Tag Archives: Sin

You Can Call Me Peter

Among Bible characters, I have often identified with Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. I can easily spend time in contemplation about God or spiritual matters, essentially sitting at the feet of Jesus, while the chores of the day go unnoticed.

I have also identified with the apostle John, who referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I know that Jesus loves me in the same way. Plus I love John’s gospel, epistles, and account of his vision in Revelation. I love the way he writes and his focus on the deity of Christ, and I identify with him because of my desire to do the same in my writing.

But this week I found myself identifying with a Bible character I never really identified with before. And that is the apostle Peter.

In Bible Study Fellowship we are studying the book of Matthew, and there is much about the character and behavior of Peter in that book. Last week we were studying Matthew 26. In that chapter, at the Last Supper, Jesus warns all the disciples that they will fall away that very night, and Peter fervently denies this, saying he will die with Jesus if he has to, even if all the others do fall away. Jesus then tells Peter he will deny Him three times before the rooster crows the next morning.

In the next scene, the little band of disciples is off to Gethsemane following their Master after a long day. In the garden, Jesus goes off to pray but brings Peter, John, and James with Him. He tells them to stand watch and pray, but all three fall asleep instead of praying. Jesus awakens them and again tells them to pray because “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Then He goes a little further to pray again His heartbreaking prayer that the cup of the Father’s wrath be taken from Him if it is possible. Jesus returns to the three to find them again sleeping and not praying.

In the next scene, Jesus has submitted to the Father’s will and awakens the disciples yet again to go and face His betrayer and the crowd that is coming to arrest Him. In spite of Jesus repeatedly telling the disciples that His arrest, crucifixion, and ultimate resurrection are the Father’s plan, Peter takes matters into his own hands and pulls out his sword, lopping off the ear of one of the crowd. Jesus rebukes him and tells him to put the sword away. Then as Jesus (and Old Testament prophecy) predicted, the disciples, including Peter, all scatter.

Two scenes later we see Peter again, slinking around the fire outside the courtyard where Jesus is being unjustly tried by the high priest. Three times Peter is asked if he was with Jesus, and three times Peter denies that he even knows Him, just as Jesus predicted.

Many times this year in BSF, something has happened in my life that fits right into whatever the lesson is for that week. Maybe God knows I learn better when the lesson is directly relatable to my life.

This week is no different as I find myself identifying with Peter. This bold and sometimes hot-headed disciple faced a great difficulty. And though he was warned by Jesus about what was to happen and admonished to pray so that he would not fall into temptation, Peter did not heed that warning.

I faced a difficult situation this week. I felt the Spirit’s nudge to pray about it, and to do so earnestly. Yet I did not pray. Although I didn’t literally sleep instead, I might as well have because I filled the time I should have been praying with useless activities. Then I found myself unprepared to face the situation. Instead of meeting it calmly, with love and grace, I exhibited my Peter-like hot-headedness. I met the situation with anger and fear instead of forgiveness and faith.

The good news is that if I repent of my sin and turn to Jesus, He will forgive me and restore me, just as He did Peter. And His plan will prevail in spite of my failings, just as the plan of redemption through His crucifixion and resurrection prevailed in spite of Peter’s failings.

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A Matter of Comparison

As humans, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. Either we see someone with a talent that we admire and wish we had, or we see someone who is sinning in a way that we are proud we don’t.

I admit that when I hear other women in church or in my Bible study sing in a beautiful soprano voice I feel a little jealous—okay, a lot jealous—that I cannot sing very well.

And when I see greedy, self-centered, immoral, and wicked people on TV I sometimes feel a twinge of superiority because I don’t act as they do.

But God has not called me to compare myself to others, whether it makes me feel less than them or better than them. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have the talents that others have, because I have the talents that God gave me. It doesn’t matter if I don’t sin in the same way as others, because I still fall short of the glory of God.

There are only two people in this world that I should ever compare myself to. The first is my former self—solely for the purpose of realizing what the Lord Jesus has done in my heart, how He has made me a new creation, and how I have used the talents He has given me. The second is Jesus—for the purpose of knowing what the gold standard of required behavior is, what I am striving towards with God’s help.

So who are you comparing yourself to today? What talent that God has given you are you neglecting because you are wishing for the talent He gave to someone else? What sin that God wants to save you from are not seeing in yourself because you are too busy focusing on the sins of others?

