Archive for August, 2011

The Eternal Dwelling of Great Finishers

August 31, 2011

During this month, we began with the Apostle Paul exploring the lives of Great Finishers. To reiterate what I stated almost a month ago, I hope that we saw how we could become great finishers resulting in us winning the crown that last forever and cementing our legacy. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul challenged us to run the race in such a way as not to be disqualified for the prize. In The Departure of a Great Finisher, we saw Paul facing the reality that his end was near. He declared that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 1:1-14; 4:1-8

For those of us who have been given the privilege of possessing faith in Jesus Christ, possessing the crown of righteousness is our greatest desire, but it only leads to the greatest reward. In Revelation 21:1-7, Paul again reveals the true reward of every believer in Christ Jesus. Let peer into what God tells us through Paul in Revelation 21:

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”… “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

They true prize is not that we are awarded a crown of righteousness for that only affords us the opportunity to experience the true prize or reward. This statement captures the true prize. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” We will live with God and God will live with us. We will actually be in the very presence of God without any death which is what was alluded to in the verses in Revelation 21 above. Those who endure to the end have the privilege of personally experiencing God for themselves. I will not even begin to attempt to explain what this is like because the Word says  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:8 crf Is 64:4)

Despite that, Paul gives us a glimpse of how good it will be in the presence of God. Did you notice that there will be no sea. The first thing that I thought about when I read that was that much of the water cycle is dictated by the sea. I asked where would water come from. Again, God says, “To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Once more, I am not sure how it will work exactly, but I am sure it will work because God is faithful and true. He keeps His Word.

If you want an eternal dwelling with God, you must do like all Great Finishers and trust wholeheartedly in God following what He has decreed until you will be his son and he will be your God.

Let me hear from you if you really enjoyed this faith-filled series.

 


The Departure of a Great Finisher

August 30, 2011

It should not surprise you that I have held Paul up as the greatest Finisher next to Jesus Christ. We may not agree in the pecking order, but that is not the point. The point is what can we learn from one whom God has placed in His Holy Word. If we want to finish, we need to look at a finisher. In 2 Timothy 1:1-14; 4:1-8, we see that Paul recognizes that his time on earth is nearly over.  Hear his charge to Timothy

13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

He told Timothy what to do and how to do it. As fellow believers, we have the same instructions at Timothy. Through the Word of the Lord, we have heard from Paul, so we must keep those things in faith and love in Christ Jesus too. We must guard the good deposit as well.

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul again charges Timothy on what he should do but in greater detail. After telling Timothy, Paul gives commentary on how life will end for those who follow his pattern of service to the Lord.

6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Paul says that he as fought the good fight – of faith that is living this life trusting in Jesus Christ. Paul says that he has finished the race – living his life in commitment to Christ to the end. Paul says that he has kept the faith – fully being devoted to the triune God through what he thought, said and did. All of his being was devoted to God. Are we there yet? No, we, like Timothy at that time, have not reached our finish line. If you are reading this today or some time after July 30, 2011, then God expects you to continue to fight the good fight, keep the faith and run the race set before you. We aren’t able to fully understand the significance of this charge. We will be shocked at the depth of what God has called us to be included with Him to do. This life is an elephant. Let’s give it our all, consuming it one bit at a time.

 

The Mind of the Greatest Finisher

August 29, 2011

The month is nearly over. We have talked a great deal about Great Finishers. We have highlighted individuals that comprise the Hall of Fame Finishers as well other attributes. As we come to an end of our study of Great Finishers, I wanted to encourage us on how to finish. For that, we take a look at the two greatest finishers in all creation Jesus and Paul. Paul is giving the Philippians and us the recipe to be a Great Finisher. Let’s see what Paul tells the Philippians in Philippians 2.

1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Paul is drawing on the Philippians’ affinity with Christ to point them in the right direction. Paul gives us the key to become a Great Finisher. The essential quality to becoming a Great Finisher is to be like-minded being one in spirit and purpose. The model that Paul uses is Jesus. Jesus, who was one in Spirit with the Father and one in purpose with the Father, is truly our example. Paul juxtaposes humility and selfishness. According to Paul, the epitome of humility is Jesus. Let’s see why.

