January 24 - Matthew 16:13-17:13

Fire Bible Student Edition - Fire Starter

READ: Matthew 16:13--17:13

THINK: To be part of Christ's true Church--His worldwide community of followers--is to be part of the most powerful "institution" on earth--not in a political sense but in a very real spiritual sense. Yet the Church is more like a living organism comprised of individuals who have the life and power God's Spirit residing within them. However, our local churches, which are made up of imperfect people and sometimes centered around human structures and ideas, often lack the power and influence Jesus describes in this passage. But God's power is still available to any of His followers whose lives are built on a solid foundation of faith in Jesus and the bold profession of His message.

RESPOND: Where did Simon's confidence in Christ come from? Why do you think God revealed this to Simon (Peter)? Jesus was not referring simply to Peter when He spoke of the "rock." What did Jesus really mean when He said, "on this rock I will build my church" (16:18, see note )? What does it mean that "the gates of Hades will not overcome it (the church)"? (See 16:18, second note. Also see article on The Church, p. 1304.) What does it mean that Jesus has given His followers "the keys of the kingdom of heaven"? (See 16:19 note.) Why did Jesus rebuke Peter so strongly for refusing to accept the fact that Jesus must suffer? What was the significance of God the Father speaking audibly about His Son (17:5) and then the disciples seeing Jesus alone?

PRAY: Ask the Father to reveal more of Jesus' power, love and character to you, and then to help these traits become a part of your life so that Christ becomes more evident to those around you. Ask Him to help you fill your role in His Church with passion, power and excellence.

ACT: As a follower of Jesus, you have access to all the power and authority you need to be victorious against the forces of evil. Keeping in mind that the Church is to be on the offense and not simply on defense against Satan's kingdom, determine that you will approach your life as a Christian not in a passive way, but in an active way. Be more active in your faith, more active in developing Christlike character, more active in showing kindness, and more active in pursuing opportunities to tell others about Jesus.

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