Day Fifty-Six with Mark: Mark 14:66-72

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.

images.jpgOne 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.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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The Secret

How do you live a happy life?  For you, what would result in happiness?

We may have a list.  If I have this.  Or if I have that.  If I’m able to accomplish this.  Or if this happens at work, or at home, or in my own life, then I’ll be happy.  We’ve probably all got our list of what we want, or want to happen, in our lives, that will make us happy.

I was thinking about that today when I read what Paul had to say in Philippians 2: 1-4.  Listen to what he shares with us:

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

happy-womanHe actually gives us the secret to happiness.  As tempting as it would be to think that our happiness will come from getting what we want, or doing what we want, our having our needs/wants met, Paul turns that on its head.

If there anything good, be of the same mind with each other.  Don’t be selfish, don’t act selfishly.  Regard others as better than you, and look to their interests first.

That sounds good, until you actually think about it.  Regard others as better than you.  I don’t (and don’t want to) do that.  I want to do what I want when I want it.  We all do, don’t we, to some extent.

And that’s what our culture tells us.  Our culture tells us that happiness comes from our stuff, from us being in charge, from us being number one.  Live your life the way that you, doing what you want, achieving what you want because it’s all about you, your life, your contentment.

Today, though, we see the secret.  We see the secret to true happiness and life.  It’s not about us.

The Gospel is so countercultural.  The Gospel says – it’s not really about you.  In fact, to find life, give it away.  To find happiness, stop worrying about it.  To really live, live for others.

And I guarantee, if we try that Gospel-life we will find happiness a lot faster than any other way.  We think in living for what we think we want, we will find that happiness we desire.  We won’t.

But when we live that Gospel-life, living for Jesus, loving others, serving, giving, we find abundant, eternal life.

Today, you were made for that abundant, Gospel-centered life.  Today, live thinking of others first.  Give it a test drive.  Try it and see.  And see if you aren’t, in the end, happy.

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Forgiveness

It’s really good for us to remember that the Lord has forgiven us.  That’s a good thing, a really good thing.

Why?  Well, first it helps us remember our worth.  Remember how valued we are.  Remember that our identity, our hope doesn’t come from ourselves, but from God. That’s so big, in a world that is so intense, filled with such pressure and worry, that’s huge to remember.

Second, that truth reminds us to lay down our burdens.  We don’t have to carry them around forever.  You are forgiven.  Yes.  You are.  You are forgiven.  Lay those burdens down.  Let them go.  Lay down your shame, your worry, your fear, your doubt.

You are forgiven.

Man, we need to drill that truth into our brains.  We are forgiven.

And here’s the cool thing.  When we understand that we are forgiven, it totally changes our walk with God. We stop trying to make God love us, but we live freely out of the love that He has already given us.  It changes our walk with God.  It really does.  But that’s not the only walk it changes.  Listen to what it says today in Colossians 3:12-13:

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

forgivenessWe have been forgiven.  That means that we are supposed to forgive each other.  God has looked at our worst, and failures, the things we have done wrong, and shown us mercy and grace.  As Christians (as tough as it is) we are supposed to do the same things.

One of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis is from his book The Weight of Glory – “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

But how?  Only through God’s power.  We can’t forgive apart from God’s Spirit working through us.  Only the Holy Spirit can empower us to forgive as we are call.  We can’t do it ourselves. But through God, all things are possible.

When we accept God’s forgiveness, we lay down our burden.  When we forgive others, we lay another burden down.  That’s our call today as Christians.  To accept forgiveness and to give forgiveness.  Today, through God’s strength, may we live in that freedom and power.

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Ok, This is My Favorite Passage

It’s a running joke at Asbury that whatever passage I just read, that’s my favorite on in the entire Bible.  Yes, I do have my favorites, John 10:10, Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28, or Romans 2:4, but today’s passage from our readings, this may be my favorite passage in all the Bible.

Really.

I think it is.

Listen to what we read today in 1 John 3:19-20:

And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

graceThe toughest person in the world to forgive is ourselves.  That’s why this passage is my favorite.  That’s why I just love it so.  So often, we are carrying around guilt that we shouldn’t.  So often there is so much pain in our lives; so much shame; so much hurt because of past mistakes.

So many times in our lives, our main condemnation comes from ourselves.  We are condemned by our own hearts.  We carry that burden on ourselves.  We can’t let go.  We can’t move on. We just can’t let go of that past.

Yes, you can.  You can let go.  You can move on.  You can forgive yourself.  If you heart condemns you, if you past can’t escape your sight if you can’t let go, hear these words.

God doesn’t condemn us. For those of us in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation.  None.  None.  None. 

You are forgiven.  Today.  You are.  You can let it go.  Yes, you can.  You can let those past mistakes go.

Why?  Because God has.  God has moved on.  So can you.  CS Lewis said this – “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”

If your heart condemns you today.  If your past screams at you today.  If you can’t let go of the past today.

Hear this. God has forgiven you.  He has.  Really.  You are forgiven.  Today.

He has forgiven you.  You can forgive yourself.  If you heart condemns you, know this.  God doesn’t.

