One day when Jesus and the disciples were in Caesarea Philippi, he asked them “Who do people say the Son of Man is? “Their reply was “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Over 2,000 years ago, people were wrestling with answering this question. And people are wrestling with this question today. Not just unbelievers, but believers as well.
I love what Jesus does next. Jesus gets to the heart of the matter.
Matthew 16: 15 (NIV) “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
That’s the question we all must answer, “Who do you say that I am?”
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
The struggle is real, but the real question is do we recognize how real the struggle is? Sometimes without really knowing it, we can have bad definitions of God. These bad definitions can come through life experiences or bad doctrine. It can happen to the best of us.
· The Children of Israel thought God had brought them out into the desert to kill them. (Deut 1:27)
· Gideon thought God had abandoned them. (Judges 6:13)
Maybe you have never had the thought that God was trying to kill you, but for many, there have been the thoughts of “God, where are you?” “Don’t you care?”
Bad definitions of God! The struggle is real.
THE STRUGGLE IS ALSO INTENTIONAL
The struggle is intentional on two fronts. Front one…
Did you ever stop to think about the first encounter Eve had with the serpent?
God tells Eve not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden or you will die. Satan comes along and tells Eve that if she eats from the tree she won’t die. What are the implications of that statement? God’s not being truthful with you. Bad definition of God.
The serpent didn’t stop there. He tells Eve that God knows that if she eats from it then her eyes will be open and she will be like God. What are the implications from that statement? God is not being a very good God. He’s just trying to withhold something from you that is good for you. Bad definition of God!
This causes Eve to see God differently, think about God differently and respond to God differently.
Jesus’ time here on earth is winding down. He tells the disciples to go to the villages and heal the sick and say to the people, “The Kingdom of Heaven has come near you!” He tells them not to take their staff, money, food or a change of clothes.” Later on he does the same thing when he sends out the seventy-two. Don’t take your staff, money, food or a change of clothes.
That’s pretty risky if I must say. Imagine going to a town where you don’t know anyone and you are instructed not to take any money with you. Talk about really learning to trust God.
What was Jesus’ purpose? His purpose is the disciples need to TOTALLY be dependent on God.
You see knowing who God is intentional on two fronts.
The struggle is real. The struggle is intentional.
THE STRUGGLE IS ALSO TOUGH
“THE REALITY OF OUR KNOWING GOD ALWAYS RISES TO THE SURFACE IN THE MIDDLE OF…”
In the middle of what? In the middle of the…. STORM!
Jesus tells the disciples to get in the boat because they are going to the other side. They get in the boat. Jesus falls asleep in the back of the boat. A storm comes up and the disciples are in fear for their life. What is the first thing they say to Jesus?
DON’T…. YOU…. CARE?
Don’t you care that we are getting ready to die? Have you ever felt like God didn’t care? That’s a bad definition of God.
Jesus calms the storm. And what comes out of the disciple’ s mouth? WHO…. IS…. THIS… MAN? They are learning who this Jesus is the hard way!
The reality of our knowing God always rises to the surface in the middle of….
· …in the middle of the storm
· …in the middle of tragedy
· …in the middle of unanswered prayer
· …in the middle of lack
· …in the middle of feeling like you lost the battle
· …in the middle of someone else’s prayer being answered, but your’s is not
· …in the middle of your battle being more difficult than someone else’s
· …in the middle of your best friend dying
· …in the middle of your reputation being drug through the mud
· …in the middle of (you fill in the blank)
The reality of our knowing God always rises to the surface in the middle of…
SO HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE HAVE A BAD DEFINITION OF GOD?
Have you ever been discouraged? Have you ever been frustrated? Discouragement and frustration are like the warning lights on the dashboard of our car. They are warning you that you really don’t know God.
If we really knew who God was then we would never be discouraged. I know you may be thinking that is impossible, but if we really, really, really, really knew that all things work together to those who love God and are called according to His purpose then there would be no reason to be discouraged.
Our struggle is real. Our struggle is intentional. Our struggle is tough.
OUR STRUGGLE ONLY BECOMES POWERLESS THROUGH REVELATION!
When Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responds by saying, “You are the Messiah! The Son of the living God.” Then Jesus says…
Matthew 16: 17 (NIV)“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
You can’t get it by reading a book. You can’t get it by someone telling you that God is good! You have to get it for yourself.
My son Nate had a basketball injury his junior year in high school. His desire was to play basketball in college. During that time the junior year was important in the recruiting process. He finds out that this injury was going to keep him from playing possibly the whole season. He was discouraged to say the least. He shared his discouragement with his mother one evening. He proceeded to go into his room after the conversation. My wife Lisa’s heart was breaking for him. She wanted to follow him into the room to give him some encouragement and as she put her hand on the doorknob God said, “He’s mine!” She slowly took her hand off the doorknob and backed away. Nate pick up his guitar and began playing and singing some worship songs. The next morning when Nate came out of his bedroom he had a smile on his face and said, “I met God!”
Peter had a revelation of who God was. Nate had his own revelation of God. You and I need a revelation too!
The struggle only become powerless through our own personal experience of God revealing Himself to us.
At Freedom Church we have four core values!
· KNOWING GOD
· EXPERIENCING FREEDOM
· DISCOVERING PURPOSE
· MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Knowing God is the most important one because it drives all the others. At Freedom Church we place a high value on Knowing God. Bad definitions of God causes us to respond to Him in unhealthy ways. It is our prayer at Freedom Church that each of us have an experience where God reveals himself to us in REAL way!
We hope that by reading our blog or listening to our messages on our Core Values that you would begin to experience God in a special way!