Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuesday's with Jesus #70

#70 "I Will Never..."
October 31, 2006
"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him:
"Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly." (Luke 22: 61-62)
Peter denied Jesus three times. Peter, the one who said that he would never deny Christ. Even if all the rest of the apostles did, Peter literally said,  "But not I!" (Mark 14: 29)  I think we're a lot like Peter. We don't think we'll ever deny our Lord and maybe we won't ... at least not in such a blatant way as this. We read this biblical account and in our self-righteousness, think, "how could he do that?" I would like to suggest that we deny Christ more often than we think.
We deny Him when we are proud. We deny Him when we refuse to show mercy and grant forgiveness to those who have hurt or offended us. We deny Him in our lusts, adulteries and divorces and when we don't keep our word. We deny Him when we exact revenge on our enemies instead of loving them as Jesus commands. We deny Him when we take the credit for our blessings, when we make sure that others know about our kindness to the needy and when we pray eloquent prayers to impress others. We deny Him in our judgement of others. (See Matthew, Chapters 5-7) We deny Him when we know the good we ought to do and we don't do it (James 4: 17) We deny Him when we gossip, quarrel, and slander others. We deny Him when we worry, rather than trust..when we doubt, rather than believe. Basically, we deny Him each time we make a deliberate choice to choose our way instead of God's way as set out for us in His Word. Every time that we think our way is better and that we know better than God, we are denying Christ. Denial that is more subtle than Peter's...but denial none the less.
The Bible says that "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." Can you even imagine? Let's say you have failed. You've sinned. You've fallen short. And Jesus turns and looks straight at you. I don't know about you, but that sends a chill right through me. Jesus turned. This was a deliberate effort to look at Peter. The Greek words used for "turned and looked" denotes "intense looking." It is used in Scripture to describe the first look of a blind man who has just been healed opening his eyes for the first time. What kind of a look was it? Were Jesus' eyes filled with disappointment and sadness or with compassion and understanding? We will never know. What we do know is that after the "look", Peter went outside and wept bitterly. That means "with great remorse"...true repentance.
Is Jesus turning and looking straight at you today? For one moment, it was just Jesus and Peter in the whole world. Only they existed for a split moment in time. Let this be a moment between just you and Jesus. Don't get aggravated with me. I never give you anything that the Lord has not confronted me on first. I'm right here with you, my friend. I try to make my messages uplifting and encouraging for the most part, but there are necessary times in a Christian's life where we have to do some self examination and repentance if needed. 2 Timothy tells us that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Hebrews tells us that "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than a double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." The accounts of people in the Bible are useful to us because these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us. (See 1 Corinthians 10: 11) We can't just read Peter's story and keep moving. What can we learn from it so that we don't fall and fail?
That is how we need to learn how to read Scripture. What can we learn? How can we apply it in our daily lives? I think Peter's failure has a couple of things to tell us.
First, recognize that everyone fails. It wasn't just Peter. Where did the other 10 disciples go? At least Peter loved Jesus enough to follow Him to His trials and sentencing. The others flew the coop. Friend, we all fail. You do, I do. That's why we need the precious blood of Jesus to cleanse us. And if you fail at one thing, you are not a "failure". 
Second, remember that God does not love you or forgive you because you never fail. His forgiveness is actually dependant on our failure. We need forgiveness, everyday, all day, at all times, until He calls us Home. Remember what our righteousness is like? Filthy rags, menstrual cloths. And His love...oh, His Love! His love is dependant only on who He is. God is love. Jesus is Love. He loves us with an everlasting love. A never ending love. A perfect love. Despite our warts. Despite our sin. Despite our denials. He always, forever and eternally loves us. If you have failed....Jesus still loves you. And He forgives all your sins.
Third, learn and grow from your failures. Take advantage of your failure. Learn and grow from it. Don't waste it. Just like our trials, we can grow from our failures. Every bad experience can teach us something.
Finally, put your failures behind you. Don't get caught in the devils' trap of condemnation and guilt. Satan's message is that we're beyond hope and that we have no chance at a future. The devil is a liar. "We must never use failure as an excuse for not trying again. Proverbs 24:16 reminds us, ?For though a righteous man may fall seven times he rises again.? Everyone fails... what we need to remember is that we do not have to stay down. ?Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall.? - Oliver Goldsmith
You may not be able to reclaim the loss, undo the damage, or reverse the consequences, but you can make a new start?wiser, more sensitive, renewed by the Holy Spirit, and more determined to do right." (John Hamby)  
And always remember that this was not the end of the story for Peter. After Jesus rose from the dead, He reinstated Peter. He asked him to become a leader in the church (see John 21:15-18). On the day of Pentecost, Peter was one of the principal witnesses for Christ. Shortly after that he, along with John, healed a lame man at the temple gate. Peter addressed the crowds with boldness and courage. He was imprisoned and fearlessly vindicated himself before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4: 8-21) He healed, he saw visions, and he raised Dorcas to life at Lydda (Acts 9: 32-43). Mark wrote his gospel under Peter's teaching.
God still used Peter in a mighty, mighty way for the kingdom of God. It is not the end of the story for you either. God will still use you, just like Peter. Keep going. Thomas Edison said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Whatever you've done...however you have failed...blatant denial or subtle. Don't give up. Learn a lesson from Peter. That's what the Bible tells us to do.
Getting up again,
Donna Schultz
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