Monday, March 13th, 2017
Matthew 16 (Part 18)
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Matthew 16:21 (NKJV)
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'
Matthew 24:3 (NKJV)
Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done...
Isaiah 46:9-10 (NKJV)
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Luke 12:40 (NKJV)
God knows the conclusion of every life, but perhaps He chooses not to see it... because He desires all men to be saved.* He allows each person freedom of choice.** He spurs His children toward repentance through prophets and challenging corrections.*** Frequently, He forewarns about end times: for people, nations and the earth itself.
When Jesus came, He expanded God's Words. Throughout His life-changing New Testament, the Teacher gives Lesson after Lesson on how to prepare for life's finale: the Do's, the Don'ts and faith's essential proof. No Bible holders can dare to complain that God didn't clearly communicate what's ahead and how to ready themselves.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Your homework for God's final exam is more than I can possibly write. Even believing that Jesus was Christ, even living with Him for three years, Peter and the other disciples didn't fully understand the test: the fact and purpose of their Lord's death - and what they would learn before their own.
But the Holy Spirit tutored them, just as He will tutor you today. So for now, consider just two things:
1. Be ready. Your end could come today. This thought should excite, not depress you. If you feel any apprehension, like you haven't done what God requires, read His Book like there's no tomorrow, ask for extra guidance in prayer, stop postponing crucial need-to-do's and live every day as He directs.
2. Don't rely on your preacher or church to outline or illustrate your path. Repeatedly and without number (in both the Old and New Testaments), God warns us about phony shepherds: editors of His Word for profit, leaders of naive sheep to slaughter. In preparing for your hardest test, go directly to its Creator.****
To Be Continued...
* 'Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the Sight of God our Savior, Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth' (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
** 'I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live' (Deuteronomy 30:19).
*** 'Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: 'Thus you say, 'If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?' ' Say to them: 'As I live,' says the Lord God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live' ' (Ezekiel 33:10-11).
**** You may have a wonderful pastor and a Spirit-filled congregation. If so, praise God. If not, keep looking for them. Nevertheless, the wisest pastor on earth cannot teach like Jesus and God's Holy Spirit. (And certainly not I) No one can educate, prepare and polish you like The Source. Excellent church leaders and friends should be confirming His Word, but they cannot take replace It.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Matthew 16 series.