We love getting to spend Wednesday nights with you all. It is our joy to see you hunger and thirst for heavenly things. Last night we took an intense look at Peter's denial of Jesus and compared/contrasted it with Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Here is a recap...
~John 18:12-17: Whereas Peter had once been so bold when He was in close proximity to Jesus, his faith and devotion to the Lord faltered when he became distanced from the Lord (even for a short time). Our proximity to the Savior is directly related to how strong our faith is. Peter needed to be near to the Savior in order to draw strength from Him. We, too, need to be near to the Savior (the Author and Perfecter of our faith- Hebrews 12:2) in order to draw strength from Him so that our faith my stay strong.
~Jesus had told Peter in chapter 13 (vs 36-38) that he would fall away. Not until the Spirit would come to dwell in our hearts after the ascension of Jesus would we be able to be with the Lord continually. Peter would eventually have the Spirit residing in him and he would go on to do great things for Kingdom of God!
Q: We have the Spirit of the Lord within us when we are reborn by faith in the Savior but we must put forth effort to strengthen our relationship with the Lord through prayer and reading His Word. What prevents you from being near to the Savior and growing in "proximity" to Him? What changes do you need to make so that you can be nearer to Him this week?
~John 18:18-25: Just as Judas had stood with the enemies of Jesus (vs. 5) as Jesus was being betrayed, so Peter was now surrounding himself with the betrayers of Jesus as he was warming himself by the fire. Being surrounded with enemies of the Lord played a huge part in how weak Peter's faith was. Bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).
~Romans 12:9-16 gives a great description of what the lives of professing believers should look like. We should abhor evil and cling to good. We should be loving others more than ourselves. In trying to live this way, we MUST be surrounded with others who are desiring to do so too.
~Proverbs 1 calls us to take great care with who we surround ourselves with- calling us blessed if we do not walk in the counsel of wicked nor stand in the presence of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers. Who we surround ourselves with DOES make a difference in how intimate we are with the Lord!
Q: Who are you surrounding yourself with? Do the people that you are surrounding yourself with bring glory to the Lord or do they deny Him through lives of disobedience? Just like Peter, if you consistently hang around those that are not strengthening your faith, you will fall and eventually become like them. We must continually be around those that encourage our faith so that the body of Christ can build itself up. Do you need to make some changes in who you surround yourself with in order to protect your relationship with the Lord?
~John 18:26-27: Peter being surrounded by the enemies of Jesus led to the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy in chapter 13. Peter denied Jesus a third time and a rooster crowed. When we look at the account of this scene in Luke 22 (vs 54-62) we come to see the great difference between Judas and Peter. Judas denies the Lord completely and his guilt leads him to commit suicide thus he never repents and comes to the Lord for forgiveness. He dies in his sin. Peter denies Jesus for the third time and once the rooster crows he realizes his sins and is led to godly sorrow that eventually produces repentance and a restored relationship with the Savior. A broken heart and contrite spirit are the desires of the Lord for us when faced with our sin... He will not despise this but will offer forgiveness and restoration (Psalm 51:17).
~John 21:7 gives us an even greater picture of the restoration that Peter had with the Lord. After repenting of his faithlessness, He sees Jesus from a distance and dives into the lake fully clothed in order to be near to His Lord. When confronted with his sin, Peter repented and returned to His King and experienced a powerful life of faith as he continued to pursue Jesus and live for the kingdom rather than the fleeting pleasures of this life.
~Acts 4:1-12 we also see the boldness of Peter. As he continued to walk in the power of the Spirit through faith in Jesus and surround himself with godly people (the other disciples with the same goal- to honor Jesus with their whole lives), He was able to boldly proclaim the gospel in the midst of the enemies of the Lord. What a great life he lived for the kingdom when he was in close "proximity" to the Lord!
Q: Are you spending time daily in the presence of the Lord through reading His word? Remember that the closer you are to Him the stronger your faith will be when you are tempted to deny Him. We need His Spirit to be strengthening us daily for the battles that we will encounter. Remember that we are in a spiritual battle everyday and we need the armor of God (Ephesians 6).
We hope that you realize that we will all at times have experiences like Peter where we deny the Lord. We are human and are still faced with temptations on a daily basis. We must remember that what set Peter apart from Judas was that he REPENTED and RETURNED to the Lord. It is never too late. If you know this week that you have been walking in opposition to the Lord we encourage you to follow in the footsteps of Peter. Repent and return. The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness (Psalm 145:8 and Numbers 14:18)! We love you and are praying for you this week! Find rest in Him!
Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest."
~Sonny and Casi