September 12: What Jesus Called Peter

Read Matthew 16:13-28

Jesus called him Simon son of John. It was the name he had before he met Jesus. Before God the Father had revealed the truth about Jesus to this humble fisherman from the town of Bethsaida. Then He called him blessed. It means happy. To be envied.

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah . . .” (v. 17)

That’s when Jesus proclaimed Simon’s new position. He called him Peter, the Rock upon which He Himself would build His church. When Peter spoke the truth of who Jesus really was, who He still is today, God the Son gave him the keys to the very Kingdom of Heaven.

“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (v. 19).

It was a pretty good day for Simon Peter, I imagine. A new name with which he had not only proclaimed the truth of Jesus Christ the Son of God, but also with which he would hold authority in eternity. He got to speak truth about Jesus to Jesus Himself.

Perhaps at the thought of the keys of heaven and the authority which Simon Peter could now claim, he envisioned mighty angels and a beautiful throne. So when he heard Jesus’ talk about suffering at the hands of religious authorities, it did not settle well. Jesus’ words  must have sounded crazy and depressing. They cut to the quik of all that Simon Peter had just gained. For if Jesus had to suffer, then what would Peter have to do?

Maybe that’s why he took Jesus aside and quietly rebuked him. Although he had loved what Jesus had told him just four verses earlier, the things He said now were downright hurtful to a man who’d just gained the whole world. Hurtful, that is, from a self-centered I’m-finally-getting-ahead-in-this-world perspective. So when Jesus heard the self come out of Peter’s words, the old nature that makes people seek the opposite of God’s upside-down ways, He rebuked Peter strongly.

And the man He’d just called blessed was now being called Satan by Jesus Himself.

It’s a picture of what happens when we speak truth from God’s perspective and then let our own sinful view of things taint the picture. One minute, Jesus was giving giving Simon Peter the very keys of heaven, and the next minute he was calling him Satan himself. Let us take heed lest we fall to that self-focus as well.

brw

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September 11: Peter’s Story

Read John 1:35-51

The first time Simon met Jesus, he got a new name. The Rock. Jesus met him and saw the man not just for who he was, but for who He would be.

“You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (v. 42).

Simon was from Bethsaida, a fishing town. He had a dad named John (some versions call him Jonah) and a brother named Andrew, who apparently thought the world of him. He’s the one who introduced Peter to Jesus.

That introduction led to the story of a man whose story is unequaled by any other in Scripture. The story of a man who lived by the sea. He probably smelled like fish most days. The story of Peter is more about the One who gave him a new name than it is about Peter. It’s the story of Jesus’ transforming grace.

I wonder what Simon thought of his new name. The one Jesus gave him. Did he try it on for size the first time he heard it? My name is Cephas. Rock. Did he like rocks? I mean, surely he had encountered them at various times. Perhaps he’d mistakenly caught stones, thinking they were fish. Maybe his boat had nearly crashed into one at some point in his career. What images emerged when Jesus called him by that name? Did he realize the he would eventually grow into it? Did the hearing of it alone give him a confidence such as he had never known? Or did he think Jesus was mistaken? Surely not I. A rock? 

The Bible doesn’t tell us what he thought that day. But it has a lot to say about the truth of his new name. The truth of what Jesus called him. I believe it took Peter some time to see himself as such. No doubt it took time for him to catch Jesus’ vision for him. But by the time he died, Simon Peter’s life was a clear testament to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. His life bore clear witness to the fact of Jesus’ transforming work in one man’s life. And it all started with a new name for the man who followed Jesus.

brw

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September 10: Prophetic Application — Evangelistic Fervor

Read Acts 1:1-11

This knowledge is not something we can keep to ourselves. There are ears that need to hear and lives that need to be changed through what we’ve been studying over the last four weeks.

In Acts 1, Jesus was ready to ascend into Heaven. He challenged His disciples to wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to come. It was not a suggestion, but a command. After the life change they had all experienced over the previous three years with Jesus, He challenged them to share the good news with others.

