Peter’s Hope is also Your Hope

Hope Beyond Failure

by Charles R. Swindoll

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again
to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3, emphasis added)

Rarely will one of God’s heroes show up in the Scriptures having lived a life free of failure. Take Peter, for example. As soon as you read the name, you remember his story. Peter experienced the extreme highs and lows of life—from days spent in blessed fellowship with Christ . . . to the heart-wrenching erosion of loyalty when he denied the Lord. Not once. Not twice. Three times. Once he realized his failure, the Bible says, “he went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

Can you remember a failure that was so dramatic and so tearful for you that you hardly need to be reminded of the feelings? I remember Betsie ten Boom’s words, “There is no pit so deep but that He is not deeper still.” As dark and as deep and as tragic as your failure may be, He is willing to go to the depths of it with you.

This was true of Peter too. Look back at Luke 22. After the surprising warning of Satan’s attack, Jesus gave Peter a statement of fact: “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.” Then there was a veiled reassurance: “And you, when once you have turned again . . .” Then a final command: “Strengthen your brothers” (22:32).

What does that suggest? It suggests that Peter was going to fall. “Once you have turned again.” “Retraced your steps” is another way someone else has put it. “Once you have turned again,” Jesus said, “then use it to strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knew Peter to the core. He knew Peter would fall, but He prayed for him that he would not remain fallen. Jesus loved Peter—even at his point of deepest weakness.

How did He prove that love? Mark 16:6-7 answers that question. After the Resurrection, while the women were standing at the tomb, an angel told them:

“Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter.” (emphasis added)

Isn’t that great? “Don’t forget Peter. He’s the last one who thinks that I’ll ever want to talk to him again. Tell Peter!” What grace!

Somewhere between the time Peter fell and this angelic announcement there was a process during which Peter wallowed in remorse, wishing he could, if possible, correct his error . . . but he couldn’t. And somewhere in the midst of it he heard the Lord say to him, “Peter, I forgive you. I understand. Use it to strengthen your brothers.”

That’s why Peter later was able to write the following words to early Christians:

May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection. (1 Peter 1:2-3, emphasis added)

Why did this mean so much to Peter? Because it was at the Resurrection Peter’s name was called, and the Lord in tender mercy said, “Tell him I’ve come back.”

First Peter is a letter of great hope written by a man who experienced it! By the time he wrote this letter, Peter had come to the place where he was not only back on the scene, he was aggressively engaged in the formation of the early church.

It can happen to you too. Just like fallen and forgiven Peter, you can find new hope despite your failures. If you are a believer, you are born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

What tender mercy! What triumphant grace! Failure is not forever. God specializes in forgiveness and hope. He can use even your worst failures in a mighty way.

Taken from Charles R. Swindoll, “Hope beyond Failure,” Insights (August 2002): 1-2. Copyright © 2002 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Listen to today’s broadcast of Insight for Living with Chuck Swindoll at OnePlace.com.
Visit the Bible-teaching ministry of Chuck Swindoll at www.insight.org.

Is Your Path Bumpy?

I was reading Julie Ackerman Link’s post in Our Daily Bread published by RBC.ORG.  She titled the devotion, “Road Construction.”  I really thought she hit the mark with her thoughts and Scriptures.  I am posting it here with the prayer that you will not only read her thoughts today, but you might subscribe to Our Daily Bread over at rbc.org.

ROAD CONSTRUCTION

By Julie Ackerman Link  (Read: Jeremiah 31:31-34)

road repairs 

 

Here in Michigan we joke that we have two seasons: winter and road construction.  Harsh winters damage road surfaces, so repair crews begin their work as soon as   the ice melts and the ground thaws.  Although we call this work “construction,” much of what they do looks like “destruction.”  In some cases, simply patching holes is not an option.  Workers have to replace the old road with a new one.

  That’s what it can feel like when God is at work in our lives.  Throughout the Old Testament, God told His people to expect some major renovation on the road between Him and them (Isaiah 62:10-11; Jeremiah 31:31).  When God sent Jess, it seemed to the Jews as if their way to God was being destroyed.  But Jesus wasn’t destroying anything.  He was completing it (Matthew 5:17).  The old way paved with laws became new way paved with the sacrificial love of Jesus.

  God is still at work replacing old ways of sin and legalism with the way of love that Jesus completed.  When He removes our old ways of thinking and behaving, it may feel as if everything familiar is being destroyed.  But God is not destroying anything; He is building a better way.  And we can be confident that the end result will be smoother relationships with others and a closer relationship with Him. 

Free from the law–O happy condition!

Jesus  has bled, and there is remission;
 Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
 Grace has redeemed us once for all. — Bliss

Keep this in mind:  Upheaval often precedes spiritual progress.

