Christianity 201

October 23, 2021

Remembering Involves Restoration

NCV.Luke.22.19 Then Jesus took some bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to the apostles, saying, “This is my body, which I am giving for you. Do this to remember me.”

CEB.1Cor.11.23 I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. 24 After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” 25 He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.”

Today we’re introducing an author new to us, Amber Dlugosh, who is a high school library media specialist, and writes at This Wordy World. She writes about books, libraries and publishing, but also includes some Christian devotionals like this one! Click the header which follows to read this. Because it was published just today, we’ll close comments here and encourage you to comment there if you desire.

Do This in Remembrance of Me

Jesus sat at a table with four fishermen, a skeptic, a wealthy tax collector, a political activist, and an embezzler who would get him killed. He passed out some bread and wine and gave them one poignant instruction: do this in remembrance of me.

Weekly, the pastors of my past would recreate this scene in my mind as I held a small plastic cup of grape juice in my left hand as my thumb traced the edge of an oyster cracker. Modeling those around me, I knew that to eat these things in remembrance of Jesus meant to call to mind all of the awful things I had done that required his body to be broken on the cross for my sins. I often hung my head in shame. Once I got chastised from the pulpit for laughing with a friend during this portion of the service, for it was not one of joy and laughter–but one of somber heart and mind. On the worst days, when I felt I couldn’t even cultivate the sense of shameful sorrow laced with gratitude, I would let the elements pass by me. I was not fit to remember Jesus.

But Jesus sat at a table with four fishermen, a skeptic, a wealthy tax collector, a political activist, and an embezzler who would get him killed. If these men were fit to remember Jesus, maybe there was something unfit with my approach to remembering, not something unfit with me.

I’d always associated the word “remember” with the act of calling something to memory, until Cathy Cox–a courageous mentor in the faith–expanded my view. “Member” is defined as an animal, person, or plant belonging to a particular group–a piece of a complex structure. To dismember means to rip that structure apart. The prefix “re” means “back or again”. Remembering involves a restoration back to belonging. To be unified again. Sometimes we do that by recalling a moment within our mind, but sometimes we do that by action

God so loved the world that they sent their one and only son to re-member Love on earth. Remembering Love involved bringing back together again what had been ripped apart, so humanity and divinity coalesced. Love sought no division; there was no need. In Love, all pieces find their integrated place.

I think there’s a beautiful purpose that Jesus first said this famous line to such a rag-tag group. We can become guilty of picturing them all as fishermen. It helps me to modernize the image.

God sat at a table with a factory worker, a fast-food employee, a mechanic, a maid, a curious professor, a corrupt government official, a Ponzi schemer, and a protestor. He passed them bread and wine. And then he told them, “This. You are all around the same table with the same bread and the same clean feet. This is what I urge you to do to remember God. This is where you can start with restoring Love. You all belong together, again.”

March 11, 2021

There Must Be a Better Way (There Is and Jesus Modeled It)

by Clarke Dixon

Relationship meltdowns are nothing new. They happen between nations, within nations, and among family and friends. Battles rage and some families may feel like the starting point for WWIII. Is there any hope for peace, harmony, and healing?

It is no surprise that war and strife are normal. Life is often seen as a competitive struggle, a fight for space, land, resources, or just a voice. People push themselves ahead of others, or force their agendas on them. In the rat race of life, the first person to the finish line wins. I forget who first pointed it out, but unfortunately the winners also end up looking quite like rats.

As followers of Christ, we are supposed to be like sheep following the Good Shepherd. In life we might rather feel like we are sheep on a hamster wheel in a rat race.

Is there a better way?

There is a better way and Jesus models it for us in John, chapter 13. Here we find the twelve disciples in the upper room, not long before the first Lord’s Supper, not many hours before the arrest of Jesus, and just one day before the crucifixion of Jesus.

Looking around the upper room, Jesus knows that all the disciples will scatter and abandon him at the first hint of trouble. Jesus knows Peter will deny him. Jesus knows that Judas will betray him. I think many of us, in the same situation, would have launched into a war of words, or we would have ditched the disciples and went looking for better friends. But not Jesus:

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.

