When You Really Mess Up…

Have you ever really messed up? I mean a colossal fail that there seems to be no way to recover from?

Peter did.

Epic fail.

So much had happened in a few short hours.

He was eating the Passover feast with Jesus and the other disciples when Jesus started talking about  someone betraying Him. His exact words were, “But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table…woe to that man who betrays him.” Luke 22: 21-22 NIV

Immediately they started discussing amongst themselves who it could be and before long they were arguing about who was the greatest among them. It was a silly debate but they had all been together a long time and Jesus was talking about leaving them. There was tension in the room and they all just got into it. They didn’t mean anything by it but it made the tension thicker.

Jesus stepped in and tried to tone down the argument and then He turned to Peter. “Simon, Simon,” Jesus said, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 NIV. Peter was confused. Why would his faith fail? He was one of the disciples closest to Jesus. He wouldn’t fail Him. Before Peter had a chance to ask any questions they were leaving.

They went out to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed. Peter had seen Jesus pray a lot of times but never with this intensity. Jesus seemed troubled. He had asked them to pray with Him but they all fell asleep. When Jesus woke them he told them, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22: 46b NIV.  Peter was confused again. How could they fall into temptation when Jesus was there with them?

There was no time for questions. A crowd approached, led by Judas. As Judas kissed Him Jesus was immediately seized and led away to the house of the high priest. Peter followed, at first keeping his distance but then made his way into the courtyard where there was a fire going. It was still very early in the morning and a chill was in the air.

All around him conversation centered on Jesus, who He was and what might happen to Him. Although Jesus was further away they could see Him standing there, bound, waiting for the priest. Fear began to overtake Peter and he hoped he wasn’t recognized. They might arrest him too for no reason. After all, Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong. Suddenly Peter heard a voice – “hey, you” said a young woman, “you were with that Jesus!” Peter denied it and tried to casually walk away when others recognized him too. “You were with Him – you’re a Galilean.” and “You are one of His followers”. He denied each comment – even saying he didn’t know Jesus.

Loud

As he objected that third time a rooster crowed and Peter came to his senses. What had he just said? He denied His best friend and Savior. He looked up just in time to see Jesus turn and look straight at Him. That look pierced Peter to the core and he turned and ran out of that courtyard. He didn’t know where he would go, for it was impossible to run from himself.

Now he understood. Jesus had told Peter he would be sifted – tested by Satan. But Jesus had also said He had prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. And it had. How could something Jesus prayed for not come true? Peter was despondent.

He wasn’t able to speak with Jesus again for as the day progressed Jesus was tried, accused and crucified. The Sabbath wasn’t very restful for Peter. He couldn’t get past what he had done and it appeared he would not be able to ask forgiveness either. After a long, troubling day Peter finally fell into a fitful sleep. He kept seeing the guards and hearing that rooster crow.

Peter awoke to the shouts of the women – He’s gone! Jesus body is gone! An angel says He’s alive!

Peter was the first one out the door and headed towards the tomb. John beat him there but Peter saw for himself the cloths Jesus had been wrapped in laying haphazardly on the slab where the body laid. But the cloth used for Jesus’ head was folded neatly and placed in a separate place – like it was intentional. It didn’t make sense. Could Jesus be alive? Is that what He had been trying to tell them all this time? And if He was alive, what did it mean for Peter. Could things ever be the same?

They gathered in an upper room, all but Thomas, trying to sort out what they had seen and what the women had been told. The doors were locked – they were all still afraid – when suddenly Jesus was there with them. He greeted them with “Peace be with you”, showed them His hands and feet that still had the nail marks in them. Jesus was alive! Then as quickly as He appeared, Jesus was gone again. Peter was overjoyed, but still uncertain about how Jesus would feel towards him.

It took a week before Peter had the chance to find out. They had been fishing when Jesus appeared on the shore. They knew it was Him because they hadn’t caught anything all night and were ready to come ashore when He told them to put the net out again. When they did it was immediately filled with so many fish they could hardly pull it in! Peter jumped out of the boat and got to shore before the others. Oh to be with Jesus again! To talk with Him and ask forgiveness for what he had done. Peter couldn’t wait.

