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Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Hero

When I was a young fella Roy Rogers was probably my biggest hero. I watched him every chance I could. I even remember the older Roy Rogers movies and that I was shocked when he took off his hat and he was bald. But heroes are people we admire for different reasons. Recently I have gotten a new respect for the apostle Peter.

Peter is wonderfully human. I think I like him so much because I see many of my own tendencies in him. The thing I see most is how impetuous he seems. He always has something to say, even when it would often be best to be quiet. Yep I’m like that, a lot. On the mount of transfiguration he says let’s build three shrines (Mark 9:5-6). God answered that from Heaven. After he answers Jesus question about who he is correctly, he has to open his mouth again and get corrected very strongly by Jesus (Matt. 16:23). After Jesus was crucified it was Peter who said “I’m going fishing”. And when Jesus told him that he would deny him three times Peter proclaimed his loyalty to Jesus and said “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.”

Now we know how this ended up not only did he deny that he knew Jesus he did it cursing (Mark 14:71). Something needs to be pointed out here lest we begin to say I never did anything like that. Peter was the one who followed Jesus. All of the others were scattered. He went into the area where they were trying Jesus. But in the end he denied him, but the point is what happened next.

(Mat 26:75) And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter went out and wept bitterly. He saw his inability to be faithful in acknowledging his relationship with Jesus. When I see how unfaithful I am, it is very discouraging. Some don’t like the word discouraging, but I’m not trying to sound spiritual, I’m just telling you how life is for me. But Jesus has told us how to respond.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

I need to find the way to mourn like Peter did. Have I learned to weep bitterly over my sin? Have you? But I long to and I have seen some progress here. I know a little of how poorly I do in many areas where we have clear instruction in God’s word. One of the areas where God has spoken to me powerfully is what most people call the love chapter. Starting in verse 4, “love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy, does not behave unseemly (that means rudely)”, “Thinks no evil”. Then in James 3:2 we read if any man does not offend in word he is a perfect man. Jesus said to judge not. If I take these areas seriously I can see many areas where I fall tremendously short.

There are many other areas where I see my lack when it comes to living the life I am called to live before God and man. The matter of judging is huge. What is my response when I see the sins of others? Do I set myself as a judge or do I mourn for them because I know that the wages of sin truly is death and the end of their behavior is very sad. So because of my own sin and because of the sins of others I have much reason to mourn.

What we saw in Peter was that he wept bitterly. I need to find this place of bitter weeping. This takes time and I know we are hurried by many things and to find this time may be difficult. For myself I see that if I spend more time seeking the things of God and less time looking for ways to be entertained and made comfortable, God will show me how to find the time of mourning, and for all other truly good things he has for me to do.

Something profound happened to Peter at this time and shortly after this when Jesus met him by the sea, after they had been fishing all night (John 21:15-17). After they finished eating Jesus took Peter aside and said “do you love me”. He said this three times and each time, when Peter affirmed with building anxiety that he did love Jesus, Jesus gave Peter a greater ministry assignment. “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.” Another thing I noticed the other day is that Peter is recorded as the first to perform a healing miracle after Jesus’ ascension.

Jesus said we would be comforted. The first comfort that I see is the forgiveness of sin. What a great comfort to know that even when I fail God has provided forgiveness in the cross and the blood of Jesus. But I believe there is more comfort. As I mourn I am stirred to action by the Holy Spirit to find the way of victory. So that the next time I am tempted I can resist and be successful. We have a great comfort in Jesus in Hebrews it says

Heb 4:15 For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

When I have sinned I need mercy. When I am tempted I need Grace to help. That is my time of need. This is a great comfort.
If we truly learn to mourn perhaps we will be blessed as Peter was and be able to find a place of ministry. Peter was not given a ministry until he learned to mourn. I suspect that this may be significant.

Sometimes we learn faithfulness by seeing more clearly how unfaithful we have been. When we do let us mourn before our heavenly father so we can receive the comfort he longs to give us.

Your brother learning to be faithful

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