Won’t you change your focus with me today and keep your eyes on Jesus? He is the author and perfector of our faith, the source of our talents, and the power to overcome all our sins.

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Into the Darkness – A Bout Rimés Poem

The prompt today at dVerse Poets Pub is to play the game of Bout Rimés, which is to write a poem written with a list of ending rhyme words supplied today by none other than Tony Maude. It sounded fun, so I decided to give it a try. I have to admit I was a little surprised by where this list of words led me.

Into the Darkness

Into the darkness my Charger does drive
I have my little dog here by my side
Longing for a reprieve from this dark night
He said we could get there by one, he lied

In the darkness of my soul wars I wage
Wondering if we will ever be saved
This hell we are in is one I have made
I can see the fear upon his cute face

What we need most is a highly skilled nurse
Or perhaps to locate a faith-filled church
Could there be a fate we’d consider worse
Than losing the gun I’ve hid in my purse

We can only go forward, never back
In the darkness ahead, we can see that

 

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Light – An Elfje

White
Savior’s Light
Piercing the darkness
Exposing my heart’s sin
Forgiveness

* * * * *

I decided to share this today for the dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night. Head over there to read some other great poetry.

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He Paved the Way – A Poem

John the Baptist did not care
What people thought of his wild hair

Repent and be baptized his hue and cry
Messiah is coming, His kingdom is nigh

John the Baptist lost his head
But because of Jesus he is not dead

John paved the way for eternal life
Found in the Son who gave His life

Content with his place in history
John showed the Way for you and me

Jesus increased in wisdom and power
John decreased at the proper hour

Jesus now reigns as King of kings
To our Lord and Savior we sing

John is an honored martyred soul
Under God’s altar for his prophetic role

So now we find our identity in Christ
Who gave His life and paid the price

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Worthy to Be Praised – A Psalm of Sorts

When I consider the immensity of my sins
I can scarcely bear the weight of shame
Yet You bore it all, not only mine
but the sins of the whole world
You are worthy to be praised

When I consider the greatness of Your miracles
I can scarcely comprehend the wonder
of all that You have done, not only for me
but for all of Your beloved creation
You are worthy to be praised

When I consider the beauty of Your sacrifice
I can barely grasp the majesty of Your love
Yet deep in my heart I know
Your grace is not only for the world, but for me
You are worthy to be praised

When I consider who I am
When I consider who You are
I am convinced
You are worthy to be praised

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Why He Came – A Poem

He healed the sick,
the lame, the leper
But that’s not
why He came

He gave the blind sight
and drove out demons
But that’s not
why He came

He fed the 5,000
plus women and children
But that’s not
why He came

He taught the masses,
and His twelve disciples
But that’s not
why He came

He raised the dead,
one four days in the grave
But that’s not
why He came

He turned water to wine
He calmed a storm and walked on water
He drove out the money changers
He was baptized by His cousin
He performed many miracles
which John says weren’t recorded

But none of these things
are why He came

He was born
for one sole purpose
To die the death I deserve
To die for my sins and yours
To die so we could be forgiven
To die so every lost straying lamb
could be brought back into the fold

He came to die

 

I’ll be sharing this one over at dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night today.

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Shame Forgiven – A Sedoka

Sinful nature grips
Guilt and shame weighing us down
Fueled by abundant pride

Quelled by God’s mercy
All our sin is forgiven
Sinful nature overcome

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Choosing to Trust

I’ve been thinking about trust lately. It has been said that trust must be earned, and that once lost it is hard to regain. But it occurs to me that trust is a choice, and that sometimes we must choose to trust even when it isn’t earned.

I decided to check The Quotable Lewis to see what C.S. Lewis had to say on the subject of trust and I found this little gem:

To love involves trusting the beloved beyond the evidence, even against much evidence. No man is our friend who believes in our good intentions only when they are proved. No man is our friend who will not be very slow to accept evidence against them. Such confidence, between one man and another, is in fact almost universally praised as a moral beauty, nor blamed as a logical error. And the suspicious man is blamed for a meanness of character, not admired for the excellence of his logic.
C.S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night, “On Obstinacy in Belief” (1955), p. 26.

It seems that Lewis agrees with my thought that trust is a choice. (I always love it when I discover that Lewis and I agree on something.)