As a Christian, you may not be affected by the Tribulation of the End Times. But time is running short and there are people out there who will be affected. God consistently reminds us in His Word to be ready, expectant for the End Time events to occur. For those people who aren’t living expectantly and haven’t given Jesus control of their lives, you and I have been tasked with being God’s witnesses to them. You may be the only piece of hope in their life. You could be the only one to ever share the gospel with them.

People’s eternal destinies should be the thought that keeps us focused on the gospel. Imagine your co-workers, friends, and family all enduring the Tribulation. It’s not something you would want your worst enemy to experience. You have the hope that can save. Be the person who explains the gospel in a way they understand.  Be the one who draws them closer to God.

If you keep your faith to yourself, it is worthless. James 1 tells us that faith without works is dead. The most evident aspects of a believer’s life are his or her actions. They are what set us apart from everyone else. If you claim to have faith in Jesus, you should be out there sharing with everybody the hope that you have. It’s not something that we can keep to ourselves. The eternity of souls is at stake. Be the voice that people need in this broken world. Be the light shining in the darkness, proclaiming the saving grace that can only be found through Jesus Christ.

jdl

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September 9: Prophetic Application — Expectant Living

Read Matthew 25:1-13

Many of us deal with the fear of being unprepared. Some of us might even admit to having nightmares of being in front of a group of people making a presentation and realizing that we forgot our note cards, flash drive, or something else important. We find ourselves in that specific nightmare because it is a subconscious fear of ours.

If there is something that you don’t want to be caught unprepared for, it’s the End Times. Matthew 25 contains one of the best examples of expectant living in the Bible. This parable talks about a wedding. There are the ten virgin bridesmaids who are waiting for the arrival of the groom. This is obviously not a portrayal of a wedding in the 21st century, but it was very common for weddings of that time. As the virgins were waiting into the night for the groom, they fell asleep. “Behold, the bridegroom!” was the cry that woke them up. Rushing to get their things together, half of the virgins ask to borrow some oil for their lamps because they had none. But the prudent virgins told them to go buy their own. As they were out, the five prepared virgins went into the wedding supper. But when the five foolish virgins came back, the groom would not let them in.

Key to this parable is the fact that the foolish virgins were not asking to top off their lamps with oil, they were asking for oil to fill their lamps. They had none. The significance of each aspect of this parable can be debated for hours. The bottom line is this: if you are caught off guard by the End Times, it will be the worst mistake of your life. Instead of looking towards the future with uncertainty and fear, we must know what is coming and look with eagerness because we want to spend eternity with God.

In our culture today, many people live against Jesus. They don’t care about Jesus or the Christian life at all. Don’t allow yourself to be one of them. Jesus came to earth to die for your sins and wants to be in a relationship with you! Take advantage of that opportunity. For if you do, you will escape the wrath of the End Times and you can look towards the future with absolute certainty knowing that soon you will be in the presence of the God of the universe!

jdl

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September 8: New Heaven and New Earth (Part 2)

Read Revelation 22:1-21

In this last chapter of Revelation, John describes two very important details of the new Heaven. A crystal clear river flows from the throne of God. It matches the crystal like quality of the city itself. The river then irrigates the tree of life with twelve kinds of fruit.

These two details carry great symbolism. These are two fulfillments of Old Testament prophesies: Tree of Life in Genesis 3 and the river flowing out from the New Jerusalem in Ezekiel 47 all the way to the Dead Sea. God is still showing His power over death, even in the eternal city. The street referenced in verse 2 refers to a “great street” that will run through the middle of the city. The river of life not only comes out of the actual throne of God, but it runs through the middle of the eternal city so everyone can see it. Where the bodies of the two witnesses lay will be the same area where the river will flow.

The river then flows into the tree of life, which is symbolic of the tree in the Garden of Eden. It was the tree God intended for good with Adam and Eve and He uses it in eternity as a focal point in the new Heaven.

