Signs of the Times: Knowing Jesus & Heavens Plans

Matthew 16  – Signs of the Times, Knowing Jesus & Heavens Plans

Text: Read Matthew 16May 18, 2020Discerning the Signs of the Times
The religious leaders were looking for a miraculous sign from heaven. Jesus told them that though they were able to tell what was going to happen with the weather by the signs in the sky, they were not able to see what was happening from heaven though He was standing right in front of them. They did not want to see.
Asking for a sign was a futile attempt to see something else that really wouldn’t cause them to change anyway. Their hearts were not for the things of God, really. It was all a mockery.Jesus told them what they would see and that would be sign enough. The only sign would be the death and resurrection of Jesus. If that didn’t move them from their religious value system, nothing would.
What Can Ruin A Good Loaf of Bread? What Can Bring Bad Teaching to God’s People? A Ungodly Leadership Can Spoil a Whole Group of People. Vs. 5-12Leaven – meaning, something that corrupts or depraves.
Leaving the scene where Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus took the opportunity to teach the disciples about the doctrines (teachings) of those leaders.When the disciples discovered that they forgot to bring bread, it became the perfect opportunity for Jesus to teach them about the people they had just seen Him talking with. He likened their teachings to leaven in bread, and at the same time addressed the disciples lack of faith when they were worried about not having food.
First, the Lord reminded them about the other miracles they had seen when the multitudes of people had been fed on the previous occasions. It’s amazing how quickly we can forget the former miracles when a new opportunity of need presents itself.
He was able to turn their physical concerns into a faith building lesson while using the very food being discussed as a teaching point of great significance. Jesus was more concerned with their spiritual nutrition that day than their concern for natural bread.
The Lord wanted to show them, and us, that religious leaders and even people we know in our lives today can lead people astray and make the whole batch bad. We can’t eat good spiritual bread from that kind of teaching.
God would always provide what they needed in the natural if they would only believe. But they needed to learn of true spiritual things that would nourish their souls.
Recognizing Jesus for Who He Really Is Vs. 13-18
The conversation that begins in verse 13 about who Jesus is leads to a wonderful revelation about the assignment on Peter’s life. When asked who Peter thought Jesus was he gave the right answer, knowing that He is the Christ – the Son of the living God.
Jesus told him that it was only because the Father revealed this to him that he could truly see this. Look at the cross reference to this that no man can come to the Lord unless they are drawn by the Father in heaven. 
John 6:44
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
People won’t see Jesus for who He really is unless the Father God in heaven reveals it to them. This is His grace that draws us in like a magnet of love.
Jesus advised Peter that he would be a rock on which He would build His church. The devil would have no way to successfully stop it. The Lord was showing Peter that day what God’s plan for his life was going to be. That was a good day for Peter in light of his future failures that would cause him some serious grief. It would surely be a foundation that would help him to repent and come back to the Lord after having denied Him 3 times. When we know the plan of God for our lives, it will sustain us in times of great trial.  
Keys to Unlock Heaven’s Kingdom on Earth Vs. 19-20
Jesus was giving out keys that day. He advised the disciples that the key to the kingdom of heaven would be according to what they would allow on earth, saying it would be backed up in heaven. Also, that what they would not allow on earth would be also be disallowed in heaven.
To summarize this, God is saying to us that whatever we allow on this earth in our lives, heaven will agree with it. Conversely, what we don’t allow will also be backed up by heaven. It’s up to us to know our authority and take it. We should be taking actions to stop the devil from stealing things from our lives.  
Jesus did not permit the disciples to tell others about who He truly is. It wasn’t time for others to know that yet. Certain things would have to happen before they could start spreading the word, and God didn’t want their words to stop what He had set in motion for the plan of salvation for all mankind.
Getting His Students Ready for What Was Ahead Vs. 21-23
When Jesus told the disciples what He would have to suffer at the hand of the Jewish leaders, Peter rose up and said he wouldn’t let that happen. But Jesus quickly rebuked the devil working through him. Peter wasn’t speaking about the heavenly purposes at that point. The devil can even use God’s people to try to get his agenda spoken into the world to carry out his plans of destruction.
If the devil can get us to think and talk like the ungodly world, he can bring his evil plans to pass. Jesus knew immediately that this was satan at work and He stopped it immediately. It really matters what we say and what we allow.
Look how quickly the enemy tried to destroy God’s plan through Peter’s mouth following Jesus’ admonition. The devil was right there looking for an opportunity to a man’s voice to speak it out. He used Peter’s love for Jesus to act as a sounding board, playing on his emotions to say something that would go directly against the plans of God. The devil knows that when we speak, things happen according to our words. We are made in God’s image, and when He speaks, things happen. It’s the same with us. Study Genesis 1 for further details on this subject.