After they ate Peter finally had his chance. Jesus took him aside and they talked. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Jesus more than all the others. This gave Peter three chances to take back what he had said. He was forgiven. Jesus charged Peter with caring for the people – Jesus’ lambs and in the years to come Peter didn’t let Him down. After all that had happened Jesus used Peter in mighty and powerful ways. People were healed, demons were driven out, and many came to believe in Jesus as their Savior all through the power of the Holy Spirit through Peter.

Peter was just an ordinary man, like you and me in many ways. He learned that while he let Jesus down he did not ultimately fail Him. He made a big mistake, but through repentance Peter was restored and used to further the kingdom of God.

If you feel you’ve let God down and failed in a way that can’t be repaired remember Peter’s story. The same can be true for you if you repent, turn back to the Lord, and promise to feed His lambs.

blessings and peace to you,
Paula

Walking Out Of The Grave

jesus_hands

Sunday, April 5th

Walking Out of the Grave
HE IS RISEN!!

Matthew 28:1-8

“He is not here; He has risen,
just as He said…” Matthew 28:6a

Sabbath was over and the women just had one thing on their minds. They must prepare Jesus’ body for a proper burial. They left quietly as the men had finally fallen asleep after hours of discussion, debate and devastating sadness over the loss of their leader and friend. The women were also mourning but right now they had to set their grief aside for this important task.

They walked to the grave carrying spices and discussing how they would gain access to the body. A huge stone had been rolled in front of the entrance and sealed with the Roman seal. Even if they could get past the stone, breaking that seal would mean certain death for the women.

As dawn broke and they reached the tomb they stopped in amazement. The tomb stood wide open, seal broken and stone rolled away. Frightened and concerned that someone had taken Jesus’ body the women rushed ahead and found an astonishing sight inside the tomb.

Jesus body was gone!

Before the women could process the thought they noticed there was someone there.

Two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them the men said to them, Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

Then they remembered his words.     Luke 24:4-8

 

And they believed!!

The women didn’t stop to ask questions or wonder where Jesus was. They ran back, woke the men and told them the good news!!

 

Jesus is Alive!!

Jesus is Alive!!

 

The men followed the women back to the tomb and saw for themselves that Jesus’ body was gone, but the cloths He had been wrapped in for burial remained.

 

Their sadness turned to wonder and hope that Jesus was truly alive!

 

A short time later Jesus appeared to His friends, confirming the truth that He had walked out of the grave and conquered death. I pray that this Easter you will allow Jesus to walk into your heart. Whether for the first time or as a renewal of your faith I pray you will know the hope of His gift for us on the cross and allow Him to bring you the joy of His resurrection not only today but every day of the year.

 

 

 

Prayer

My Savior and my God!! You walked out of the grave and beat death so that I can walk into Heaven with you someday. My hope and joy is renewed on this Easter day each year as I celebrate with others this incredible gift.

 

Lord, this year may the joy and hope not end with the celebration of this day. As Spring turns to Summer and days turn into weeks and months help me to keep the gift of your resurrection in the forefront of my mind. Help me to remember that each day is a gift give to me because of Your life on earth, death on the cross, and Your walk out of the tomb.

 

And may my joy and hope be contagious, bringing others closer to You.

 

Walking In The Sadness

jesus-sealed-tomb

Sabbath, April 4th

Walking In The Sadness ~ Would I Have Believed?
John 20: 24-29

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29


“It is finished.”

They were the final words Jesus spoke on the cross.

Then He died.

Jesus was gone.

All those years spent with His disciples teaching, healing, loving, and helping them to know God in a way they never had before were just a memory now.

Jesus was dead and the Sabbath came so quickly they couldn’t give Him a proper burial. Today was supposed to be a day of rest and worship but all the disciples could do was cling to each other and try to understand what had just taken place.

Together they wept and mourned for the One who was their teacher, their Leader…and their friend. For years Jesus had talked about Heaven and His Father, and even about being betrayed and dying but the disciples never quite understood. He even said He would defeat death and would give eternal life to all who believed in Him and His Father.

Still, it never quite made sense.

Now some of it was sinking in but the sadness was so strong that hope was elusive. What did Jesus say about defeating death? He did talk about dying and being raised to life. (Matthew 16:21) In fact, just the other day before they entered Jerusalem He took the disciples aside and said it again:

“The son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Mark 10:33-34

Still it was confusing. Did Jesus mean he would come back to earth or that he would rise again in Heaven with His Father? How could they know for sure?

It must have been almost too much to process.

And I have to ask myself, “Would I Have Believed?”

