Get thee behind me Satan! | Matthew 16:21-28

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Jesus Predicts His Death
21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?[c] Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

What does it mean to "see things merely from a human point of view"?

Here is Peter. He had just been blessed by Jesus for seeing Jesus' true spiritual nature and He had been told that this was revealed to him by the God of Heaven. It must have been an empowering feeling to have Jesus tell you that you were going to be the foundation of (the starting point) of Jesus' church. How exciting to hear that he would be given the power and the keys to accomplish his declared mission. After all, this is what the disciples hungered for at this point; a position of power in the coming Kingdom.

But then Jesus gives them more truth. Truth He had been preparing them to see for so long. He starts to explain that His Kingdom will be started with Him suffering at the hands of the Jewish leaders and ultimately "begin" with His death. At this point Peter loses his "connection" with spiritual understanding and his human understanding kicks in. It is ironic that just moments before he had been in touch with this understanding and now he is so far from it that Jesus must rebuke him in a heavy handed way. Jesus tells him to stay away because he is now playing the part of an adversary (satan)and is a stumbling block (no longer seeing things from a spiritual perspective); the perspective guided by God's Will.

Putting ourselves in Peter's shoes, what parts do truth and prejudice play in this scenario?

When we allow the prejudice of our environment, our friends opinions, our upbringing, our own fleshly will and desires to guide our beliefs we are making a way for the adversary to use us to the detriment of the fulfillment of God's Will. Our prejudices can influence our thoughts and actions; they may even foster good intentions (which is what Peter thought he was displaying) but no matter the feeling or intention, if it is contrary to the Will of the Father, then it is a "stumbling block". Peter had just declared Jesus the Son of the Living God, and now he is so confused by what he had been brought up to believe that he actually attempts to argue a scriptural fact with Jesus.

Truth is the key. But it must be truth that is understood through two avenues.

1) Through the requested help of the Holy Spirit and

2) through the setting aside of our prejudices and preconceived notions; our "humanness".

It is an acceptance of that truth, no matter how hard that truth is to accept, and an eventual surrender to that truth (which is surrendering to God's Will), that allows us to live as Christ lived. We know this as surrendering self. Surrendering self is not a squishy feeling or a moment of deep meditation where you "empty" self. These are tricks. Surrender is a seeking of God's Will and then DOING it even though it goes against your human nature. Jesus goes on to explain this to Peter and the other disciples after he admonishes Peter for displaying his own will and not the Father's Will. This is also known as OBEDIENCE.

How does Jesus describe surrender?

Following his rebuke of Peter, He uses many phrases that are very "famous" in the Christian world to describe what Peter had just done and what was really required of a follower. They are often quoted apart from each other and not always in the context of why Jesus was giving this counsel.

"Turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me."

"If you try to hold on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it."

"What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?"

Jesus is explaining what it really means to be His follower. We must give up our own life, we must put aside our selfishness and put aside anything in this world that will keep us from doing the Father's Will. All that you do must be in accordance to the desires of the one you are following, otherwise you are no longer a follower...you are now a "stumbling block". 

My friends, obedience is not bad. Obedience is the source of being blessed by God. He cannot use us or guide us if we will not listen to Him. Do not make the Word of God into an idol shaped by your own hands; your own wants and desires. Let God lead you by reading His Word and asking Him to show you His Will. He will show you if you are willing to listen with an open heart and a true desire to see HIS TRUTH.

Prayer:

Lord,

It is always my prayer to know Your Will. Remove "me" from the equation and always help me to see Your Will. I also ask for the power and the strength to do Your Will. I want to obey You with my heart surrendered.

Thank you for all that you provide in my life. Lord, protect me from the adversary and help me to not be a stumbling block to others. Help me to always give to others the help that would be pleasing to You.

Be with my family and friends. Be with Ken as he struggles with his daughter. Teach him to fight darkness with light, evil with good, and hate with love. Help him to remember that he is fighting not flesh and blood but principalities and powers.

Be with our Monday night bible study group as we start up again. Help the time to be a glory to You Lord. Help us to see Your truth.

Lord I ask for your help in making the neighborhood gathering a success. Bring in at least one lost soul who needs to be fed and then please Lord, help us to feed them from Your table.

It seems that there is little time Lord. I ask that You would work in a mighty way to bring union and love into our little church.

Thank you for answering these prayers. Give me the peace to accept the answers. Amen.

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Who do you say that I am? | Matthew 16:13-20

Scripture:Matthew 16:13-20 [NLT]

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. [NKJV]

Jesus begins this conversation while coming into the region of Caesarea Philippi. Many interpret this differently but a good interpretation would be to picture Jesus walking toward Caesarea Philippi with his disciples and He is checking in with them to test where the sentiment lies concerning who He is. Notice that at the time many people were still guessing that he was a prophet, (a mistake the muslims of today still make) some thinking He may be Elijah or Jeremiah returned. Now Jesus gets to the point, because He really wants to make sure that the disciples are thinking and feeling the way they need to. I think Jesus is ready to correct them at this point, if needed.

