A Mountain Top Experience

Matthew 17

January 17

When I was growing up our youth group would take a hiking trip up a mountain in the fall each year. The owner of the mountain was a member of our church so we were the only ones there. When we reached the top we would take in the views and have a picnic. I also remember our descent (which was so much easier and faster than our hike to the top). 

That experience reminds me of our reading today. Just imagine what was going through the minds of Peter, James and John as they came down the mountain with Jesus after witnessing the transfiguration.

Jesus had told them six days earlier that some standing there would not taste death before they saw the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. The experience of the transfiguration accomplished that.

On that mountain, Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. There appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

What an amazing confirmation that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. The appearance of Moses representing the Law, Elijah representing the Prophets and God’s voice confirming that Jesus is the beloved Son of God. God confirmed that Jesus’ message is true and should be heard and followed.  

The disciples were terrified and fell facedown. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Christ later explains that he will be killed and on the third day he will be raised to life. These men were about to experience the horrific trial of their lifetimes. Just hearing that it was going to happen filled them with grief, but they had also witnessed Jesus Christ as he will be when He is “Coming in His Kingdom.” This life may throw some awful situations at us. Just like the disciples, we need to remember who Jesus Christ truly is. No matter what is happening in our world, we must Keep Seeking, Keep Growing and Keep Loving God and Others. Remember that with our very own eyes we will “see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom”. 

-Rebecca Dauksas

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. The Transfiguration allowed Peter, James and John to experience a bit of what it will be like to, “see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”. (Matthew 16:28) How do you think they felt during and after this event? How might it have changed or added to their understanding of who Jesus is and what will take place? Do you think seeing what they saw will change their actions, is so how?
  2. Jesus told Peter, James and John to not tell anyone what they had seen until what event took place? Why do you think, were they to keep the secret of the Transfiguration at first? Why do you think, were they free (and expected) to share it later?
  3. The Bible contains many descriptions of the return of Christ and the Kingdom of God it will initiate, most notably Revelation 19-22. What are you most looking forward to seeing and experiencing? What do you feel when you read about or talk about the coming Kingdom? What parts are hardest for you to imagine and picture in your mind or describe to others? How might knowing what you know about the Kingdom affect your actions?
  4. Matthew 17 includes the beautiful mountaintop experience and also the revealing of a very difficult “valley” experience to come – the betrayal and death of Jesus – followed by another mountaintop- the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death. What are some spiritual mountaintop and valley experiences you have faced? What benefit could be found in each?

Who is the Son of Man?

Matthew 16

January 16

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They told Jesus that some people believed He was John the Baptist, some Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. At that time there was a lot of speculation and incorrect information about who Jesus was.

But Jesus cuts through all those wrong assumptions of his identity to ask the disciples a couple of important questions. Questions that they personally needed to answer with what they knew to be true of Jesus. Questions we need to ask ourselves. “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Peter was certain. His understanding of Jesus had been established beyond doubt. Christ then provides Peter with His new identity. He blesses him, confirms that his beliefs are from God, and gives him a new name. Who wouldn’t want to be named the Rock? Jesus established his church. Jesus also gives them authority to carry out spiritual work. They were to continue Jesus’ work of making disciples, baptizing, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded. Opening up the Kingdom for generations of followers of Jesus Christ.  

So with all this in their grasp, what could possibly lead the disciples to later desert and turn away from Jesus (Matt. 26:31, 56)? An angry mob armed with swords and clubs. We are often faced with a similar dilemma. It may not be an angry mob, but when we stand for Jesus Christ we may face rejection. We may face trials and temptations and we need to hold on to the truth of who Jesus Christ is. We need to remember who we are because of our relationship with Christ.  It is easy to speak boldly about the truth of Jesus when we are not in dire circumstances, but we need to learn from the disciples’ situation. No matter what circumstances this life throws in our way, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. As we are promised in verse 27, when Jesus returns He will reward each person according to what they have done. You can be at peace knowing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. If Jesus were to give you a new name that represented what you do for the church now what might it be? What would you like your new name from Jesus to be if it were based upon what you could and would do for the church? What steps do you need to take to earn that name? How will you continue the work of Jesus?
  2. Jesus says, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (vs 11). And in Matthew 13:33 he said, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” What is the purpose of yeast? What are some examples of negative yeast in your life? What are some examples of positive yeast?
  3. How would you describe who Jesus is? Who do you know who needs to know who Jesus is? How can you share what you know?

Consider Your Allies

2 Chronicles 19-20 & Romans 9

When your life is over, how would you like to be remembered? After ruling over the Kingdom of Judah for 25 years, it was written that Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” As we have learned, the king was not perfect, but he set his heart on seeking God. He went out and turned people back to the Lord. He appointed judges and setup a judicial system based on God’s Law. He also humbly sought God’s deliverance against a vast army. God delivered the King and his people. It would be great if that were the end of the story. The King was good-the end. But no, in the truthfulness of the scriptures we find out a huge blunder made by Jehoshaphat near the end of his life. He once again makes an alliance with another wicked king of Israel. This time he agreed to construct a fleet of trading ships. Of course, the ships were wrecked and these trading ships were never used.

