Mission shifts Momentum!
There has never been a person more famous, or controversial, than Jesus. Even during His day, everyone seemed to have an opinion about who He was and what He came to do. Some thought Him to be a great teacher; others saw Him as a miracle worker; still more concluded that He was possessed by a demon. Similarly, opinions still abound today about who Jesus is. The question of Jesus’ identity is the most important question any of us will answer in life, and it is the foundational truth that unites His church.
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.”
Read Matthew 16:13-14.
Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man.” What does this title infer about Jesus’ character and mission?
“Son of Man” is the title Jesus used most often for Himself. More than 80 times is this title used in all four Gospels. It is a messianic title that refers back to the mysterious figure in Daniel 7:13-14 who would be given rule over all nations of the earth forever. Further, it is a title that highlights Jesus’ role as a humble servant who came to forgive sins, and a suffering servant who would pay the penalty for sins through His death. Yet because of these things, the title also infers that Jesus is the glorious King and Judge of the world who will one day eternally establish God’s kingdom on earth.
What do the different answers given by the disciples say about Jesus’ reputation in the culture at the time?
How would you describe who Jesus is to someone who isn’t a believer?
All the opinions the disciples reported were complimentary and demonstrate that Jesus remained quite popular. The crowds viewed Him as some kind of spokesman for God.
Read Matthew 16:15-16.
Rather than question the merit of their answers, Jesus questioned the personal beliefs of His disciples. Why was this the case?
Jesus wanted the disciples to move beyond the culture’s understanding of who He was. He wanted to know what they personally believed about Him, and as we see later in the text, He wanted them to know what they must believe about Him. Jesus also wanted to be sure His disciples were prepared before His death and had to know if they understood His identity, in particular that it entailed suffering. Because the disciples would carry His message into the world, they needed to be clear on His identity, not given to whatever the culture at the time thought about Him.
What do we learn about Jesus from Peter’s response?
What implications for someone’s life does claiming that Jesus is the Christ have?
To this pointed inquiry, Peter affirmed his faith in Jesus with two specific titles: Messiah or Christ (“anointed one”) and Son of the living God. Peter declared publicly that Jesus was the promised One from the Old Testament who fulfilled all the prophecies of God’s anointed messenger. But Peter’s answer didn’t come on His own; it came because God had revealed it to him. As the Christ, Jesus brought God’s complete message to earth; no one would ever be greater. The time comes when we must answer for ourselves who Jesus is and what He came to do, and see if our actions line up with our beliefs.
Read Matthew 16:17-20.
Why do you think Jesus praised Peter for his confession?
Jesus affirmed Peter’s response for at least two reasons: it was true, and it was revealed to Peter by the Father. Others who looked at the evidence attributed Jesus’ work to a human prophet. Peter looked at the same evidence and pronounced Jesus the Christ. Jesus attributes to Peter’s confession insight stemming from divine revelation rather than human deduction. The language does not specify how God revealed Himself or require some sudden flash of insight, but it does affirm that God led Peter to his correct understanding.
What forces at work in our society seem to threaten the church? How does it feel to know that nothing can overpower it? How does it impact our work in proclaiming the gospel through it?
As Christ’s followers, we cannot become so inwardly focused on the church that we forget its mission—to proclaim the gospel to the world. Only Christ can overcome the darkness, brokenness, and lostness of our society. The gospel isn’t just for us. The gospel is for the world. When we come to a place where we know who Jesus is and defend Him as Lord and Savior, we’re called to live out His Word and share that truth with those around us.
How can the reality that God’s church is unstoppable because of its foundation impact your life today? Tomorrow?
What are some specific ways you can engage those around you with the truth of the gospel?
Close in a prayer of praise and gratitude to God for sending Jesus to be our Messiah and for establishing the church on the sure foundation of Him.
Jesus wanted to be sure His disciples were prepared before His death and had to know if they understood His identity, in particular that it entailed suffering. His question invited the disciples to reflect on the many opinions about Him. He was certainly a well-known figure. Because the disciples would carry His message into the world, they needed to be clear on His identity. Each of the proposed identities was highly respectful and recognized in some way Jesus was God’s special spokesman. But “you” reflects the emphatic nature of Jesus’ question.
Peter’s answer was accurate. His claim is a far greater than any of the other opinions. To be the Messiah meant Jesus was God’s chosen servant and Son. He brought God’s complete message to earth. No one ever would be greater.
Jesus affirmed Peter’s response in a typical Jewish manner, “you are blessed.” All genuine spiritual insight is a gift and not a matter of human ingenuity or flesh and blood. We never really figure out God. He reveals. Thus Jesus affirmed Peter’s confession came from the Father in heaven.
