Today’s reading from Matthew 16:15. Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Some say, “John Baptist, or one of OT prophets” But then Jesus says, “Who do YOU say that I am?” This is the most important question we will ever have to answer. We will answer it, either now in this life or after we die. The way we answer it will determine our eternal destiny. Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” This revelation can only come when a person has a divine encounter with God through His Holy Spirit. This is not some correct answer to a true or false test or fill in the blank test that you study for. This is an answer that comes from a heart that has realized their need for God.
All of my life I grew up knowing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but that knowledge was just head knowledge. Then there came a day when I encountered God and realized what that actually meant, that Jesus came to die for My sins and that I needed a Savior. On that day, I got the revelation from God in heaven who Jesus really was! Then I answered that question correctly, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” On that day I bowed my knee to God and to all of His ways. How about you? Who do you say that Jesus is?
It is good to be in debt, but not financially! Today’s reading is from Romans 1:14-15. Paul said he was in debt to everyone, but he was not talking about ‘cash debt.’ He didn’t mean that he had borrowed money from everyone and was in debt to them. Paul was talking about a different kind of debt. He felt that since he had experienced the goodness and love of God, that he was in debt to share it with others. I believe all of us who have experienced God great love and goodness are also in debt!
How can we pay this debt? In verses 11-12 we read Paul saying, “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established, that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith of you and me.” The way we pay this debt is to exchange gifts! This is a great picture of what true Christian fellowship should be, a mutual sharing of what God is doing and saying to you, and what you have learned about the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. This is also a great insight on healthy relationships. Their must be mutual sharing. When a relationship becomes one sided and one person is always giving and the other is always taking, they eventually become strained and end. A healthy relationship is one of respect, as each person gives and receives. In verse 12 Paul says, “That I may be encouraged with you.” Sometimes we are so insecure that we don’t want anyone to think that we did not know something, so we miss out on learning it new and fresh from someone else. It is good to let someone tell you something, even if you already knew it. Ask God to teach you something new from it.
We have a debt to pay. We need to develop healthy relationships. We need to build each other up by sharing the goodness and love of God with each other. This is why going to church on Sunday is so important. This is why being a part of a small bible study group is so important. How do you feel about being debt?
“What is the most valuable thing you will ever own?” I remember my dad asking me this question when I was a young man. I did not know the answer. I guessed, “My catcher’s mitt, my cool stingray bike, my buck knife?” My dad then told me, “The most valuable thing you will ever own is your name. Don’t do anything to bring it shame!” That has always stayed with me. In today’s reading in Acts 22:12 we read about a man who had a good name. “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there.”
What does it mean to have a ‘good name?’ It means that when your name is mentioned the person behind it can be consistently depended upon to do what is legally and morally right, whatever the cost. In Proverbs 22:1 we read, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” As we go through life there are always opportunities to cut corners and to do things that are questionable. There will be many situations where we have said we will do something and then find it more difficult than we originally thought it would be, and be tempted to go back on our word. Don’t give in; be good to your word. Your word is your name. It is who you are. Whatever the price choose to do what is right and protect your name.
Why do you think a good name is valuable?
Today’s reading is from Matthew 14:15-21, when Jesus fed the multitudes. Jesus had been preaching all day and at the end of the day the disciples think they should send the people home so they can get something to eat. Jesus decides to feed them, over 5,000 men plus women and children, with just five loaves and two fish. These people could have gone home and eaten. It would not have been a big deal for them to not eat for one whole day! But Jesus just wanted to bless them. This kind of miracle was motivated by kindness, not need. He wanted to give them a picnic lunch for free. Not only did He feed all of them, but it says they were ‘filled.” The Greek word used here means ‘glutted!’ It means they were filled like you are filled at Thanksgiving! This was an ‘all you can eat’ buffet!’ Then on top of that we read that they had twelve baskets left over. I can only guess that each of the twelve disciples got to take a basket home to their families as well. For those who think that God is only interested in our ‘needs’ this story shows He is a God who sometimes just wants to abundantly bless people beyond our needs! Go ahead and ask Him!
