One of the things that Jesus always reframes for us is this – what is truly important? What are the things that really matter? What truly counts? What is the point and purpose of everything? We see that dynamic play … Continue reading
One the reasons in life, I believe, that we are afraid is that the thing the are afraid of feels bigger than whatever it is that makes us feel secure. Our fear seems bigger than our security. Think about that as you read our passage today from 1 John 1:16-18:
16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
So many things in this passage to understand. First, this important notion that God is love. Scripture paints for us so many pictures of who God is. But the two defining characteristics of who God is, is found here (God is love) and found all through the Bible, God is holy.
God is both. We all fall towards a deeper appreciation of part of God’s character, but for us to fully understand who is, we must understand that He is love, but He is also other and different from us, He is holy.
But notice today what this text says about love and about fear. We are told that there is no fear in perfect love, because perfect love casts out fear. How is that possible? How does perfect love cast out fear?
What this means, to me, is this. Of all the things that you are afraid of, things that aren’t minor things, things that are big things, things that may plague and worry and scare us, God is bigger than them.
God’s love is bigger than them.
God’s love is bigger than whatever may happen to you. God’s love is bigger than whatever mistakes lay in your past, your present, your future. God’s love is bigger than whatever may come.
You don’t have to be afraid. God has seen it all. God knows it all. God is aware of it all. He really is.
And He loves you. Don’t be afraid. You are loved. You are perfectly loved today. God loves you.
And that love is light, and that light drives out fear.
Love is greater than fear. It is. Lived loved, not afraid.
Do not fear today. God loves you. No matter what.
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Today in Mark we look at Mark 14:66-72. This is where Peter denies Jesus:
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. 69 And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” 72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
One of the things, that to me, is always important to remember about this text is that it isn’t just Judas that betrayed Jesus on this night. Yes, Judas was the one that led them to Jesus, but here, we see Peter, three times deny Jesus. He had the chance to stand up for Jesus in this moment. What can we learn from this?
First, know this. We all fail. Everyone one of us. Here is Peter. The leader of the Apostles. The one that preaches on Pentecost. The one that everyone looks to. Peter. The rock. And he fails. He fails worse than any of us probably ever will.
So, when you blow it, remember. Peter did too. He failed. We all failed. It’s part of our human condition. That’s not to say that we want to fail or that we desire to fail. It is to say that it will happen to each of us.
But, second, your worst mistakes don’t define you. Yes, we see Peter fail here. But fast forward to Acts. It is Peter that is the leader. He is the speaker. He is the one that everyone looks to, to explain what is happening, to point everyone to Jesus. Peter did leave and grieve, but Jesus restored him. And when Jesus forgave him, he was able to forgive himself, and return back into leadership, return back to the family.
Peter failed, yes. But through the grace of God, Peter’s failure didn’t define him. God’s grace did.
And last, the disciples didn’t hold Peter’s failure over his head. The forgave him. They didn’t keep bringing up his mistake. They let it go as well.
We need to forgive ourselves, but we do not need to hold the mistakes of others over their heads. God doesn’t define us by our mistakes. Let’s not define each other in the same way. God has shown us grace and mercy. Let’s show that same grace and mercy to each other.
God doesn’t hold our mistakes over our head. Let’s not hold other’s mistakes over their heads.
Grace is the only answer, it’s the only thing that truly and forever changes lives.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 15:1-15.
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Paul, in Romans, is laying out for us the fact that we are saved by grace through faith, not by anything that we can do. Our salvation comes not by our works, not by our actions, but it comes from the grace of God which is freely given, not earned.
Listen to what He says today in Romans 5:6-8:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly. Other versions translate that passage by saying that while we were still His enemies Christ died for us. And then says that God shows His love for us that while we sinners, Christ died.
Wow. Think about that truth for a second.
While you were at your worst moment. The moment you were furthest away from God. The moment that you had wandered away. At you weakest. Most sinful. Lowest moment that you have had in your life.
At that moment. That’s when Jesus died for you.
He didn’t die for you because you had earned it. He died for you because He loves you.
And He wants to redeem you. He wants to save you. He wants to give you grace.
At your worst moment. At your biggest failure. At the time when you blew it up the most.
It was at that moment Jesus died for you.
Wow. When we are at our lowest, God loves us the most. When we are at our weakest, God is the strongest. When we are most unlovable, that’s when God gives us the most grace.
Today, at your weakest moment, God loved you. Today, in our all of lives, no matter where we are, weak or strong, may we know how much He really does love us.
And may that love cause us to love, serve, and follow Him, each moment of our lives!
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He wasn’t the only one that denied Him and turned his back upon Jesus.
Peter did too.
That Peter? Yes. That Peter.
Read what happens in Luke 22
61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
As Jesus stood before trial, three times Peter was asked if he knew Jesus and three times he denied Jesus.
Three times he had the chance to stand for Jesus, to stand with Jesus, to show his loyalty to Jesus, and three times he denied Jesus.
It wasn’t just Judas that betrayed Jesus. Peter did too.
And yet, Jesus still used Peter for amazing things, while Judas ended his life soon after.
What made the difference.
Now, as I tell my people all the time, this is my opinion and my opinion and a $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee. But, perhaps what separated Judas from Peter wasn’t the forgiveness of Jesus. It was this. Peter could forgive himself. Judas couldn’t.
Today, you can forgive yourself. God has forgiven you. You can forgive yourself.
Peter, in spite of his denial, was able to forgive himself and be used by God in amazing ways.
The same is true for you.
Today, you can forgive yourself. God has forgiven you. You can forgive yourself.
Today, may we each know the power of forgiveness.