Jesus used a play on words to underscore the importance of Peter’s confession. Peter in Greek is Petros, and the Greek word for rock is petra. Peter’s insight was highly significant. Though we may rightly assume he spoke for the group, he nevertheless was the first one to voice this important identification. Peter seldom chose the path of silence; and though he was not always right, he was never in doubt. In this case, however, he was perfectly right; and in keeping with his personality, he confidently expressed his opinion.
So what did Jesus mean by on this rock I will build my church? Possibilities include Peter himself, his faith, his confession, Christ Himself, or a combination. We can acknowledge Peter had a primary place in the early church, appearing first in every list of the disciples and being the focus of the first half of the Book of Acts.
The word “forces” refers to the limited power of Hades, but the church’s power in Christ is limitless. Jesus meant the forces of hell could not defeat or impede a faithful church that is focused on Him.
Keys are a symbol of authority and imply the power to bind (forbid) and loose (allow). The phrases are often interpreted to mean the actions of the church are anticipated already by heaven and will have been ratified already there. This interpretation emphasizes the truth that “earth follows heaven, and heaven does not follow earth.”
Jesus’ point is not that God delegates His authority to the church, or to Peter specifically, to act on its own. The church neither forgives nor retains sins. It does not deliver people to heaven by its own work. It does, however, serve as the main instrument through which God works to proclaim the gospel.
The charge to keep silent is often found in the Gospels. Jesus knew that the Jews’ view of the Messiah as a political, military deliverer was vastly different from the kind of Messiah He was. Jesus was a suffering Messiah who would save people from their sins, not a political deliverer. Announcing that He was the Christ might confuse the crowds at this point. Later the disciples could announce His identity. Keeping silent reflects the fact that, prior to witnessing Jesus’ suffering, the disciples would have shared an incomplete message of who the Messiah was and what following Him means.
DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE
HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME
The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.
UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.
FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!
INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.
OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Do you know God has a mission for you today? He has one for me, too. You see, we are his workmanship—which means we are saved only through his power. This also means we are being changed to become more like Jesus through his power, as well (Rom 8:29). So, what kind of people do you think God is molding?
He is making Kingdom builders. He is making us into people who bring glory to his name. He is making us into gospel missionaries everywhere we go. And also people who long for his presence. You and I have God-ordained works waiting for us to walk in today. Notice the balance between two words: work and walk. We’re not being called to work, or perform, this mission out of our own power… We’re called to walk in them.
In today’s verse we learn that God works in us that he might work through us. Through these words of Paul, God is making a promise to us. That if we watch, listen to Holy Spirit, and follow his leading, God will accomplish his mission through us. Do you desire to be used by God to build his Kingdom? Then today is your day—just like everyday is. There are works prepared for you to walk in.
Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
Ministry success is easily attributable to Jesus. He captivated thousands because he taught “as one with authority” (Mark 1:22). He was like no one they had ever heard. He would preach to thousands, heal the sick, and spend time with the untouchables. At one point, his renown was so great that people tried to make him king by force (John 6:15). Jesus could have stayed where he was and regularly had large crowds gather in his presence. But what did Jesus do with this “ministry success?” Did he set up headquarters, hang up signs, pass out flyers, and increase seating capacity? Did he stay with the people begging him to remain and bask in their adoration? Absolutely not. That’s not how Jesus defined ministry success.
REAL MINISTRY SUCCESS
Jesus focused only on his God ordained purpose: to teach the truth. Jesus says this in passages like John 18:37 and Mark 1:35–39, as well. Jesus didn’t look to the crowds as proof of his success in ministry. He didn’t pull his identity from people flocking to hear, see, and touch him. He did and said only what the Father led him to do (John 5:19). It can be tempting to look at success in ministry as a numbers game. The more people that come to our church or ministry, the more successful we are in the kingdom.
Jesus is a great example for what success looks like as his followers. Jesus teaches us that success is not merely defined by popularity or crowds, but by obedience to God and his purpose for our lives. Simply put, by faithfully following Jesus himself. But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t define faithfulness as merely plodding along, barely making a ripple for the Kingdom of God…not even close!
What’s the root word in faithfulness? Faith! Jesus didn’t simply bumble along. He had absolute faith in what the Father had called him to do. So much faith that he bet his entire life on it. To faithfully pursue God’s purpose means two things: To desire his will more than your own glory. To believe he will accomplish his mission in you and through you.
