Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Matthew 16 is one of the most controversial chapters in the Bible. The Church has debated the meaning of Jesus’ words for centuries. Jesus asks the disciples who people are saying he is. They answer, Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then Peter makes his great confession, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus goes on to bless Peter and say, On this rock I will build my church.

The next paragraph says that from that time on Jesus began to explain to the disciples what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem. This was obviously very difficult for them to comprehend. It just didn’t fit with what they understood about the Messiah. Peter thought to straighten out Jesus and rebuked him. Jesus turned on Peter and said, Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.

Then come the well-known words, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

I don’t want to get caught up in what Jesus meant by his first words to Peter; whether Peter was the rock upon which the church would be built or if his confession is the rock. And I don’t want to discuss the keys of the kingdom of heaven or what binding and loosing means.

I do want to observe how easily Peter went from a brilliant confession of faith to being the instrument of Satan. Those of us in Christian ministry, actually all Christians, need to recognize that in a moment of carelessness we can go from doing great service for the kingdom to being stumbling blocks. Our hearts are so deceitful that we might never see it coming!

It is so hard for us to deny ourselves. Again, the deceitful heart! No matter how hard we might try to deny ourselves there is so much still in our hearts that we don’t know! Sometimes the Holy Spirit makes me aware of this in my own heart. It is my great desire to serve the Lord by helping to plant New Hope Church. I am willing to work hard and make many sacrifices to see it grow and bring glory to God’s name. But at the same time I am aware of the little creeping desire to save my life. Not physically, but memorially! (My computer tells me that isn’t a word!) In other words, every once in awhile I become aware I want to leave a mark in this world. I’ll never write a book that anyone will read. I’ll never be a popular speaker at conferences. I probably won’t be a famous martyr. How will anyone know that I was here? Perhaps I will be remembered for helping plant this church. Then I have to repent and confess that I still struggle with denying myself and having a desire to save my own life, to live on after I’m gone.

I hear what Jesus said to Peter, You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men. May God deliver us from ourselves!


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