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

I don’t want to over simplify these matters, but for the sake of brevity, here is what Paul said. Jesus who is God was so humble that he became man and subjected Himself to that which He created to save man from the wrath of God due to man’s sin. That is a mouth full. Theologically, that is so complex. I must trust that the Holy Spirit will work with your heart to help you, no, us truly understand what Jesus did. It is akin to having all the slave owners in America reverse roles with the slaves. The owner would become a slave to help a slave become free. It’s akin to the banks receiving a bail-out and turning around and bailing-0ut all persons who were indebted to them effectively canceling their debts. The banks would have taken on all the debt and paid those debts itself. Yea, we see how that’s going. You are beginning to be charged to use your debit card.

Christ’s mindset is the polar opposite of that of man. Man seeks to gain for himself at the expense of others – selfishness. Christ seeks to have us gain at His expense – selflessness. Christ gave up much as listed in the text to save man. If we want to be a Great Finisher, we must become selfless rather than selfish. In order to do that, we must humble ourselves just as Christ did. We must have the same mind of Christ who in humility gave. Look to benefit someone today at your expense.

Gospel Finishers II

August 28, 2011

In Gospel Finishers, we saw Timothy and Epaphroditus honored by God as He had Paul to highlight them in the Word. While those men are somewhat iconic in biblical terms, I wanted to show us that we, just ordinary people, could also be honored by God because of our faith in Him and service to the gospel. In our text today, God honors a local church in Thessalonica which is modern-day Greece. While no specific names are mentioned in honoring this body of believers, God through Paul, Silas and Timothy highlights this body for its faith in God and its work for the gospel.

Our text today is 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. Let’s hear the encouragement and highlighting of their faith.

3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere…They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us “13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” In verse three above, we see the Thessalonians being lauded by the Father for having all three of the foundational evidences of salvation. Paul goes on to provide further evidence of their faith in the gospel. Paul states that the Thessalonians imitated him, Silas and Timothy who brought them the gospel. It was Paul, Silas and Timothy who shared that Jesus Christ offered forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God (Acts 17:1-13). Paul is recapping that from that point forward they demonstrated faith in Christ despite the opposition they faced in turn from a false faith to true faith in Jehovah through Jesus Christ. The last evidence Paul presents is the impact of their faith. Others not only heard about the Thessalonians’ faith, but they also became examples of Great Finishers.

If Paul or Jesus had to write a letter to us today, would others be encouraged about what either had to say about our response to the gospel? Would there be people lined up giving testimony of how we encouraged them to follow Christ? Would they have poignant examples of our faith, hope and love? If not, God has given us today to work on our witness of Him or our service to the gospel. Let’s be Gospel Finishers.

 

 

Gospel Finishers

August 26, 2011

All month-long we have been exploring Great Finishers. Today is no different, but we will hear about two men of God who gave their lives in faith for the furtherance of the gospel. In the eyes of God, we know that these two men were esteemed. How do we know that they were esteemed by God? We know this because God, in several places, directed His men who penned the Word to mention them in honoring and flattering ways to God and to their relation to God. Who are these men? Timothy and Epaphroditus.

In Philippians 2:19-30, the Apostle Paul rattles off honoring statements about these men for their help in furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that Great Finishers are those who in faith follow the will of God completing the Work of God as He outlined. Remember, faith in the LORD God and what He has said while demonstrating that in our action is the essence of a Great Finisher. This is what Paul is lauding Timothy and Epaphroditus for in our text for today. Of Timothy, listen to what Paul had to say about the demonstration of Timothy’s faith.

20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.

In essence, Paul says that he does not have another serving with him like Timothy who does not look out for himself, but Timothy serves the interest of Jesus Christ more than his own interest or that of another.  What a great honor to be stated about you. What would Jesus say about our self-serving quotient? Would our service to self far exceed our service to God? Would Jesus say that you put my interests in front of yours? I am not sure about you, but I know my service pales in comparison to that which is said of Timothy.

