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Bible Pathways - October 7, 2005

October 7


Read Matthew 15

In Today's Reading:

Scribes and Pharisees rebuked; 4,000 fed; the leaven; Peter's confession; transfiguration of Jesus; the disciples' unbelief

Caesarea Philippi was a famous worship center for several pagan deities including the Greek god "Pan", of shepherds and flocks, and the Canaanite "Baal", whom they considered to be a "lord of heaven and earth." It was located about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. It was situated at the foot of the southern slope of Mount Hermon, with its snowcapped peak 9000 feet above sea level, the "highest mountain" in the promised land. The transfiguration of Christ probably took place there (Matthew 17:1).

In the midst of large numbers of idol worshipers, Jesus asked His disciples: Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am (16:13)? In response to His question, the disciples answered: Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. However, when He asked: But whom say you that I am? — without hesitation, Peter declared: You are the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of the Living God (16:14-16).

Our Lord then introduced the word "church" for the first time (16:18). "A church" is a community of caring brothers and sisters in fellowship with one another and with Christ, who is the Head of the Church. "The Church" is composed of all people who have been redeemed by His blood and are committed to Jesus as their Savior and Lord under the discipline of the Word of God. They recognize their responsibility to help one another in living their covenant relationship with Christ since the Church is the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:15, 5:23).

Strange as it may seem, some followers of Christ disregard their responsibility to worship with other believers. They ignore the Church that their Lord gave His life for. This is more serious than some realize since we are warned: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:25-26). Some are satisfied to make an excuse while true followers find a way. Often, without realizing it, their spiritual influence with their own family becomes weak and ineffective. Still worse, they frequently desecrate the Lord's Day for selfish pleasures. On the other hand, some would love to attend but they are too old or sick.

As part of Christ's Body we must not forget that Christ . . . loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27; also I Corinthians 1:10).

Word Studies:

16:6 leaven = false teaching; 16:18 gates of hell = the powers of Satan; 17:25 prevented him = Jesus spoke before Peter could speak.

Cross References:

For Matthew 15:4: See Exodus 20:12; 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 5:16. Matt. 15:8-9: See Isaiah 29:13. Matthew 16:27: See Pslam 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 17:10.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for The English International Shortwave Radio Broadcast in memory of George Irwin · Staff: Ilene Wallace · Country: Sao Tome and Principe (155,000) two larger and several smaller islands in the Gulf of Guinea, 125 miles off the western coast of Africa · Major language: Portuguese · Religious freedom is fairly new · 83% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant; 2% animist · Prayer Suggestion: Pray, in faith, for God to work a miracle (II Kings 4:33-34).

Memory Verse for the Week: Hebrews 2:1

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