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Alliance Youth Bible Reading Challenge

Join us as we go through the New Testament in ONE YEAR as a family!

Introduction

For this years Bible Reading Challenge, Alliance Youth will be taking on the New Testament in one year. As a church, we believe that studying and meditating on God's word daily is a crucial part in our journey in pursuing a relationship with Jesus. We also believe that this journey isn't to be done alone! So we invite, not only the youth, but the rest of the family to unpack the wonders of the New Testament with us.


Here you will find resources and tools to use as you and your family go through the New Testament

Week 1: Matthew 1 - 7

Matthew 1-13 Overview | The Bible Project

Week 2: Matthew 8 -14

INTRODUCTION

‘Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. ‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. ‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’ Matthew 10:1-16

Jesus’ ministry is well and truly underway and by this time He had already chosen the twelve, Luke 6:13-16. Here Jesus gives the twelve the authority to work miracles in the lives of anyone they met.

And notice that they received this power before the events of Acts 2 when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:1-5. What Jesus is doing here is giving them this power in order that their preaching could be confirmed as true, John 20:30-31 / Mark 16:20. Jesus often sent His disciples out alone, Mark 6:7 / Luke 9:2. Notice during this time they weren’t to go the Gentiles or the Samaritans, Matthew 15:24 / John 4:9, but here they are instructed to go only to Jewish towns and villages. It wasn’t until after Jesus’ ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles in Acts 2, that they are instructed to go into all the world, Matthew 28:19 / Mark 16:15. We need to remember that Jesus sent the disciples out on many preaching trips during His ministry in order to prepare the way for the cross and establishment of His kingdom's reign.

Notice the message they were given to proclaim, ‘the kingdom of heaven has come near’, Matthew 3:2 / Matthew 4:17 / Mark 9:1 / Luke 10:9. ‘Come near’ means it’s about to be established and as we know, Jesus isn’t speaking about an earthly kingdom but a spiritual kingdom. Through His preaching and the preaching of the twelve, Jesus was preparing Israel for His kingdom reign from heaven that would be the fulfillment of prophecy, Daniel 2:44 / Daniel 7:13-14.

Jesus tells the twelve, ‘freely you have received; freely give. This should be one of the basic principles for Christian living. In the context, here, Jesus was referring to their freely receiving the power to heal the sick. In other words, they weren’t to heal for money, they were to use the free gift of healing in a generous manner. Remember after they received power from the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, they would remember this principle, and so, they would freely impart the ‘miraculous gifts’ to all by the ‘laying on of their hands’, Acts 8:18. The miraculous gifts don’t exist today because no apostles exist to ‘lay their hands’ on us, but we do recognize that God has freely given His grace, therefore we should freely proclaim it to others.

Notice also that they were to take no extra possessions that would burden their trip, they were to take only the clothes they wore and no staff. Luke 9:3. Wait a minute, Mark 6:8 says, ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.’


IS THIS A CONTRADICTION? WERE THEY TO TAKE A STAFF OR NOT?

Matthew and Luke seem to agree that Jesus prohibited the disciples from taking a staff on their journeys, while Mark appears to give them permission to take one. Furthermore, although Luke doesn’t record Jesus’ command regarding sandals, some have concluded that Matthew and Mark also contradict each other on this point.

The differences between Matthew and Mark are explained easily when we understand that the writers used different Greek verbs to express different meanings. In Matthew, the word ‘provide’, NKJV, the root Greek word comes from ‘ktaomai’, which means to ‘procure for oneself, acquire, get’. Based upon these definitions, the NASV used the English verb ‘acquire’ in Matthew 10:9. ‘Do not acquire’, instead of ‘provide’ or ‘take.’ In Matthew, Jesus is saying, ‘Do not acquire anything in addition to what you already have that may tempt you or stand in your way. Just go as you are.’ As Mark indicated, the apostles were to ‘take’, ‘airo’ what they had, and go. The apostles weren’t to waste precious time gathering supplies, extra apparel, staffs, shoes, etc. or making preparations for their trip, but instead were instructed to trust in God’s providence for additional needs. Jesus didn’t mean for the apostles to discard the staffs and sandals they already had, rather, they weren’t to go and acquire more. It’s obvious from a comparison of the verses in Matthew and Luke, they are recording the same truth, that the apostles weren’t to spend valuable time gathering extra staffs, only they are using different words to do so.

