Today: Proverbs 3:1-10; Matthew 16:21-28; Matthew 17:1-13; Genesis 47:13-31; Genesis 48

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I am a problem solver, a go-getter person. I figure things out. I’m used to making my own decisions, figuring out what I want to do and shoving down the door to get there. But God’s way is patient, stable, slow-walking, growing roots deep and strong. My way is self-serving, obsessive, full of fear and worry. God’s way is much better. God’s way is “healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.” (v. 8)

So HOW do you do that? HOW do you trust in the LORD with all your heart and acknowledge Him in all your ways? How do you let God guide you? How do you HEAR God’s voice? Here are four suggestions…

1.) Make TIME for God. You must set aside time to spend with God regularly. Every day is best. Mornings are my time, before the busyness of the day engulfs me.

2.) Make SPACE for God’s voice. You’ve got to shut off all the other noises that fill up your space long enough to hear God’s voice. Turn off your tv and phone. Get off social media. God’s voice is often still and quiet and all the other noises in our lives drown him out.

3.) TALK to God. PRAY! Ask God to speak to you, to guide you, to teach you and draw you closer to him. Those are requests that he ALWAYS grants!

4.) LISTEN to God. He’s already given us this awesome book to learn about him and hear from him. Read your Bible! I know it’s a big, intimidating book. There are lots of difficult parts. But there are also so many amazing gems in there. Start with the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and read about Jesus’ life. Start in Genesis and read about how God called and worked with his chosen people, the Israelites. Much of Genesis reads like an adventure novel. It’s really exciting stuff! Find an easy to read version like the Message for your first read through. Use a ‘read through the Bible in a year’ plan. Or just read the New Testament in a year. Or read one Proverb a day for a month. There are so many options. The Bible is a magical book and reading it will change your life. But YOU have to make the effort to open it and read it.

Get Behind Me, Satan, 1895 by Ilya Repin (1844-1930)

Matthew 16

Jesus warned the disciples over and over that he was going to be killed. But they didn’t listen or understand. Peter even had the nerve to ‘rebuke’ Jesus. (That Peter was a gutsy guy!) He tells Jesus, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (v. 22)

Notice that Jesus didn’t just laugh off Peter’s insolence. He responded harshly, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s purposes, but men’s.” (v. 23)  Jesus didn’t just give Peter a verbal smack. He actually said that Peter’s attitude was Satanic. Wow. This wasn’t just a casual mistake. It was a serious offense from the lord of lies himself.

So just what exactly did Peter do wrong? What was his offense? The disciples thought that the Messiah was coming to give the Jews earthly victory. They thought he was going to conquer their Roman oppressors and usher in a triumphant new period of Jewish rule. But Jesus called that expectation Satanic. Do we have this same attitude? Do we think following Jesus is going to make our lives easy and comfortable? Jesus was never about earthly things. His mission was to save our souls, not our human condition.

Immediately after rebuking Peter, Jesus tells the disciples, “If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?” (v. 24-26)  This is a hard teaching. People don’t want to hear it. We want earthly victory and success. We want money and comfort. We want people to like us. But Jesus never promises us those things. His treasures are for our souls. And our souls – the only eternal part of us – are much more valuable than any temporary earthly thing. It is so difficult to understand this while we are trapped within these physical dying bodies in this physical dying world. But all of these physical things are fleeting and useless. Really! Obsessing about earthly things does not bring lasting fulfillment or happiness. Deep down inside we all know that earthly things do not last. We all know deep down that even our own lives are hurtling toward death from the moment we breathe our first breath. But death isn’t the end of our story because “the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels.” (v. 27)  How then should we spend our days?

Matthew 17 – JESUS’ TRANSFIGURATION

A week later, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a mountaintop where they witness his transfiguration. These were three of the men who would eventually pen the New Testament, the only of his 12 disciples who would do so except for Matthew. Their most important life’s work would be to tell the world and all future generations about God’s plan of salvation. How crucial was their mission! This is why Jesus selected these three men to witness this important event.

And what exactly did they see? They get to see Jesus in his true form, without his earthly shell, eternal and glorified with face shining like the sun and garments white as light. They get to hear the voice of God say, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” (v. 5)  THIS was what Jesus wanted them to see and hear so that they could then tell us about it. How appropriate that God’s booming instructions interrupt Peter’s oh so predictable outburst. Of course Peter, the go-getter, the problem-solver, would knee jerk respond by making his own plans. But God tells him to do only one thing – LISTEN TO JESUS!