Putting God's Word into Practice…

Luke 22:31-34;54-62 Directions to Denial

(Jesus said to Peter) “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Satan has a lot of guts to make demands of God. But because God knows that trials and temptations strengthen our faith, He allowed Satan to steam roll Peter.

Peter had a lot of pride that needed to be humbled before God could use him the way He wanted to–as a preacher and leader of the first church. Peter was over-confident in his commitment to Jesus.  His response to Jesus’ proclamation and prayer was, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” To which Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” Jesus knew that Peter’s faith would be tested and that it would falter.  He also knew that Peter would be restored and that his experience would make him even more useful to the church.

So how did Peter move from confidence to denial?

  1. Forgetting.  Peter forgot the words and warnings of Christ.
  2. Following at a distance.  In verse 54, it says that Jesus was led away and “Peter was following at a distance.”  Our boldness and strength are found in the presence of Jesus.  When we keep Him at a distance, we will falter.
  3. Fitting in.  Peter sat down among the antagonists and got comfortable with them around the fire.
  4. Fear of man.  He lost his confidence when the fear of man took control of his tongue.

Thankfully the story doesn’t end there.  Jesus revealed Himself to Peter personally and Peter moved from denial to humility.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.  And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord…and he went out and wept bitterly.  No more forgetting; no more distance; no more fitting in; no more fear.  Now the chaff was being separated from the valuable seeds of Peter’s faith.  Seeds that can be planted and grow a harvest.  The sifting of Satan served to strengthen Peter and sanctioned him to strengthen others.

God is all-powerful and can use anything for His purposes–even our failures are redeemed in His hands!

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Deuteronomy 4:9-14 ~ Forgetting to Fear the Lord (Part 1)

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…Deuteronomy 4:9

Take care–watch out, pay attention, be heedful–is a very powerful two-word command.  It is given because what is about to be said is of utmost importance.  I use this phrase often when I am leaving my 15-year-old with my 10 month old.  There are a few directions I want him to follow, and if he isn’t paying careful attention, I can be sure I will get a text later saying, “I forgot. How many ounces was that bottle supposed to be?”

Keep your soul diligently.  Your soul–the very essence of your personhood, the root of your existence–is to be looked after diligently.  Keeping our soul diligently–thoroughly, earnestly, tirelessly, meticulously, zealously, rigorously, carefully–takes time, work, and commitment.  It is a job only we can do for ourselves.  And if we grow slack or weary, our soul will suffer.  This past spring I put together two lovely flower pots for our front porch.  For about the first month, I snipped off the spent buds, watered and fed them diligently.  Then we went on vacation.  They were left untended for nearly two weeks, and when I returned I kind of forgot about them.  Then the August heat had its usual effect.  Needless to say, the flowers died and the pots looked pitiful.  So it is with our view of God when we don’t tend our souls and remind ourselves often of His greatness, His provision, His protection, and His work in our lives.

Lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, lest your memories depart from your heart forever.  The Israelites had seen the glorious presence of the LORD light an entire mountain on fire.  They had heard His real, audible voice.  They had been delivered out of Egypt with great signs and wonders.  They had been victorious in battles against armies greater than their own.  They had seen food fall from heaven day-after-day, year-after-year.  They had seen their sandals last for 40 years and water gush forth from a rock–twice.  They had seen the salvation of the Lord, as a bronze pole was lifted up in the wilderness for them to look upon to be healed from venomous snake bites.  They had some serious memories to maintain and to pass on.

Make them known to your children and grandchildren.  The actions of God must be told from generation to generation.  It is how our children and grandchildren know that He is real, alive and near to His people.  My boys can read about World War II in their textbooks, and it is likely just words on a page.  But when we pass down the stories from my grandfather’s first hand experiences, the battles become real to them.  The victories are magnified and the heroes are glorified.

Why is all of this so important to God?  Because He wants us to fear Him–to have a proper view of Him.  He wants us to recognize His greatness and have respect and awe towards Him.  God wants us to realize His authority over our lives.  He wants us to know that He alone provides, protects and saves.  He wants us to know that He is bigger than our circumstances, our enemies, and our weaknesses.  And He doesn’t just want us to know–He wants our children and grandchildren to know too.

How can I show the next generation the greatness of my God?  What story can I tell today to keep the memory of His nearness alive in the hearts of those I love?  What have I seen God do with my own eyes?

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