Would I have expected Jesus to come back from the dead?

It’s so easy to be critical of the disciples and their disbelief when we read about the events of Holy Week. After all through the years they had spent with Jesus He kept telling them these things! Why did they mourn instead of standing strong and telling others to wait & see, Jesus would not stay dead?

Honestly I’m not so sure my Sabbath would have been any different. The reality of what I had seen would probably have overridden any truth I had heard from Jesus. The emotions would have been strong and sadness oppressive.

The truth is that even today with all the knowledge I have about Jesus and the power available to me through the Holy Spirit still I often don’t believe. Sometimes I weep and mourn over what I believe has been lost without allowing God the opportunity to resurrect it in His time.

Would you have believed? When you face losses do you weep and mourn or anticipate a resurrection to come? God can do anything, if we only believe.

 

Prayer

Lord, I know how it all turns out. I know You conquered death and walked out of the grave. But I might not have believed on that Sabbath in the midst of my grief. And like the disciples it can sometimes be hard to believe You can bring good out of seemingly impossible situations in my life.

Continue to increase my faith and remind me of Your power to conquer situations that seem impossible to me. And Lord, as my faith increases please help me to help hold others up when their faith is weak.

The Long Walk To The Cross

trail
Friday, April 3rd

The Long Walk to the Cross
Matthew 27: 27-56

“Surely He was the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:54b

We call it Good Friday, but there was very little good that happened that day. Jesus started His week entering Jerusalem to shouts of praise and “Hosanna to the King!”. Now he stood bruised and beaten before a judge, awaiting His sentence of death.

None of this was a surprise to Jesus as it was the ultimate purpose in coming to earth. But knowing the purpose didn’t make it easy or less painful. Remember Jesus was fully & completely man. He was as human as you and me.

He felt every time the whip hit His skin and broke it open. The air stung his wounds but they didn’t stop. Over and over he was lashed. Jesus felt the thorns press into His scalp, burying themselves into His skin for the duration of the day. He felt each fist that struck His face but He never showed anger towards His enemies. He stood there and took it.

The mocking of the soldiers hurt too. While Jesus had the love of God and knew that the words weren’t true they still had an impact. Perhaps the worst pain of all was watching each of His disciples flee from those who arrested Him, fearing the same fate for themselves. And then Peter. The one who just the day before had declared his allegiance to Jesus had denied that he knew Him three times.

When I think of the physical pain Jesus went through I am so grateful He went through with it all. He didn’t have to, you know.

Then there was the long walk up the hill towards the place He would die. Think of the pictures and films you’ve seen of Jesus carrying, or perhaps dragging the cross to Golgotha. That cross, likely weighing over 100 pounds, pressed down on an already weakened Christ as He moved toward His last hours. At the top of the hill Jesus stopped walking and allowed nails to be driven into Him and be hung on that same cross He carried.

Jesus walked that road for you and for me.

At any time Jesus could have called an end to all of this. He was taunted and teased to save Himself and come down off the cross. What His mockers didn’t realize that Jesus could have. At any moment He could have proven He is God and didn’t have to hang there.

But He didn’t.

When Jesus Christ called out from the cross “It is finished!” He was speaking of death’s curse over the earth. The curse of death came when Adam and Eve chose to sin. From that moment on we were separated from God’s perfection by sin. Jesus came and lived without sin, then allowed Himself to be killed as the final sacrifice for each of us.

This is the GOOD that came from Good Friday!! Any man, woman or child who believes Jesus is the Christ and accepts Him as Leader of his or her life will also conquer death and will live forever in a perfect Heaven.

I am so grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for you and for me.

I pray that if you don’t understand this sacrifice and the free gift of Salvation you will seek out someone who can answer your questions and help you receive it for yourself. It will be the greatest Easter you’ve ever experienced!

 

Prayer

Oh Jesus, how could You have made that long walk to Your death? You were weak from beatings, weary from mocking, and weighed down by both the cross You carried and the sins of every person who ever lived or will live.

I am humbled and so grateful You made the choice to endure this for me. Thank you hardly seems like enough.

Lord, please never let me forget the price You paid and the pain You endured to save me from eternal death. I can never fully comprehend and thank You seems like hardly enough.

But it’s all I have to offer. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for the price You paid. Thank You for loving me more than I can comprehend.

