Invitations of Wisdom and Folly
(A Short Story Created by Cecilia Bacon)
My Thoughts: Today we receive invitations for two different parties!
Invitations of Wisdom and Folly
(A Short Story Created by Cecilia Bacon)
My Thoughts: Today we receive invitations for two different parties!
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials —one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Then his disciples asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”
Jesus replied, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, but he wasn’t recognized, and they chose to abuse him. And in the same way they will also make the Son of Man suffer.” Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist.”
Matthew 17:1-13 NLT
My Thoughts: Let’s begin by looking at the definition of the transfiguration from the Merriam Webster dictionary:
Transfiguration-a change in form or appearance. An exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change.
Webster’s Dictionary from 1828 says almost the same thing but adds the specific event:
Transfiguration-a change of form; particularly, the supernatural change in the personal appearance of our Savior on the mount.
The transfiguration was a vision, a brief glimpse of the glory of the King as stated in the verses we just studied:
“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28 NLT
This was a special revelation of Jesus’ divinity to three of the disciples, Peter, James and John. It was God’s announcement of everything Jesus had done and was about to do, and an open conversation between God, Jesus, and the prophets Moses and Elijah. These disciples were a witness to this glorious event.
Moses and Elijah were two of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. Moses represents the law and Elijah represents the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah. Together their presence confirmed the mission of Jesus: the fulfillment of the law and the words of God’s prophets. God’s voice affirmed Jesus as his Son, and his love and pleasure for all that Jesus had done up to this point.
Can you even imagine what it would be like to be present at this glorious event? I simply cannot and if God had given me that opportunity, I know that my servant’s heart would have been just a confused as Peter’s! Instead of worshipping and adoring the Lord and what was happening, I would most likely repeat Peter’s behavior. He wanted to “do” something instead of just listening and learning. What a strong reminder that closing our mouths and opening our heart to listen and learn is vastly more important than allowing one word to escape our lips!
We all must understand that Jesus Christ is more just than a great leader, more than a prophet, more than a good example for our own lives; He is the Son of God! Have you taken the time to answer the previous questions from my past blogs about Jesus? Have you surrendered your heart to him as your Lord and Savior? The Bible constantly reminds us the time is drawing near for the return of Jesus and we must be prepared! I beg you to please search your heart and seek Jesus! Early in Matthew we were told if we truly seek Jesus, we will find him!
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone, who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
Won’t you please truly seek the answers? My heart cannot stand the thought of one day in heaven without you.
Jesus ends this glorious event by asking his disciples to keep what they saw to themselves. He knows they don’t fully understand all that they have seen and heard.
I find myself in this same position as the disciples some days. I don’t always fully understand what is happening, especially if a situation is tragic. Therefore, silence and prayer are often my best response.
When I pray and tell God my heart, I remember that he knows all, sees all, and nothing is a surprise to him. Eventually, while I wait and trust in the Lord, my faith grows, and I find comfort. In a world where we have knowledge instantly available to us with a few simple keystrokes, waiting and trusting can be a difficult, but rewarding, act of obedience.
Although Jesus knows his disciples are confused, he shows no frustration towards them when they try to discern what just happened by asking questions about what they had learned from teachers of the Old Testament that Elijah must come before the Messiah comes (see verse below). Jesus tells them that Elijah had already come but he was not recognized.
“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.” Malachi 4:5 NLT
The disciple’s eyes are suddenly opened, and they see that indeed Elijah had come but through John the Baptist. In that moment they knew they were in the presence of the Messiah.
The day will come when we will all kneel before the returning Messiah. I ask you again, are you ready? Don’t you want to know and understand the Messiah as the disciples did in that moment? Have you truly asked for understanding? Because when you do, you will receive the greatest gift you can ever even imagine.
Closing Prayer: Father God, I pray that the hearts of many will read this blog today and surrender their hearts to you. My heart cries and longs for my loved ones to surrender their heart to you now so they can benefit from the blessing you generously give to your followers. Father I pray if there is confusion, or if there is a need for someone to understand you more, they diligently ask, seek, and knock by reaching out to their local church, or to a man or woman who has a relationship with you. I pray all these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
Matthew 16:21-28 NLT
My Thoughts: I just love Peter, don’t you? Sometimes I find myself acting just like him; I speak when I should be silent, or I pronounce judgement when I have no idea what I’m talking about! In our last lesson Peter had just proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, but here he attempts to protect Jesus from suffering by denying what Jesus says will happen.
Jesus rebukes Peter immediately and says something harsh:
“Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Were you as stunned to hear those words from Jesus as I was? I find myself in Peter’s shoes confused and dismayed. Why were those words of kindness rejected by Jesus as if he believed it were Satan himself talking?
