Two major points I want to make this week:
- You can’t do any of what we have taught this month if you don’t know who you are.
- You won’t know who you are until you know who Jesus is!
(Mat 16:13-19 KJV) When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Simon discerned Jesus’ true identity:
- Jesus asked who others identified Him to be
- Other misidentified Jesus to be either: John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Isaiah, or one of the prophets
- He then wanted to know is His disciples could properly identify Him
- The question was posed to all 12
- Only one (Simon) received the answer
- The answer came by revelation (not flesh and blood)
By identifying Jesus’ true identity, Simon found his own (Peter):
- You ID’d me, so let me now ID you
- Simon, You are Peter
- When you find Jesus you are able to find yourself
- When you find yourself you will be able to discover your purpose
- You don’t come up with your purpose, you discover it
- When you discover your purpose you will receive incremental vision
- When you walk in accordance with God-given vision you will experience divine provision and favor
(Prov 21:3 CEV) Doing what is right and fair pleases the LORD more than an offering.
Here Solomon teaches us the importance of obedience and righteousness before God. Someone asked me: “Do people go to church to be righteous?” I replied, “No, but righteous people go to church.” They continued: “Do people forgive to be righteous?” I replied, “No, but righteous people forgive.” They asked me one more… “Do people give money to be righteous?” I replied, “No, but righteous people support ministry.” What is the common theme of that line of questioning? It is that some people make the mistake of thinking that something they do (externally) for God is more important than the internal condition of their heart. The Father does not want your stuff, He wants you! You may perform lots of religious rituals, but it means nothing to the Father if He does not have your willing submission, obedience, and worship.
The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse is powerful, it reads: “Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to GOD than religious performance.” The Father is not interested in your ritualistic practices if your heart is not right before Him. Our Lord is looking to be your Lord; a personal Lord who is either Lord OF all or He is not Lord AT all. And not just with outward performances, but with pure hands and a clean heart.
This reminds me of king Saul and the critical mistake he made when he got too big in his own eyes. Saul got to the point where he thought he could disregard what God instructed him to do. Saul did just that and when the Lord’s anger was kindled against him. The Lord sent the prophet Samuel to rebuke Saul. Samuel said, “When the LORD sent you on this mission, he told you to wipe out those worthless Amalekites. Why didn’t you listen to the LORD? Why did you keep the animals and make him angry?” The Lord had given Saul explicit instructions kill the Amalekites and everything they had. However, Saul decided to do something else with a portion of the spoils. This is how Saul replied to Samuel: “But I did listen to the LORD! He sent me on a mission, and I went. I captured King Agag and destroyed his nation. All the animals were going to be destroyed anyway. That’s why the army brought the best sheep and cattle to Gilgal as sacrifices to the LORD your God.” Did you catch that? All the animals were supposed to be killed immediately, but Saul decided to make an elaborate offering, with the animals, to God – to the same God that had already told him what to do. Samuel responded: “Tell me, does the LORD really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him. Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can’t be king” (see 1st Samuel 15:18-23).
So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1. Sacrifices (or offerings) are not bribes to make God overlook our character flaws.
2. We can’t buy God’s favor or attempt to exchange good behavior in one area for bad behavior in another.
3. Partial obedience is disobedience.
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for explaining to me the importance of obedience and submission to You. I don’t take my relationship with You lightly. I know that I am Your son and You are my loving, caring, and sharing heavenly Father, but I will never disrespect You by taking Your position in my life lightly. While You are my Father, You are also my Lord, and I will willingly and humbly submit to You as such. I offer sacrifices and offerings, not in an attempt to cover anything up, but rather as a form of clear worship. I come to You with clean hands and a pure heart. I want to be naked, open, and unashamed before You. Because I am committed to full obedience, I and positive that You are committed to using me for Your glory! In Jesus’ name. Amen!