 

Betrayed, Arrested, Disowned

Thursday, April 2nd

Betrayed, Arrested, Disowned
Mark 14:43-50

“The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.”

In amongst the blessings of life we all have times when things don’t go our way. We face sickness, pain, loss of jobs, days when dreams don’t come true or someone didn’t come through the way we thought they would.

All of this is part of living in a sinful world filled with imperfect people. And we learn to cope with it. But have you ever been betrayed by someone you love? Have you ever had a time when someone you thought would stick by you pretended they didn’t know you? This goes beyond disappointment. It’s enough to plunge someone into despair.

When Jesus finished praying in the Garden of Gethsemane He walked directly into confrontation. He faced a group of His enemies…and one of His closest friends. The kiss Judas greeted Jesus with was not a kiss of affection. It was a kiss of betrayal intended to identify Jesus to those who wanted to take His life.

Jesus was bound as He walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane, led off to be judged. His friends followed at a distance or I imagine some of them slipped away as not to be taken captive themselves. Either way they didn’t stand at Jesus’ side to plead His case to the man who would judge Him.

We don’t know why Judas agreed to betray Jesus, but we do know that he did it for a few pieces of silver. And we know Judas was so ashamed of what he did, sure he could never be forgiven that he took his own life.

As Jesus walked into the temple to be judged Peter followed. I believe in His heart Peter wanted to protect Jesus and defend Him but I also think he was scared.

Whatever the reason, when asked if he knew Jesus Peter denied that he did. He was pressed by someone who saw him with Jesus and still he denied that he did. Three times Peter denied that he had anything to do with Jesus and he never had a chance to make it right before Jesus died.

Have you ever said something and then wished you could take it back? Perhaps you have treated a friend badly or had a fight with your family, then parted before being able to make it right. It is a terrible feeling.

The good news for Peter was that after Jesus rose from the dead He gave Peter an opportunity to redeem himself. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Jesus. Three times Peter said that he did. And all three times Jesus told Peter to go and take care of others, helping them to know Jesus as Peter himself did. Peter didn’t let Jesus down again.

This same opportunity is available to you and me. No matter what we do, when we genuinely confess and repent to Jesus we will be forgiven. It may take time to repair the damage done to earthly relationships but there is hope for those as well.

 

The same gift of forgiveness and restoration offered and granted to Peter is there for us too. We only need to ask.

 

Prayer

Lord, it can be so easy to judge Peter for turning his back on You when the pressure was on and at the same time so easy to forget that I have most likely done it too. Perhaps it wasn’t a blatant declaration that I didn’t know you but rather keeping quiet in a conversation instead of defending You. Or maybe it was taking credit when I should have given it to You.

Father, please forgive me for these times. Point them out to me so that I can be more aware and stand stronger next time. Thank You for Your gift of forgiveness and the certainty that while I may deny you through my words or actions You will always claim me as Your own and welcome me back with open arms over and over again.

Jesus Walks Towards Acceptance

Jesus Gethsemane

Wednesday, April 1st

Jesus Walks Towards Acceptance
Mark 11:12-19

“Yet not my will but Yours be done.”

After sharing that last supper with His disciples Jesus gave us such a beautiful yet heart wrenching picture of perseverance. Jesus knew He was about to be betrayed and executed. He had lived a perfect life. In all His interactions with those who opposed Him Jesus never sinned yet He would be ridiculed and hung on a cross to die the most painful death for all people who believe that He is Lord and Savior.

His heart must have been so heavy, yet He persevered.

As Jesus walked toward the Garden of Gethsemane he knew what the next few hours held. This was the ultimate reason He came to earth; to live a sinless life and then give up His life to stand in the place of each person who believed that He is the Son of God so that they may walk into His Father’s perfect Heaven someday.

While He had always known this time would come Jesus was human just like you and me. That evening He went to the garden to pray for God’s will. Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He didn’t receive an answer so He prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Jesus prayed a third time in the same manner, persevering for an answer from His Father for what He was facing.

Perhaps you’ve had a time when you knew you were headed into a potentially painful situation and you’ve prayed that God would miraculously change the situation, taking the responsibility away from you. When He didn’t you walked toward it, facing it because it was right regardless of how much it hurt.

The outcome of Jesus’ perseverance was not His deliverance from the coming ridicule and death. It was not what He desired but for Him glorifying God was more important than for Jesus to be comfortable.