John 13:1 (NLT)

Jesus, knowing how the disciples were about to fail him spectacularly, neither rejected them, nor fought them. Instead,

. . . he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

John 13:4-5 (NLT)

Jesus loved them spectacularly.

Jesus walked the better path of love by serving. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Jesus was different, not at all like a rat trying to win the race, but instead taking the role of a servant, helping the disciples to walk a new path as truly human humans.

Jesus walked the path of love by taking the time, and putting in the effort. This was not just an act of service, but an act of service that required time and effort. In the upper room, the pace of life was allowed to grind to a halt. Taking time to serve the disciples meant taking a break from everything else that might seem important. There were so many people who still needed to hear Jesus’ teaching, so many people who still needed his healing touch, and so little time left. Yet here is Jesus, spending his time and effort, pouring out his love for the very ones he knew would abandon him, deny him, and betray him. I think I’d be saying “wash your own feet.” Jesus modeled the better way.

Jesus walked the path of love by serving people who did not earn his time or effort. Even after spending three years with Jesus, the disciples were caught up in a competitive spirit. Not long before this moment they were jostling for position, questioning who was the greatest among them. Had they not learned anything? Their feet were dirty from joining in the rat race. Yet here is Jesus washing the feet of those who would abandon him, deny him, and betray him. Jesus did not demand perfection from the disciples before washing their feet. He demanded love for them, from himself.

Jesus walked the path of love by choosing the path of the cross. Jesus had earlier said,

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

Not long after washing the feet of the disciples he said:

This is my body, which is given for you. . .

1 Corinthians 11:24-25 (NLT)

Given for you,” which at that moment meant the disciples who would abandon him, Peter who would deny him, and Judas who would betray him. Walking the path of love, the path of the cross which brought potential healing and life. That is the better way.

When we take the Lord’s Supper we are reminded that Jesus walks that better way of love with us as well. Despite our failings, as with the disciples, God shows his love for us to the very end.

When we take the Lord’s Supper we are also reminded that Jesus calls us to walk that same path of love. Are we picking up our cross and following? Are we walking in the ways that bring healing and life?

After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

John 13:12-15 (NLT)

We do as Jesus did; we walk the path of love by serving others. We walk the path of love by taking the time, making the time, putting in the effort. We walk the path of love serving people who have not earned our love. We love by picking up our cross and serving others through offering forgiveness and reconciliation. That is the better way.

It is significant that the early Christians referred to the Christian movement as “The Way.” By this they were not referring to ‘the way to get to heaven’. Rather they were referring to the better way of life, the way of love which shows that we walk with the One from heaven. It is the way of participating in the answer to the prayer “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

Jesus loved the disciples to the end. What is it referring to? It refers to Jesus loving the disciples by washing their feet, and loving them by dying on the cross for their reconciliation. But it also refers to how he loved them by teaching them. Jesus loved them by showing them the better way, the way of not turning his back on those who will turn their backs on him, the way of not returning violence for violence at the cross:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34 (NLT)

John experienced the love of Jesus. John experienced the love of God. He was there, his feet were washed. Then he was not there, he fled with the others. Then he was there at the cross, too late to do anything about it. There he experienced love, God’s love. He learned a better way. He wrote about it:

But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:8 (NLT)

People in our day may not be aware for their need for Jesus, for God. But many people are quite aware that there must be a better way. Many people are well aware that we need more love in this world. They may not be aware that Jesus showed us that better way of love two thousand years ago. They may not be aware that Jesus is willing to walk that better way of love with them, right now.

Are we ready to get off the hamster wheel and out of the rat race? There is a better way. It is walking with Jesus in the way of love.


The video for the sermon on which this is based can also be seen as part of this larger “online worship expression.Clarke Dixon is a pastor in Ontario, Canada and appears here most Thursdays.

August 26, 2020

Spiritual Comparison: A Snapshot

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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Ten days ago, with the help of Scott Sauls, we looked at the “Is it I?” passage in the Last Supper story.

Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” – Matthew 26: 21-25

But something else is also taking place at the same time.

 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. – Luke 22: 24-30

Last night I watched a teaching video on this from Dr. Van Johnson of Master’s Theological Seminary in Toronto and an adjunct professor at Tyndale Theological Seminary, someone with whom I had some limited contact many years ago and whose teaching style I have always greatly admired.

He points out that the conversations moves from ‘Which of us is the worst?’ to ‘Which of us is the best?’

The verse that arrested me in this passage however was,

And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Is this a promise to The Twelve Disciples or does it have broader application?  There is a more general promise in 2 Timothy 2:11-12a

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.

The more specific view is found in Matthew 19:28-29:

if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

As with the Matthew passage, it’s hard to imagine a grouping of us ‘sitting on a throne.’ It could get crowded.

Are these passages connect to the twelve thrones (or twenty-four thrones) in Revelation? I always check the cross-references in Bible Hub and they did not link the first few verses above to that book. However I found this possibility at CompellingTruth.org:

Revelation 4:4 mentions twenty-four elders who sit upon twenty-four thrones before the Lord. Who are these twenty-four elders?

The Bible does not specifically provide the identity of these elders. However, some information is provided that allows us to rule out some possibilities and consider a few options.

First, these twenty-four elders are described as human, male elders. They are not angels, creatures, or females, but specifically use male terms to describe these beings. They are also distinct from angels in other places in Revelation (7:11).

Second, they are clearly believers in the Lord. They are in heaven and wear white garments, something that symbolizes God’s righteousness. (Revelation 3:5, 18; 19:8). They also wear crowns (Revelation 4:4), something not said of angels in Scripture and which believers are said to receive (1 Corinthians 9:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10). Further, the elders also worship the Lord (Revelation 4:11).

Based on these descriptions, these twenty-four elders represent those who worship the Lord. More specifically, they may either represent 1) the church, 2) representatives of Israel, or 3) the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles (Matthew 19:28). One variation of these views is that the use of twenty-four elders may come from 1 Chronicles 24:1-5 in which the priests were organized into twenty-four groups. If so, this “kingdom of priests” represents the church that dwells in heaven with the Lord during the tribulation period.

[…article continues; use above link]

Returning to Van Johnson’s teaching, it’s important to note again that the Lord tells his disciples, You are those who have stood by me in my trials. He does this knowing that one person will betray him, one will deny him, and ten will desert him. It’s an exceptional thing for Jesus to say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 17, 2020

The Surprising Question the Disciples Asked Jesus

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:35 pm
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Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” – Matthew 26: 21-25

Following up from two weeks ago, I had hoped to return to one additional brief quotation from Scott Sauls‘ book A Gentle Answer and as I wrapped up reading the book I found this excerpt especially powerful. This exposes an interesting irony in this part of the conversation at that Last Supper, and it whetted my appetite for more, so below this you’ll see some additional notes.

The Judas Within Us

Shortly before his death, Jesus prepared and served the annual Passover meal for himself and his twelve disciples in the Upper Room. As the twelve were reclining at the table eating their meal, Jesus announced to them, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” When he said these words, Jesus did not single out the disciple Judas as the betrayer or as the infamous “son of perdition” (John 17:12 NKJV). Instead, he used the second-person plural, indicating that any of the twelve could feasibly betray him.

Knowing this to be true–knowing that the line dividing good and evil cuts through every human heart–none of the disciples responded with an accusation toward another. None said, “Lord, we’ve all been suspecting this for some time and we’re glad you are finally confirming our suspicion. It is Judas, of course! It’s so obvious!” Instead, each disciple became sorrowful and introspective, and each one took his turn asking Jesus, “Is it I?” (Mark 14:19).

