Meditations of the Heart

Did you know, we can all quickly move from the heights of spirituality, plummeting to the depths of calamity. Acting like angels at church, while some act like demons at home. Pete demonstrates this as He attempts to circumvent the way of the cross. It reminds us that we don’t always understand where Jesus is leading us. So Christ Jesus shares with us in Matthew 16:24~If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (ESV) Grasp that our cross is whatever makes it difficult for us to follow Jesus Christ. It may be a job, a fear, a relationship, even our pride. But, if we decide to follow Jesus Christ, by faith and walk out the scriptures we’ll have a cross to bear. In the Roman Empire, a convicted criminal was forced to carry his own cross through public streets to the place of execution as a sign of total submission to Roman rule. Christ Jesus takes this visual and says it is even more true for His followers.

Following Christ Jesus means we must totally submit giving up our selfish ambitions even our whole lives, to follow after Jesus Christ. Matthew 16:25~For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (ESV) Born once, die twice, but if we are born again we will only die once. Did You know, on average in the U.S., every two minutes someone succeeds at suicide? Almost 50,000 people take their lives each year. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers, and these numbers continue to trend upwards. Why, Why does this happen in the most affluent society on earth? I submit to you the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~ Life isn’t worth living until you have found something worth dying for. Saints, that something, is a somebody because Jesus Christ is worth dying for. Paul writes it this way in Philippians 1:21~For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (NIV) 

Living in Christ Jesus is to live on in the fruitful labor and service of our Lord. If our heart’s desire is to get the most out of life, then we must Get Connected so we can answer the Messiah’s question in Matthew 16:26~For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (ESV) Many people spend their lives trying to gain stuff, status, or standing. Some gain it all, but they’re the walking dead, spiritually lifeless, and one day, they’ll lose it all, but most tragic of all, spiritually bankrupt, they’ll lose their souls forever. Understand Jesus died on the cross to claim us as our Lord and He lives to lead us as Lord over all. 

Who are you following? The only way that we can truly follow after Jesus Christ is to make Him Lord over our whole life. Our spiritual life, our thought life, our secret life, our living breathing every day walking around life. That means we must get connected to Jesus who is our source. To do this we must realize who Jesus is and what He has done for us, even having the Father send us the Holy Spirit. Moreover, we must learn to visualize His purpose for our lives and who we fit into the plan that He has created for us. Then as we journey with Jesus, we must take time to analyze how we are following after our Lord. Romans 1:16~…the gospel…it is the power of God that brings salvation…(NIV) Why not take time today to examine how you are following Jesus. After all, it’s at the heart of our 21-Days.

Revealing God’s Plan

Today let’s analyze what following is not. (16:21-28) Jesus is pretty clear about what His call means. Now that Jesus has verified who He is, and taught a great deal on living, now He turns towards Calvary. Matthew 16:20~Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (ESV) As the disciples begin to realize who Jesus truly is, He says boys listen up, then explains how He’s bound for Jerusalem to suffer, be killed, and on the third day be raised. Matthew 16:21~From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (ESV) There’s the shift. This time from the prophet preaching to the Lamb in our stead. 

However, the disciples still think Messiah is a political reformer who will defeat Rome and re-establish the kingdom of Israel. So, Pete takes Christ Jesus aside and rebukes Him. (Matthew 16:22) Have you ever tried to rebuke the Lord? I bet it didn’t go very well, never does. C.S. Lewis~Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. 

Jesus responds to Pete in Matthew 16:23~Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (ESV) No, Pete hasn’t gone from saint to Satan in the matter of a few verses. Christ Jesus calls Pete Satan because he is trying to circumvent God’s plan of salvation. It’s vital we grasp this. God has one plan of salvation, it is Jesus Christ crucified in our stead and we must confess Jesus Christ is Lord and believe God raised Him, else we’re to using Satan’s strategy. Some of us need to move out of the way in our kid’s lives, our spouse’s life, or a friend’s life. God has a plan for each and we must fall in line. 

Pastor how can you be so sure. Because Pete later unpacks this for us in 2 Peter 3:9~The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (NIV) God has a plan for your life, and one of the best things about 21-Days is moving out of God’s way, find ourselves broken and empty, ready to be filled and fueled by His amazing grace. Christ Jesus says insert your name here ___ don’t be an offense Pete, don’t be a hindrance, go with God, be the rock He has purposed. 

David —Confessions of a King — Facing Your Giants — 1 Samuel 16.14-17.58…Handout

At some point, we all face a giant. It may be a problem in a relationship a financial issue, a career clog, health scare, or a family member’s prolonged illness. Facing Your Giants: Replace, __________, and Reflect.

1) Replace Fear with ________ (16:14-23; 17:1-11) To replace means to remove and substitute. Psalm 68:1~ God shall arise and his enemies shall be ________(ESV) 1 Samuel 16:14~Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. (ESV) Being outside of God’s will makes us like King Saul: depressed and paranoid, but when we are in God’s will and His blessings flow through His anointing we are like David. 1 Samuel 16:23~And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David…played…So Saul was ________ and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him. (ESV) To be refreshed God must flow on, in, and through our lives. Fast forward to the Macho Man moment of taunting and peacocking. Goliath’s about _____ feet tall. 30 inches taller than famed NBA Centers Wilt and Shaq. Goliath stood over 100 inches tall. 1 Samuel 17:5~He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, the weight of the coat was ______ shekels of bronze. (ESV) A ______ penny weighs 2.5 grams, so  Goliath’s armor would need ____1982 pennies. Mark 5:36~Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, Don’t be afraid; just _________. (NIV) Don’t let fear own you or your life.

2) Refuse to Get _________ (17:12-30) Our adversary wants nothing more than to ____________ us. Like Job and so many others, David hears from people he knows but he responds in faith. Calling the Lord in 1 Samuel 17 v26~…the living (חַי chay) God (אֱלֹהִים ‘elohiym)? (ESV) Use this mentality, WAR: God is ________, God is Able, ____ is Reliable. David’s attack comes from his brother in 1 Samuel 17:28~Eliab his eldest brother’s…anger was kindled…Why have you come…with whom have you left those few sheep…I know your presumption and the evil of your heart…(ESV) Satan’s most effective weapons are fear and ___________. When fear doesn’t work, the devil then tries to topple our faith by discouraging us. Deuteronomy 31:8~The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be _____________. (NIV) Who is Azariah? _______________________________

3) Reflect on Past ____________ (17:31-58) When fear knocked, faith answered, and nobody was there. Listen as David responds to Saul in 1 Samuel 17:37~The Lord who delivered me…(ESV) Lions, and Giants, and Bears oh my indeed. God has given us our past ________, as a firm foundation for our faith to defeat giant problems in our present. 1 Samuel 17:39-40~…So David…took his staff…chose five smooth stones…and he approached the Philistine. (ESV) Sometimes we need to let go of __________ we are holding so we can grasp what God is giving to us. Believing requires a vehicle and God’s vehicle is called ______. Stop circling, start _________.  1 Samuel 17:47~…know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s…(ESV) Take-A-Step: ________________________________________________