In regards to Epaphroditus, he was lauded for standing in the gap for the Philippians. He came to aid Paul on their behalf and almost died from some illness that he certainly would not have gotten had he not come to Paul’s aid. Listen to what Paul says about Epaphroditus’ service for the gospel.

29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.

Paul is telling the Philippians to throw out the red carpet for this man when he returns because he was willing to pay the ultimate cost for service for the gospel. He tells them to honor him and men like him. Who are we honoring for his/her selfless service for the gospel? Who have you we given ourselves to in aid of the gospel?

The ultimate cost for the gospel is your life – whether in daily dying as Timothy did in serving the interest of Christ over his own interest or in physical death as Epaphroditus almost surrendered in his aid of Paul on behalf of those in his church body, the Philippians. God will ask us all if we have been Gospel Finishers. It is not as though he does not know, but it will be for our sake either for joy or for shame that He will ask. Let’s get it together.

The Foolishness of a Great Finisher

August 24, 2011

All month Great Finishers has been the topic de jour.  As we are headed to the end of the month this time next week, I just wanted to recap quickly. A Great Finisher is one who knows that only eternal things of substance are the Word of God and the souls of man. Consequently, he pursues the eternal rather than the temporal. Any one who follows the commands of Jehovah is considered Great Finisher.

All month a Great Finisher has been highlighted. I must admit that people like Noah, Abram, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah seemed foolish to their contemporaries for trusting in God. What God seemed to be selling was foolish to them, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 Corinthians also tells us “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”1 Corinthians 1:21  To the world, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

Hence, we have The Foolishness of a Great Finisher. It seems foolish to trust God. Trust me. I could give you many a situation that evidence that in my life, but I will only give you a couple. First, there was the time I believed God was telling me get an apartment with two guys, Danny and Stanley, from the football team in college. Mind you now, I had already secured a place to stay with other friends that would cost me a mere $60 a month for the two months of summer school. The felt the Spirit tugging at me to get an apartment with two guys who did not have their part of the deposit. Ones whom I would have to front that money to which was my money for summer school, so I could graduate in December. That seemed foolish to me, but I did it because I believed God. Yes, the obvious happened. They returned ready to move in but not one of them had their share of the deposit. Oh, I told that Lord,”I had a place to stay, but no, you wanted me to reach out to these guys for the sake of the gospel. Look what it has cost me. Now, I don’t have money for summer school.” God was cool. He did not say anything. While I continued on my late-night walk talking to him, I ran into (really) one of my best friends, Dennis. Dennis and I had played ball together too, but he had finished as he was a year ahead of me. He too was exclaiming how broke he was. He heard my story. As we made our way back to his room, Dennis told me that he would give me the $400. I asked him how could he since he was broke like me. He replied that the Spirit, this is the same Spirit who told me to pay for that apartment, told him to give me the money. He said that he had received some scholarship money that was a surplus since he had enough from another source to pay for his classes. Dennis said that the Spirit told him that the people who gave that money intended for it to be used for school not for him to pocket. In 1989, $400 was a good amount of money. Shucks, if your pockets are like mine now, $400 is still a good sum of money.

I was blown away. God did not say anything to me when I was on my walk crying out to Him for the seemingly foolish decision to follow Him. That was one of many decisions that appeared to be foolish in trusting God. I can tell you that every time I trust God to be or do what He said He will do I am rewarded. My faith is in the triune God is affirmed. Among the many, I have two very poignant situations where my actions were not admirable but sinful. In this situation, I had done wrong. I deserved the consequences of my sin. Ephesians 2:3-5 “3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature  and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” That is exactly what God did for me.  He was rich in mercy. Here is the situation. I had a finance class where I was ill-prepared for the first of two test. I felt desperate, so I wavered in faith. I cheated on the exam, but the Spirit again was waging war with that sin in my life. He told me to tell the professor that I cheated. I said to God, “I can get kicked out of school.” God simply said,”tell the truth and deal with whatever consequences.” God gave me the strength to seemingly betray myself by telling the professor. Much to my surprise, the professor did not turn me into the Dean’s office. He gave me another chance. I was floored. What seemed foolish turned out to be another blessing for me.