 

The Great Struggle

 

Law or Grace: Which?

 

By Ron English

Law and graceGod has fixed the Christian for eternity.   The fix is in.  God did something for the child of God that can not be undone.  It can not be unfixed.  God has placed something in a Christian that Satan can not touch.  He can’t find it.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” -Romans 6:14 The Law demands righteousness without giving you any power to produce it. Grace, on the other hand, gives you righteousness at salvation and it also gives you power to live righteously after salvation. It is this super truth that causes those who do not grasp it to mock Christians who believe in eternal life and suggest we can get saved and then sin all we want. No, no…a thousand times no…the Apostle Paul said in Romans 6:15, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” No Christian has an excuse for living an ungodly life, but if he does…that does not mean he will lose his salvation. The Christian has the proper motive for doing right. The Christian’s motive is love for the Savior, not fear of retribution if he fails to keep the Law. One of the great mysteries in Scripture is this fact…once saved a Christian has two natures. The old nature…flesh and the new nature…spiritual. The old nature has not changed. Everything a Christian would likely do and want to do before he was saved…he can still do. God didn’t change your flesh at salvation. He placed a new man inside you…that man does not sin and can not sin. Paul said, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” -Romans 6:11 I reckon you know how to reckon don’t you? One man put this mystery like this.two dogs fighting “There are two dogs inside me. One a very bad, mean dog and the other a good dog, obedient. They are constantly fighting.” When asked which one wins…he replied, “The one I say sic ’em to.” Paul describes this conflict this way: “Romans 7:15-17 ,
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Paul struggled at times with wanting to do the wrong things and recognized he had given in to his old nature. We are not better Christians than Paul…we too have these struggles. It is only the loving help and power of the Holy Spirit that helps us conquer those temptations and resist Satan causing him to flee from us. Satan is a defeated foe and the Christian is dead and his life is hidden in Christ. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” – Colossians  3:3  Satan can tempt your flesh, but he can’t get at your hidden life. Words mean things…Eternal life means Eternal. Everlasting life means everlasting. Salvation is a wonderful, eternal, everlasting gift that will make sure you go to Heaven. Rejoice!
You might find these thoughts interesting, but your mind tells you that you do not possess salvation.  You have absolutely no reason to think you are saved and going to Heaven.  That is a terrible fix you find yourself in.  You need salvation now and you do not need to delay…no more flirting with Hell and damnation.  This is serious business.  The Bible is true…God has made a way for you to escape everlasting damnation and the flames of Hell.  That Way is through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  Call upon His Name today…confess to Him you are a hardhearted sinner that deserves Hell.  Ask Him to come into your heart, forgiving you of your sins and making you ready for Heaven.  God help you to do this right now.  Then, send me an email so I can rejoice with you and I promise to send you some free material that will help you get started right as a new born Christian.  Email: Editor@gmail.com  -Ron English

Why Do Christians Suffer?

The Challenge to Be Content

When life gets tough, giving in to self-pity can be a huge temptation. But circumstances don’t have to hold you back—God has a better way.

by Charles F. Stanley

Charles Stanley
Charles Stanley

As you sit there in your seat, reading these words, I’m willing to guess there are circumstances you’re dealing with. No doubt some of them are heavy things that rest on your conscience. Relationships that need attention, bills that need paying, dreams and goals and unfinished projects—life is so complex and so busy that at times it may seem like more than you can handle.

Let me save you some trouble: the truth is, your circumstances are already more than you can handle on your own, whether you realize it or not. Now, why do I say that? The answer is simple. You were never meant to live apart from the sustaining help of God, and it’s by His mercy alone that you’re able to continue day after day.

It may feel as though you’re managing on your own, but without God’s kindness, we would all be utterly incapacitated. That’s the first lesson. The second is that God doesn’t want you to go through life alone. He offers Himself to you in relationship, as a loving Father, to help and guide you through the most trying of circumstances. The question is, Are you willing to let Him? Too often we say that we want the Lord’s help, but our actions suggest that we’re unwilling to relinquish control and let Him take the lead.

At one time or another we all face situations that are less than desirable. In moments like these, we have two options: to live under our circumstances and try to get through them as best we can, or to humble ourselves in turning to God and letting Him lift us up. The choice comes down to faith in the Lord and whether or not, in our heart of hearts, we believe He’ll come through for us.

Can you relate to that struggle? Paul must have been tempted to be disheartened at times. You could argue that, as a man who faced extreme difficulty and suffering, he had a right to be frustrated with God. Repeated beatings, scorn, imprisonment—you’d think the Lord would always come to the rescue of His specially chosen apostle. But He didn’t. That hardly seems fair, considering how faithfully Paul had served Him.

