Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sometimes You Need A Little Encouragement

Matthew 14:28-31 (NIV)
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and
caught him. “You of little faith,”" he said, “why did you doubt?”

John 21:4-7 (NIV)
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved" said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

Ever noticed the contrast before? Peter a disciple of Jesus along with the other 11 walked with Jesus. They learned first hand, literally watching the miracles, even at times being assistants in the work; watching 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish miraculously feed about 5 thousand (John 6). I'm bringing the spotlight on Peter today; I find him fascinating. A Galilean fisherman that followed Jesus after his brother Andrew encouraged him to meet the Messiah, the Christ (John 1:41).

He seems like your ordinary guy; you know like you and me. He's evangelized if you will, becomes a follower of Christ. He zealous for the things of God; devoted and even enthusiastic about his walk with the Lord. Peter has encountered the Lord; it's the Lamb of God that has taken away his sin.

Ok, our turn. It's Liz, it's you; we have been changed. We have come face to face with the one that offers us eternal life; we've been supernaturally changed. The Bible says we are "new". A new attitude is recognized in us. A new found joy that we have never experienced. Life is good; it's like walking on water, nothing can trouble us - or can it?

Early in Peter's walk during a storm, he sees Jesus from afar and is startled. Jesus, shows up in the midst of "the storm". Afraid and not sure what to do; does he not recognize that the Christ is in the midst of his trouble? “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water." So, Jesus goes along with the request. Peter, "come". Well, we know what happens, it all starts well and then down he goes.

We have criticized Peter enough; how could you not trust him; did you not recognized him? Has this not happen to us? Life has many troubles; there is sickness and disease, there is financial stresses, the children walk away from God even after you have poured every ounce of yourself into teaching them of the One who Loves them. Marriage was going well and then, well heartache. The spouse is not into "church" with you and you find yourself going to the House of God alone. Death comes unexpectedly to someone you love....yes...we can sink, sink, sink.

"Lord save me". Maybe it's "Lord help me" or "why me". The Lord reaches out his hand and catches us so that we are not consumed by the waves of life.

Fast forward just a little. Christ is crucified and now what will be of Peter. Peter, you disowned the Lord even after you said you would die with him (Mark 14:31) ; when trouble came, you could not even stay afloat in his presence. Now what? Peter encouraged by John, hears the words, “It is the Lord!”

Now, we know already that Peter is not going to walk on water, we doubt he will ever step foot into the rough waters again. Sometimes after walking with the Lord and discouragement grabs a hold of us or failure sets in, we are afraid to try again. When we have let someone down, or said the wrong thing, we find it difficult to engage again. Engage with the Lord and also engage with those around us. The enemy will whisper and remind us of every disappointment and failure we have ever been connected with.

As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

Here comes encouragement wrapped in a fellow friend. It's John, encouraging his heart broken friend. I wonder how often Peter wrestled with his choices; Liar and Christ denier, One of little faith, used by Satan, for the Lord spoke to Satan while looking at him and said "get behind me Satan". (Matthew 16:23). Not such a great resume is it?

We all need a little encouragement. A friend to spur us back to believe. A friend to minister the very breath of God to bring life into our dry, dead bones again (Ezekiel 37). Someone to help us see beyond our failure and like Peter, go from sinking to jumping back into the water.

We may read about Peter's disappointments and failures, but that is not how he ends, Glory to God! Peter who the Lord said "on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18). Jesus said this of Peter in spite of the failure we remember Peter by.

Feeling discouraged today? Cried until you have not tears left? Questioned why, maybe even questioned God? Life not going the way you planed it? Has your tongue caused you trouble? God indeed speaks to us as well. What has he said of you that you anchor on to but in the midst of trouble forget? Perhaps he has called you his friend, like Abraham. Maybe you are the deliverer of the captive, like Moses. Maybe after being in the pit for sometime like Joseph, he wants to promote you for the sole purpose to "feed the hungry". Perhaps there is a calling on your life and you feel disqualified. Let me break it to you gently, no one is qualified. Apart from God we can do nothing (John 15:5). Don't let yourself get detached from Vine that sustains us....and yes he does loves us!

May the Spirit of the Living God breath your way and may you feel the refreshing wind. Allow and don't turn away the one that has comes to refresh you in the Name of the Lord, it may be someone you don't expect. Allow yourself to be built up again and believe that you indeed are more than a letdown and that life can indeed be joyous again. A full life, like the Lord promises (John 10:10).

Do you love me Peter?

Do you love me Liz? Do you love me Liz? Do you love me Liz? Questioned three times, not for Jesus' benefit, but an encouraging, reassuring word for me.

God bless you!~Liz


 Acts 9:32-34 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas,...