Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Intentions

"But he (Peter) said to Him, “Lord, with you, I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He (Jesus) said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” Luke 22:33-34
Have you ever made a promise to God, and were not able to keep it? Have you ever told God you would do something, and before you know it, you have either forgotten about it, or you were surprised when you suddenly realized you hadn't followed through with your intention? We all have good intentions!  When we are unable to keep them, they leave us feeling ashamed and guilty. So, I'm sure we can all relate to Peter. I have no doubt that he meant those words at the time he spoke them to Jesus. As best as he could, Peter in his own strength, was willing to go to his death with Jesus. However, Jesus knew Peter's heart; He knew Peter’s weaknesses; He knew Peter’s future; just like he knows our own heart, our own weaknesses, and our own future.
Peter's failure did not surprise Jesus. God is never surprised. Jesus knew Peter would follow Him at a distance when the soldiers led Him away to be questioned. The man who had bravely stated he would die with Jesus was now afraid of being associated with Jesus. Jesus also knew that Peter would warm himself at the campfire with the enemies of God, and would even be "bullied" by a servant girl leading to his denial of his Lord for the third time. We can learn from this passage.  First, we learn to walk with God. Don't try to keep Him at a distance. Those around us need to know Jesus is our Savior. Second, be careful of the company we keep. If we continually spend time with the enemies of God, we will fail.

What do we do when we realize we fail? What do we realize when our good intentions crash? We do what Peter, a true Christ-follower, did. He was broken because of his failure. He felt he had let His Master down. He went out and wept bitterly. This is an indication of his confession of sin and his repentance. We know Jesus forgave Peter because of the message He sent Peter after His resurrection. The message was "Go tell my disciples and Peter to meet me in Galilee" (Mark 16:7 my paraphrase).

One of the first verses I memorized when I became a Christ-follower is 1 John 1:9. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This verse is written to Christians. To those of us who have good intentions and sometimes fail, to those of us who really and truly want to please our Lord Jesus, but sometimes go about it the wrong way: we never surprise Jesus. He knows all. When we confess our sin and repent (are broken because of it and turn away from it) He is faithful to forgive and restore us. I have experienced His forgiveness and restoration on several occasions! Praise the Lord!

As we celebrate Easter, we celebrate the fact that Jesus has given us life, and forgiveness, because of our faith in Him and our dependence on Him. Because of Jesus' resurrected life, which we celebrate daily if we walk with, we thank Him that He knows our hearts, and the intents of our hearts. He knows our weaknesses. He is never surprised. He forgives us of all our failures and sins. Jesus does not cast us away when we fail, but restores us and makes us stronger as we learn more and more to depend on Him. Now that's something to celebrate!

May this be the most Blessed Easter you have ever experienced,

Alan Perry
Missions Pastor