Saturday, September 9, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - September 9, 2017

Today's Reading:

John 13:21-38

2 Chronicles 19

Psalm 78:38-55

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In John 13, we find the story of Yahshua warning that Peter would deny Him. Peter vehemently swore that he would never do such a thing! Like Rosa Parks, who ignited the Civil Rights Movement by refusing to move from her seat on the bus, he thought with certainty, "I shall not be moved!" 

Let's bring it a bit closer to home. How well do you stand for what you believe? Could anything move you from your trust in your Saviour? Could anything move you from your loyalty to Him? If you think nothing could move you - that you would stand for God as firmly as Rosa Parks stood for her civil rights - you need to hear the story of Peter.

In Matthew 26:31-33, Yahshua and His disciples were on the Mount of Olives. "All of you will be offended because of Me this night," He told them. To be "offended" means to be "led deceitfully into ruin". In other words "offended" means "self-deceived"! 

"Not me!" said Peter.

Do you argue with Yahshua? Peter did!

"You will stumble because of Me this night," Messiah warned Peter.

"No, Yahshua, You are wrong! I will never be offended because of You!"

"Yes, Peter, this very night you will deny Me three times before the rooster crows."

"No, Master, I will die for You before I will deny You!"

But without realizing it, by the very fact that he was arguing, Peter had just denied His Word! This is the first step of denying the Saviour, outright!

Denial Step 1: to deny the "thus saith Yahweh".

What about you? Do you ignore, or deny His Word? Do you find yourself thinking:
  • That can't be right. It doesn't apply to me.
  • I know the Bible says...  But that was only for the Jews.
  • I know what the Bible says, but if I do that I will lose my job!
  • Even though I know I should...  I am going to do things my way. Yahshua will forgive me.
  • I'm too busy to "listen" today...  maybe tomorrow...
Yahshua says: "If you deny Me before men..." 

Eve, our first mother, once followed this dangerous path of denying the Word of God.  Curiosity and doubt are a dangerous combination. It leads one to place too much confidence in self.

In effect, we reason: "I'm the master of my destiny. I know myself better than anyone." 

Are we not a lot like Peter? We, like he, are too prone to trust ourselves too much and to trust the Word of God too little. But, as Peter tragically discovered:

Reasoning away the importance of the Word of God is the FIRST STEP towards cursing the Son of God to His Face!

Peter justified his argument with Christ. He had questioned the accuracy of the Word of God. Yet he thought he knew himself better.

Do you really know yourself? 

Denial Step 2: Pride

In Proverbs 16:18, we read the warning that "pride goeth before a fall." It was pride in his relationship with Messiah that led Peter to assume his loyalty to His Master. He would not do as others might, for he knew the Sovereign of Glory, personally! Peter reveled in his position with his Master. He was "in". He followed the Messiah! Surely, he was on the higher path.

The little group of disciples and Christ was approaching the Garden. Yahshua encouraged His followers to "watch and pray" (Matthew 26:38-41; Luke 21:36). But, Peter didn't watch and pray. Peter slept.

Denial Step 3: Sleep

At this point, Peter had made three dangerous decisions. First, Peter overstated his security. Second, he acted out of indifference to the Word. Third, he followed his human nature - he slept. 

Self was still in the driver's seat in Peter's life. Now he slept as he unknowingly approached his hour of trial. Blind to his need, Peter failed to heed Christ's warning and decided that it was a good time to catch up on some sleep.

But there is great danger in sleeping on the job. "The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray," (Steps to Christ, p 94).

What about you? 

As you approach your crises, will you be found watching unto prayer? If you are closely following your Saviour, you will be. "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation," Matthew 26:41. 

What are we supposed to be doing right now? Are we supposed to be spiritually asleep, undiscerning of the times? No! Yahshua's injunction is a warning to us as well:

"Watch, therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour..." (Matthew 25:13). We do not know when, as did Peter, we will face a test in which we might deny our King. 

"Could you not watch one hour?" Yahshua asks (Mark 14:37). What hour? The hour just before the "Goodman of the house" returns (Matthew 20:12; Proverbs 7:19-20). He will return at a time when most do not expect Him (Matthew 24:42-44).

What will you do in your darkest hour? When you are faced with the threat of some personal loss as a cost for "knowing" Christ, what will you do?

Be careful! It is easy to think we know ourselves, just as Peter did. But, like Peter, we may be preparing now to deny Him then - having already taken the first steps to full denial, without even realizing that we have done so!

Later on, after that terrible failure in which Peter denied Yahshua, he reflected upon the Master's Words, "Satan desires to have you," He had said (Luke 22:31). He remembered with better remorse that Yahshua had wept and agonized in prayer alone, while those who should have united with Him were sleeping. It was in sleeping when Yahshua told him to watch and pray that Peter had prepared the way to deny his Saviour that fateful night.