At the end of the chapter, and of the entire book, the angel confirms that all his visions were both inspired by God and accurate. They are so serious about this that the angel tells John if anyone adds anything, the plagues of this book will be upon them. Likewise, if anyone takes words out of this book, their name will be taken out of the Lamb’s Book of Life.

It is in this state that we will reign with God for the rest of eternity. Life will be perfect. There will be no more tears, no more pain, and, best of all, no more sin. The story of the human race will have been completed and we will be living in a perfect city with a perfect God in a perfect eternity. I can’t wait!

jdl

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September 7: New Heaven and New Earth (Part 1)

Read Revelation 21:1-27

The story of the human race has been completed here in this final chapter of Revelation. Believers have been raised, judged, and given resurrected bodies. Satan, the great deceiver, has finally been defeated. There is no more sin and everything stands perfect.

Now what? The last two chapters of Revelation tell us about the eternal state. When the Bible tells us we will be with God for eternity (1 Thess. 4:17), tt means just that, for a time longer than our minds can comprehend. We will be one WITH GOD! I can’t even imagine what this is going to be like!

Revelation 21 talks about the New Jerusalem that will be established. After all the events of the End Times have taken place, the entire universe will be wiped away and the eternal state will be ushered in. The first half of the chapter describes the kind of relationship we will have with God. How we will be one with Him and He will be living among us!

John speaks in verses 10-27 about the New Jerusalem descending from Heaven onto the earth. The city is said to be made of pearls and jasper stones and the commonly known streets of gold. Because gold was the purest thing they had at the time, this is likely saying that the streets will be crystal clear, not literally gold (v. 21).

This devotional cannot fully describe the glory of the eternal state! We will be in the New Jerusalem with God! The chapter tells us no sun or light will be needed because the glory of the Lord will illuminate the city!

Are you going to be celebrating in the New Jerusalem? Time is running out, so do not allow yourself to be caught off guard. Trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins! I would love nothing more than to be celebrating with you all for eternity! Will you join me?

jdl

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September 6: The Great White Throne Judgment

Read Revelation 20:11-15

Throughout this series we have heard over and over how God will one day conquer evil. That day will be the day of the Great White Throne Judgment, and this is where it ends. From the Fall of Man, sin has plagued the human race. Death and crime have run rampant; people have preached against Christ, and Christians have been killed for their beliefs. Some claimed to be Christians, but have led people astray. But, I’ll say it again, the Great White Throne Judgment is where it ends.

After the 1,000 years of Jesus reigning while Satan is bound, Satan will be released on the earth to tempt the nations one last time. Satan will then meet his demise as fire falls from heaven and he is thrown into the Lake of Fire.

The judgment is not only called “The Great White Throne Judgment” because of the color of the throne, but because of the purity and magnificence of the Judge who resides on it. In order for God to be perfect in every way, He must be the perfect Judge. God cannot be perfect and at the same time allow sin to go unpunished. At this judgment, all actions and motives will be taken into account.

This judgment will be for all people who have rejected Jesus’ free gift of salvation. Here is where they will pay for it. The Lamb’s Book of Life will be opened once more, not for the names that are written in it, but for the ones that aren’t. The grave and Hades will give up all of their dead and the multitudes gather in the Throne Room of God . . . all about to hear bad news.

The burning question is “what did they do with what God gave them?” Some may say, “Well, as you can see, I did this certain thing that should give me some heavenly credit.” However, Jesus + NOTHING = Salvation. Just because you do good things in your life does not mean you will enter into Heaven. If you lose everything but you get Jesus, you don’t lose anything because Jesus IS everything. He is the ONLY way, the ONLY Truth and the ONLY Life.

The unfortunate yet holy truth is that, once the Judgment has finished, everyone who was not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity. Time is short, if you haven’t trusted solely in Jesus with your life, today is the day! But not only for you. Invite your “5” to take advantage of this offer too!

jdl

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