Living for Jesus Vs. 24-26The Lord went on to further teach the disciples that anyone who wants to follow Him must lay down their lives and carry their cross. What does this mean for us? Paul was a great example of living for Jesus. Look at this in the book of Acts.
Acts 20:24
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul saw the souls of mankind as a much greater value than living for himself in this life. Does this mean we don’t have anything at all for ourselves? Not at all. It means putting God’s things first in our hearts, our finances, our conversations, our work, and relationships. In summary, everything in our lives as Christians should be lived for the ultimate purpose of the advancement of the gospel in the way the Lord calls each of us to do it.
We are literally called to despise anything that will get in our way (even family) and hinder us from carrying out God’s assignment for our lives.
Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Peter had a great assignment to build the church after Jesus left to go back to heaven. We also have an assignment specific to the gifts that have been given to each one of us. No two calling assignments will be the same, and every human being alive has a call on their life to serve the Lord. The question remains, how many will carry it out?
Jesus was showing them how to prioritize their lives in order to save their souls for eternity. He is saying the same thing to you and me. To be heavenly minded and not worldly minded would mean losing their own ways of doing things the way Jesus did. When He came, He laid down His life and doing things like the ungodly world so He could bring many to heaven in the end. He didn’t fulfill the lusts of His flesh, but rather focused on the things of eternal value.
He went on to show them that it would be of no profit whatsoever to try to save their lives in living for themselves. According to Jesus, in trying to save our lives, we will lose them. But in losing ourselves and our own ambitions for the sake of the gospel, we will gain life for our souls which go on throughout eternity, either in heaven or hell. Nothing is worth losing out on being with Jesus for eternity – nothing!
Rewards in The Kingdom Vs. 27-28
When Jesus comes back in His glory, He will reward each of us according to our work. He wants to give us rewards. That blesses Him and it will bless us. We want to go for those rewards – there’s not a thing wrong with that.
The final sentence in this chapter shows us how quickly things can change. Our lives are short. For those standing there within the sound of Jesus’ voice that day, some would see Him return in His kingdom. In other  words, as Simeon saw the baby Jesus, so the disciples and many followers would see Him transfigured after His resurrection. In the future, the same thing will happen when some of us are alive when Jesus returns to the earth the second time. Some will still be living to see it while many will not.
Reflection
It’s always amazing to me how the Lord brings things together to teach us. He uses our circumstances and actions to show us the principles set forth in His eternal word every day that we study. Yesterday’s church service was about this very topic of eternal life and not seeking to save one’s own life, but to lose it for Christ’s sake.
My husband and I were considering making a sizable purchase for a personal item. It would be more of a luxury than a necessity. During the church service we were both prompted by the Holy Spirit of God to extend some financial resources to a sister in the family of God and her children. We were delighted to be asked to do that and responded cheerfully. The amazing thing was that we had both been prompted by the Lord to do this individually, so we got the confirmation that God was giving us an opportunity to sow into someone’s life.
Later in the day, the person who received the blessing was moved to tears and so were we. God had been so good to us in this season of Covid19, that it was our delight to extend His provision to someone in need. We decided to get a less costly item instead of the one we were discussing just yesterday, and we felt so good about it.
There are many ways we can lay down our lives and take up our cross to follow Jesus. For each one of us, there will be different requirements. All we have to do is be willing, and God will lead the way. I heard a song this morning titled “Heaven on Earth.” In it, the words say, “Let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – heaven on earth.” That was God’s original plan when He created the earth for us to begin with. Adam and Eve were placed in a perfect place with every possible provision and then given the authority to take dominion over it, to be fruitful and multiply.
All we need to do is get a glimpse of eternity in light of how short our time on earth will be. It really will matter in the end how we spend our time on earth, as brief as it is. Look at the following verse to gain a deeper perspective. Just today, I had distractions coming at me from every direction and I almost got busy doing something else before this Bible study. But I grabbed myself and just went to sit down and pray in the spirit for about 20 minutes. By the time I was done, my priorities were back in line with God’s priorities and I was headed to my office and the keyboard. Praise God!
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
How About You?
Isn’t this a great time to look at your priorities in life and ask the Lord to help reassess them? It’s never too late as long as we are alive to get started. Better late than never, amen?

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