But here’s what we need to notice: Paul didn’t let his circumstances dictate his behavior, shape his attitude, or control his mind. As he sat in that jail cell, he penned the following words to the Philippian church: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).

Notice that Paul learned to be content. It wasn’t the result of favorable circumstances or an easy-going temperament. His contentment developed in hardship and was the outcome of his obedience. You and I can learn to live with that same contentment, no matter what comes our way.

Focused on goodness

In Philippians, the apostle mentions Christ or Jesus 55 times, but he talks about his imprisonment in only a few verses of chapter one. There’s no complaining, self-pity, or blaming the Lord. In fact, the letter is filled with just the opposite—rejoicing.

Although his life continually hung in the balance, Paul could rejoice because he trusted God’s plans for his future. His life’s motto was, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). He knew death would instantly usher him into Christ’s presence, and life would mean more years of fruitful service. Either way, God’s plans for him were good, even when his circumstances weren’t. The key to Paul’s contentment was his firm belief in the Lord’s goodness toward him, recognition of His authority over him, and absolute trust in His will for his life.

From a worldly perspective, the Roman emperor may have held Paul’s life in his hands, but in reality, the Lord alone is the sovereign Ruler over heaven and earth (Ps. 103:19)—which means He’s in control of every event around the globe. Most people have a hard time with this statement because they can’t accept that a loving God would let bad things happen.

But when it comes to why He allows evil and hardship to take place, He has purposes and reasons that may always remain a mystery to us. What we know for certain is that the Lord is good, and in the end, His goodness will win the day (Rom. 8:28; Phil. 2:13). We may not see or always feel Him, but He’s there, abiding within us and working among us.

An opportunity to serve

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,” wrote Paul (Phil. 1:12).

Although imprisonment seemed like a huge obstacle preventing the apostle from serving the Lord, it turned out to be just the opposite. As a prisoner on house arrest, he had his own rented quarters, and people were allowed to come see him. So, he took every opportunity to teach his visitors about Jesus.

Furthermore, he always quite literally had a captive audience, because he was constantly chained to a Roman guard (Acts 28:16, Acts 30-31). Before long, the entire Praetorian Guard had heard about Paul and his imprisonment for the cause of Christ (Phil. 1:13). The gospel message even reached into the most unlikely place—Caesar’s household (Phil. 4:22). Thanks to his imprisonment, Paul gained exposure to an audience he wouldn’t have had any other way.

Faithfully serving the Lord in difficult circumstances is a witness not only to the unbelieving world, but also to fellow Christians. Paul’s imprisonment inspired other believers to trust God and courageously speak His Word without fear (Phil.1:14). But there was an even more surprising result. Some believers who were envious of Paul started preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition, hoping to cause him distress. But even in this, Paul saw the blessing and rejoiced that whether in pretense or truth, Christ was being proclaimed (Phil. 1:15-18).

How about you?

Where is your focus during difficult circumstances? Are you constantly looking for a way out? Or do you fret over the situation until it becomes so insurmountable in your mind that you give in to despair? Another option is to focus on yourself by wallowing in self-pity or casting blame on others—even on God.

If you’re dealing with stressful situations, it’s only natural to be concerned. But a child of God has the privilege of a higher focus. When circumstances seem overwhelming, all we have to do is fix our eyes on Christ (Heb. 12:2), turning our anxious hearts and minds over to Him.

If we’ve trusted Him for the most critical issue in life—our eternal salvation—surely we can trust Him with all our temporal concerns. It’s possible to live with a sense of unwavering courage and confidence in the Lord instead of being swayed and defeated by the storms of life. The deciding factor is trust.

In the midst of Paul’s horrendous circumstances, his heart was set on the Lord—“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10). No negative circumstance could rob him of that longing. On the contrary, imprisonment was producing for Paul what he desired most: a more intimate relationship with Christ.

The right perspective on your circumstances begins with your thoughts. A mind focused on God and His Word looks beyond the temporal trials to His unseen hand at work. Once your mind is focused on Him and your trust in His sovereignty and goodness is firm, you’ll have no problem submitting to whatever situations He allows in your life.

In fact, unshakeable contentment is available only when you’re fully surrendered to Christ. Then you can be at rest even when surrounded by chaos, as Paul was, because you’ll know the Lord is holding you in His loving hands, working it all out for good.

Click this link and watch a short video by Dr. Charles Stanley on Suffering.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyXmXw4Jyks

 Do you know God?

Learn how to let Jesus Christ transform any circumstance into one of peace, beauty, and joy by beginning a new relationship with Him here.

Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Andy Andrews

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