Peter names Jesus correctly by calling Him the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. His name or title is so important. It points to who He really is and why He really came to this earth. He is the Messiah, the one who will save us, the one who was anointed and chosen by God to live a sinless life for us. He is the Son or direct descendant of the God of the Universe and He is divine. He is the divine Son of the Living God, not a God carved from stone or wood but a Living God and the source of all Life.

Jesus now "commends" Peter on his understanding and notes that "flesh and blood" hadn't revealed this truth to him but the Father in Heaven had. Many people might gloss over this point in the text and think that the "flesh and blood" meant other men; but through some research I tend to agree with others that Jesus was referring to Himself. In other words, He was saying to Peter my human state, my human status and apparent rank in society has not revealed this to you, but it has been revealed to you from the spiritual nature (given to me by the Father in Heaven) that you have witnessed in Me. Christ's character, his indwelling Spirit fed power, His spiritual authority was recognized by Peter; and this was most important because Jesus will later share with the disciples what must soon come...His death on the cross.

Next Jesus gives a "commission" to Peter. Many people, myself included, have misinterpreted this passage to mean that when Jesus refers to "the rock" he is referring to himself. It is because of the abuses of the Catholic church with this text that we end up misusing it ourselves. Jesus is commending Peter here. He is in essence saying. "You are a rock. You have shown yourself solid, and suitable for the work of laying the foundation of the church. Upon you will I build it. You will be highly honored; you shall be first in making known the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.”

This was accomplished. See Acts 2:14-36, where he first preached to the Jews, and Acts 10, where he preached the gospel to Cornelius and his neighbors, who were Gentiles. Peter had thus the honor of laying the foundation of the church among the Jews and Gentiles; and this is the clearer meaning of this passage. This commission to Peter was not, as the Roman Catholic church tries to say, to exalt Peter to supreme authority above the other apostles or to say that Peter was the only one through which He would build His church...see Acts 15 where the advice of James was followed and not Peters. See also Galatians 2:11 where Paul opposes Peter to his face because what Peter was doing was very wrong.

If I had to sum up the whole meaning of this passage it would be this, " I will make you the honored tool of making known my gospel, first to the Jews and Gentiles, and I will make you a strong and distinguished preacher in building my church."

Jesus ends with an command to the disciples to "..not tell anyone that He was the Messiah." It was not yet time for Him to be revealed as the Messiah because His mission was not yet completed. This also insinuates that the disciples were all in agreement that He was what Peter claimed aloud that He was.

What truly reveals the spirit of God working in someone?

Probably the one thing that stood out the most in my mind from this passage was not the common question regarding this text; "Was Peter the first Pope?". This is clearly and easily shown to be a misuse of the text for the purpose of seeing your own will in the Word of God instead of seeing the Will of God. What really stuck in my craw was the idea that Jesus pointed out that His humanness was not what showed his true stature to Peter, but His spiritual status.

Too often we judge the spiritual status of someone based on our observance of what they may do, or accomplish, or look like or own; in other words "their human flesh". We see them in nice suits and their charisma or smooth speaking charms us and we think "Surely this man is being used by God." But what truly reveals the spirit of God working in someone? Is it words alone? What are the deeds of the heart? How do they display themselves?

Jesus not only spoke as though he was one with the Father, but he "acted" as though He was one with the Father, having the same character as the Father, the same wants and desires as the Father, and the same goals; even unto death, as the Father.

So often our goals are self based. Even in our spiritual walk everything we do is tainted with protecting self, worrying about elevating self, glorifying self. But if we can be led by the Holy Spirit, ah yes!, then we can allow ourselves to do the works of the Father from His directives and from His promptings. We can reach a point where the one desire of the heart is to glorify God and to do His will. We can only reach this point by asking the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts, lead us to spiritual understanding, and then give us the power to accomplish the Father's Will in our lives. It is called surrender. It isn't easy...especially if we try to do it through our own will...but it is clearly necessary to live a victorious life.

Surrender today. Ask God to forgive your sins and then come into your life. He will help you; it is the deepest desire of His heart.

Prayer:

Thank you God for loving us so much. Help me Lord to overcome my selfish heart so that You may be glorified in my life. Forgive my sin and help me to spend the time with You that I want to but never seem to be able to. Help me to help others in the right way. Let them see You through me.

Thank You for all that You do in my life. Thank You for all that You provide. You are all that matters. Amen.

