How Many Paths Are There To The Top Of The Mountain?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This week we are continuing the Sermon Series, Jesus {Who is this man?}.  The Scripture for the week is John 14:1-14, and was discussed by Pastor Paul Nynas of Hope Lutheran ChurchQuestion number two:  Is Jesus the Way?

Climbing that mountain.

Pastor Paul likened the trip to heaven to a mountain, with Heaven and God on top.  Is there really only one way up there (through Jesus)?  Logically it doesn’t make sense, look at all those paths: east, west, north, south, straight up, zig-zag…the options seem endless.  What if there is only one God, no matter what religion we practice, we are all worshiping the same God…different path, same result.

But Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).  One way.  That mountain has only one correct path.  Am I even on it?  Are you on it?  We are basically good people right?  God just wants us to be good people…right?  Good people go to heaven…don’t they?

Actually, nowhere in the Bible does it say good people go to heaven.  Not even if you follow the 10 Commandments to a T.  The only way is through Jesus.  He died to wash away our sin, without Him and His infinite grace, we are just sinners.  With Him, we are children of God, on our way home to heaven.

How do we get to Heaven?

This week’s topic of discussing how we get to heaven was hard for me.  I do believe what John 14:6 says,

6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. 

There is only one way, and that is through Jesus.  He died to wipe my sins away so that I could go to Heaven and enjoy eternal life.

You may be wondering why this is hard for me, sounds like I have it figured out.  It’s hard because I know what I believe, but I am uncertain what my loved ones believe.  What if they believe, as long as they are good people, they get the ticket to heaven?  Why do rapists and murders that repent get into heaven, but good people who haven’t accepted Jesus as their savior don’t get in?  Why?

For my loved ones who are still here, I know there is time to find out their answer to “Is Jesus the way?”  What I don’t like to think about is the ones who have already left this world, the ones I didn’t get to ask…one very specific person…my Mom.

Life is filled with questions, searching for answers.

15“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)

Today I am continuing to follow the Sermon Series:  Jesus {Who is this man?}.  You can find the recorded sermons on Hope Lutheran’s website, as well as the study materials I refer to.  I encourage you to download these resources and join in the discussion!  Welcome to the group!

Scripture:  Matthew 16:13-20

13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15“But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Questions and answers

During this week’s sermon, Pastor Chuck talked about how life is filled with questions searching for answers.  Some of these questions are easy, some are hard, and some are destiny questions.  Life at times bring us to the place where we must answer these questions, and how we answer them determines our destiny.

In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus is having a conversation with his disciples.  During this conversation, Jesus asks his disciples a destiny question.  As Pastor Chuck points out in the sermon, I don’t think they really understood how significant this conversation really was.

Question 1:  Who do you say that I am?

Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13)  Why?  Why would Jesus as this question to his disciples?  My thought is, Jesus wants to know the “popular” opinion regarding his identity.  That he is trying to get a feel for what the people think about the Son of Man.

Jesus then asks his disciples, “Who do say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)  When Jesus asks this question, their conversation turned into a destiny question.  Why would he ask his disciples point blank who they thought he is?  The answer to this question will direct the destiny of this “Jesus movement”, the destiny of the Church.  If the disciples answer in the same way as the crowd, what would happen to the Church?  This was a test by Jesus, to determine the faith these men had in him, to see if they knew who he truly was.

Peter’s response to Jesus, that he is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) has thus determined is destiny.  What are these life changing implications?  By answering this way, I believe Peter has committed his life to Jesus.  Jesus then says to Peter, “and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)  This tells me, Peter’s statement is as solid as a rock, and not even the devil can change it.

Seek knowledge, wisdom, and truth.

Pastor Chuck pointed out in his sermon that as Christians, we have a duty to seek knowledge, wisdom and truth about who God is and what it means for our life.  All of us, at one point, will need to answer Jesus’ question: “Who do YOU say I am?”  Our response to this destiny question will affect our lives.

When we answer, “Jesus, you are my savior and salvation. You are the Messiah.”  We then take on the challenge of his mission:  Pointing others towards God, and supporting the work of the church.

That mission will look different for each one of us.  God gives each of us different opportunities to reach out to our fellow human beings and share the good news of Jesus.

How will you respond?  Please post in the comments below.

What is Time?

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

The introduction to my Church’s upcoming sermon series hit home this week.  The Pastor’s message was entitled, “It’s Time!”  He spoke about how time is the great equalizer, there is a finite amount of time…How are you spending yours?

What a question, how AM I spending my time?  Is what I’m doing really making a difference? Does it really matter?  If I take a look at my life, as a whole…beginning to end, does what I’m doing now on a daily basis truly matter?  I had to honestly answer, “No.”

What do you do with that?  I felt, well…yucky.  The life I am currently living, when I take an honest Christian look at it is not currently benefiting anyone, let alone Jesus.  How does one turn that around, how do I make my answer a “Yes”?

Moving dirt back and forth

The Pastor used the example of an Army private given the task of digging a hole, putting the dirt into sacs, then moving it to another location to dump it out, and repeating it over and over.  Once the hole was dug, he was told to go to the dirt pile, fill the sac, and empty it into the hole.  In the end he is just moving dirt back and forth.  The whole thing was meaningless.

Am I just moving dirt back and forth?  Perhaps a better question is:  Why AM I just moving dirt back and forth?  God put us on this earth for a purpose…I highly doubt that purpose is to move dirt back and forth!  As Christians it is our obligation to bring meaning to our time, to do the things that are important.

Time management

Psalm 90:1-12 talks about how important it is to live each day as if it is numbered.  It reminds us that our life is short:

“Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10, NIV)

How short 70 or 80 years are when compared to eternity.  We have such a short time to show God what we are really made of, what he put us on this earth to accomplish.  How do we spend it?  I know I am guilty of sitting in front of the television, computer, or smart phone.  Pinning away projects I will never accomplish, articles I will never read.

What meaning is that bringing to my time here on earth as a Christian?  What meaning is that bringing to my life as a mother?  I can tell you, not a whole lot.  And I know it is not what God put me here on earth to do.  I think all of us need to remember that life has no real fulfillment outside of Christ.  “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

It is time to refocus

To me, the fall feels like the perfect time to reevaluate life and priorities.  Nature is getting rid of the old, and getting ready for the new.  The old leaves fall away, and over the winter the tree prepares itself for the new ones to grow. LifeLifeBeyondYourself

It is time for a refocus in my life.  To find the things that really matter in life, both to God and to me.  To find the things that make God and, in turn, me happy.  It is time for me to be a little more like Jesus, it’s time for me to reach out to others like Jesus, and it’s time to find out for myself who Jesus is to me.

Sermon Series: Jesus {Who is this man?}

My Church has begun a sermon series entitled:  Jesus {Who is this man?}.  Asking the question billions of people have asked themselves and others for thousands of years.  This is a question that each of us must answer for ourselves as we walk this earth.  Jesus himself has asked the question, “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29).

I want to share this series with you and form an online “small group,” in order to go deeper into this question.  As a mother of two small children, I know that finding time in your schedule to attend small groups in person.  It is my hope that this blog can serve as a small group of sorts, helping those who want to be involved in the conversation do so.

There are study materials available at Hope Lutheran’s website.  There are also links to the sermons the Pastors will be preaching regarding the questions in the study materials.

It is my intention to post on this topic every Wednesday.  I hope you will join me for the conversation!