Are You Pursuing God’s Mission? Your mission field might be: Your family, Your workplace, Your school, Your neighborhood, Your vocational ministry, Your volunteer work, Or anywhere else. Define your mission field. Refine your measurement of ministry success. And above all, have faith God always accomplishes his will—and he will do so through you, too.
Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
We seldom view accumulating stuff as a barrier to serving others. Common sense says if you have more stuff then you have more ability to serve others. Jesus appeared to see this from a different perspective. In Luke 12 Jesus tells a parable of a rich man whose land is especially productive and has much more than he needs. The rich man comes to a simple conclusion that he will store up the blessings of God (Luke 12:18-19). Jesus proceeds to tell His disciples (which hopefully includes you and me) that our lives should follow a radically different path rooted in living out His kingdom in the hear and now. Here’s Jesus’ radical conclusion of how that should look:
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:33-34 ESV) As followers of Jesus, a big part of our mission (our reason for existing on this earth) is to be a glimpse of Jesus’ coming kingdom. Think of our life’s misson as being an appetizer for the amazing banquet that is to come (check out this parable too Luke 14:12-24). Jesus seems to repeatedly say that our desire to hold on to the stuff of this world creates a big barrier to us living out this mission…
Here’s a few thoughts on why:
The more stuff we have, the more we want more stuff. Consumerism is addictive. Our natural tendency is to pursue the bigger, nicer, better, fancier [fill in the blank].
The more stuff we have, the more we want to hold on to our stuff. Somehow our stuff easily becomes the source of our security and satisfaction. Our hearts have the capacity to turn almost anything into an idol.
The more stuff we have, the more our stuff becomes the desire of our hearts. We often think that wherever our heart is that our treasure (money & resources) will follow. Jesus says it’s the other way around (Luke 12:34).
The more stuff we have, the more of our time and energy it requires. Just check out our calendars. A lot of time is spent keeping up our nice stuff rather than sacrificially serving others.
The more stuff we have, the more it insulates us from the needs of others. Everyone (both wealthy and poor) has needs, but all too often pursuing bigger better stuff removes us from intersecting with those in need.
Does God choose to bless some with larger houses, nicer cars, and more resources? Certainly. Does God lead some Jesus-followers to reach out to the wealthy with the good news of Jesus? Of course… BUT here’s the big bottom line: If God blesses us with a lot of stuff , it’s so we can be a blessing to others and become a glimpse of His kingdom in the midst of a messed up world.
Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
In a race, how you begin is not as important as how you finish. And this same principle is also true to a large degree in the spiritual realm. That’s why the writer of Hebrews reminds us to “lay aside every encumbrance” that hinders us in the race set before us (12:1). A believer’s lifetime is not a sprint but a marathon walk with Christ, and our goal should be the same as Paul’s—to fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4:7).
Today’s passage contrasts two runners. After a great start as a fellow worker with Paul (Philem. 1:24), Demas later deserted the cause because of his love for the world (2 Tim. 4:10). Instead of enduring to the end, he gave up and didn’t finish the course.
Mark, on the other hand, started poorly. When Paul and Barnabas went on their first missionary journey, they took the young man with them, but after the first leg of the trip, he returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:5, Acts 13:13). Because Mark had deserted them on that first trip, Paul refused to take him on the second (15:36-40). However, when Paul was nearing death, he wanted Mark, whom he now considered “useful for service” (2 Tim. 4:11). Mark had proven himself faithful by persevering in obedience and service to the Lord, and eventually he wrote the one of the four gospels.
It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuits and pleasures of this life and forget that we have a higher goal. Once we cross the finish line and see Christ face-to-face, everything else will fade in comparison. So let’s run with endurance the race set before us.
Adapted From: http://intouch.org
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
If someone on his deathbed was giving his final words, would you pay attention? I hope so. If someone wrote down her last wishes in a will, would you take the time to read it? I think you would.
In Matthew 28 we have Jesus’ final will and testament, so to speak, which is known as the Great Commission. Jesus said, "All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18–20).
This is the message of Christ to each of us. But how many of us are actually doing it? Some might find the following statement a bit controversial, but I think it is true: if you are not seeking to fulfill the Great Commission, it actually can be a sin.
There are different kinds of sin identified in the Bible: the sins of commission and the sins of omission. A sin of commission is doing what you should not do. A sin of omission is not doing what you should do.
The Bible tells us in James 4:17, "To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." Yet for many, the Great Commission has become the Great Omission. Research has shown that 95 percent of Christians have never led another person to Christ.
The full concept of going into the world and making disciples is to share your faith, lead people to Christ, and then, to the best of your ability, help them mature spiritually.
Adapted From: http://intouch.org
One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.
Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”