Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday in the Word.

{some favorites...go here to see who is
responsible for these beautiful images.}

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Matthew 26:31-35

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[c]

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows,
you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
And all the other disciples said the same.

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I would love it if you would go to Matthew 26 and just read the whole chapter. I almost put it all here, but then chose to just really focus on the words that have been getting in my face for the past several weeks.

My pastor has been teaching from this bit of scripture for the past two weeks...and each time he brings up Peter denying Christ I just cringe. I like to think that I don't deny Him. I like to think that will never disown Him. I like to think that even if others disown Him, I never will. I like to think that I will follow Jesus, even unto death. But will I?

Over the years...and after more bible reading and bible study...I've come to the conclusion that I am a lot like Peter. This is how my bible describes Peter's "weaknesses and mistakes":
  • Often spoke without thinking; was brash and impulsive.
  • During Jesus' trial, denied three times that he even knew Jesus.
  • Later found it hard to treat Gentile Christians as equals.
Ouch. That first one really hits home with me. I often speak without thinking...and yes, I can be brash and impulsive. I am working on it. And getting better little by little. But I still find myself blurting things out. As my old pastor used to say, "I open up my mouth and out falls stupid."

Our words are so important...once they've been spoken, they can never be taken back. That's why it is so, so important to exercise the gift of self-control. Yes...the gift. Self-control is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Once we accept Christ into our hearts, we instantly have the gift of self-control (among about Fruit of the Spirit for more info). After that, it's up to us to USE that gift.

I realized yesterday that not only has my pastor been speaking on Peter and his denial of Christ, I've also been hearing it on Joyce Meyer...and this morning while listening to Beth Moore...and on the radio yesterday. Peter, Peter, Peter...and His denial of Christ when things got ugly. When he got scared. When things were no longer rosy and nice. When he no longer had his posse of 11 other disciples to parade around with. When he's alone. And under the gun.

When a scripture...or a so in my face like this, I have learned that I really need to stop and look at what I am doing in my life that the Lord is trying to get my attention about. So I stopped and I denying Christ? Of course my  first response is a pompous, "Of course not! I would never deny Christ." I'm sure that would be any one's response who claims to love the Lord with all her heart and all her soul and all her mind. And I do. I really do. But, I don't know that I won't react exactly as Peter did if confronted with the scary situation of DEATH. I don't know. I hope that I would stand by my convictions unto death. I pray that I do, should I ever be in that situation. But one never knows how they'll react once they're actually in the fire.

All of that was good to ponder about...and pray...and talk with the Lord about. It was good to see where my heart was at...and to know that at this point, I'm not denying Him. BUT what I am doing is speaking "without thinking." I am being "brash and impulsive". Believe it or not I do control my tongue (more than I used to)...and I do think before I speak (most of the time). But there are still areas in my life where I am not as careful as I could be. And should be. And this is something that I need to work on...continuously.

Peter says in Romans 7:19:

 "For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing."

Boy...I sure can relate.

On the bright bible also says this about Peter:
 "Peter never failed to follow - even though he often stumbled." (emphasis mine)

I think the most important thing in all of this is that God is merciful. That is the bottom line. And He extends unlimited grace to us...His imperfect children. He gives us chance after chance after chance...after chance. He never gives up on us...even when we may have given up on Him. Thank you God...

At the end of Peter's Profile in my study bible it asks the question:
"Are you willing to keep following Jesus, even when you fail?"

I can honestly say....yes. Even though I am human...and I get scared...even though I am imperfect...even though I can be brash and impulsive...even though I stumble and sometimes even fall...yes, I am. I am willing to follow Jesus...all the way.


Anonymous said...

oh! this post has just made my day! many blessings my friend

teekaroo said...

I love that Peter was so imperfect. It gives me hope.

Anonymous said...

i heard part of joyce's message on self control - it was really good.

your words here are even better.

Christina said...

peter was one of my favorite stories, when i was little. my grandmother would tell me this story and i'd be like... noooo, really? how could that be?? ; )

thank you. i will read this chapter before bed.


Christina said...

such amazing photos. i couldn't get the link to work for me.