Hey dear friends…
Have you ever been absolutely certain that you had something in hand, only for it to slip right through your fingers at the last moment? You nailed the job interview; they never called you back. You were certain you had aced the test; the score was dismal. You just knew your team was going to win the championship; you got shellacked. Has this ever happened to you spiritually? Emotionally? I think it might happen more often than we realize. I’ll have more to say about this in Deeper Thoughts below…
But first…a few quick updates:
· Church Facility Workday, NEXT Saturday, November 11, 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. Make some friends, have some fun, and brush up the campus for the holidays. Email Kristie Zoller to RSVP and let her know the things you’d like to help with!
· Join Pastor Will Cravens and his crew of missionaries to the homeless for compelling “Stories from the Street” at Old Ox Brewing, Saturday night, November 11, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Click here for more info and to grab tickets—they’re only $5.00, but they will sell out quickly!!
· Good grief, Charlie Brown… can it be true?? Christmas is upon us!!
o Ladies… mark your calendars and RSVP for Cookie, Tea, and Craft Celebration – Saturday, December 9 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. RSVP is required by November 22--click here for more info and to sign up!
o Mt. Hope’s Annual Christmas Party, Pageant, and Pig-Out (Ok…it’s not really called that…but I thought it was cute…) Sunday night, December 10 – 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Join us for a delicious potluck dinner and a wonderful Kids Connect musical presentation. More info to come!!
OK…that’s it today for you email-skimmers and you who never get anything wrong. BUT…
Some Deeper Thoughts…
Peter was certain he had nailed it.
He got Jesus’ praise, for sure. Not only did Jesus call him blessed for what he had just said, he even gave him a brand-new nickname, one that would stick for at least a couple thousand years. He was finally able to ditch his pesky given birth name—Simon—which, while in Hebrew had a lovely meaning of being a good listener, in his native Greek language had a less flattering connotation of being “flat-nosed.”
But he had indeed listened well. All those profound teachings from the Rabbi had finally sunk in. While his other buddies were still bickering over where everyone would sit in Jesus’ upcoming regal court, or which Jewish prophet Jesus was reincarnating, or which sacramental law he was going to break next, Simon was carefully calculating what he really believed about Jesus.
And then it was test-time. When pressed, he raised his hand like an anxious schoolboy and blurted out the answer.
“Oooh… oooh… I know! I know! You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!!”
While I might have just added a phrase or two for dramatic effect, Jesus was clearly impressed.
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
These were not insignificant words. A revelation from the Father was unheard of among even the most faithful Jewish men. We men are mere mortal sinners; only the great Patriarchs ever got to meet with God. Even then, they never related to him as Father. To even suggest such intimacy and familiarity with the Holy Creator was nothing short of blasphemy.
But Peter saw right through all the religious complications and theological obstacles. He was convinced that Jesus was so much greater than the suffocating rigidities and dogmas he had grown up with. Deep down he just knew this man was more than a prophet, more than a teacher, more than a man of God. He was the very Son of God—God incarnate, come to save the world--and Peter—from their sins.
Do you remember when you first had that enlightenment? When you first believed? When the fog of understanding finally lifted and you saw with unmistakable clarity that Jesus Christ was very real, very present, very personal, and very much your savior?
It was electric, was it not?
(Some who read this may still be shy of that magnificent breakthrough. Doubt and fear and questions still dominate your mind. If that’s you, worry not. You’re on the right road, and the breakthrough is still coming, I promise. Keep seeking. He will find you. He said He would—you can find it right there in Philippians 1:6.)
But where are you today? Fast forward through all the months and years of normal human hardships; the massive weight of daily circumstances and responsibilities; the press of perpetual anxiety, faltering relationships, insurmountable debt, and never-ending disappointments. Has it caused your faith to cool? Or stagnate? Or falter?
I think if we are super-honest with ourselves, we realize that white-hot faith can chill far quicker and far easier than we wish. It certainly did for Peter. In just…oh… something like a handful of days.
Once Peter had his God-sized revelation of Jesus as the savior of the world, Jesus set right away to explaining how that salvation would come to be.
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things… and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Peter would have none of it. “Never Lord! This shall never happen to you!”
Why would he think that? If Jesus was God-incarnate, how could he suffer and be killed? If he were come to save the world—or at least Israel from their wretched Roman oppressors—how could he save anything if he were killed? Dead guys can’t save much. They are dead.
This round, Jesus was not impressed. He gave Peter another nickname. This time it was ugly.
“Get behind me, Satan,” Jesus called him.
He continued: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but rather the things of man.”
Friends, I think this is where we all trip up. We may love Jesus well enough. We may have all manner of useful faith. We may be inspired and encouraged and enthused by his love for us. Church might bring us a mountain of joy—especially when the music is brilliant and the preacher is on fire.
We have no shortage of faith in Jesus. But we still have in mind the things of men.
This Sunday, as we continue our fall teaching series based on the life and letters of the Apostle Peter, let’s take a look at how we can drift so quickly to fixing our minds in the wrong direction and miss our victory by half.
You can read the stories before Sunday—and I hope you will. Matthew 16 and 17 are where you’ll find them. Do a little reading in advance and see if you can find yourself in the story. But do not let the devil bring you any shame. There’s a whole lot of victory coming in Peter’s life… you’ll see it in John 21, and Acts 2, and Acts 3… and 4… and 5… and…
Let’s pick up some bold faith and the even bolder Jesus. We’ll find Effective Faith, I promise. Keep seeking. He will find you. He said He would…
Mt. Hope Pastor