Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Future Is Here

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The days of Jesus’ sufferings are fast approaching in the text. The prophecies are coming to fruition. Isaiah 52 and 53 foretells of the cross. Psalm 23 prophesies of it along with others among the Messianic Psalms. Even our reading in Malachi today points to Jesus’ two advents, 400 years before the first, and the second is yet to be fulfilled in the future; he speaks of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

The great day of the Lord is in the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Jesus came to Bethlehem to save us!

The dreadful day of the Lord is yet determined for a future date and time, as foretold on Matthew 25;1-13 and Isaiah 40:10, and dozens of other places in both Testaments, the prophecies culminating in Revelation 20 on His dreadful day of judgment. Satan and those that follow him will be cast into the Lake of Fire with its never ending torment.

Our study in Matthew today tells of Jesus speaking of past prophecies; those to be fulfilled in the immediate future, and those coming at the end of days (end-times). His words are those of His Father put into human language. Jesus is the literal Word of God, which became flesh and dwelt among us. And when we consider that a quarter of the Bible is prophetic, those who read it will be well informed about the past, present, and future. There is no need to fear the unknown, for the “unknown” can be known. And with Jesus near, His first words to us will always be what we find in Matthew 17:7, “Arise, and be not afraid.”

It is easy to list to the news today and be filled with anxiety and worry over what we hear. The choice is ours though; we can either curl up in a ball and recoil at today’s events, or we can stand up and look to Jesus for His comforting words, and regain our sense of peace, which is really His given to us.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 16:21-28; 17:1-13 - "The Future Is Here"

In this weeks study of Matthew, Jesus is preparing His disciples for what they will be facing in the near future.  He is referring to His own death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead.  

The disciples still have much to learn regarding God’s plan, and the purpose of Christ’s work on earth. Remember it had just been revealed to Peter who Jesus is, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” From spiritual clarity, to spiritual dullness, Peter is reacting to what Jesus revealed to the disciples. His first instinct is to react in the flesh. His emotions are controlling him, and he leans to his own own understanding. He has his own idea of what Jesus should do. He just can’t believe that Jesus would knowingly walk into the trap that awaits Him, His death.

Peter's next words are a complete dissent of his prior revelation. He rebukes Jesus. Think about that for a moment. He rebukes Christ, the Son of the living God attempting to stop Him from fulfilling the will of God. What a picture. Spiritual things MUST be spiritually discerned. Can we understand God's ways without His Spirit revealing it to us? We cannot. Can we change one word of what God has already declared? We cannot. It is not our will - but thine. This is a lesson that Jesus is about to teach His disciples. What is true discipleship, and what does true discipleship cost?

The will of God is the cross of Christ. Jesus alone will pay the price of atonement for our sin. We are redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. That was God's plan from the beginning. This was Christ's purpose.

In last few verses of chapter 16, Jesus is speaking to His disciples and He tells them, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Our spiritual development is a continual work in progress. We don’t just believe in Jesus, and that’s it. We must grow in our faith into spiritual maturity. That means we are ambassadors for Christ. We represent His kingdom, not our own. Remember, the old man has been crucified with Christ, and we are new creations in Him. Therefore if anyone will come after Him, that is be His disciple, and a follower of Him they must deny themselves. This is an essential part of the believer's life. This means not seeking our own way, but yielding to His way. As we pursue holiness, we must deny ourselves, all of our carnal appetites and submit to His will. We must take up our cross - this is a daily battle for the believer. Bearing our cross means submitting our wills, it is a call to absolute surrender to Him.

The key to walking in the Spirit is found in Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." His Word will transform our lives. It is the Word of God that accomplishes the destruction of the flesh. As we submit to His will, which is revealed in His Word, we will be victorious over the flesh. "For whoever seeks to save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."  

In the first 13 verses of chapter 17, we learn about The Transfiguration.  Jesus takes 3 of his disciples up into the mountain where they witness a brief glimpse of Jesus in all of His glory as King. Moses and Elijah appeared beside Him. They were two of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament.  Moses representing the Law, also the author of the first 5 books of the Bible.  His presence speaks to the Old Covenant.  Elijah’s speaks to the prophecies of all the prophets foretelling the Messiah.  The prophets standing before Jesus reveals to us that Jesus is the Christ.  He is the One spoken of through the prophets.  He is also the One who would fulfill all the Law, bringing in a New Covenant.  The absolute declaration of God the Father reveals this to the disciples, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”  

There are a lot of voices in this world. Everyone has an opinion of how we should live our lives and what we should be doing. If you want to know God's will for your life, listen to Jesus. He is the Son of the living God, the Christ who died on the cross for your sin and rose victoriously from the grave! He loves you and will never forsake you. He offers salvation freely to anyone who will believe. Believe on Him today!

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