Today’s devotion is hard to write. I must admit that as a pastor, this verse is one I think upon often. One day I was hit with this overwhelming truth—that my actions—my words and my deeds – could cause someone to stumble and fall. This great responsibility caused me to reevaluate everything. I asked the Lord to please reveal to me if I am being a stumbling block, and to give me the wisdom and discernment to not get in the way of His work and His people. I was deciding “instead to live in such a way that (I would) not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” This doesn’t mean I haven’t done it, but that I pray for more of Him and less of me. I pray that I can live in such a way to embrace and encourage others on their walk, pointing them to Jesus, speaking life, equipping the saints for His kingdom.
Fall on your knees today and seek the wisdom and discernment so that you, too, will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. Seek out the best interests of others. Live with the eternal perspective. Today, decide to live in such a way that you build others up, that you show the love of Christ, that you reach down and raise up. This is grace. It is the same grace that God has shown us when He reached down in our broken world, and through Christ Jesus raised us to new life. We are now co-heirs with Christ Jesus. Live in such a way.
“So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” – Romans 14:13 [NLT]
It is important to look inward daily. The world tells us to look outward. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s something wrong with someone else. You are free to do as you want—you are free to be who you want to be and think how you want to think. The world tells us it’s okay to be focused on self.
When we focus on ourselves and live in a “me world,” we do not see the importance of looking inward and life so often becomes a life of you against the world. We fail then to see that God should be first in our lives—He is our life. It is only when we can recognize that we were meant to live with Him, and then look inward to see what is keeping you from fully living a life for God.
Jeremiah wrote to “test and examine our ways.” This is something we need to do daily because our walk with Christ is a daily walk. There will be good days and not-so-good days. There are days we will struggle more and days when we will see great strides in our walk. We are reminded that we are a sinful people who often focus on self. One day we take two steps forward, another five steps back. We are ever-changing and often emotionally driven. For this reason, it is crucial we test and examine every day. Today, look inward. Question your motives. Examine your moves. Test your life against the Truth of God. Allow the Spirit to reveal anything that separates you from God, anything that may be a stumbling block in the way of God’s great plan.
“Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.” – Lamentations 3:40-41 [ESV]
Once as I was reading Matthew 16 aloud, my daughter advised me that verse 23 was her new favorite verse. In this verse, we read, “Get behind me, Satan,” which she thought would be a great thing to say to Satan to tell him to back off. There was a brief pause after she spoke, and then I advised her that Jesus was not even talking to Satan; he was talking to Peter. She was amazed. Why was Peter called Satan?
Yes, Jesus spoke like this to Satan as well. When we look at Matthew 4, we read of Jesus’ time in the Wilderness. After the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit led Him into the Wilderness. Satan tempted Him in three different ways, each way resulting in a response with God’s Word. Satan tempted Him with power, prestige, possessions, and pleasure – the same temptations we face. When He was tempted to bow down and worship Satan, He responded, “Be gone, Satan,” which sounds a lot like, “Get behind me, Satan.”
The reason Peter heard these harsh words, “get behind me, Satan,” was because he was speaking about going against God’s Divine plan. Jesus had just spoken about what was to come—His death—and Peter was against this plan. When Peter heard what Jesus said, his response was “far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (v. 22 ESV). He couldn’t understand what needed to be done, and when he rejected God’s plan, he became a stumbling block.
When I read today’s verse, I consider Jesus speaking this to you and I as we reject the plans of God. Are there moments when we become a stumbling block? Are there moments when Jesus is saying to us, “Get behind me, Satan,” because we are not walking the course set before us? Let us continue to dig deeper into His Word, to walk closely with Jesus, constant in prayer, so that we can keep our steps aligned on the path of God’s plan, and by doing so, may we never be a stumbling block to God’s plan.
“But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” – Matthew 16:23 [ESV]
“Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”” – Matthew 4:10 [ESV]
Peter and John were proclaiming the Good News. It disturbed people and they were put in prison. Annas the high priest and Caiaphas questioned them. They spoke of Jesus and the salvation only possible through Him. They were commanded to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus.
“As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” – Acts 4:20 [NIV]
- “We cannot stop telling” [NLT]
- “We cannot stop talking” [GW]
- “There’s no question – we can’t keep quiet” [MSG]
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
Told to “Rise and go toward the south” (v. 26) “he rose and went” (v. 27)
2) Spirit Led
Ready to listen to God’s instruction – an angel of the Lord said (v. 26)
3) Specific Instructions
Spirit said go over and join this chariot (v. 29)
4) Concern for Others
Concerned about others understanding
“Do you understand what you are reading?” (v. 30)
5) Wait for the Open Door
No I need help – BOOM – DOOR OPEN
Begins with Isaiah passage and then speaks about the Good News of Jesus (v. 31)
6) Don’t stand in the way
What prevents me from being baptized?
Nothing (v. 37-38)
7) Don’t miss a beat
Spirit of Philip is carried away
His service is done – Onward and upward (v. 39-40)
This is one of the 4 part Acts series:
Everyone sins; everyone falls short (Romans 3:23). That’s the bad news. But the good news is that Christ Jesus has built a bridge over the gap that was created by sin. God is holy and He can’t stand sin—sin is anything against God. So as we sin, we are moving ourselves away from God. The blood of Christ was poured out for each one of us to have a way to be righteous (right with God). Only if we believe in Him are we saved from the sin punishment. Even so, we must continue to repent for our sins and recognize our constant need for Jesus Christ.
When David sinned, he recognized that he sinned against God. When Nathan opened his eyes to this sinful act of adultery and murder, David repented. He changed his mind. He said, “I have sinned against the LORD.” He understood that truth and he recognized his need for forgiveness. Nathan revealed to him that God put away the sin.
God has also put away your sin if you believe in His Son. When you believe in Jesus, there is no longer the sin punishment of death. Instead, you are forgiven. You are redeemed. You are justified. Even so, it is important to repent whenever you are convicted of sin. Give it to God immediately. Recognize your need for His forgiveness. Understand He is the only way. Don’t let anything become a stumbling block in your relationship with your Heavenly Father.
“David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’” – 2 Samuel 12:13 [ESV]