Tag: redemption

In the Classroom with Peter

Identifying basic skills of learning as reading, writing and arithmetic – the three Rs – has been around as early as the 17th century in America. Without some competency in these areas, most students are unable to graduate from school. Even educators who debate about how to test these skills basically agree that these are essential tools for advancement in life.

Jesus, the Master Teacher, taught multitudes but His ongoing classroom had twelve men in it – His disciples. Simon Peter (someone many Christians can relate to) was sometimes at the head of the class and other times failed miserably. In the process, Peter’s specific assignment was to process his own three Rs – Redemption, Recommitment and Restoration. He did graduate and as a result, became an example of hope for the rest of us.

Although his brother Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus, in every list of the apostles, Peter’s name comes first. In God’s plan for Peter’s life, He knew that Peter’s personality – outgoing, impulsive, outspoken and excitable – could be developed into a strong leader for the first century church. He just needed to learn a few lessons first.

Redemption

When Peter, a fisherman, left his nets behind and followed the Lord, he listened, observed, absorbed and learned. Only a man with an awareness of his own need for salvation would say, “depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). Only a man of faith could declare, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) and “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Yet, with all his faith and confession, Peter had a bad habit of arguing with the Lord. Someone once said, “I have spent half my life wishing I had shut up ten minutes ago.” Peter must have felt that way many times. Scripture mentions only a few of Peter’s impulsive statements to the Lord.

  • Far be it from You, Lord. This shall not happen to You” (Matthew 16:22).
  • Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble” (Matthew 26:33).
  • “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matthew 26:35)
  • You shall never wash my feet!” (John 13:8).
  • Not so, Lord, I have never eaten anything unclean” (Acts 10:14).

Peter loved the Lord and the Lord loved Peter. He was included in a special trio that was with Jesus on the mountaintop when He met with Moses and Elijah. It was Peter who wanted to erect temples for each one of them. He was brought along to the Garden of Gethsemane to stand by the Lord and pray before the crucifixion. When Jesus found the disciples sleeping, it was Peter that the Lord asked, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”(Matthew 26:40-41).

As Jesus observed His last Passover with His disciples, there ensued an argument among them about who should be considered the greatest. Jesus interrupted their dispute, saying …he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves”. Then He turned to Simon and said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:26, 31-32).

Not long after that, as Jesus had predicted, Peter denied three times that he even knew the Lord. He followed Him at a distance (Matthew 26:58). We “keep our distance” when we don’t want to be involved, don’t want to be recognized and don’t want to be associated with someone. The bold fisherman who had left all to follow Jesus was now afraid and weak.

After Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter went back to fishing with some of the other disciples. They fished all night and caught nothing. Waiting for them on the shore, the risen Jesus instructed them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They then caught 159 fish. After breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Three times Peter said, “You know I love You.”

Jesus then told Peter what type of death he would experience and told him to “Follow Me.”

Peter, still dealing with a bit of jealousy, referring to the apostle John, asked Jesus, “What about this man?” Jesus said to him, …what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:21-22).

Recommitment and Restoration

This third command to “Follow Me” was pivotal in Peter’s life.

At the beginning, Jesus told Peter and Andrew, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-19). Now His call to Peter was more personal. “You follow Me.” This time, Peter followed Jesus, not by His side, and not from a distance, but with a heart empowered by His Holy Spirit. The presence and influence of Jesus would no longer be determined by time or space.

Initially, Peter followed Jesus but allowed his impulsiveness and outspokenness to get in his way. After an egregious heart breaking denial of his Lord, he recommitted his life to follow Him – this time with much different results. Jesus restored him, molding him into someone He could rely on. Peter had learned his lesson. No longer wanting recognition, no longer jealous, his ministry was now focused on the love of God. The Peter of denial became the Peter of Pentecost, his “foot in mouth” disease giving way to life-giving sermons, his fear replaced by miracle performing power.

Jesus knew Peter would deny Him, but also knew Peter would return to Him and with an ever-present memory of those denials, accomplish his calling – to feed and tend the Lord’s sheep and strengthen his brothers to do the same.

Satan recognizes those who have great potential to be used by God. He asked permission to ruin Job’s testimony, certainly he tried to divert Jesus’ attention from His mission and he asked permission to sift Peter like wheat. When Satan’s attacks come hurling toward you, recognize that he no only had to ask permission first, but he is doing so because of the potential he has seen in your life. Also remember that Jesus is interceding for you, just as He did for Peter.

Redeemed, recommitted and restored is the testimony of Peter. Is it yours?

© Stephanie B. Blake

February 2016

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Restoration and Redemption

The town I live in was settled in 1867. It still has a few houses that were built during those first years and is filled with houses that were constructed in the early 1900’s, most of them in desperate need of restoration.

IMG_0523My husband and I live in a 1905 Queen Anne. According to neighbors and my mailman, this house used to be in very bad shape. Fortunate for us, several years back, someone saw the potential, moved in and did a remarkable job of restoration. As a lover of antiques, I have really loved living in this house. There is obviously maintenance needed from time to time (as is also the case with new houses) and my husband does a wonderful job on that.

Ever since I moved to this town, I have been interested in seeing more of these old homes restored. Thankfully, I am not the only one. I have a friend who is running for mayor who wants to bring the town back to its former glory. There is a new business downtown dedicated to restoring the town’s old homes. Other people recognize that there is value in saving what was once beautiful and bringing it back to life.

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Restoring old houses or refinishing antiques takes a lot of work. It requires acquiring the knowledge of how to do it right, the ability to imagine the value of a restored product and the patience to keep at it.

There is a similarity between houses that need restoration and people that need redemption. What was created to be beautiful decays over time without careful maintenance. It was not always that way.

When God first created man, conditions were ideal. Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s company. They walked and talked with Him freely in the Garden.

Then, because of sin, everything changed. People began to age and die. Sin created a gap between God and man that could only be bridged by the sacrificial substitutionary death of God’s Son. He died in our place to do what we could not do for ourselves – restore us to a relationship with God.

 …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a NIV).

If God is to be glorified in His children, continual maintenance is necessary. We must use the tools He has provided – His Word, fellowship, corporate worship, prayer – in order to be what He intends us to be.

Satan tries to make it as difficult as he can by distracting us. He wants us to believe we do not need restoration. Don’t be like Eve and believe his lies. Living the Christian life takes work, but it is God who does the work for us.

Our role in the redemption and restoration process is trusting God. He knows how to do it right. Only He can see our real value. He is forever patient with us as we struggle with anything that needs to be repaired. He is in the business of redeeming and restoring mankind.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Psalm 51:12 NIV).