In each of the cases presented, it appeared foolish to trust God and do what He said, but that is the point. God is about building our faith. Our faith is only built in foolish situations, so be foolish today.

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Finishing in the Face of Opposition

August 23, 2011

According to Dictionary.com, opposition is defined as

1. the action of opposing, resisting, or combating.
2. antagonism or hostility.
3. a person or group of people opposing, criticizing, or protesting something, someone, or another group.
4. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) the major political party opposed to the party in power and seeking to replace it.
5. the act of placing opposite, or the state or position of being placed opposite.

Generally speaking, I am sure that most of us would accept that opposition means that something or someone is going against us, opposing us. Without doubt, we all will face opposition in our lives. It is not a question of if but when. How do Great Finishers cope in the face of opposition? By now, I hope that we know that Great Finishers rely on the Father above rather than in their own power or strength. Great Finishers stand in faith the Jehovah, the one true God.

In Acts 6:8-7:60, we see another example of a Great Finisher: Stephen. If you recall, Stephen was chosen by the disciples to help mediate some disputes that arose among believers. This is what the Word tells us about Stephen: “5 Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, 8 Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however,” Like all Great Finishers, Stephen faced opposition. Why? Verse 8 reveals it to us. Stephen “did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people”. I should know this. We should know this. What? We will face opposition when God chooses to use us in a mighty way for His glory. Stephen became a threat to the position and power that those rulers. When they confronted Stephen, he gave them a history lesson outlining Great Finishers like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and finally Jesus. The pivotal verse in chapter 7 is verse 9 which says “9 “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him” It is ironic that the ruling powers within the Jews were called the Synagogue of the Freedmen. Had they truly been free, they would not have had a problem with Stephen. They were bound to attempting to remain in power despite that evidence that Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit revealing that God was with him.

Likewise in Acts 10, Peter said, “37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen…43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

We can stand, even face death, when God is with us. Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Stephen all are heralded by God as being Great Finishers because they relied on God through faith. Listen to how the Word describes Stephen up to the point of death. “59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.” This is how we finish in the face of opposition – full of the Spirit communing with God forgiving those who oppose us.

The Finishing Sufferer

August 22, 2011

Suffering is a universal experience. If one would like to see suffering, one just has to look around or at the news to find real examples of people suffering. While it is universal, no one likes to experience suffering. It hurts! We avoid suffering at all costs. We go to great lengths not to suffer.

In 1 Peter 4:12-19, Peter conveys to us that there are two types of suffering: for Commissions or for Christ. The former relates to any negative, harmful or hurtful experience that is a result of some act on our part. For the latter, for Christ, Peter says that the believer should rejoice and be grateful for suffering harm for the name of Christ. Read it below:

 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

The Finishing Sufferer experiences hardships or trials because he/she has been identified, linked or associated with Jesus Christ. The persecutor is at odds with Christ; therefore, the persecutor will do what he can to inflict harm upon you. In reality, we see very little of that in America. In the persecuted church, that is hardly true. People loose limbs and lives for the cause of Christ. They live in constant infamy because the persecutor does not approve of Christ. It’s easy for us to say they should not be ashamed or give praise because we are not in it. Let our air conditioner go out at church; we act as if our lives are threatened. We contemplate whether we should leave if we have made it or whether we should go if we have not left.

The Finishing Sufferer understands that the trials he/she endures is for a short period of time. This kingdom perspective is tightly held 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – “16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The Finishing Sufferer has the ability to look beyond the moment, the temporary, to see what God has promised, the eternal. This is truly the distinction for any Great Finishers. The perspective of the temporal versus the eternal. When hardships of following Christ befall the Great Finisher, he/she realizes that those circumstances are necessary to establish an eternal glory. This is the development of the Acts of Faith (AOF) in which the Father will commend the believer when He has the believer stand before Him.

