(9/8) Do you like baseball? Letís finish an imaginary game. It is the bottom of the 9th inning. The score is tied, and your team is batting. You have the bases loaded but there are two outs. The pitcher throws you three balls out of the strike zone. Its 3 and 0, bases loaded, 2 outs. The hitter looks at the 3rd base coach who gives the sign to take the
next pitch, do not swing the bat. But the hitter thinks, I am being paid to hit the ball. The pitcher has to throw a strike, I could hit a home run. It may be the coaches will to try to walk the winning run in but it makes no sense to me. So, the next pitch comes, it looks like a fast ball down the heart of the plate, but it breaks low and outside, itís a slider and it would
have been ball 4. But, the hitter swings the bat and slow roller goes back to the pitcher who soft tosses it to first base and instead of a walk in run and a win, the inning ends and we go to extra innings. What will the manager and coach say to that hitter? What would you say?
Thatís kind of the situation we saw Peter in last week. He didnít trust or obey His coach. I would like us to look again at Matt. 16:21-27.
In answer to lifeís greatest question, Peter said, "You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the Living God." And He was absolutely correct. He had been sure since the day he met Jesus in John 1. He had given up his fishing business to follow Jesus as had 11 others. After the feeding of the five thousand and he had a chance to walk on water with
Jesus, he saw multitudes of people walk away from Jesus because His demands seemed too much, but asked if they would also go away, it was Peter who said, "Where?" You alone have the words of eternal life."
Though, the scripture doesnít come straight out and tell us, it is implied that that they did not put Godís plan together in their minds. The concept of Messiah was understood as the Golden Age. The Picture that they had in mind was a Prince in shining armor, on a white horse, defeating Israelís enemies, restoring Davidís throne, ruling the world.
Sickness would be vanquished. Sin would be forever judged, righteousness, justice and peace would reign over all the earth. God would restore the Genesis order of peace in the animal kingdom as predators and prey would live in harmony. In their minds, Jesus would be that Prince. He donít when, but he believed that day was fast approaching. He knew Jesus can control nature,
provide food from almost nothing, raise the dead, control demons, heal deformity, heal the sick, and teach the ways of God like no other can. This is Messiah. The Kingdom is close and they were excited. So excited that, they were jockeying for position. Who will be first and second lieutenants in Jesusí kingdom?
The Missing Element.
What was missing from this picture, is what the Bible has been saying from the beginning, but man has been missing it. Before, there can be a crown, there must be a cross. Again, the word Must means, this is an absolute, unavoidable necessity. Unless, the Son of God dies as our substitute, there can be no Kingdom, and no glory, no eternal life for man.
There will be only hell to pay for eternity. Again, I donít know how much or how deep our Lord went into explaining this from scripture. This is what every sacrifice and service from Genesis 3 to Jesus was pointing to. This is the teaching of Isaiah 53, and Ps. 22. We do know that after He rose from the dead, He went through the entire O. T. and put it all together for them
The Mistake Peter made.