This “Is it I?” response to the Lord, as opposed to an “It is he!” response, is a key indicator of a healthy, self-aware, non-presumptuous gentle posture of faith. Sorrow mixed with introspection is, even for the most faithful disciples among us, the most appropriate response when the subject of evil and betrayal is raised. For none of us has measured up to the standard of true faithfulness. And all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The more we realize these truths, the less accusatory we will become toward others, and the gentler we will become as well.  (pp 165-166)

Taken from A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them by Scott Sauls Copyright © 2020 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. http://www.thomasnelson.com.


At mentioned I was wanting to spend more time on this passage, and at the commentary EnduringWord.com, some additional insights appear on this section. I was going to just focus on the “Is it I?” question, but decided to run the entire section which appears under the header,

Jesus gives Judas a last opportunity to repent

a. Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me: In the midst of their Passover meal, Jesus made a startling announcement. He told His disciples that one of their own – these twelve who had lived and heard and learned from Jesus for three years – would betray Him.

i. If we are familiar with this story it is easy not to appreciate its impact. It’s easy to lose appreciation for how terrible it was for one of Jesus’ own to betray Him. For good reason Dante’s great poem about heaven and hell places Judas in the lowest place of hell.

ii. “This was a most unpleasant thought to bring to a feast, yet it was most appropriate to the Passover, for God’s commandment to Moses concerning the first paschal lamb was, ‘With bitter herbs they shall eat it.’” (Spurgeon)

b. He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me: Jesus said this not to point out a specific disciple, because they all dipped with Him. Instead, Jesus identified the betrayer as a friend, someone who ate at the same table with Him.

i. This idea is drawn from Psalm 41:9: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.“ “My fellow-commoner, my familiar friend, … This greatly aggravates the indignity of the matter.” (Trapp)

c. Rabbi, is it I? It was noble for the 11 other disciples to ask this question (Lord, is it I?); it was terrible hypocrisy for Judas to ask it. For Judas to ask, “Rabbi, is it I?” while knowing he had already arranged the arrest of Jesus was the height of treachery.

i. “It is a beautiful trait in the character of the disciples that they did not suspect one another, but every one of them inquired, almost incredulously, as the form of the question implies, ‘Lord, is it I?’ No one said, ‘Lord is it Judas?’” (Spurgeon)

d. You have said it: Jesus did not say this to condemn Judas, but to call him to repentance. It is fair to assume that He said it with love in His eyes, and Jesus showed Judas that He loved him, even knowing his treachery.

 

 

 

April 13, 2020

On the Cusp of the Four Cups

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:23 pm
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Okay, I don’t know why I chose that title for today’s devotional, but there is definitely something afoot in Luke 22: 13-23 about cups. We join the Passover meal (aka The Last Supper) in the middle of the story, where Jesus takes the second of four cups. Then the third. Bread in between. Only Luke offers this sequence.

That there are two cups in this story probably confuses new Christians who are accustomed to the Communion or Eucharist where there is one instance of bread and one instance of cup. The cup-bread-sequence needs to be understood.

I was thinking about this reading Devotions by Chris by Chris Hendrix in a post entitled The Promise of Redemption.

A traditional Passover meal, called a Seder, is a meal to commemorate the Israelites leaving Egypt. They recline to eat instead of sitting in a chair, eat matza (unleavened bread), bitter herbs and four cups of wine. The first cup of wine represents sanctification, which is the process of being made holy. It’s to remember that God’s people are to be set apart. The second cup represents the joy of Deliverance, a reminder that we are no longer under the yoke of slavery. The third cup is the cup of redemption. It was after eating the lamb as a reminder of the price paid for redemption. The fourth cup is the cup of restoration, a reminder that God would make His people a nation.

Think back to the night Jesus was betrayed (Good Friday). The disciples prepared the Passover meal where Jesus had told them to (Matthew 26:19). There’s no recording of the first cup of wine, but in Luke 22:17 we see the second cup where Jesus says He won’t drink it again until the Kingdom has come. We then read where Jesus broke the matza and blessed it. In verse 20 it says He lifted up another cup (third – redemption) and told them that He was making a new covenant confirmed with His blood as the Passover lamb. Matthew and Mark then say the went to the garden after this cup. While Jesus was on the cross, John 19 records that Jesus said He was thirsty. They lifted up sour wine to Him (fourth cup). Verse 30 says when He drank it, He said, “It is finished” and died. He finished the Passover meal and the fulfillment of it in that moment to redeem us and to restore us to God.