If you want to be a Great Finisher, you must maintain or begin to see the eternal rather than the temporal. Try it today. Ask the Father to help you see through difficult circumstances to the eternal purpose especially ones that are not the result of your sin.

Some Heroine Finishers

August 21, 2011

Our text today is Matthew 28. It serves as the backdrop revealing how some women were Great Finishers in contrast to some men even the disciples. I know from my own wife that her level of commitment far exceeds mine. When she commits it is really evident whether that is to me, anyone or anything else. She will go to great lengths to honor her commitment. My wife along with the primary woman in the text today are Some Heroine Finishers.

from Today in the Word
When giving testimony in a court of law, women were not considered credible witnesses in ancient times, including the period of the Gospels. Thus it is interesting that we find the Gospel writers repeatedly referring to the accounts and activities of women during the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. (If the Gospel writers were fabricating these details, surely they would have chosen more “reliable” witnesses.) In fact, Matthew says that “many women” were onlookers at the crucifixion—a number in stark contrast to the disciples (Matt. 27:55)! These women followed Jesus throughout His suffering, even to His death, which evidences the kind of faithfulness Jesus spoke of in Luke 9:23-27. Today we’ll look at one of these faithful women—Mary Magdalene—who answered Christ’s call to follow Him to the cross and who became one of the first witnesses of His resurrection.

Luke 8:2 informs us that Jesus rescued Mary Magdalene from seven demons, and she was among a cohort of women who followed Jesus and served Him during His ministry. In our text, Mary Magdalene is contrasted with the guards, who also saw the angel, experienced fear, and left the tomb. The women bear witness to the truth that Christ had risen (vv. 6-7), but the guards give a false report (vv. 11-15). We should be careful readers here to note the irony: God often uses those considered unreliable or unworthy to bear His message and do His work.

Mary Magdalene demonstrated passionate faith as she hurried to share the news of the risen Christ. Her faith was further strengthened when she encountered the risen Lord and worshiped Him. Here again the women are contrasted with the male disciples, some of whom doubted when they first saw the resurrected Christ.

Women like Mary Magdalene were crucial to the testimony of the gospel after the resurrection of Jesus; women were also instrumental in the early church (cf. Rom. 16:1-15); and women of great faith continue to serve God’s purposes today.If you would like to read more about faithful women of God, you will find Elizabeth Elliot’s book, A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, both inspiring and challenging. Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) gave her life to Christ to rescue young women from forced prostitution and suffering in India. When asked what it is like to be a missionary, Amy replied, “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.” She was indeed a faithful witness to Christ’s resurrection life through her cross-cultural and self-sacrificial life.

Prayers for Finishers II

August 19, 2011

In the post Prayers for Finishers, I submitted that it was impossible for us to fail to finish the walk of faith in Jehovah, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, His Son. That is true for everyone who truly trusts in Christ as Savior and Lord.  I don’t want us to miss this, so I am submitting what Jesus told the disciples again. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Brothers and sisters in the Lord, we will fall, but we will not fail. In our failings, we are reminded how much we need the Savior, Jesus. How many of us thought the wrong thing yesterday, heck this morning? How many of us said the wrong thing? How many of us did the wrong thing yesterday? Answer: all of us. It is refreshing to be forgiven and to receive peace with God afresh after we have confessed our sins. Hear what Paul said in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Christ’s provides righteousness for us. Through Christ, we are made right with God and for God. This is why Jesus told Peter “and when you have turned back (to the way, to Him), strengthen your brothers.” God wants to use our failures as sources of strength to other believers who have fallen. When people see us back in the saddle, they realize, after falling off their mount, that they too can get back in the saddle of faith in Jesus Christ.

Saints, I am not sure if I am really conveying the privilege we have to be forgiven of our sins. We continually are made right with God through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Since we are made right, we are useful to God in the Kingdom and the peace we experience is invaluable. Jesus makes us right with God for God. Titus 2:14 says Jesus, “14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” What is good is to trust in God to live for God bringing glory to Him as a result of our forgiveness and faith.

Listen to the song, How Deep the Father’s Love For Us, by Stuart Townend

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
(REPEAT)