAY 3 MEMORIZE: “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands”. (Psalm 90:17)

WEEK 4 DAY 4 MEMORIZE: “For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2 NIV)

WEEK 4 DAY 5 MEMORIZE: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17 AMP)

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