Monday, April 26, 2010

A.W. Pink: A Few Truths About the "New Birth"....

A while back, I posted a blog about why so many "Christians" are living unchanged, unvictorious lives. Another Voice is a blog that I visit sometimes and today I happened to visit there and was rewarded with this insightful message from A. W. Pink which the blog owner has reprinted. Please read it in its entirety. This message points out that being filled with the spirit of God encompasses more than just an emotional moment in church or a guilt-inspired utterance of a prayer for salvation; although, God could use those to bring about a spirit re-birth. This message made many Bible verses take on rich meaning for me.

Many who believe themselves to be real Christians unfortunately have never actually been "born again". No person has ever had anything to do with their own natural birth, and likewise, neither can they have anything to do with being "born of the Spirit". It is a sovereign act of God:
"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

In the new birth God brings us from death unto life (John 5:24). He imparts to us His own nature (2 Pet. 1:4). He delivers us from the power of darkness and translates us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13). Now, manifestly, we could not do this ourselves, for we were "without strength" (Rom. 5:6), hence it is written, "we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:10).
In the new birth we are made partakers of the Divine nature: a principle, a "seed," a life, is communicated to us which is "born of the Spirit," and therefore "is spirit;" is born of the Holy Spirit, and therefore is holy. Apart from this Divine and holy nature which is imparted to us at the new birth, it is utterly impossible for any man to generate a spiritual impulse, form a spiritual concept, think a spiritual thought, understand spiritual things, still less engage in spiritual works. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord," but the natural man has no desire for holiness, and the provision that God has made he does not want. Will then a man pray for, seek for, strive after, that which he dislikes? Surely not. If then a man does "follow after" that which by nature he cordially dislikes, if he does now love the One he once hated, it is because a miraculous change has taken place within him; a power outside of himself has operated upon him, a nature entirely different from his old one has been imparted to him, and hence it is written, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). Such an one as we have just described has passed from death unto life, has been turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18). In no other way can the great change be accounted for.
The new birth is very, very much more than simply shedding a few tears due to a temporary remorse over sin. It is far more than changing our course of life, the leaving off of bad habits and the substituting of good ones. It is something different from the mere cherishing and practicing of noble ideals. It goes infinitely deeper than coming forward to take some popular evangelist by the hand, signing a pledge-card, or "joining the church." The new birth is no mere turning over a new leaf, but is the inception and reception of a new life. It is no mere reformation but a complete transformation. In short, the new birth is a miracle, the result of the supernatural operation of God. It is radical, revolutionary, lasting. A.W. Pink 1886-1952
What this means then is that there really is no such thing as the common idea of "accepting the Lord". Men cannot cannot 'birth' themselves. But, there is one thing that men can and must do - believe:
Ephesians. 2:8 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God'.

A spirit filled life takes time, dedication, hope, love and faith. it also requires a commitment to do the hard things that God requires of his followers.

The pay off is priceless. Wouldn't your life be better with known do's and don'ts; set boundaries on how you should live so that not only you benefit but all mankind benefits? And wouldn't you like to live a life that when it's over you know without a doubt that you will go to a place where peace, love, justice, happiness and good health will be yours for eternity? There is nothing, I repeat, nothing in this life more valuable that all this to me.

God bless you with His presence in your life today.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earthen Vessels

This morning as I meditated on God's word, I asked myself what the desires of my heart are. God's Word assures us that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will grant us the desires of our hearts. Psalm 37:4

I truly want God to do a life-changing work in me that will cause ALL people to know that I am His; that I would always speak the truth, in love; and that like Jesus, all people would either love me or hate me because then I would know that I was accomplishing His purpose for my life.

God, in His, wisdom, has given satan the power to be the god of this world, and satan, in turn, has blinded the minds of those who have not accepted the good news of Christ. He does this because he doesn't want there to be any chance that the light of the gospel will be shined into the dark places of those who don't believe. Satan uses deceit, just like he did in the garden with Eve, to convice people that sin (things that God's word explicitly says are wrong) is okay. He manipulates man's ability to look at things through the eyes of God. He takes aways the desire to know the truth, because the truth will set people free, and he wants people in bondage, him. How do you know if you are sinning? How do you know if you are doing the things God wants you to do? Read His Word. All of it, not just the parts that tickle the ears, agree with "your" theology, and therefore, must be true. The Word of God is a two-edged sword and it cuts deeply, separating muscle from bone. It is a light to our feet and a lamp unto this path, called life.

2 Cor. 4:3 says: But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. If you have no desire to read the Bible, or if, when you do read it, it is as clear as mud to you, beware, you just might be perishing.

The holy spirit is often designated by the "effect" he produces in our lives; i.e, Spirit of Grace, wisdom, glory, faith, etc. When you sit down to read the Word of God, then ask God to fill you with the holy spirit and to reveal the truth to you, ask Him to make the words come to life and be understable to you. You will be amazed what you come away with.