Today’s reading is from Acts 20:7. “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread.” It appears that the early church ‘broke bread’ or took communion every time they got together. Today most churches take it once a year or once a month or once a quarter. I think this is a mistake. Some say that we should not do it weekly because it will lose its specialness. Then why do we encourage people to read God’s Word daily? Won’t it lose its specialness? Actually the more you read, the more you want to read, the less you read the less you want to read. The same is true with communion. The more we participate in it, the more we will want to have communion with God. The less we participate in it, the less we will want to have communion with God. I believe that the church is missing out on something each week as its gathers, if it does not offer communion.
When Jesus said of the wine, “This is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” in Matthew 26:28; He was giving us a promise. We would not have to shed our blood to get forgiveness of sins. It would not be possible anyway! This does not mean that we will never sin again but that sin no longer has power over us. When we sin we can ask to be forgiven and the power of sin is broken and we are cleansed from our sins. When Jesus said, “This is my body, which is broken for you,” He was giving us a promise. His body would be broken so that our bodies would not have to be broken. This does not mean that we will never again be sick but that sickness has no power over our bodies. When we get sick we can ask for healing and the power of sickness is broken and we are cleansed.
When we participate in the Lord’s Supper by taking the bread and the wine we commemorate the Lord’s death. We express gratitude to our Father for the wonderful power in the blood of Christ to wash away our sins. We rejoice because the power of sin in our lives has been broken, that sin has no more dominion over us. We are free from sin. Once and for all, we have been saved from a life of sin; and we believe that sin shall no longer have dominion over us because we are saved.
I have heard some people say that they don’t feel worthy to take communion, especially if they have had a bad week. “Not being worthy” is the exact reason we do take communion! None of us will ever be worthy of forgiveness or eternal life. We take communion because we are confessing our need for forgiveness. I try to take communion each week with my family. I feel like it is my time to recommit my life to God and to ask for forgiveness of my sins. It helps me stay focused on what is really important in life. Jesus’ death paid for my sins so that I could have a relationship with God; that is what life is really all about. What does communion mean to you?
Today’s reading is in Matthew 10:39. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” This is one of the more radical statements that Jesus ever made. In the church today, there is too much of self. Much of the presentation of the gospel is based on us. If you become a Christian YOU will prosper. If you become a Christian YOU will be happy. If you become a Christian YOU will be healthy. Now these statements do have an element of truth but we need to realize that the road to a better life is found through “dying to self” not exalting self. We need to learn how to die to self if we ever hope to find out what life is about. How do we lose our lives? We lose our by giving of our time to serve others. We only have so much time, especially when you consider how much of our time is wasted on trivial things. Here are a few things we spend our time on: Time spent:
sitting at stoplights: almost a year
opening junk mail: almost a year
searching for misplaced objects: 1 year
returning phone calls: 2 years
doing housework: 4 years
standing in line: 5 years
on the internet or watching TV: 7 years (Not counting the SuperBowl!)
reading forwarded emails: almost 2 years
When you add to this list how much time you spend eating and sleeping, about 25 years, and about 25 years working that would be around 72 years. Since the average lifespan is around 73 years no wonder there really is not much time left to do anything! No wonder people are tight when it comes to giving of their time.
Losing our life is not like losing our car keys or losing your wallet or losing your shoes. Losing our lives does not happen by accident. It has to be a conscious effort on our part. We have to be intentional about “losing our lives.” You don’t lose your life by mistake. It has to become a conscious act. It is a risky act, because we do give up our precious time, but when we ‘lose’ our life, and give our time to serve others, Jesus says something mysterious happens. We gain back, we get something. We get life. We get the time we need. Somehow it works out. Until we realize this truth, we will NEVER have enough time. Do you want to be a winner? Lose your life. What has been your greatest struggle when it comes to ‘losing your life?’