Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Morning Cup of Tea : "Upon This Rock..."

 Today's reading is Matthew 16: 13-28
When Jesus and his disciples were on the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked them, who do people say I am?
  They answered John the baptizer, Elijah, Jeremiah, or some of the other prophets.
 He asked, Who do you say that I am?
  16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.
 17. 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.
 18. And I say also unto thee,That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. 
 19. And I will give unto the 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.
 Peter was one of the first to confess that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. It was on that rock --that statement that Jesus built his church. 

Jesus spent time letting them know that he would soon be going to Jerusalem and he would suffer at the hands of the elders and the chief priests, and that he would be killed and be raised again on the third day.
  Peter did not want to hear this. Oh no, this isn't going to happen!
  Jesus rebuked him, and told Peter and the other disciples a little of what they would face as followers of Jesus. 
  23. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
 24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
 25. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
28. Verily, I say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming into his kingdom.
 Jesus had a lot to say there. Peter obviously loved Jesus very much and of course did not want to see him die. But he did not understand at this time what Jesus had come to earth to do. He also explained here that it is not going to be easy to be a follower of Jesus. It wasn't easy at all for early Christians. They were fed to lions, imprisoned, exiled to desert islands, put to death in many ways. 
  It is not easy to be a Christian in today's world either. While we may not know the type of persecution in this country that the early Christians did, we do know that sometimes even family and friends scorn and ridicule us for our beliefs. The country may tell us they do not want the ten commandments displayed in the courtrooms, hiding behind the ever popular "separation of church and state" which is not in the Constitution but a statement made in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to someone asking if the government could ever tell him what religion to practice, but of that, we should have the words of God in our heart where we can put them into practice. We should not be silent when things are wrong, but we should speak the truth in love. 
  I do not know what the future holds for this country. I do know it is not easy in our eyes to be Christians here. But there are Christians in other countries whose lives are in danger because they are Christians. Missionaries who dare to teach others. Some who have searched for the truth and become Christians have the fear of their own families who believe in honor killings if their families find out. No, it is not an easy life we choose. But our reward in heaven will be well worth all that we deal with here on earth if we just continue forward in the faith.   

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