This drove me deeper into tracking down the cups in a Jewish context which took me to Chabad.org and this article which states,

G‑d uses four expressions of redemption in describing our Exodus from Egypt and our birth as a nation:

1. “I will take you out…”

2. “I will save you…”

3. “I will redeem you…”

4. “I will take you as a nation…”

Our sages instituted that we should drink a cup of wine, a toast if you will, for each one of these expressions. We recite the Kiddush over the first cup, we read the Exodus story from the Haggadah over the second cup, we recite the Grace after Meals over the third cup, and we sing the “big Hallel” (Psalms and hymns of praises to G‑d) over the fourth cup.

 There are a number of explanations as to the significance of the various stages of redemption conveyed through each of these expressions. Here is one:

1. Salvation from harsh labor—this began as soon as the plagues were introduced.

2. Salvation from servitude; or the day the Jews left Egypt geographically and arrived at Ramses.

3. The splitting of the sea, after which the Jews felt completely redeemed, without fear of the Egyptians recapturing them.

4. Becoming a nation at Sinai.

During the Seder we can experience these elements of redemption in a spiritual sense.

Another article by a different author at the same website offers various interpretations of the four cups.

We were liberated from Pharaoh’s four evil decrees: a) Slavery. b) The ordered murder of all male progeny by the Hebrew midwives. c) The drowning of all Hebrew boys in the Nile by Egyptian thugs. d) The decree ordering the Israelites to collect their own straw for use in their brick production.


The four cups symbolize our freedom from our four exiles: The Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek exiles, and our current exile which we hope to be rid of very soon with the coming of Moshiach.


The words “cup of wine” are mentioned four times in Pharaoh’s butler‘s dream (Genesis 40:11-13). According to the Midrash, these cups of wine alluded to the Israelites’ liberation.

The website of Chosen People Ministries shows each of these fulfilled in Christ:

The ministry of Messiah speaks to each of these four promises:

Messiah sanctifies us – “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:19).

Messiah delivers us – “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Messiah redeems us – “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Messiah is our joy – “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

But the view suggested at the top of today`s devotional, that Jesus completes the Passover meal with the wine mixed with vinegar on the cross is occasionally challenged. Religion professor Jonathan Klawans states,

Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples did not take place on the first night of Passover. There is a real difference between John and the synoptics on this question, and John’s chronology continues to make much more sense to me: Jesus was tried and killed before the holiday began. By Seder time, he was buried.

Which begs the question, was this truly a ‘second cup, bread, third cup’ scenario? I would argue that it was a Passover meal. The notes in most Evangelical study Bibles would argue that it was, indeed a Passover meal, but suggest that the completion takes place at The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Notice the parallel lamb reference.)

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
 – Rev. 19:9 NLT

Back to Luke, I believe this ‘third’ cup is indeed Jesus of Nazareth saying, “I will redeem you.” He redefines both the bread and the wine, and most importantly, becomes our Passover lamb.

But that doesn’t dismiss Chris’ idea quoted at the outset, because you could accept that the wine/vinegar mix is cup number four if you are still anticipating cup number five. Yes, five.

You see, I didn’t give you the entirety of the first quotation from Chabad.org and I’m going to give them the last word, because I think the imagery from a Christian perspective is rather obvious!

There is actually a fifth expression in the above mentioned verses: “And I will bring you to the land which I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as an inheritance.

While the Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish nation were permanent, we have yet to be brought to Israel on a permanent basis.

In honor of this verse we have a fifth cup at the Seder: the Cup of Elijah. This cup is set up for Elijah during the second half of the Seder, but we do not drink it. Elijah will announce the arrival of Moshiach1, who will bring all Jews to Israel, for good.