Thankfully because Jesus persevered and completed the purpose for which His Father sent him to earth we reap countless blessings. Every year as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us we are reminded that if He had not persevered through His times of tribulation we would not have the gift of eternity in Heaven with Him.

Each one of us has challenges to work through and overcome. Maybe you think yours is not significant compared to tragedy in the world or the circumstances of those around you. Thank God He doesn’t measure things the way the world does. If something is significant to you it also matters to God.

Whatever you are facing as you read this I pray for your perseverance. Don’t give up – on yourself, a solution, and especially your faith that God will bring good out of your circumstances. As you persevere remember that through Jesus’ gift of salvation we can have the blessing of peace that passes all understanding.

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, what an example You gave us in persevering in prayer. You poured Your heart out to Your Father as a man – a fragile, broken and vulnerable man. Knowing what was ahead You still reached out and pleaded for God to find another way. In the end while paying the ultimate price You did so with the peace of knowing with certainty that it was your Father’s will.

As I meditate on this time you spent with your Father I am reminded that I give up far too quickly. I act like the victim sulking about my trials instead of bringing them to You boldly in faith, believing You can take them away if it is Your will and will give me the strength to persevere if it is not.

Lord, teach me to be bolder in prayer, not giving up until I have the peace of knowing You are with me no matter the challenge.

Walking Into Servanthood

Jesus wash feet

Tuesday, March 31st

Walking Into Servanthood
John 13:1-17

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”  Luke 18:14b

Jesus was a King. He was God living on earth yet He walked everywhere He went. He had no fancy carriage and no palace in which to sleep. Jesus and His disciples slept under the stars and ate whatever they could find. Yet they never went without. Jesus came to earth to demonstrate God’s love for all people by meeting them where they were.

Jesus welcomed children, fed the hungry, healed the sick and lame and loved everyone, no matter their occupation or the sins they had committed. He expected them (and us) to follow His example.

Perhaps one of the greatest acts of servanthood Jesus showed was at their Passover supper the night He was betrayed.

In John 13 we read that as the meal was being served Jesus got up from the meal and removed His outer clothing. He picked up a towel, tied it around His waist and poured water into a basin. Jesus then began to wash the feet of His disciples, drying them with the towel tied around his waist.

There is great significance in this.

First – We just discussed that Jesus and His disciples walked everywhere they went. If they wore shoes at all they were likely only a form of sandals designed to protect the bottom of their feet from rocks and other debris. They were held on by cloth or leather strips, barely covering the tops of their feet as they walked along the dusty roads. Their feet were constantly filthy. Only an individual themself or a servant would wash his or her feet.

Second – A king was dressed in robes and splendor. Jesus never did wear the kingly robes he deserved, and He removed the only robe He was wearing and replaced it with a towel tied around His waist just as a servant would have worn.

Third – Jesus did the unthinkable. He bent down to His disciples, kneeling before them to wash their feet. This posture of kneeling before someone was again what a servant would do to a master. Not a posture fit for a King.

Some of Jesus’s disciples argued with Him. Imagine if you had spent the day walking through a muddy field or down a dusty dirt road wearing open sandals. You arrive home to find someone famous whom you really admire waiting for you with a bowl of water and a towel ready to wash your feet. Would you be excited, or embarrassed? Most of us would want to run around to the back entrance, hop in the shower and clean up before this person could see us. It was the same way with the disciples.

The lesson Jesus was trying to get across is that it doesn’t matter what position you hold or how much money is in your bank account. It’s irrelevant how many Facebook friends you have or if you rub shoulders with influential people. The only thing that matters to God is how far you are willing to go to show love to others.

Jesus knelt before them and washed their feet.

Jesus allowed His enemies to mock Him, beat Him and whip Him until He could barely stand.

Then Jesus gave His life for His friends. That includes you and me.

 

If the creator of the world did all of this for us, is it too much for Him to ask us to humble ourselves before others?

 

I’m going to ponder this today…and hopefully put it into action.

 

Prayer

Jesus, you gave us such a beautiful example of loving others. Everywhere You went kindness and mercy flowed from You. Never were you too busy for someone in need and never were You too important for even the least of society. The desire of my heart is to replicate this way of life but I fail more than I succeed. Lord, today show me how I can be more like You. May Your kindness and humility show through me and if others ask about my actions may I lovingly and humbly point them to you.