‘Provide ‘ktaomi’ neither gold nor silver, nor staffs. Matthew 10:9-10

‘Take ‘airo’ nothing for the journey, neither staffs.’ Luke 9:3

Luke didn’t use ‘ktaomi’ in his account because he nearly always used ‘ktaomi’ in a different sense than Matthew did. In Matthew’s account, the word ‘ktaomai’ is used to mean ‘provide’ or ‘acquire,’ whereas in the Books of Luke and Acts, Luke used this word to mean ‘purchase, buy, or earn.’ The point is simply this, Jesus wanted them to go as quickly as possible to proclaim the message that the Messiah had arrived but at the same time they needed to learn to trust God to take care of their everyday needs, Matthew 6:11 / Matthew 6:25-34. Please note the word, ‘worry’, ‘merimnao’, in the above verses come from the Greek root word, ‘merimna’ which means ‘distraction’, in other words don’t let your everyday needs distract you from putting God first. Jesus tells the twelve, ‘the worker is worth his keep.’ In other words, those who minister spiritual things are worthy of physical things. Hence why its Biblical to pay a ‘full-time’ evangelist. This has always been a principle among God’s people, Luke 10:7 / 1 Corinthians 9 / Galatians 6:6 / 1 Timothy 5:17-18.


WHY WOULD JESUS TELL THEM TO STAY IN ONE HOUSE?

They weren’t to live from house to house in the towns and cities because this may have been interpreted as them searching for material blessings. Also, when we think about it today, if we go somewhere on a trip, we don’t book several places to stay, we book one place and use that place as a base. And notice they were to greet the owner of that household, not the house itself. ‘When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

‘When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.’ Luke 10:5-8

The idea behind the greeting and saying peace was based on the thought that the household that received the messengers were in agreement with and wanted to fellowship the message of the messengers.


BUT WHAT DUST SHAKING THE DUST FROM YOUR FEET MEAN?

This was a Jewish custom that demonstrated to the inhospitable their lack of hospitality and acceptance of the messenger and his message, Nehemiah 5:13 / Luke 10:10-11 / Acts 13:49-51. Here in Matthew, Jesus is saying that those who would receive the messengers of Jesus were receiving Jesus. Matthew 12:41 / John 15:18-27. If they didn’t receive Jesus and what He taught, they would be rejected in the judgment of God. Why were the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah less inexcusable than the sins of cities and villages that rejected the apostles? Simply because they sinned in ignorance, whereas the cities of Jesus’ day sinned against the light, the Messiah, they should have known better. You can read all about Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 and Jude 7.


WHAT DOES ‘SHREWD AS SNAKES’ MEAN?

It simply means the disciples are to exercise great wisdom in their work for the Master, the serpent was symbolic of carefulness, craftiness and wisdom. The serpent was considered a symbol of wisdom among the ancients, especially the python. The girl at Philippi who followed Paul and Silas was said to have had a ‘spirit which could predict the future’, Acts 16:16, but the Greek word denotes that she had a python! Genesis declares that, ‘the serpent was more shrewd’. Genesis 3:1 / 2 Corinthians 12:16 / Ephesians 5:15 / Colossians 4:5.


WHAT DOES ‘INNOCENT AS DOVES’ MEAN?

The dove was symbolic of peace, innocence and purity. The dove as a symbol of harmlessness and innocence derived significance from Noah’s use of it as a messenger in the ark. Genesis 8.

‘After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming on him.’ Matthew 3:16

The brutal and vicious dangers to which the apostles would be exposed weren’t concealed by the Lord. Their mission was dangerous and filled with countless perils. The words ‘sheep in the midst of wolves’ are very appropriate and expressive.

Ask any farmer, what would a wolf do to his flock? One wolf in a flock of sheep is a source of incredible slaughter and destruction. And so, in venturing into the dangers of their journey, the disciples must maintain their innocence in an environment of evil. In order to do such, they must exercise great wisdom on their journey, Philippians 2:14-16.


Matthew 11:28 Meaning of Come to Me All Who Are Weary


Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Explanation and Commentary of Matthew 11:28

These great words of our Lord have been a balm to millions of weary Christians. God does not promise a life devoid of hardship, but for those who have attempted to carry their own burdens and earn their own salvation, it is water to a man in a desert who is dying of thirst.

Jesus saw that humanity was harassed and helpless (Mt 9:36). The sheep of his pasture were thirsty for living water (Jn 4:10). He himself will lead us beside still waters for a peaceful drink.

“Weary and burdened” is a perfect way to describe the state of men and women on the earth, in today’s hurried society more than ever. The Savior beacons us to stop and look to him for rest. Isaiah 30:15 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” How hard it is for us in our flesh to do the one thing that would be easiest: that is to simply trust him, and lay our burdens on the Lord.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Matthew 11:28

#1 “Come to me,”

Jesus calls out to us, “Come, follow me” (Mt 4:19), “Come and be my disciple.” He is always inviting us along the path that he is traveling. He will continue to walk faithfully, we must decide whether we will answer and follow. His invitation is also an invitation to die to ourselves, to trade all that we have, and to be made new.

