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Posts Tagged ‘kingdom’

Matthew 16

October 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 16

In Matthew 16.13, Jesus takes his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, a town near the northern-most part of the land of Israel. Caesarea Philippi was home to a large cave which had a natural spring running out of the mouth of the cave. Local legend said that this cave was the entrance to the underworld, and a large temple was built there to worship Pagan gods.

The cave and temple were located at the base of a very large cliff. All kinds of evil acts occurred here. The worship consisted of prostitution and other kinds of sexual immorality. An unlikely place for a Jewish rabbi to bring his students.

The name of this terrible place was “The Gates of Hades.” Hades was the place of the dead in Greek mythology. They believed the gods went there for the winter. Worshippers would attempt to entice the gods to return in the spring with their sexual perversion.

All this helps us to understand Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16.18. Jesus asked his disciples who they believed he was. Peter pipes up “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” (verse 16). Peter realized that the idols that were carved into the rock were not alive; only the One True God—Jesus’ Father—was alive.

Jesus then replies to Peter in verse 18 by saying “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Jesus appears to be saying that he is going to build his church right here on this rock, the Gates of Hades. In other words, he will replace the evil of this temple with the righteousness of his church. This movement Jesus has started is going to change the world, and even the intense immorality of Caesarea Philippi won’t be able to slow it down.

The question to ask yourself is “Have I allowed Christ to build on my life?” Do you agree with Peter’s statement that Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of the Living God”? Have you allowed Christ to rid your life of immorality and anything that isn’t true? Or are you like the Gates of Hades: an entrance to death and a monument for immorality?

Examine yourself. Let Jesus take control and build upon your life.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, you are the Christ. You are the Son of the Living God. Remove from me anything that distracts me from you. Take away the sin in my life. I want you to build upon my life so that you can be glorified. Help me to take your glory everywhere I go, so that others may be freed from death. Amen.

 

“Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.” Psalm 86.8

 

Check out this home video of the Gates of Hades in Caesarea Philippi:

 

*A special thanks to Ray Vander Laan, whose incredible research and teaching is the background for today’s devotional. You can find out more about his teaching at http://www.followtherabbi.com. The source for today’s devotional can be found on the Faith Lessons video Volume Five: The Early Church.

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Matthew 13

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 13

There are so many good things in this chapter I could write several devotionals. You have the famous parable of the sower, the confusing parable of the weeds, the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the yeast, and more. Jesus packs an amazing amount of teaching into this chapter.

But tucked in the middle of all these parables are two tiny parables with gigantic significance: the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price.

Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like buried treasure that a guy finds in a field. The treasure is so valuable, that he sells everything he has to buy the field. Once he has the field, he has the treasure.

Jesus says it’s also like a fine pearl that a collector finds. The collector also sells everything he owns so he can buy this pearl.

Wow. That is huge. Why would someone sell everything to buy a field? Because the field is worth more than that. It costs the man everything, but he gets so much more in return.

Why would anyone sell everything to buy a pearl? Because it’s priceless. The man has to have it, and he will stop at nothing to get it.

God’s kingdom is like that. It’s priceless. It is of so much value, when you know what it is, you have to have it. And it’s worth giving everything in order to get it.

But people don’t realize how valuable it is. The owner of the field didn’t know what he had. There was this huge treasure in his field, and he let it slip through his fingers. The store-keeper didn’t know how valuable that pearl was. Other customers had looked at it, but decided not to buy it. Why? Because they didn’t realize what was right in front of their noses!

Don’t miss out! God’s kingdom is priceless. It is life-changing. It costs you your life, but it’s worth even more than that. God gives you so much more in return. He gives you eternal life, and he gives you the blessing of spending your life on earth in his presence. Just like the field and the pearl, its value can’t be explained. You have to experience it for yourself. Don’t let it slip through your fingers!

If you haven’t truly given your life to Jesus, do not hesitate any longer. Give it to him, and he will give you back a life that is worth so much more.

 

Prayer for Today

Father, I want to be part of your kingdom. I don’t want to foolishly hang on to my life. I give it to you because I know that life with you is worth so much more. Thank you for giving Jesus to die so that I can have eternal life with you. Amen.

 

 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Matthew 16.25

Matthew 10

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 10

Jesus sends out the 12 Apostles with these instructions: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’” (verse 7). I truly believe Jesus gives us these same instructions today. We need to share with others the good news of Jesus’ kingdom.

In verse 8, Jesus tells the disciples that they have freely received, so they should freely give. In other words, because Jesus has given them so much, they need to give to others. They need to share with others the incredible gift they have received from Jesus. The same is true for us. Because Jesus has blessed us so much, we need to tell others about him so they too can experience his blessings.

But I can hear you now: “I don’t know what to say. How do I tell people about Jesus without making people mad or sounding weird?” But look at what Jesus tells the Apostles in verses 19-20: “…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Jesus says that God will speak through you! How cool is that?

Maybe that seems a little strange and mysterious. Well, it is. That is what makes it so awesome. The God of the Universe will give you the words to say. If you have truly allowed Jesus into your life, then he will work through you.

But that’s the key: “if you have truly allowed Jesus into your life.” Is Jesus your Lord? Have you let him change your life? If so, then share with others what he has done in your life. Don’t worry about what to say, just ask him to speak through you.

If you haven’t allowed Jesus to change your life, then why not? What is keeping your from giving him control? Dare to journey on an epic adventure with the King of heaven and earth.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I submit to you. I love you and want to serve you. I want to give you control of my life. Use me to honor you and to help others. Speak through me so that I may share with others what you have done in my own life and what you can do in their lives. Help me to trust you. Amen.

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.’” Mark 16.15