Jesus said, “ Peter do you love me?”
This scripture comes from the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth. When Jesus asked Peter this they were having breakfast together on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. I can only imagine how ecstatic Peter was to be sitting with the One he loved so passionately! After all, he had denied him 3 times. We often think that when people deny Christ there is no hope, but as we look at Peter’s life we see just how deep and wide the love of Christ is. For it is when we are in our deepest despair that Christ loves us even more and this was true for Peter.
We should never think that there isn’t any hope because as long as the earth is still in orbit and Christ has not yet returned, there is STILL hope! We just have to find it. You see, Satan is a thief who wants to steal our hope, our joy and our salvation. He is the father of lies. He wants nothing more than for you and I to feel hopelessness in this world.
When we know what the bible says-we know what a lie that is. We are told over and over again to take our thoughts captive, to transform ourselves by renewing our mind, to eat the scroll and to walk in the light. We are to guard our minds and be careful of what we put there.
Who was Peter? He was an ordinary guy named Simon – a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. His brothers name was Andrew and it was Andrew who introduced Simon (Peter) to Jesus. When Jesus met Simon ( Peter) he changed his name to Cephas which means “Petros” or Peter- a piece of rock. It is said to have the meaning of “for better or for worse.” Sounds like wedding vows to me! When we marry ourselves to Christ we are saying to each other, “ For better or for worse.” No matter what happens I’m not leaving.
In Matthew 16 we hear Jesus telling Peter these words: You are Peter, and I can guarantee that on this rock[a] I will build my church. And the gates of hell will not overpower it.
For better or for worse. No matter what Peter did Jesus loved him anyway. He was aggressive in his actions and he spoke before he thought. He was a rough and tumble guy who let his emotions get him into trouble. Does that sound like anyone here? Aren’t we all a little like Peter? But what Jesus saw in Peter is the same thing he sees in us- a loyal and passionate love bundled up in a big burly fisherman who sometimes gets his words mixed up with his heart. He wears his fear and doubt on the outside and you know what? Jesus loved him through it all. Even through the denial.
We all know people who are in denial of who Jesus is and we are called to be like Christ and to put on love. This is where it gets hard. We are to love them through it no matter what, because you know what? We have to boldly believe and pray that our friends and family who are in denial will turn around and will come to know Christ. We may not be the ones who are purposed to convert them but we can be praying for the person or people who are. God knows every need.
It’s funny how God will change the sermon at the last minute. On Friday afternoon God got my attention and sent me in another direction. When we follow the leader, Jesus Christ, we must be in tune with Him and not the world. I’m like Peter when I let my own questions and doubts creep in. I forget to focus on Christ and I begin to sink. My faith has weak spots in it and like Peter- I often look at the turmoil instead of the prize! I’ll bet none of you do that- do you?
It has been a crazy week of getting Cort ready for his trip to Yellowstone and of me trying to set my anxieties aside. It has also been a week filled with meetings. They come in all shapes and sizes and they are a necessary part of life. During the week it became clear to me that I had missed the most important meeting of all!
Meeting with my Lord!
Do you ever do that? You get so caught up in the things around you that you just forget about a meeting? Well, silly me- I had a lunch meeting on Monday that involved eating at my favorite place- RIO GRANDE in Hillsville. I flat out forgot about it. I was disappointed in myself because I knew I had let people down. I had also let God down because in my busy –ness I had missed the most important meal of the day- the breakfast of the champions! Not Special K- but Special J! LOL
So, on Friday I took the day to re-group and re-focus and I spent some serious time on my porch with my bible and a whole lot of coffee. I knew I needed to take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says: The weapons we use in our fight are not made by humans. Rather, they are powerful weapons from God. With them we destroy people’s defenses, that is, their arguments and all their intellectual arrogance that oppose the knowledge of God. We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ.
The world is full of things that clutter our minds and cloud our thoughts and we need constant care and reminder to keep the MAIN thing the MAIN thing and that is putting Christ first in all that we do. I can see where Peter struggled with this too as he walked out on the water. You remember the scene don’t you? Peter saw Jesus walking on the water yet he doubted what he was seeing, so he said,” Lord, if it’s really you, call me and I’ll come to you on the water.” So he did and Peter jumped out of the boat, took his eyes off the prize and got scared.
Yep, that’s me! I’m known to look down instead of up from time to time. I need constant reminding to look in the right direction. How about you?
One of the ways that I remind myself to look up is by getting on my motorcycle and riding. Some people, like Peter, like to get in a boat. Not me- I like to get on my motorcycle. Pastor Ty always jokes and says what kind of motorcycle did Jesus ride? He rode in on a TRIUMPH! HAHA!
All joking aside-this looking up business is serious. Our eyes need to be OPEN and we need to be AWAKE! There is no napping on the job. When I ride I like to meander down country roads at about 45 mph and sing to the Lord at the top of my lungs! My singing goes along with the roar of the bike and it’s all good. No one can hear me but God. It is my spiritual act of worship. I hadn’t ridden my motorcycle in over a week. So I took several hours out to ride, praise God and to pray.
Along the way I decided to ride to Volvo and ride back home with Cort when he got off of work. So I met him there and we took off on the back roads-heading back to Carroll County.