From Jehoshaphat’s example, we should realize that it is so important that we use godly discernment in forming our relationships with others. Paul the apostle’s warning is “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) We want to influence others for good and to show them the way to God. We never want them to adversely affect our relationship with God. It is easy to pick up habits and behaviors from our social group, but we are to be imitators of the Lord. Our relationship with God and Christ should be the most important relationship in our lives. May you be blessed as you read the scriptures and spend time with our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 19-20 and Romans 9

No Condemnation

2 Chronicles 17-18 & Romans 8

Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of the Kingdom of Judah. We are told that he “sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” Jehoshaphat sent out leaders throughout Judah to teach the people from the Book of the Law of the LORD. He was a good king, but we are informed of a couple of mistakes he made in his life. In one instance, he allied himself with Ahab, the evil king of Israel. He even joined forces with Ahab to enter a war even though they were warned by God’s prophet that they would lose that battle. When he returns, he accepts the correction from Jehu the seer. We can learn so much from this.

When we find that we have sinned and realize that we have messed up in our spiritual lives, it is so important for us to repent and offer our situation up to God. He will forgive and restore us. Of course, no one wants to deal with the consequences of sin, but God will also give us the courage and strength to face the consequences as well. Paul assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s remember:

We are God’s children. (Romans 8:14-17)

God is for us. (Romans 8:31)

God gave up his own son for us so He will graciously give us all that we need. (Romans 8:32)

God has forgiven us. He justifies us, declares us righteous in Christ. Do not doubt, because no one condemns us. We are in Christ. (Romans 8:33)

Christ is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

Christ loves us and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. (Romans 8:35-39)

God and Christ will help you overcome. We are told that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. What does it mean to you to be “more than a conqueror” through him who loves you? Trust Him to lead you to victory!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 17-18 and Romans 8

Self-improvement Help Needed

But Not From Yourself

Romans 7

I think everyone can empathize with Paul when he states, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

Even in every day routines there may be areas we want to improve or change. Just look at the huge amount of self-improvement and renewal books that are printed each year. Maybe we want to: lose weight, get fit, stop bad habits, eat healthier, get out of debt and save money, spend more time with family, be less stressed or read through the Bible. Ok, hopefully this one is happening.

So wanting to overcome sin and do good is a great goal, but maybe you feel as Paul did, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” On our own, we cannot overcome sin, but as Christians we are not on our own. Thank the LORD, He is with us and He has provided what we need to overcome sin. In verse 25 we see that Paul is relying on God’s provision in Christ. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

We are no longer condemned because we are in Christ Jesus, but sin is condemned. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. We no longer live by our sinful nature, but according to the Spirit. And as we will discover in Romans chapter 8, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us and nothing in all creation, is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We truly need to realize the love that God has for us and rely on His Spirit working in us. 

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 15-16 and Romans 7

Wages and Gifts

Romans 6

When I was a child, I had the chance to make some extra money in the summer. About 8-10 of us would work in the fields around our neighborhood. It was hard work in the hot summer sun and our wage was .50 an hour. Some of the older kids made a dollar an hour. No, we didn’t care about minimum wage laws, because we received a bonus of a free soft drink after a couple of hours of work in the fields. That was exhausting work in the heat, but at the end of the day we received our wages. Our wages were exactly what we earned and deserved. We knew ahead of time what we would be paid for our work.

I was reminded of this by today’s reading. The first part of Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death.” We understand that sin means missing the mark. It is from a Greek archery term meaning to miss the bulls-eye. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all realize that we deserve punishment for our sin, but living in a life of sin can deceive us. When we open ourselves to sin, we start believing the lies. We justify and reason away our wrong behavior.  Remind you of some kings we have been reading about? We read their stories, and say to ourselves, “What are you doing? Just stick with God. He will deliver your nation like He has done before.” God would give the kings victory and peace, but they forsook Him because of sin and pride.

 We know that sin leads to death, so let’s make a commitment to a life that is interwoven with God. When we are close to God, we are going in the right direction and following His commands. We are experiencing His love and blessings every day.

The rest of Romans 6:23 continues “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thank you God for this gift!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 13-14 and Romans 6

What is Your Heart Set on Seeking?

2 Chronicles 11-12

Solomon died and his son, Rehoboam became king. The people requested that he lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke that the king was requiring of them and they would serve him. It takes a lot of taxes and hard work to support the extravagant lifestyles of a family of 700 wives and 300 concubines.   By following the poor advise of his peers, he unwisely threatened to increase the harsh labor and make the peoples’ yoke heavier. He arrogantly pronounced “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier.” Nope. That was it. No more. The people had enough. They refused to support the king any longer.