1(lit. “the anointed one”) the Messiah. One of the 13 principles of the Jewish faith is that G-d will send the Messiah to return the Jews to the land of Israel, rebuild the Holy Temple and usher in the utopian Messianic Era.

 

August 16, 2010

Satan’s Sifting

Ever felt sifted by Satan?   My oldest son wrote today to ask for some clarification on Luke 22:31.  I decided to see what other bloggers have written on this.    Here are two answers.

The first is from Pastor Paul Taylor:

Satan wanted to find some fault in Peter to separate him from Jesus; to disqualify him from service. Jesus said that he has prayed for Peter, not to stop the sifting, but that Peter’s faith won’t fail in the middle of the sifting! Peter is the wheat and his self-confidence is the chaff.

Didn’t Jesus pray that Peter’s faith wouldn’t fail? But it looks like Peter’s faith DID FAIL in the middle of the testing. So what failed? Peter’s promise to Jesus that he would never fall away under extreme pressure, Peter’s faith in himself and his ability to do the good he intended to do, to prove his worth or value to Jesus by his words and actions; that FAILED! That is what Satan’s sifting exposed; Peter was trusting in his good intentions, to prove his love for Jesus.

So it will fail in us as well. Satan wanted to show Peter was worthless and unfaithful. Jesus wanted to redirect Peter’s faith onto God so it would not fail in crisis.

Where have you been putting your faith? Is your faith unconsciously in yourself, in your ability to do everything right as a Christian? Are you discouraged or depressed when your best intentions fail? Have you made promises to God that not only did you fail to keep, but you sinned and failed miserably? Have you allowed this to bring shame and guilt into your relationship with Jesus so you pulled away from him? Some become so discouraged by their failure that they fall headlong into sin-they give up and quit trying to live as a Christian. Tune in to today’s sermon and find the same courage and strength to follow Jesus once again.

The second one was just posted a few days ago by Jen Slattery:

Our church, and a few of my fb friends, are reading through the New Testament in six months, and today’s reading was the passage covering the crucifixion.  I think we tend to glaze over this story. We’ve heard it so many times, it no longer affects us. And yet, if we were to stop and ponder what Jesus Christ’s death was like, for Him and those who loved Him dearly, it’d break our hearts. And maybe that’s why we don’t always grasp it as often as perhaps we should–the understanding of that kind of love, and our total unworthiness of it, breaks us. One of my favorite songs is From the Inside Out by Hillsong. The opening verse is my life story set to music:

“A thousand times I’ve failed, yet Your mercy remains. Should I stumble again, still I’m caught in Your grace. Everylasting. Your light shines when all else fades. Never-ending. Your glory goes beyond all praise.”

I’ve failed God more times than I can count. I’ve thrown fits, I’ve rebelled, I’ve been so consumed with self my prayers sounded like a toddler wish-list, and yet through it all, God has remained. And the minute I turn around, I find myself surrounded in His arms. He is only a repentance away.

In the passage we read today, Peter, one of Jesus’ close disciples and dear friends, denies Him. Not once, but three times. Peter, the same man who only a few paragraphs earlier tells Jesus that he is ready and willing to die for Him. And yet, when the time comes and Jesus is facing His death, everyone scatters. They are faithless, and yet, Jesus remains faithful. Peter’s denial does not dissuade God’s love. (Luke 22:54-22:62) Nor was Jesus surprised by Peter’s unfaithfulness.

In Luke 22:31 Jesus tells Peter what he is about to do and lets him know that He wants to use him anyway.

Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon (his name was Simon Peter), Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers….I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Jesus prayed that Simon Peter’s faith would not fail. That he would not allow his sin to remain a permanent barrier between them. That Simon Peter would turn back, repent, with a focus on the future. I’ve heard it said that Godly repentance draws you closer to God, guilt draws you farther from Him. Christianity isn’t about beating yourself up for all your failures. And it isn’t about following a bunch of rules in an effort to be good enough. It’s about opening your heart up to the one who loves you more than the human mind can comprehend and allowing Him to remove all the baggage that gets in they way of you experiencing His love.