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Beware the Yeast | Matthew 16:5-12

Scripture:Matthew 16:5-12 [NLT]

5 Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” 8 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? 11 How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. [NKJV]

v5,6 - We start off with an urgent warning from Jesus to His disciples. He had just finished a discussion with a group of Pharisees and Sadducees in which He called them "an evil and adulterous generation". The warning to the disciples was to "Beware the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

v7- The disciples were confused by Jesus' warning and decided that he meant for them to have bread available. It caused an argument that may have went something like this... " I thought you were bringing the bread". "No that was your job!" "It was not, you were supposed to.."

v8-11 - Jesus knew what they were saying so he corrects them with a bit of a chastisement concerning their faith. Here he is; warning them against the yeast of the Pharisees, and they almost immediately start to display signs of a "yeast infection". Their lack of faith was displayed in their inability to put their temporal needs aside, even with the amazing displays of providence from Christ in the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000, which happened just a few days before. Jesus seems to be saying that if their faith had been strong enough they would not have assumed He was talking about real food but would have understood the true meaning of His words.

v12 - Finally they get it. They now understand that Jesus is warning them about false teachings and doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Application: How often do we allow weak faith to cloud our judgement when it comes to the truth that God has given us in His word? Let me explain my question. Do your temporal or physical wants and needs cause you to miss or misunderstand the spiritual lessons that God is trying to teach you? I know that I can become so wrapped up in "life"; work, friends, entertainment, etc, that I forget to apply to my life the spiritual lessons that God has clearly taught me. I may even have spent so much time "doing it myself" that I lack the faith to trust in the promises of God.

Let me put it this way. Jesus lived His life as if all the promises of God were true. He never worried about whether or not He would have enough food to eat because he lived as though His food would always be provided.

Do you live a life that reflects a belief in God's word; His promises, His mercies, His guaranteed love? Consider how your life might look if you did...

Prayer:

Father in Heaven,

I ask you now Lord, to increase my faith. This morning I have spent time thinking about faith and trust in You and I realize that my faith is very weak and fragile. I know that You can help to build my faith and so I ask for that today and every day. Help me to live as though Your promises are true, because they are, not because I have somehow made them happen myself.

Forgive me of my sins. Thank You for forgiving me. Help me to live a life that shows that forgiveness to others.

Thank you for all that you provide in my life. Help me to never forget that You are the One that provides everything. Help me to always be thankful.

Be with my family today. Keep them safe and protected from the enemy.

I love You Lord. Amen.

 

Give us a Sign! | Matthew 16:1-4

Scripture:Matthew 16:1-4 [NLT]1 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; 3 and in the morning,  foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”And He left them and departed.

v1- Testing him, again. Just like their ancestors of old in the wilderness, they claimed to want a sign from heaven. If there had been much lightning and thunder and a booming voice from heaven, they pretend that it would "move" them to believe in Him; but it was only pretending and Jesus knew this. Their hearts were far from him and they had already had many wonderful signs that could have only come from God.

v2,3 - The signs were all around them. Many were expecting the Messiah and watching for Him. Jesus uses their "discerning of the weather" as an example of how every "sign" that they need has already been produced and yet their hearts are hard and closed to it. The signs are numerous and as obvious as looking to the evening sky and determining what type of weather it will bring the next day. Their hypocrisy is so strong as to keep them from the apparent and abundant evidence that their Messiah was standing right in front of them.

v4 - Consider this question. When we ask for a sign from God...

  • "Lord, show me something that shows me you are real."
  • "Lord, if you Do this 'thing', I will believe in You and follow You."

...are we seeking to believe in Him more, or only trying to find something that will affect us more powerfully than our desire to hold on to sin?

Application: (How can I apply what I have learned to my life today?)

Asking for a sign from God only denies all of the wonderful evidences of His existence, His love and His power. Let's list a few of these evidences. Human beings are notorious for their short-term memories...

His creation - The beauty and complexity of a flower - The beauty and complexity of the ecosystem - Changed lives - Miracles we have seen - Miracles we have heard of - The bible record - The archaeological record.

...but if we only stop for a moment and think about all that God has done, we will be uplifted in our faith. Faith does not function completely without evidence. The evidence is all around us. Faith functions through having Jesus in our lives. We are given faith as we spend time with the one who had perfect faith in His Father in Heaven.

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven,

Forgive me my sins Lord. Come into my heart and make me more like You. Thank you for all that you provide in my life. I ask that you will be with my family, my children, my wife. Keep them all safe and help them to feel Your love more and more. Help me Lord to be an honest Christian. Help me to share You honestly. I pray for my friend Jeff. I ask for his protection from the enemy and that you would give him an extra portion of the holy spirit. Help me to do well in sharing You with him.

Help me to show Your love to everyone around me today. Amen.

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