Monday, October 6, 2008

Matthew 16:21-23 "His Way Only"

Read Matthew 16:21-23.

"You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." NIV
Peter cannot believe his ears when Jesus says that the religious leaders will have Him killed in Jerusalem. (Notice Peter doesn't seem to hear the part that Jesus will raise from the dead in three days.) Peter is always the one to jump into the middle of the fray, dukes up, ready to fight off anyone or anything that will hurt those he loves. It's an admirable quality really. He's very strong, very protective and extremely loyal. But he usually jumps before he thinks. His first thought is, "No way, we will protect the Lord. They are not going to take Him. They'll take us first."

But the clear evident ways our human minds want to work towards prosperity, health and preservation are not always the ways of God. He has a higher calling for all of our lives -- much higher than we can ever figure out in a logical or worldly way. Remember, we are born with a sinful nature that puts self first. In God's world, He is first. We desire wealth, health and long life; God desires full devotion at any cost. We serve a jealous God who will not tolerate anyone or anything in front of Him. If He speaks, no matter how "illogical" it appears to us, we must listen. Look at Moses. God tells him to throw his rod on the ground, and it became a hissing snake. Then God tells him to pick it up by the tail. We all know that if you pick up an angry snake by the tail, it will whip around and bite us. So why would God tell Moses to pick up the snake by the tail? Because we must learn to trust His higher ways over our own. And what does Moses do? He overcomes his fears and desires for self-preservation, picks up the snake, and it becomes a rod again.

Peter didn't want Jesus to die. None of us would. But God had a higher purpose, and no matter how illogical it sounded to man's ears and mind, it must happen as He ordained it to be. The eternal destiny of mankind depended on it and that rated so much higher than Peter's desire to preserve Christ's life. Peter had to learn that day to trust Jesus like never before. Well, he learned partially. There's still that whole denying knowing Jesus thing still to come. But he took a step in his training in being a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Compete trust in Him.

What do you hold in your hand? Is there a rod that God is asking you to lay down? Do you need to pick up a snake by the tail? Does His leading seem totally illogical? At times it can. As long as it doesn't go against the nature of God and you have spent a lot of time in prayer, you are probably hearing Him correctly and need to obey. Times are only going to get more difficult, not easier. So when God speaks, He expects us to trust and obey Him immediately. The consequences of disobedience are going to reach far beyond just our own comfort or safety. Let go of the rod.

Further Thoughts:
  1. Read the story of Moses' calling in the desert in Exodus 4.
  2. What is God asking you to lay down or pick up? Fear is not of Him -- that is the enemy using the human desire for self-preservation. Trust wholly and obey completely. Our God is faithful to accomplish His purposes, and He wants to use you to do it.

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