Friday, October 11, 2013

I'm A Peter...Are You A Peter?

                I am a Peter. I have a tendency to speak before I think, act before I think, and react to situations that I should not. I find myself saying and doing things before going to the Lord and asking what He thinks I should do. I am a Peter, because I am impulsive. I always have been. I have a tendency to dive in head first and then ask the Lord what He thinks after I find myself swimming in the deep end. After discussing John 13 with the ladies from our bible study last evening, I see that I am not alone. Many of us find ourselves in the “I can do that” thought mode before we even talk to the Lord about it. Many of us find ourselves replying,
“Sure, I can do that” without ever going to the Lord and seeking His guidance. I was chastened last evening for my impulsiveness, because my impulsiveness shows that I have confidence in my flesh, and the Lord Jesus wants me to have confidence in Him instead.
                Jesus is telling His disciples that He is leaving them; He is going away and where He is going they cannot follow right now, but they will be able to follow later. Peter, being the impulsive, confident man that he is says, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” (John 13:37) Jesus tells Peter that he will deny even knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crows at the coming of dawn. Peter was probably taken aback by what Jesus tells him. To Peter, he was pretty sure that Jesus was God, that He was the Messiah, and Peter was determined to follow Him no matter what. But Jesus knew Peter’s heart, just as He knows mine and yours.
                When Peter tells the Lord that he will die for Him, Peter is not speaking out of his faith in Jesus, he is speaking out of his faith in himself. When I start thinking that I can do that, and I can do this, before going to the Lord and seeking His guidance, I too am being a Peter, and that means that I trust my abilities more than God’s abilities. Paul speaks to this as well in Philippians 3. Paul says that if anyone has the right to be confident in one’s abilities it is he.
                “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so; circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee, concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:5-6
           
 Paul had every reason to trust in his abilities, in his knowledge of the law, in his learning and upbringing. He was a “Hebrew of Hebrews” a leader among his people. Paul could trace his lineage all the way back to Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. He was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. Paul states that if anyone had a reason to be confident in one’s ability it was him. But Paul states in verse 7 that even though all these things made him great in the flesh, they were nothing to him now, because he understood that none of these things could give him the one thing he needed the most- Christ Jesus.
                Peter too speaks out of his confidence in his own abilities. To be confident in oneself means that we trust our abilities, our schooling, our learning, our lineage to get us to where we want and need to be. To be confident in oneself means that we trust our own self more than we trust God, it means that we rely on our own knowledge, rather than seeking the Father of all knowledge. When we trust in ourselves, we are telling God we don’t need Him for this part of our lives- we got it covered, because we know what we are doing.
                Just like Peter and Paul needed to be broken of their confidence, so we too must be broken. Peter was sincere in his faith, he was sincere in his devotion to die for Christ; and his only fault was that he wanted to do it for Christ, instead of letting Christ do it through him. The Lord brought both Peter and Paul to a place of brokenness. When Peter denied the Lord three times, he became a broken man. He saw that his ability to live and die for Christ came to nothing. Paul also knew that his ability to live for Christ was not in who he was, but it was through the power of the Holy Spirit living in him.
                Paul was broken on the way to Damascus. The Lord God spoke to Paul and blinded him. He took Paul to the ground, to a place of broken surrender and showed him that the only way to live for Him was through a broken and contrite spirit. Peter was heartbroken when he realized that he had denied Jesus, his Lord and Master. He had just told Jesus that He would go and die for Him, and in a few short hours he is telling people that he does not even know who this Jesus is.
                But it was that moment that God was able to work in the heart of Peter and show him that only through Jesus Christ can one be confident, and that the confidence that we have is not in our abilities but in the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter and Paul learned what true brokenness before the Lord was, and it was because of these moments in their lives that the Lord Jesus Christ was then able to put the pieces of their broken lives back together so that He could be the one living through them. It was Peter who, after being broken by the Lord, stood and preached the first gospel message and three thousand people gave their live to Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:41) It was through Peter’s brokenness, that the Lord God was able to begin the Church that we are now a part of.

                It was through the brokenness of Paul that the Lord Jesus Christ was able to bring the Gentiles, the non-Jewish believers to knowledge and salvation in Him. Peter and Paul were confident in their abilities. They were confident that they could do all things, but the Lord God does not want us to be confident in our abilities, He desires for us to be confident in His abilities. Psalm 118:8 tells us that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. The Lord God does not want us to have a can do attitude, what He wants is for us to be broken, to have no confidence in and of ourselves, but to bring all that we are, all that we have before Him and let Him live through us. I must be broken before I can be the woman God desires me to be. When I have confidence in my abilities, I cannot have trust in God.

                Let us be heartbroken today. Let us, like Peter and Paul let go of all the confidence we have in our abilities and turn to the Lord Jesus who is the author of ability and the Father of our lives. Let us turn away from our impulse and learn to go before the Lord in the spirit of humble submission, allowing Him to lead us and guide us as He desires. Let our confidence be in Christ and not in ourselves. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.