My study Bible tells me that we are to be cautious of advice from a friend whose only goal may be to encourage or protect us from discomfort. The temptation might be to walk away from a situation God had called us to do, especially if we think it might be unpleasant.
Also, we know in this world we will have suffering because we are warned by Jesus himself!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
Peter was only considering the words Jesus spoke from a human perspective which left God out of the picture. That was why Jesus rebuked the words that Peter spoke.
Satan is so conniving and cunning!
As slippery as the slope of sin is for us, it’s encouraging to know that Jesus loved Peter so much he eventually used him in a mighty way despite his failures. That gives me hope I will be used for the Kingdom too! I am aware of how easily I can be deceived if I am not spending time with the Lord and praying. My prayer right this moment is that we all remember when we read the Bible, we are putting on an armor of protection to open our eyes and heart to the wily ways of Satan!
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT
(To read more about the Armor of God read Ephesians 6:10-18)
Jesus then speaks very plainly to his disciples when he tells them if you want to follow me you will have to give up your own ways and follow mine, which included carrying a cross. When Jesus used this illustration, the disciples knew exactly what he was saying because crucifixion was a common method of execution for the Romans. A condemned criminal had to carry their own cross through the streets to the execution site.
If. Such a big word with only two letters! Even now, with the disciple’s commitment to give up their livelihood and their families, Jesus gives them another difficult choice to make: are you committed enough to follow me even though it will surely include persecution and possibly even death?
We have had some tough questions thrown at us from Jesus in our last few lessons: (1) will we believe in him even if we never witness a miracle of amazing proportions, (2) who do we believe Jesus is, and now (3) are we committed enough to Jesus to follow him even though it will not be easy?
My study Bible says this about a true commitment to Jesus:
“Real discipleship implies real commitment—pledging our whole existence to his service. When we give our lives in service to Christ, we discover the real purpose of living.”
The day came when I knew that my life no longer belonged just to me, it belonged fully and completely to Christ. Immediately my commitment improved some relationships in my life and others became more difficult. As much as that breaks my heart, I will not back down from my decision to follow Christ in true commitment. Do I stumble? Oh, yes, I do. But I pick myself up, I dust off the remnants and pain of sin—with the full forgiveness of Christ—and I get right back on the path again.
Have you made a commitment to Christ too? Then what ‘say ye’ about this new question of commitment? Are you willing to go all the way with Jesus even though it means you are accepting a life of hardship and potentially even death?
Here is a big reality if you find yourself waffling about making this decision: see John 16:33 from above! You will have troubles anyway! You will die eventually (the current statistics are one out of one human’s die!) so whose side will you be on when you face troubles and death?
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 NIV
Closing Prayer: Father God, this post may seem harsh to the eyes of some and I pray if this happens you do a mighty work in their hearts. Father I recommit my heart and my life to you this day and I pray that I am not only an obedient servant but a mighty warrior for the Kingdom. Open my eyes to the wiles of the evil one so that I do not fall into temptation and turn from the path that you have called me to live for you. I pray for those I love, Father, to surrender their hearts and lives to you and walk with you in eternal life and victory. This is my hearts cry forever more. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Thank you Alicia from For His Purpose for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award! I love your blog because it’s always an honest piece of your heart with a snapshot of Jesus right in the middle!
Be sure to check out Alicia’s blog because she will make you feel like you are sitting right there with her as she shares her heartfelt stories. When the blog comes to an end you will hunger for more! She truly deserves the Sunshine Award!
About the Sunshine Award:
This award is given to creative, positive, and cheerful bloggers by other bloggers as a token of appreciation and admiration. Here are the rules:
I’ll answer the questions Alicia sent to me first:
Now for my nominee choices:
Here are your 11 questions:
To my nominees, please don’t feel pressured to accept this award and all its details. Know that I just appreciate reading your posts, I’s so grateful you mean mine, and your comments and feedback help me grow! Thanks for what you do!!
Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”
Matthew 16:13-20 NLT
My Thoughts: In my last blog we asked ourselves an important question:
“… would we really believe that Jesus is who he says he is even if we witnessed a miracle?”
With or without the benefit of a miracle, Jesus now takes our relationship with him to an even deeper level. He wonders if we know what the people around us say about him. Many thought Jesus was a prophet or a prophet who was raised from the dead. I myself have heard people say that Jesus is nothing more than a prophet.
In spite of the disciples response to his first question Jesus ignores what they tell him and asks what I believe is the single most important question any of us will ever answer:
“But who do you say I am?”