Again, Peter, acting as the spokesman for either God or the group, took Jesus aside and repeatedly said, "Over my dead body, God forbid, not on my watch. That ainít gonna happen, huh uh, no way." Here is not only Peterís problem but our problem as well. We hear Godís word and know it is Godís will, but if it doesnít make sense to us or if it goes
against our emotions or desire, or our will, we say, "huh uh, not me, not on my watch, over my dead body, no wayÖ." For Peter, there was power, and glory, defeating the Romans, the Golden Age, The Kingdom of God, and certainly anyone who can raise the dead, walk on water, calm storms, feed the hungry and heal the damaged and sick cannot be arrested, beaten, and crucified. How
does that make sense? By the way, have you ever said that, "That doesnít make sense,"? Letís pause here for a moment and go back to Isaiah 55 and letís read those 13 verses together. Again verses 8-13 say to us, ""For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your
ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall
prosper in the thing for which I sent it." My thoughts and my ways are different than yours. And my word will always accomplish my will, so says the Lord God. Do you understand this? Listen carefully, while I donít understand, this much I know, what God says to do, doesnít always set with my will and my desires, and it doesnít always make sense to me. Does it always make
sense to you? Peter should have known by now that Jesus knows what He is doing and will always do what is right. If it doesnít make sense, itís okay. It will work if Jesus says it. Just the other day, He said to a guy, that his daughter wasnít dead. She was just asleep, and everybody laughed until Jesus told the little girl to get up and she did. He told Peter to fish in the
deep water in the middle of the day, when Peter, who knew fishing, knew that you canít catch fish in the deep water in the day time, but they did. They caught so many that it took two boats to get them all in. He told the twelve to feed 5-25,000 people with a few sardine sandwiches and they did and had 12 baskets left over. He told Peter to walk on the water and He did. Just
like He told a servant to fill some jars with water when they had no wine and then take some to the head of the wedding and boom there was the best wine possible. None of that makes any sense but if Jesus says it, it will work.
Think through the Bible and the Amazing stories that we teach our children.
- Crossing the Red Sea- you need boats or bridges, or air flight, unless God says to walk on dry land.
- Joshua fought at Jericho, not with artillery, or airstrikes, not with a siege, but by walking around the sitting and shouting because God said so.
- Gideon defeated the Midianites with 300 people and trumpets, water pitchers, and flashlights, thatís it, because God said so.
- Jehoshaphat defeated a superior army with a church choir because God said so.
- Naaman was healed of leprosy when he bathed in the muddy waters of the Jordan because God said so.
These stories are in the Bible for a good reason. They show us that faith means we obey God because we trust Him regardless of our circumstances or consequences, and even when it doesnít make sense, because Godís ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. And when He accomplishes His purposes, He receives the glory, and we see that we
can trust Him. Do you understand this? Peter didnít. He had thoughts, dreams, desires, plans, and goals; and this cross and death thing didnít fit in his plans.
The Mind of Man
Are any of you familiar with the musical called, Annie Get Your Gun? There is a song in there about a family that manages to get by in life, though they have no education, they manage, by doing what comes naturally. Our Lord rebuked Peter, for doing what comes naturally. He wasnít thinking like a God-follower. He was thinking like man who didnít know
God. He was thinking naturally. Many churches operate by thinking naturally and what they want to do instead of thinking what God wants. One of the problems we had in another church is that people wanted to walk by sight and not by faith and I believe that God calls us to walk by faith and not by sight. We want to tell God what He is able to do instead of seeking what God
wants us to do by trusting Him. Look at verse 23 again. "But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Peter, the Rock of Confession becomes the stone of stumbling.
Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 2:14 says, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Unless you are conscious of the voice of God as He speaks by the Holy Spirit and in His word, you will think Godís ways are foolish, and you will only
think of what you or anyone wants. Peter didnít get, that if Jesus didnít go to the cross, he was going to hell. Just like many people today, donít believe they need to trust in Jesus because they are basically good people. They are thinking like people and not like God. They donít realize that without trusting in the cross of Jesus they will experience hell. Being good is
good and we should be good, but being good is not good enough, because we all have enough bad in us to ruin the good we have.
But letís pause for a few moments, how or when are we, who are God-followers, more mindful of the ways man than we are the ways of God? (Audience response) I wrote down 30, I couldnít stop
- When we think our happiness will come from accumulating money, or stuff.
- When we think God owes me for my goodness.
- When we think itís more blessed to receive than to give.
- When we think that love is people meeting my needs and my wants.
- When we think we canít make it if we tithe.
- When we think anger, vengeance, and grudges, are better than forgiveness.
- When we think that kindness or meekness is weakness.
- When we think that itís better to be proud than humble.
- When we think our nationality, race, political party, social class is closer to God, or better than others.
- When we think that Godís word is archaic and we now know better (homosexuality).
- When we think we can ignore or disobey Godís will and it is okay (like sex outside of marriage).