#2 “all you who are weary and burdened,”

Jesus invites us to put down our heavy load. His “yoke is easy, and his burden is light” (Mt 11:29). Some carry the yoke of religion, seeking to appease God by our own perfection. This will never work in a fallen world, in fallen flesh. In this way, we stand condemned. Others bear the heavy yoke of seeking justification through some achievement, or way of seeking the recognition of men and women. Some simply are worn down by the trials of life in a fallen world in a fallen body. Jesus is the answer to all of these.

#3 “and I will give you rest.”

Rest is our divine promise. Since the seventh day of creation, God has revealed his heart of resting in him and trusting in his work. It was rest that he promised his children in the wilderness. They failed to enter that rest because of their disobedience (Heb 3:19). While it is today and the invitation is open, we must come to Jesus and say, “Yes” to him.


Chief, E. in. (2020, February 6). Matthew 11:28 meaning of come to me all who are weary. ConnectUS. https://connectusfund.org/matthew-11-28-meaning-of-come-to-me-all-who-are-weary. 

Week 3: Matthew 15 - 21

Matthew 15: What makes a person unclean before God?

Today’s chapter is Matthew 15. Here we get some incredible words on what it means to live the type of life that God wants us to live. Again, I want to emphasize, that it’s by faith in Jesus Christ alone by which we’re saved, but the result of salvation will always be a changed life. Good works flow from salvation, not the other way around. You can’t be saved by doing good things (Ephesians 2:8-9)! To get to the verses I wanted to hit on, let’s look at 18-20: ”...those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defiled a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”


In their day, the Jews had created certain traditions which they had incorrectly evelvated to the same level of authority of Scripture. Hand washing was one of them. Having grown from what the Law had originally intended, they had corrupted it and made it into something that God had never wanted it to be. To them, if you wanted God to be happy with you, it was a requirement to wash your hands in their special way. Either do it their way or God wouldn’t want anything to do with you. Unfortunately, they had taken what was initially intended and made it to work to their advantage!

Much like religion today that tells us we have to say something a hundred times before God will forgive us or that we need to go and see a “religous” person of one denomination or another to get forgiveness for our sins, the Bible itself - God Himself - teaches the exact opposite! 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We don’t need to ask a hundred times and we clearly don’t need to go to anyone else to ask for us! This is man’s corruption of what God intended!


When we stop and think about what makes a person unholy, then, Jesus is here telling us that it’s the thoughts and the intents of the heart that matter which is where our actions come from. It’s not the hands of the murderer that are sentenced to jail but the man himself who is responsible! It comes from the heart and that’s what Jesus is saying here.

Jesus says that if we lust after a woman (or man) we’ve committed adultery (Matthew 5:28). A few verses prior to this Jesus had said that if you were angry at someone without cause it was as bad as murder! This again shows us that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)! No one will be able to stand before God and say, “I was a good person so I deserve to come in...” Instead, Jesus is again emphasizing in this chapter that the problem is not the environment we live in. It’s not society’s fault or our parents fault or anyone else’s fault other than our own. Our sin comes from our hearts which means it comes from us. We’ll be responsible for it on our own and no excuse or blame-game will get us off the hook.

Jesus is here confronting religion so that we can know that it has nothing to do with how good we think we are or how much good we think we do. It comes down to the simple fact that Jesus knew we couldn’t pay the price of our sin on our own and so He came to pay it for us. When we stop and think about our words, our attitudes, our thoughts, our intentions, it becomes very clear that there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Thank God for His Son who came and paid for our sins so that we can be saved through faith in Him!

God Bless,

Josh


References

Josh. (2012, February 14). Matthew 15: What makes a person unclean before God? The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, MA. https://www.patriotledger.com/article/20120214/BLOGS/302149769. 

Week 4: Matthew 22 - 28

By: Joel Ryan

What Does the Parable of the Talents Mean?

The master of this parable is clearly meant to represent Jesus. The servants are Christ-followers. Similar to the parable, Jesus has also given responsibility to his followers, and similar to the parable, he, the master, has promised to one day return.


Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). But just because Jesus is physically absent from the earth, doesn’t mean his followers are given the freedom to sit back and do nothing.

Just like the master in the parable, Jesus has entrusted his servants with:

Jesus has made Christians participants in his ministry. They are also stewards of the things Christ values most. It’s like a parent handing his kid the keys to the car or a boss entrusting the management of his company to his valued employee.

 Jesus has entrusted his followers with his greatest treasures, making them caretakers of his ministry and commissioned ambassadors of his mission. This is an incredible responsibility; one Christ-followers should take seriously.