Denial Step 4: Look awake while you spiritually sleep

That night when Christ prayed in the Garden - and when Peter slept - Yahshua came to His disciples and said, "Arise, let us be going."

They sleepily obeyed, but had no perception of their danger. This is the epitome of the Laodicean condition. This spiritual sleep is a deadly slumber in which we think ourselves awake, but our lack of spiritual discernment proves otherwise.

Denial Step 5: Take control

Do you take matters into your own hands in a crisis? 
  • Peter had argued with the Word of God.
  • Peter had prided himself.
  • He had ignored the warning and appeal.
  • Peter had slept when he should have watched.
  • Having taken these preparatory steps, Peter was then ready to take control by drawing his sword.
If you really look at this story, the similarities between Peter's condition and the condition of most Christians are sobering. Today, most who believe they know themselves - and the Word of God:
  • ...are sleeping through the approach of crisis.
  • ...are in the Laodicean condition - like Peter, they feel secure, superior, and confident in their loyalty to God.
  • ...are excusing themselves for refusing to heed every Word.
  • ...are arguing against the Word of GOD, thinking that they know better.
  • ...are certain that their relationship with God is adequate.
But, like Peter did, they are unknowingly take the steps towards denial. In this way, they are preparing to deny Christ - in the End!

Denial Step 6: Lie

With self on the throne of his soul, Peter stood just outside the judgment hall seeking the approval of his fellow man, instead of God. 

"You do know Him. I have seen you with Him," (Matthew 26:71).

"I don't know what you're talking about! I don't know Him!"
"As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the Third Angel's Message, but have not been sanctified through the Truth, abandon their position, and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light. And when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the Truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls," (The Faith I Live By, p 336)
Just believing you'll be faithful when put to the test isn't enough! Peter believed he would be faithful! But what is the truth? Will you stand true under pain, ridicule, and threats? Here are a few who passed the test, by God's Grace:
  • Elijah stood alone against 450 priests of Baal.
  • Daniel prayed in the face of death threats.
  • Job endured pain and ridicule from friends.
  • Paul remained faithful through persecution.
Denial Step 7: Cursing God to His Face
But for Peter the steps were all taken, preparing him to deny his Master. From pride to ignoring the warning and arguing against God's Word, to sleeping when asked to pray, to seeking human approval above God's, to lying - to cursing the Son of God!

Peter really didn't know himself! And what he didn't know would hurt him! And so Peter denied Christ, even cursing to add validity to his lie that He did not know Yahshua. But in the lie was a truth. Peter really did not know the Man. He had been with the Master daily, but he had failed to get to really know Him. 

Peter had just curses the Son of God to His Face, and the rooster crowed in the pre-dawn mist. Peter rushed from the judgment hall in bitter, convulsive sobs.

He saw himself that morning. He really saw himself. Humbly then, Peter returned to the Garden in defeat. In just seven steps he had moved from acknowledging that his Master was the Son of the Living God, to cursing in denial that he ever knew Him (Matthew 16:15-16).

How is it with you?

When Rosa Parks refused to move on that Birmingham bus,s he was not intending to start a revolution. She was merely being true to her convictions. Are you true to your convictions - in the face of opposition?

Daniel was... In Hebrews 11 we find a list of many who, by faith in God, were true to their convictions. Hundreds of thousands have been martyrs for their convictions over the centuries. But, when it came down to it, Peter was a coward when facing the threat of ridicule or pain. Are you sure you would be? Peter's failure is recorded in Scripture as a warning to us all.

But the story of Peter didn't end with his great failure. In fact, Yahshua told Peter when he would do in the Cause of God, once he was finally truly "converted".
Luke 22:31-32  "And Yahshua said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."  
Having repented, Peter was fully converted. He was no longer boastful and self-confident. Now he heeded the Words of Christ. Yahshua had admonished him that when he was converted he should strengthen his brethren in the faith - and he did!

For us, may Peter's experience serve as a strong warning. May we review the steps to denial, and repent now if we find ourselves at any stage of them. Let us ask Yahweh to reveal the truth to us. 

Until we are tested, our desire to stand loyally for God is just that - a desire. But a desire isn't enough unless we act upon it - preparing now to do it. We prayerfully need to repent now - and reverse our course upon the steps of denial. Then - and only then - when the test does come, we will be faithful like Peter was - after his conversion; instead of failing as Peter did in Pilate's Judgment Hall.

Daily Bible Reading - September 8, 2017

Today's Reading:

John 13:1-20

2 Chronicles 18

Psalm 78:21-37

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In Psalm 78, we find a heart condition mentioned which was experienced by ancient Israel, and which threatens Christians today. The problem is that we so easily fall into being "on again-off again" Christians, just as they were:
Psalm 78:36-37 "Nevertheless they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His Covenant."
To help with that whole heart-adjustment which is so needed, I invite you to watch our Livestream broadcast called "The Most Dangerous Plague on Earth".