- When we think we donít need God, we can do it ourselves.
- When we think that our happiness is more important than our holiness.
- When we think that we can have comfort and a crown without a cross.
- When we think that a religious activity (baptism, communion, church attendance etc.) instead of a yielded heart is what God wants.
- When we think that a Church is a building and not the people.
- When we think that missions is for Missionaries overseas and not for us when we walk outside these doors.
- When we think that Godís love is measured by how happy He makes me today. I didnít get what I want, therefore, God doesnít care.
- When we think that God wonít forgive me or want to use me now that I messed up.
- When we think that it doesnít matter what we believe because we are all Godís children.
- When we think that the Bible has some good suggestions and stories but it doesnít apply to me.
- When we think our sins wonít find us out.
- When we think that little sins are okay
- When we think it better to be passive than courageous.
- When we think that someone else should do what I am supposed to do.
- When we think our rewards are better enjoyed this side of death
- When we think that our sins donít affect anyone but ourselves.
- When we think our rights are more important than our grace
- When we think that our prayers donít matter.
- When we think that something is too hard for God.
The Mind of God
When our Lord rebukes Peter and turns to the other 11 and to all of us, and says, that followers are to be mindful of the things of God and that we are to surrender ourselves, and take up the cross, what He is saying is that from the time you decide to believe in Jesus, what you are in effect doing is saying that He is God and I am not. He is the Lord
and the Lord of my life. From now on, my life is about you, your plans, your will, your purpose, for your ways are the best ways, even when I donít understand. Like Tennysonís poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" from 1854 'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred
The great paradox of Christianity is that Jesus is demanding that you to come and die, so that you may live. The natural mind says, it doesnít make sense. But to the God-follower it makes perfect sense. As Christ followers, our number one question should be what Paul asked on the road to Damascus. Acts 9:6, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Thatís
what a disciple, a soldier, a servant, a slave, a prisoner asks. Jesus will tell us.
First, Deny Yourself, and Take up your cross, and Follow Me,
Second, 29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: ĎHear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.í This is the first commandment,
Third, Jesus said, And the second, like it, is this: ĎYou shall love your neighbor as yourself.í There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mk 12:29-31)
Those two commandments will be the focus of our next 10 sermons until Dec.
I want to show what it means to think like a Christian Man, a Christian Woman, A Christian Employee, A Christian Parent, A Christian Citizen, A Christian Servant of a gracious Father.
Kirk Cameron and the Way of the Master Ministry quotes Dr. Bob Moorehead who wrote about a Rwandan Christian who was told to renounce Jesus or die. He would not renounce His Savior and was killed on the spot. In his possession it was discovered that he had written, just the day before his death, these words:
"I'm a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His and I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I'm done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.
My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear.
I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His own, He'll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!"
Brothers and Sisters, our country desperately needs men and women who follow Jesus, and seek what God seeks for his or her life and family. They need to see genuine Christianity and not this plastic thing we have made it.
You have your white flags, you have your Bibles, Who will be the man or woman who will say, I have decided to deny myself for the rest of my life? I have decided to follow Jesus, and there is no turning back. I will report to Him for duty every day and ask, Lord, what will you have me to do? And like Mary told the servants at the wedding, Whatever He
says to do I will do it, no matter what?
I will not be an offense to my Lord and Savior, I owe Him my life. "Ours is not to make reply, ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and die." I will live my life in obedience and honor of the one who died to rescue me and rose again so I can live with Him forever.
If this or any of these lessons have helped you to grow closer to God, or grow stronger in your Christian faith, would you write and let me know. It would be encouraging. Or if I can answer any question about following Jesus, just ask. My email address is email@example.com, or you can write to Pastor Gary Buchman, Emmitsburg Community Bible
Church, P.O. Box 1201, Emmitsburg, Md. 21727, or call me at 301-447-6565
Benediction - Jude 24-25-
"Now to Him who is able to keep you[a] from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman