Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reflections On My Cup Of Coffee With Peter

Yesterday morning before the sun was up, I stumbled out of bed to make a cup of Donut Shop coffee with Cinnabon creamer, then settled in my green chair with my Bible and 90 Days With Jesus study by Beth Moore.  The lesson was titled A Serious Case Of Denial and was from Luke 22:47-62.

As I sipped my hot, fragrant coffee and read by the dim light I had lit in the darkness, I was overcome by emotion reading of Peter's blatant denial of Jesus whom he loved.

A few days ago I studied how Jesus had predicted that Peter would do this.  He told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed.  Peter's response was reflective of how most of us who love Jesus would respond - Lord, I would never do that!  I will follow you to the end!

But like so many of us, Peter did something he thought he would never do.  I mean, haven't we all at some point made a mistake or choice we never thought we would make?  Haven't all of us set out with the best of intentions only to fall flat on our face when we acted or spoke impulsively or out of self-protection?

Just an hour or so after cutting off a man's ear in defense of Jesus, he denied Him not once, not twice, but three times.  What gripped my emotions so much when reading this account was that it said while he was still speaking the third time, the rooster crowed.  Before the words were even out of his mouth he knew that he had done the unthinkable that Jesus had said he would do.

Then verse 61 says, "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter."  

Can you even imagine the grief Peter felt at that look?  The same Jesus who washed Peter's feet looked in his eyes as Peter denied Him. Verse 62 says Peter went out and wept bitterly.  I can't imagine the outpouring of emotions at that moment.  But again, on some level, all of us have been there.  We have done something we thought we'd never do, we knew that the Lord saw us, and we have been stricken with grief at our sin and humanity.  We have sorrowed because we hurt the One we love most.

A very interesting factor in this whole story is something I was reading a few days ago that I had never paid much attention to.  In studying Luke 22:31-34 I read where Jesus told Peter that Satan had literally asked for permission to sift Peter as wheat.  Satan hoped that through this time of sifting only the chaff and tares would be revealed, that Peter would ultimately deny Christ and reject Him.  But Jesus goes on to tell Peter that He (Jesus) prayed for him that his faith would not fail, and that when he returned to Him he would help strengthen other believers.

So Jesus predicted Peter's denial, but knew that ultimately Peter would come back to Him, live for Him, and help others grow in their faith.  Jesus knew that He would have the final victory in this sifting, not Satan.  He knew that even though Peter would blow it big time, he would repent and live on to make a huge difference for the kingdom of God  John 21:18-19 predicts Peter's death by crucifixion, and history indicates Peter was crucified for his faith upside down, because he didn't feel worthy to even suffer and die as his precious Lord did.

Once again, as I sipped my coffee and processed this painful story, I realized most of us can relate to this; we can recall a time where Satan was after us big time with temptation, discouragement, defeat, or one of his other many tactics and we blew it or our weakness was revealed, but yet we were able to turn away from sin or allow God to pick us up from a place of discouragement and defeat. Then we, by His beautiful grace, were able to take steps towards the Savior and make a difference for Him.  Sometimes His grace is most obvious in our own weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). If we were self-sufficient or perfect on our own, we would have no need for a Savior.  But oh, how we need Him.

I love 2 Corinthians 3:5.  It says, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."

Peter was not sufficient of himself.  Self-protection, impulsive behavior, and fear caused him to make wrong choices that made him weep and mourn.  However, in Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, " are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

That's grace right there.  God shining His light through cracked jars of clay.  God using brokenness for a mosaic of His glory.

My cup of coffee with Peter in the darkness of morning once again reminded my heart that it is in the grip of grace.  That on my own and I am prone to weakness, fear, and failure.  But when my heart is hidden in the heart of Christ He can still use me - and He can still use you - as we acknowledge our sufficiency is fully and completely in Him.

Be blessed today as you let Him use you, cracked jars, broken pieces, and all.  Rest in surrender.



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