A wise and faithful steward will be faithful with his master’s money and take care of what he’s been given because he knows the master will eventually return. They know that they are only borrowing the car or temporarily managing their master’s business. But more than just protecting their master’s wealth or possessions, a good steward will also find ways to grow and improve it.


For the Christian, this can apply to their time, their money, their body, and even their abilities. A believer who sees these things as a borrowed investment belonging to God and needing to be returned will be motivated to treat them with care and intention.

In the parable, the wise servants knew that their master would return and were motivated to grow his investment with the time and money they were given. Big or small, they made it count and were eager to hand back all they had earned.

Fearful of his master, the lazy servant did nothing with his master’s money and buried it in the ground (Matthew 25:24-25). He saw his master as a cruel taskmaster, not a generous, gracious lord. He didn’t take joy in the promise of the master’s return but instead wasted his time, his opportunities, and the master’s money. He saw no growth and no return as a result.

What Is the Reward for the Faithful Steward?

Scripture promises that Jesus will one day return, and when he does, he will ask his servants to give a report of how they spent the time and opportunities he has given.

  • Did they care for those they were instructed to protect? 
  • Did they provide for those in need?
  • Did they share the good news of Christ’s salvation and forgiveness with others?
  • Did they further the kingdom of God in their ministry?
  • Were they faithful stewards of all God entrusted them with?

As Jesus said, “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).


Those who are faithful with what they’re entrusted with, big and small, will be trusted with more, and Jesus said that they are the ones who will “enter into their master’s joy” and share in the glory of his presence (Matthew 25:21).

Those who are not may face the harsh reality of being called a wicked and lazy servant. Worst of all, they may not share in the joy of their master’s presence when he returns.

What Does This Mean?

Both outcomes should motivate Christ-followers to become more intentional with their time and master’s “talents.”

One day the master will return, and when he does, he’ll want to know what we’ve done with this precious life we’ve been given. Were we good stewards of what belongs to him? Did we grow his investment?

Or did we bury our time, talent, and opportunities? It’s up to us to decide, but we better decide quickly. The master is planning his return and will be back at any moment.

Week 5: Mark 1 - 7

This week, our middle schoolers will be going to Breakaway, the district middle school retreat. As you continue on reading through the New Testament with us we also as you all to spend this week praying for our M.S students and leaders as we break away from our everyday life to encounter the Lord together in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.


Pray for:

  • Protection
  • That the enemy will not disrupt the trip, our times alone with God, and times together as a community
  • Direction
  • That we would follow the path the Lord has us in
  • The M.S students wouldn't be directed by the worlds influence but by the Holy Spirit
  • Revelation
  • That the Lord will be revealed through vision, voice, dream, or through worship. We would encounter Jesus in a new way this weekend.

Week 6: Mark 8 - 14

Week 7: Mark 15 - Luke 5

Week 8: Catch up day

This week our leaders will be attending the District Equip Conference in Pigeon Forge, TN. Equip is a three-day conference for leaders in our district to gather and to be equipped for ministry. Use this week to catch up on the readings and also pray for our leaders as they learn, grow, and encounter God this week.

Week 9: Luke 6 - 12

Week 10: Luke 13 - 19

Week 11: Luke 20 - John 2

Week 12: John 3 - 9

Week 13: John 10 - 16

Week 14: Thanksgiving Break (No Alliance Youth)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We encourage everyone to spend this week not only anticipating the AMAZING food you will be having but also the AWESOMENESS of God. While we think about how thankful we are for the people around us and the things we have, we must give ALL THANKS to God the provider, the God of miracles , and a God of so much more!


This week, as a family, think about who God. What are the names of God the stick out for you and your family this week? Spend time in prayer together, focusing on those names, and give God the thanksgiving He deserves!

Week 15: John 17 - Acts 2

Week 16: Acts 3 - 9 (AY Christmas Party)

Week 17: Acts 10 - 16 (Leaders Meeting / No Alliance Youth)

Week 18 & 19: Christmas Break (No Alliance Youth)

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to our AY Families! This time of year is a time of celebration, reflection and WORSHIP! While Christmas can be time of happy gift giving and good food, we must always be remembering the reason for the season. The Son of Man was given to us so that we can be united with the Father again but he didn't come down in chariots or a big bow, he was born in manger. One of the most amazing parts of the story if Jesus is how three wisemen and shepherds dropped what they were doing to come worship and bow at the feet of the living God.


For week 18 & 19, lets spend some time in worship, to the king. Like the wisemen and shepherds, lets drop the thing we are focused on for a moment and worship Jesus. Some times we focus too much on presents, life, and so many other things it stops becoming a place of misplaced worship. This season, lets refocus our hearts, eyes, and mind to Jesus.