During my ride home I was reminded of this verse from 1 Peter 4:7: The end of everything is near.
Little did I know that verse was going to come to life right before my very eyes! As I was bebopping down this country road with a corn field on the left and a farm on the right- this little beat up red Ford Escort comes over a knoll and is headed right at me! They were asleep at the wheel! They were not looking in my direction and in fact I don’t know what they were doing at all! I was in my lane-and as soon as I saw that car coming toward me I hit the brakes and got as far to the right as I could. I know I left some rubber and a piece of my heart on Baltimore Road on this past Friday afternoon.
All I could see was the front end of that car and those headlights were aimed right at me. I don’t know if you believe in angels or not-but I do. It was only by the grace of God that whoever was driving that car WOKE up and veered back into their lane. I nearly had a heart attack right there. My BP went up and I got so angry because the driver was not paying attention to what they were doing. They could have killed me or someone else. By the time I got to the end of the road I was nearly in tears from the anxiety of the moment. Cort pulled up next to me at the stop sign and he was just shaking his head in disbelief and I was just shaking from anger.
For the rest of the ride home I could think of nothing else but this: Romans 13: 11 You know the times in which we are living. It’s time for you to wake up. Our salvation is nearer now than when we first became believers. My salvation was very near. I always say if you ride a motorcycle you better have Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You can have fun but don’t be dumb.
1 Peter 5 :8 came to mind. Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.
Satan is very real and he wants nothing more than to take us down one by one so that God’s Word will not get out. But as long as we belong to Christ- he can’t. Oh he will try to mess with our heads but he can’t get into our heads unless we allow him there. He’s not really a lion- he is just pretending to be one. He’s a poser. He wants nothing more than to steal our joy and we cannot let him do that.
This is why it is so important to devour the Word of God so that when we are under attack we can recite God’s Word back to satan. He hates it when we do that, but it is our most powerful weapon against evil. We are in the fight of our lives-not just for ourselves but for those we love and for those who we have yet to love. The least, the lost, the lonely. Peter says we are to keep our mind CLEAR AND BE ALERT. This means no napping on the job. I wonder if Peter was thinking about his own time of napping when Jesus was in the Garden? Is he telling us this from experience?
What is your experience? Our testimonies are so important to the Kingdom of God because they bring Glory to God. We do not testify enough in the church today. There are miracles all around us but we can’t see them because we are looking in the wrong direction or we are just plain napping.
This has been a week of miracles for this family. Saturday morning Cort left for his trip to Yellowstone. I rode with him part of the way but we did not get very far. A half a mile from our house, at 5 am, my husband went down and wrecked his bike. I didn’t even see it happen because I was too far behind him-it was dark and I noticed his headlight made this funny pattern on the trees ahead of me-I slowed down for the stop sign that I knew was coming up and there he was-sprawled in the ditch with the bike. I wasn’t sure what had happened and I stopped and jumped off to help him. I was a little surprised by the whole thing and he was really shaken up. A doe had come out of the neighbor’s yard and had run into the front of his bike. I am praising God this morning for the His protection around Cort. Some might say, “how was he protected if he wrecked his bike? “ He was protected by the fairing and the engine guard on the bike-without these two pieces of equipment he would have been majorly injured. He suffered some minor road rash and a broken bike but he was able to continue on his journey with another bike. You see, I married a man who doesn’t quit. He is an overcomer because that is who God made him to be and this morning I am thanking God for his mercies, his protection and his amazing love for his bungling and broken people.
All of this has reminded me of how very near our salvation is. It became clear to me that our message is one of saving grace and that it is a message that satan does not want the world to hear and he will go to any lengths to get us to shut up. Swerving cars and dodging deer included. It has only reinforced what I said before-do you know where you are going when you die? If you don’t-you must get it right and don’t wait. Time is drawing near and we never know when our last day might be. So d, please don’t spend this day, today, wondering or second guessing where your eternity is-if you aren’t sure-come on up and we will pray over you to receive Christ. Just don’t wait. Since I have stepped into this role I have been under attack more than I care to say-BUT my GOD is bigger than that and His strength rises up in me at every turn. Our God is an OVERCOMER and He has made us in His image and that means we are overcomers too! We are heirs of Christ and nothing is going to stop us from proclaiming the Word of God to the people of the world.
So let me ask you what Jesus asked Peter on the beach of the Sea of Galilee:
“Church, do you love me?”
If you do then FEED MY LAMBS.
“ Church, do you love me?”
If you do, Shepherd my sheep.
“Church, do you love me?”
If you do, then follow me.
When we love Christ with all that we have today and with what we will have tomorrow and with all that is coming- we WILL follow Him for better or for worse.
We WILL do all that we can,
with what we have in the moment,
and like Peter-
we will fumble, we will mess up and we will be eager to do all that Christ has for us to do. And Jesus will love us for it- and when we deny him- He will love us even more and He will love us through it and in the end He will look us in the eyes and He will say,
“ Do you love me?” No if’s, an’s or buts, just “do you love me?”
So, let’s take Peter’s advice and confirm God’s invitation to us. He has chosen you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do it today. Time is short. Do this, and you WILL have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Will you come?