devos from the hill


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The Good Thing or The God Thing?

Everybody had an agenda for Jesus – do you?
Lesson 51 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

– Mark 9:31–32

From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”

– Matthew 16:21–25

He began explaining to His disciples the true nature of His mission. He told them that soon He would be given over to the religious leaders and killed. Three days later He would rise from the dead. His disciples heard what He was saying, but they could not bring themselves to embrace the full meaning of His words.

– The HOPE, Chapter 10

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

As the end of His earthly ministry neared, Jesus began telling His disciples that soon He would suffer and die, and three days later rise from the dead. From the Mark 9 excerpt above, “they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him,” it is clear that His disciples had no place in their thinking for what Jesus was saying. And what’s more, His words were so hard for them to handle that they feared to ask for an explanation.

The response from Peter in the Matthew excerpt above is even more dramatic. Peter didn’t simply fail to understand, but boldly rejected what Jesus was saying. “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” Peter is saying “God forbid it” to Jesus, who is God! Jesus responds to Peter so strongly that it is almost startling. “Get behind Me, Satan …you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Jesus was essentially saying that Satan himself was working through Peter to protest God’s will in action.

Jesus then spoke words that apply not only to Peter, but to everyone who wants to follow Jesus, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”

What a contradiction to our natural way of thinking! If you want to save your life, you’ve got to give it up for His sake. This statement challenges the hearer to go far beyond simply acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ (the Deliverer), the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16)! The challenge here is complete abandonment to His will. Continue reading


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Called to Follow Jesus

God values availability over ability.
Lesson 46 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him. And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

– Matthew 4:18–22

And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax–gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.

– Matthew 10:1–4

After resisting Satan, Jesus came out of the wilderness in the power of the Spirit. Soon, people began to follow after Jesus. Most of these followers were common, ordinary people. But they saw something very uncommon and extraordinary in Jesus. Some left the security of their livelihoods to be with Jesus. Some of these were fishermen, to whom Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” From those who followed Him, Jesus chose an inner group of twelve. These became known as His disciples, and for nearly three years, they traveled with Him and learned from Him. They began to see the world through His eyes. As with everyone who follows Jesus, these men were being prepared for something far beyond anything they could imagine.

– The HOPE, Chapter 9

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

After resisting the temptation of Satan, Jesus came out of the wilderness in the power of the Spirit. He was ready for His earthly ministry. It wasn’t long before people started following Him. From among these followers, Jesus eventually chose a smaller group who became known as His disciples.1 Jesus lived with these men. Day after day He taught them, by word and example. He invested His life in their lives. He shaped their souls. And through this inner circle of men, God started a work and a movement (namely, the Church) that is literally unparalleled in all of history.

Now if you were going to assemble a group to start such a movement to change the world, then you might look for some extraordinarily gifted and accomplished people. But once again, we see that God often does things very differently from the way we would do them. The men that Jesus called to be among His inner circle were not the most educated or influential men that He could have found. By all appearances these were common ordinary men. Several of them were fishermen. One was a tax collector. And one was a revolutionary. But Jesus saw the potential in each of them, and ultimately God used them to give birth to something very remarkable, something that is alive today and will live for eternity. Continue reading