We choose to trust God in spite of the lack of absolute proof that He exists and is on our side. In the face of tragedy and the existence of evil in this world, we choose to trust God to have our greater good as His chief aim. We choose to trust “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV). We trust God because we believe that He is inherently trustworthy.

But to live we must trust others as well. There would be no basis for a civilized society without some degree of trust. Such trust can be difficult because experience and scripture often tell us that humans are inherently untrustworthy. The prophet Jeremiah observed that, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV).

In spite of evidence of untrustworthiness all around us, we must trust someone. So we also choose to trust our spouse, our family, and our close friends; we choose to trust those we love, because as Lewis says, “love involves trusting.” Sometimes we encounter evidence that suggests even our closest beloved family and friends are untrustworthy—not surprising, since they are human. It is then that we face the real choice: to continue to trust or to give up on love.

It occurs to me that this is the point at which we must really examine the situation with a critical eye—not critical of others, but critical of our own hearts. If we can honestly say that we have always been trustworthy ourselves, perhaps we can justifiably decide to give up on love and choose to no longer trust. But I suspect that none of us can honestly reach that conclusion. To do so in and of itself is evidence of our own untrustworthiness. As the apostle John wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 (NIV). If we think we are inherently more trustworthy than our loved ones, we deceive ourselves.

One thing we can be sure of, though, is that we do not deceive God for He alone fully knows our untrustworthiness. “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV).

This day you and I must choose. Will we trust God, who is unequaled in His trustworthiness? If we do, then we are free to choose to also trust our loved ones because we know that God is in control and will bless our choice with His grace and love.

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Battling Enemies – A Book Review

A couple of months ago our pastor did a sermon series based on Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley. He encouraged the whole congregation to read the book along with the sermon series. I resisted buying it because I knew if I went to Amazon to buy it I would end up with one or more other books in my cart so that I could get the free super saver shipping that comes with spending more than $25.

Then one evening my husband found a towel rack for our kitchen on Amazon and since I have an Amazon account he asked if I could get it for us. Well, of course I had to add something else to the cart for that super saver shipping. So I decided to get Deep & Wide. But once I added it to my cart I still was below $25, which prompted me to look around for another book to buy. I ended up with another Andy Stanley book called Enemies of the Heart.

I have yet to crack the spine on Deep & Wide, but I read Enemies of the Heart cover to cover in less than a week. I found in this small book some truths that I knew but needed to hear again in a new way.

The great thing about Andy Stanley is that his writing style is so readable. The concepts he shares are deep, but he doesn’t use big words and convoluted arguments to convey them. The message of Enemies of the Heart is simple: there are four emotions that if left unchecked will control our lives in a negative way, but God has provided a way to deal with each of these toxic emotions. The four emotions are guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy.

I’m going to share Stanley’s insights in a nutshell, but I strongly encourage you to read the whole book because it is the anecdotes and the scripture references he uses to flesh out these insights that have really helped me to hold onto their truth. So here’s the nutshell version:

  1. Guilt says, “I owe you.” This emotion stems from actions we have taken that have hurt others. The solution is confession, not just to God but to the person we have hurt.
  2. Anger says, “You owe me.” This emotion stems from actions others have taken that have hurt us and the debt we feel they owe us. To solution is forgiveness, which requires that we figure out what the other person has taken from us, and then to make the conscious decision to cancel that debt.
  3. Greed says, “I owe me.” This emotion stems from a fear that we will lose what we have, that our future is uncertain, and a tendency to hang onto our possessions matter what. The solution is generous giving, which ultimately leads to a trust in God to provide our needs.
  4. Jealousy says, “God owes me.” This emotion stems from a belief that if God could provide a nice car, a big house, a great job, etc. for my neighbor, then He could have done the same for me. Jealousy is not a problem with the person who has what we want, it is a problem with God, who has not provided us with what we want. The solution is to celebrate the blessings of others.

All of these enemies of the heart involve debt—and debt must either be repaid or cancelled, or it will always cloud relationships. Sometimes we don’t even realize a debt is owed, so often just identifying the enemy is the first step. Stanley does a great job in this book of getting to the heart of the matter and helping the reader to identify the emotional enemies that are holding them back from enjoying loving and vibrant relationships with family, friends, and God. I would give this book a definite 5 out of 5 stars.

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