The first time I ever heard about Jesus was when I was seven years old at Vacation Bible School. Unfortunately, although a teacher’s comment was meant to be sweet and encouraging it wasn’t true. That remark hurt me and made me believe that Jesus didn’t like me or my family. During that week of study I learned enough truth about Jesus that I believed in him, I was just mad at him for about 40 years! (Details are in my July 2018 blog titled “The Power of Words” part 1 and part 2.)
I think when children have a misunderstanding about Jesus it is especially heartbreaking for our LORD. I can say that during those angry years Jesus never stopped trying to present himself properly to me and he was always gentle. My refusal to accept those truths was not a reflection of Jesus it was simply evidence of my sin of stubbornness, something that continues to be a struggle for me.
Overall, it’s an important reminder to all of us that we need to be careful what we say.
On the flip side, when a child is properly introduced to Jesus they often express a clear, yet simple understanding about who He is and how much they love Him. That child is oftentimes the very reason their parents come to know and love Jesus too. I’m pretty sure I can say with confidence this brings joy to the Lord!
I think the reason so many adults struggle today with Jesus is we make the answer to our question way too complicated. The late Billy Graham knew even the most educated and knowledgeable man/woman really only needed to understand the basics about who Jesus is and what He represents to gain the ultimate prize: salvation which results in everlasting life. His messages reflected the simplicity of Peter’s words in our verses:
Who do you say I am: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
What Peter gained when he understood the answer: Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Because Peter and the disciples walked with Jesus they came to know and love Him, and most important they knew He was the Messiah. Today our belief is based on faith, the words left for us in the Bible, or shared with us by other believers. Some of my favorite verses that express who Jesus is to me are:
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39 NLT
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
“All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.” 1 John 4:15 NLT
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NLT
The reason I love these verses so much is they validate what I believe about Jesus. They tell me Jesus is the Son of God, He died for my sins so that I can have salvation, God raised Him from the dead three days later, and He made this sacrifice because He loves me.
Although, there is nothing complicated about these truths, we like to make things complicated, especially when it comes to love. We attach all kinds of strings to love. “I’ll love you if…..” or “If you love me you will…” we fill in the “dots” with all sorts of conditions. But because of His perfect love, God asked his perfect son, Jesus, to die for all sinners, because of His love for us; there were no conditions, no fill in the blanks, no dots.
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 NLT
There isn’t a single person in this world that deserves the love of God because there isn’t a single day that goes by that we don’t sin! So why should I be so quick to set conditions on my love when Jesus freely gave His unconditionally?
Recently I was faced with a difficult situation and I knew my best response was little or no response until I took it to the LORD first. His reply was quick: ‘Amazing Grace.’
Immediately that song began to flow through my mind:
Amazing grace, How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, But now I’m found, Was blind, but now I see!
I didn’t need to go beyond the first verse of this iconic song before I completely understood what the Lord was telling me!
Oh my, my, my. Gently and lovingly again my Lord reminded me that I am and continue to be a sinner but through it all, he saved me and he forgives me.
What hit me the hardest were the words ‘now I see.’ I know perfectly well when I sin because Jesus has given me eyes to see, however, someone who remains blind cannot see at all. That’s when my love and grace should kick in and be extended to those who are blind, just like Jesus did for me.
A few years ago, I felt a tug in my heart to extend an invitation to those I love to join me and my husband for the upcoming Easter service. Most declined, but to my surprise one said they would love to go then added this:
I don’t mind going to church for Easter or Christmas because I see it as my get out of hell free card.
Beloved, there truly is only one way to get out of hell free and it is through Jesus Christ! Going to church, being good, helping your fellow man or any other act that you perform will not save you from an eternity in hell, only salvation through Jesus Christ will give you everlasting life.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NLT
I pray that something in my blog today has tugged at your heart and helped you understand that having a relationship with Jesus Christ is a lot simpler that you may have originally thought. I pray that you ask yourself today:
“Who do I say Jesus Christ is?”
The time to keep quiet about Jesus has gone! As a believer the last thing Jesus said to us before he left the world was this:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NLT
I pray with all my heart that your answer is you have a desire to surrender your heart and life to Jesus today! If that is true, would you pray this with me?
If you prayed that prayer, welcome to the family of God and to everlasting life! I pray that you will join a Bible believing church and surround yourself with like-minded believers to help you as you learn to develop a relationship with Jesus.
Closing Prayer: Father God, thank you for the words and the courage to write this special message today and I pray that hearts are changed for the Kingdom of God. My soul hears the sound of a clock ticking and the pendulum swinging which says “the time is near” for your return. I pray earnestly that all believers extend the hand of grace so that many more come to know You. Father we are Your witnesses and Warriors and with Your almighty strength and courage may we confidently share this message with those who are blind. Let it be so. Amen.