Forgiveness.  That’s why this is my favorite passage.

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Nothing He Can’t Do

In the readings for this week, we see a picture of who Jesus is. He is epic. He is divine and powerful and strong and eternal.

Why? Why do the readings this week focus so much on how big Jesus is, on His divine Majesty, on His power, on His might? Why are we reminded of these things?

Because we need to remember that this is His world. He is King. He is Lord. He is in control. He is in charge.

We are not. Seriously. We are not in control. He is. Listen to what happens today in Matthew 9: 2-8:

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

downloadJesus says, not just be healed, but be forgiven. Because as great as the healing was, the forgiveness is even more amazing. That’s the kind of God that Jesus is. He has the power to heal. He has the power to forgive.

There is literally nothing that He can’t do. He can do everything. There is not a portion, a part, an inch of your life that Jesus can’t restore, can’t rebuild, can’t bring new life to.

Nothing. There is nothing that He can’t do.

Nothing.

Today remember His power. Remember that He has the power to heal. He has the power to forgive. He has the power to do everything. Don’t forsake that power. Don’t forget that power.

Live as a child of risen and resurrected King. There’s nothing He can’t do.

Nothing.

Do you believe that? Do you live like that? We should. We have to. Because that’s who He is.

Today, let’s live like we believe that Jesus is who He says that He is. Let’s live in the power that He grants to us. Let’s live.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

What Do You Remember?

rememberI remember little things.  I can remember mistakes. I can remember words. I can remember pains.

I remember wounds, I remember slights.  I can really can hold onto things, and really lock in.  Particularly mistakes. I can remember the things that others have done wrong, the ways others have hurt me, or hurt those that I love. I can remember, remember those things.

But you know what else I can remember?  Not just your mistakes, but I can remember my mistakes. The ways I’ve blown it. The ways I’ve failed. The things that I’ve done wrong.  I can really hold onto my mistakes and not let go of them.

I can remember the mistakes of others. I can remember my own mistakes. And I bet that I’m not the only one. I bet we each are that way.

Listen today to what it says in Psalm 25: 6-7:

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

I love the prayer of this Psalm.  It’s a call to God to remember.  Remember your mercy God.  Remember your grace, remember your kindness.  Remember oh God, your love.

And remember not, O Lord, the sins of our youth. Remember not our mistakes. Remember not the ways that we have fallen. Remember not the mistakes that we have made.  Don’t remember those things.

And God doesn’t.  He does remember His mercy. And He does not remember our sins.

What about you and me today?  What do you remember?  What do you remember not?  Do you remember the mistakes of others?  Do you remember your own mistakes?

Or do you remember them not?

Do you remember the lover and mercy of God today?  Or do you forget that?

Today, may we remember mercy, God’s to us, and our mercy to others. And may we remember not our mistakes. And may we remember not the mistakes of others.

Because that’s what God does. And that’s what He wants us to do.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

A Slow Death

Some of the ways that we hurt ourselves are quick and painful.  Some things that we, intentionally or unintentionally, to ourselves can very quickly cause great pain, great damage, and great hurt to us, to others, to so many relationships.

But, not all the things that hurt us are fast.  Some are slow.  Some are a slow death.  In 1 John 3, John talks a lot about love, about being there for each other, about helping each other out in whatever way that we can.

But then, he says these words in 1 John 3:14-15:

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

poisonHating others is a slow death.  It’s so slow, you may not even know that you are dying.  You may be unaware of the pain that you causing to yourself, and the pain that you are causing to the relationships in your life.

When you hate, when you don’t forgive, when you hold things against others, when you allow pain to turn into hate, you are slowly, but surly, dying a slow death.

The only way to live, to know peace, is this.  Forgive.  Let God.  Give it God.  Allow His grace to take away the hurt, the pain, the loss, everything.  Allow His grace to wash over you.

Allow His grace to make all things new in your life.  Allow to allow you to forgive.

Allow it to allow you to love.

aWhen we  hate, we die a slow death. Today, may we be truly alive.

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Love Much

muchlove21Something I like to say is that I have to choose between law and grace, I choose grace.  I’m going to always choose grace.  Now, yes, there are things that are wrong and are destructive, and we should avoid evil and stay away from things that will destroy us, destroy others, and destroy our walk with God.

But, even folks that are far, far from God and acting in ways that are destructive, you know what?  I’m going still going to give grace.

I’m going to love much.

Why?

Because I’ve been forgiven much.  Listen to what Jesus says in Luke 7:44-47:

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

I have been forgiven so much in my life.  Jesus has given me grace after grace, hope after hope, love after love, mercy after mercy.  He has forgiven me so very much in my life, and the only response that I can make is to forgive others.  To give grace.  To show mercy.  To show love.  To show that hope.

Because He has shown that to me. And as I’ve been forgiven and loved, so must I forgive other and love.

I have been loved much.  So, I must love much.

Each of us have.  We have all been given grace and mercy today. We’ve all been given love.  And with that love we’ve been given, we much give love in return.  Today, we must love much. Because we’ve been loved much.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.