12 January 2015

Babes in Arms, We Are

31 Then Jesus said to them, You will all be offended and stumble and fall away because of Me this night [distrusting and deserting Me], for it is written, I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.
32 But after I am raised up [to life again], I will go ahead of you to Galilee.
33 Peter declared to Him, Though they all are offended and stumble and fall away because of You [and distrust and desert You], I will never do so.
34 Jesus said to him, Solemnly I declare to you, this very night, before a single rooster crows, you will deny and disown Me three times.
35 Peter said to Him, Even if I must die with You, I will not deny or disown You! And all the disciples said the same thing.
 
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and exclaimed, He has uttered blasphemy! What need have we of further evidence? You have now heard His blasphemy.
66 What do you think now? They answered, He deserves to be put to death.
67 Then they spat in His face and struck Him with their fists; and some slapped Him in the face,
68 Saying, Prophesy to us, You Christ (the Messiah)! Who was it that struck You?
69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and one maid came up to him and said, You were also with Jesus the Galilean!
70 But he denied it falsely before them all, saying, I do not know what you mean.
71 And when he had gone out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, This fellow was with Jesus the Nazarene!
72 And again he denied it and disowned Him with an oath, saying, I do not know the Man!
73 After a little while, the bystanders came up and said to Peter, You certainly are one of them too, for even your accent betrays you.
74 Then Peter began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, I do not even know the Man! And at that moment a rooster crowed.
75 And Peter remembered Jesus’ words, when He had said, Before a single rooster crows, you will deny and disown Me three times. And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matt 26, AMP)
Reading Matthew 26 this morning, Peter's experience really stood out to me. Peter was so loyal, so solid. His heart was passionate and fiery, so devoted to Yeshua. He knew who He was, and declared with all he had that he would never betray Him.

And then, he did.

How many times have I done the same thing? Thought I was (insert just about any good moral quality here), only to be put into a place of testing, and discover that "as to my own strength, I am nothing"?

Too many to count.

I love this story of Peter's, because I know what comes next:
19 Then on that same first day of the week, when it was evening, though the disciples were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace to you!
20 So saying, He showed them His hands and His side. And when the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy (delight, exultation, ecstasy, rapture).
21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! [Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.
22 And having said this, He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit! (John 20 AMP)
I think I'm finally beginning to fully grasp just what grace is. How much like infants we are, and how deeply forgiving and patient the Lord is with us, as if we are still learning to focus our eyes and reach out to grasp a toy. We all go through a spiritual form of the cephalocaudal development that babies do. And I rejoice that my Lord and my God sees me that way, instead of as a harsh taskmaster that punishes severely when I miss the mark, or drop the toy.

Father, thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You for Your divine and perfect patience. For Your long-suffering and Your faithfulness. I know that what You speak, You do. Lord, pour out Your love into the hearts of those that are suffering, who don't yet know Your heart. Teach them Who You Are, and how You see them. Heal their hearts, draw them all to You, and let Your Kingdom be built and strengthened in hearts everywhere, so Your children can be filled with joy! In Jesus' beloved name, amen.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!