The united kingdom of Israel was divided. There was now a northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah which included Jerusalem and was ruled by Rehoboam. Jeroboam, the king’s rival becomes the king of Israel.

We can learn a lot from Rehoboam’s mistakes.  We can take advice from godly individuals with more life experience and we can sympathize with others who are experiencing difficulties especially if we are leading those individuals. But perhaps the most important thing we should learn from his example is that Rehoboam “did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.” Our life purpose should be to experience a loving relationship with God through Jesus. What portions of our lives might be torn apart because we reject God? What portions of our lives will receive blessings by seeking the LORD?

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 11-12 and Romans 5

Sharing Treasures

Godly Wisdom and the Coming Resurrection

2 Chronicles 9-10

Imagine the excitement as the very great caravan of the queen of Sheba arrived in Jerusalem. Envision the camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold and precious stones. The queen brought amazing treasures, but she was in search of a different kind of treasure from Solomon. She had questions and she wanted answers. Solomon was able to answer all her questions through the God-given wisdom he possessed. She experienced the blessings that God had given to this king and his people which made her feel overwhelmed. She offered praise to the LORD and understood that God loved Israel. She discovered that out of this love, God had provided the people with a king that could maintain justice and righteousness. Her encounter with Solomon, the people and her time of worship in the temple made a lasting change for this queen.

Even Jesus states that the queen will rise at the judgment with his generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon was there. Of course, that something greater was our Lord Christ Jesus. It is great to imagine meeting and talking with this queen in the resurrection. It is incredible to think of the people that have the opportunity to experience this resurrection because of sharing our love and faith in our God. Just as the queen encountered the LORD through the Israelites, we have the opportunity to share how amazing God is with those in our world today. What a celebration that will be when all of us are together at the resurrection!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 9-10 and Romans 4

Freedom

2 Chronicles  7-8

Today we celebrate the many freedoms that we have in our country. We are so blessed to live in a country that allows us to worship God and so freely profess our belief in Christ. The scriptures explain that through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free. We are also free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8)

From the beginning, God has given human beings freedom in the form of free will. He allows us to choose. We can choose to follow Him and His Son or we can reject them because we want to go our own way. It is so clear to see this choice when it is placed before the people in the scriptures. Their own evil desires will result in sin and death or they can follow God as He leads them and others to life. Life that is described as abundant and everlasting.

Solomon had been making some great choices for God. He was honoring Him. God’s temple was being dedicated and Solomon was using his influence for good. As always when people draw near to God, He draws near to them. God assures them that He is there with fire from heaven and His glory filling the temple. The people praise the LORD by saying, “He is good; His love endures forever.” After this the LORD even appears to Solomon. God presents a choice that Solomon has to personally make. Solomon can walk before the LORD faithfully following everything that God commanded or reject God by doing his own thing.

Unfortunately, as Solomon’s life unfolds, he begins breaking the laws that he was given. One by one he breaks the few laws that he was asked to follow as the king. He continues following some of God’s laws while ignoring others. His heart was led astray, just as the LORD told him it would be.

Solomon had wealth, fame, power, and wisdom, but none of that mattered because he allowed people and things to replace his love for God. Let’s examine our own hearts today and freely give them completely to our God. We know that “He is good; His love endures forever.”

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 7-8 and Romans 3

In His Presence

Leviticus 25-27 and Psalm 31-32

We have learned so much as we finish the book of Leviticus. Chapter 26 begins with a warning from the LORD. The Israelites are told not to make any object to became an object of worship. We can look at the Israelites throughout their history and become very critical. They succumb many times to the worship of idols. Every generation had to make the choice to follow the LORD God or to worship the false gods that the Israelites had allowed into their culture. Even future Kings would face this choice and unfortunately many choose to devote their lives to idols.  But I also have to wonder if we are not making that same choice today? Are there false gods in our lives? For example, we don’t create our own electronic devices and bow down to them, but perhaps we spend hours surfing, checking out what is on social media, texting, gaming, … When something is receiving our focus and taking our attention away from God, we should consider it a negative. We are allowing something to get in the way of our relationship with God. Anything or any person that negatively affects our connection with God is a modern-day idol.  In Colossians we are told that sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed are idolatry. (Col. 3:5) It states that we should put these actions to death. But it is not enough just to remove the idols, we need for God to change our hearts.  When our hearts are filled with love for God, our actions start to align with what God wants us to do.

As God explained to the Israelites, they needed to observe His Sabbaths, show reverence for His sanctuary, follow His decrees and obey His commands to receive amazing blessings. Then He would walk among them, He would be their God and they would be His people. How incredible is that?! We are presented with a choice to make today as well. We can enter into a loving relationship with God. We can ask Him to make our love for Him and others strong. We can invite God to be the center of our lives. We can place our focus on His Son Jesus Christ. We can live in His presence by the power of His spirit. God is still reaching out to us, His people. He offers us blessings and the greatest one is to be in His presence.

May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:13

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 25-27 and Psalm 31-32

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