Counting the Cost of Discipleship

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

Jesus continues His teaching on what the disciples would need to go through as disciples.

The Christian life wasn’t merely “fire insurance” as preachers say, but a daily commitment to deny themselves and follow Jesus.

What does that mean exactly?

It means there is a societal, familial, and lifestyle “cost” to following Jesus.
It means we march to the beat of a very different drummer each day.
It means self is no longer on the throne of our lives.
It means serving others is a lifestyle change.
It means we need to reprogram our thinking to help transform our behavior.
It means our decision to follow Jesus is daily.

It ultimately means our life is not our own, we were bought with a price. 1 Corinthians 6:20

Amen?

Continue Reading Counting the Cost of Discipleship

Peter Wanted Jesus To Gain the Crown Without the Cross

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:21-23

Peter’s initial reaction to Jesus talking about how He would die was wholly rational. He wanted to defend His new friend, to be on His side. How could these religious leaders possibly do such a thing as turn Him over to be killed?

BibleHub.com makes an interesting comment about Jesus’ return rebuke:

The chief of the Apostles was addressed in the self-same terms as those which had been spoken to the Tempter in Matthew 4:10. It was, indeed, nothing less than a renewal of the same temptation. In this suggestion, that He might gain the crown without the cross, and attain a kingdom of this world as the princes of the world obtain their kingdoms, the Christ saw the recurrence of the temptation which had offered Him the glory of those kingdoms on condition of His drawing back from the path which the Father had appointed for Him, with the associations that had gathered round its original. 

Jesus was starting to emphasize the seriousness of His situation, something the disciples may not have fully grasped at the time. They were actually the same boat soon, so to speak, because they would have been marked men. The forcefulness of Jesus’ rebuke would have been enough to shock the other disciples.

Jesus said Peter didn’t “have in mind the concerns of God,” implying a larger, spiritual element. As the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus was involved with something much greater than simple death. It was hard for the disciples to understand this right now, but they would soon.

I am convinced that we as a nation are in the midst of struggle for the soul of the nation. Riots, violent protests, crime rate soaring in many cities, fraudulent ballots and ballot harvesting for the upcoming election, foreign powers funding it all, and a viral pandemic that is turning out to be way over-hyped but still in force are all issues that could easily destabilize our current way of life.

God is doing something much bigger than all of those events, that much we know. Perhaps He’s giving us over to the desires of our hearts.

Perhaps He’s testing the western Church.

We do know that God is still in control.

We still need to rest and rely on His wisdom and grace for the future.

We know we can’t rely on our political class!

Continue Reading Peter Wanted Jesus To Gain the Crown Without the Cross

Holding the Best Kept Secret

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20

As any good lawyer would tell you, you need to know the answer to the question before you ask it. Jesus knew what everyone was saying about him but He gave His disciples the opportunity to inform him before He asked them point blank who they thought He was.

This was a curious question, given that they had already sold many of their possessions to follow Him. He also knew how they would answer.

After commissioning Peter with some very heavy duty responsibilities, he asked them not to reveal to others who He was.

Perhaps He was protecting them because He knew the backlash that would come as a result of them telling others this incredible truth.

Remember, the long-awaited Messiah would only come once. Ever. And He hadn’t come prior to this.

So, if His disciples spread this juicy secret around, they themselves just might be humiliated (or worse) for suggesting such a thing.

Others – especially the religious leaders – would have a hard time believing it until the time was right. Again, everyone had a different thought about who the Messiah was, what He would look like, and the things He would do while He was here. Was He an ordinary man or something else?

The fact that He was now among them – among THEM – was even more extraordinary.

Millions of Jews had been waiting for this time and He was there.

Why them? Why now?

He entrusted them with this secret, for now.

Others would find out or figure it out eventually.

In fact, He would want the whole world to know eventually.

How are you at keeping secrets?

Can you do it?

Do you even tell one person when given exclusive information?

There may even be times that you keep in confidence what God tells you because it only applies to you. How good are you at keeping those secrets?

Continue Reading Holding the Best Kept Secret

Be Not Discouraged

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

This is a slight departure from the Book of Matthew.

Somebody reading this needs this verse desperately. They need apply it to their lives.

Of course everybody does but this verse is intended for that person who has been discouraged and is afraid of what lies ahead. You only see darkness and no way out of your situation, whatever that is. You think your future is grim and blah. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

You need to know that God is on your side and He will be with you.

Let me say that again, ‘God is on your side and He will be with you.’

Take that to heart. Memorize this verse so that it’s deep deep within you.

In fact, we all need that encouragement to put it to memory.

Write it down by hand five times and then repeat it 40 times throughout the day.

He is with you.

The verse was penned some 3000 years ago but is as applicable today as it was then.

Take heart.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Continue Reading Be Not Discouraged

Standing Firm in the Storm

5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:5-12

What is it with the disciples and food? You’d think that at least one of them would have been in charge of getting enough for them for the journey.

In any event, Jesus used their forgetfulness as another an object lesson, this time about yeast.

Throughout these chapters it’s clear that Jesus was doing what He could to protect and warn His disciples about what was to come for them when He left the earth. The religious leaders played a big role in these talks because Jesus viewed the leaders as cunning but dangerous. He knew they’d be the people who would ultimately round Him up and crucify Him.

He didn’t trust the leaders and neither should His disciples.

Sadly, many Christians today fall prey to the shysters and conmen on television. Because video is such a powerful and relatively inexpensive medium, many of these TV preachers can reach many more than they would by pastoring a church. With that wealth and power comes control, and often men and women who are not held accountable.

Willing and gullible children of God get sucked in by elaborate programming, emotional and carefully choreographed pleas for “partnership” and support, and a huge following. Not all TV preachers and teachers are like this of course.

In the age of Covid-19, these preachers have ramped up their programming to accommodate those who are not permitted to go to churches. These teachers are deceptive and cunning. Sadly, many Believers give more to these preachers because of their emotional appeals than they do to the local church.

It’s no secret that I’ve been saying we’re leaning towards very dark times in this country. The church will not be exempt from what goes on. The challenges we face as a nation and as a church are unprecedented.

Continue to stand on the rock of Jesus Christ in the midst of this chaos and confusion.

Don’t waver or falter.

Stand firm.

Continue Reading Standing Firm in the Storm