Tag Archives: Matthew 16

Seeing straight, seeing true?

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God…show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare….Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.

(Ps 25. 1,4,15&18)

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

(Ps 27.4)

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be give to you as well. 

(Matt 6.31-33)

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it…’

(Matt 16.24&25)

Dearest Lord, forgive my poor vision, and restore my sight. It seems that every day is passing in a fog; I see only my own poor self, with all the weaknesses and scars of past failures and hurts. I cannot get past the blinkers of selfishness, and am blinded by self-pity and despair. I know that out there, somewhere, there is great light and freedom, a picture of glory and beauty which can transform my life and make it shine for you…and yet I cannot seem to see it. Oh Lord, mighty God, have mercy on your child and help me to fix my eyes upon you, each and every day; seeing ever more clearly your power and will to save, and the beauty of your love and forgiveness. Only that vision has power to burn away all shameful self-preoccupation, and only you can give it!

Heavenly Father, forgive my narrow vision and restore my sight. I live in a community of people whom you love, and for whom your son, my saviour, died. I live among people who have known great trouble and sorrow; people who have rejected what they think is the truth about you because of the pain they see in the world; and also people who never give you a thought, living only for the moment and the things of this world. I know that I fail to see these people as your precious and beloved children, as those trapped in a darkness of which they are almost unaware, and in desperate need of a saving hope. O Lord, loving and gracious, merciful and forgiving, I pray that I might see as you see, so that I might love as you love and serve in your name. Shift my gaze from my own burdens to see those of others;  displace my love for myself with your holy and pure love for others.

I praise you, my God and King, that you have paid the price for my sins and broken the power of sin and guilt and death over my life. I thank you that you have put your life into my heart; that by your spirit, I am a new creation and not bound by my past. Let me see ever more clearly what that means, and live as if I believed it! Let the truths of forgiveness bring healing and transformation, so that the shadows cast by the past are driven away, and I see more clearly that I am accepted, loved, filled with a new purpose and power for living – the best purpose there is, to worship and serve the one true God.

Set me free from myself, Lord, break the chains and bring me into the light of your love,. In that light, I see others clearly; in that light, I am utterly focused on you and forget myself; in that light, may I live, as one consumed by a single passion –  the glory of Jesus Christ, my Saviour!

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The most important question..

When Jesus came to the region of Ceasarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,

Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

(Matthew 16.13-17)

I believe that our ultimate destination, our eternal future, is determined by our answer to this fundamental question, posed to us today as it was to Peter all those years ago. Who is Jesus? He himself was quite clear on the answer to the question – taking the names of Messiah or Christ, the Son of Man, the one promised down the years who would break forever the power of sin and death in human lives.

His whole ministry asserted his identity as one with God – power over natural and spiritual powers; authority to forgive sins and cast out demons; speaking with the words of God to woo the people of God. Those who rejected him, he stated quite clearly ‘will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.’ (John 3.36)

What then is our message as followers of Jesus in the world today? We are surrounded by the pain and struggle of mankind, fresh waves of upheaval and suffering arise weekly and our political leaders stagger from one crisis meeting to another. In Britain, our neighbours and colleagues have largely dismissed Christianity from their minds, dismissing it as so much nonsense, and embracing in many cases a rag-bag of ideas picked from many sources, which makes them comfortable with their lives.

I think it is very important that we keep clear in our minds the authority, power and providence of God – over and in ALL that is happening to individuals and our world at large. If we succumb to the temptation to think that our own words and deeds are the only things which can redeem people and transform society, we will sink into despair – either doing nothing because we feel powerless, or doing too many things because we can’t bear inactivity in the face of so much need and injustice.

The reality is that God is never mocked. He may appear inactive, but it is our vision which is faulty here, not His power. He cares more deeply than we can imagine for each and every one of His children, and desires that none should face eternity without Him. I believe that in every turmoil and trouble, God is at work to raise the minds of men and women to consider His claim upon their lives, and to recognise in themselves the ultimate sin, of putting self on the throne of their hearts.

In His grace, God may use those who already know and love Him to be part of the process by which He reveals Himself, but we have no power to force anyone to acknowledge Him as Lord. All we can do is to follow the example of the apostle Andrew, whose first action was to bring his brother Simon to meet the man whom Andrew already believed was the Christ, the promised one(John 1.41)

Since this is the case, as eager servants, it is our responsibility to be like the apostle Paul when he served the church in Corinth :-” For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1Cor 2.2). We have the treasure of forgiveness of sins, a fresh start here on earth and eternal life with Christ to share with people who need it so badly, and the best way we can do this is by pointing them over and over to Jesus. We lift him up, exalting him in our lives and our words, so that people will see and have the chance to consider properly for themselves who they think Jesus is. Their decision is not in our hands, but we can strive to ensure that our witness is faithful, loving, steadfast, and always focussed on Christ, so that God can use us in His work of drawing them to Himself.

May God stir up in us a deeper love for Christ, so that our lives shine for Him, and give us courage to speak of Him whenever the opportunity arises. May we be blessed to be used as the means by which others are brought face to face with Christ, and come to acknowledge him as Lord of their lives.