The Good News of Christ is the Gospel of P's.

1. Perplexity - we don't understand it all, but He does not leave us in despair. 2 Cor 4:8

2. Perseverance - we must keep on keeping on. When, by faith, we accept His gospel, we keep adding to it by increasing our knowledge, doing good works, and not allowing satan to distract us or deceive us. 1 Tim. 6:11

3. Persecution - Jesus said that the world hates those who follow Him because it first hated him. John 15:18

4. Peace - He gives us his peace in spite of the trials and sorrows which afflict us in this life. John 16:33

5. Power - Jesus told his disciples that when they received his holy spirit, they would be empowered from on high and would be able to do even greater works than he had done. Mark 16:16,17,18 and Acts:1:8

6. Promise - He has gone ahead to prepare a place for his followers and someday, we will live there with Him eternally. John 14:2

As followers of Christ, we are called to let the glory of the Good News of Christ (which God shined in our hearts) to shine out into the darkness of the world.

The fact that the gospel has been shined in the hearts of those who believe is a treasure given to us by God. It is a gift, and all we have to wrap it in is this vessel we have called a body, or this earthen vessel, as the Bible calls it. It is weak, breakable, tearable but through the power of God we are able to let this light shine and be given to others who might also believe.

2 Cor. 4: 13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore, have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore, speak.

My prayer as I send these words out is, should you stumble upon them and your mind has been blinded by satan, that God would removed the scales from your eyes and the plugs in your ears and shine the light of His holy spirit into your heart, mind and soul that you, too, could accept Christ's gift of his death on the cross in payment for your sins and then go forth and proclaim that Good News to others.

So be it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Imagine Being Eve

It all began when my cat woke me up at approximately 3:15 this morning wretching at the foot of my bed. I jumped up to put in him in the bathroom just in case he was going to throw up (heaven forbid that he do it on my carpeting) and crawled back into bed. He then began pawing at my bathroom door and I knew the night was lost to me; at least for getting any sleep. I am one of those people who once awakened out of a deep sleep has no chance of returning to that blessed state until I get up and read or something for a couple of hours. So I lay in bed and began thinking about the Lord. My mind skipped back to Monday evening when I had begun my new Bible study class, "Jesus, the One and Only" by Beth Moore. In her video she had read a story she had written (and she believes it was given to her by God) about Mary and how she must have felt and what she may have done or thought immediately after giving birth to God's son. I was impressed with it enough for it to come back to me as I lay there.

I decided I was going to use my imagination to think about some part of a Bible story I was pretty familiar with. I asked God to help me imagine what it may have been like to have been Eve, the mother of all human creation.
What do you think about when you think of Eve? Well, I think about a woman with very little clothing on, living in a cave, with all kinds of children; a few toddlers, running around, getting into everything in the cave (what? what could they possibly have had to get into?) or maybe endlessly trying to run out of the cave into the forest where the animals were, and they weren't gentle and friendly anymore. Because of sin, they had become wild animals and so she had to keep the kids inside the cave safe and sound where there were only insects and bats and who knows what else living. I've read in quite a few commentaries that the first women (and that includes Eve!) more than likely had many multiple births. So, in addition to the toddlers and small children, maybe she also had a baby, maybe 9 to 18 months old, still nursing; or you know she possibly could have had a set of twins and maybe she was even pregnant, again. Think about what a formidable job Eve had been populate the earth! It's beyond me, I think, to even comprehend what she must have had to go through. She must have been reproducing every year or two with who knows,....twins, tripletts, quadruplets. What if Eve had been like Octomom and given birth to 8, yes 8 babies at once? Where does one get enough energy to feed --- not with bottles and formula either--- eight babies?

I know when I had my two children (and they're 15 years apart!) that nursing was not a real fun job, at least not in the beginning. It takes at least six weeks (and maybe longer) for your nipples to become accustomed to a baby's sucking. Doctors tell you when you get pregnant to start prepping your nipples for several months before the baby is born, but really, how does one prepare for that? I had to use nipple shields, lotions, creams, salves, whatever I could get my hands on actually because you cannot believe the power in a baby's mouth. I remember flinching each time they would "latch on". ...and diapers.....what did she use for diapers? Leaves? To my knowledge, there's absolutely no absorption to in the world did she keep those babies dry and clean? Oh, that's right, they did have sheep. Maybe she just had to shear a few of those every day to produce enough cotton to weave into diapers. I'll bet that's what she did in her spare time. I'll bet she didn't have any rolls of Bounty, the quicker picker upper sitting around anywhere close by either.

The question "how did she entertain all those children at once" came to my mind, and you know, I don't think parents entertained their children back then; I think the children entertained the parents. She had to be so exhausted from running after God alone knows how many children all day....
or maybe Eve ran "with" her children instead of "after" them. She was probably very young herself, right? And how old was Eve, anyway, when she was created? Fourteen, 16, 18, younger, older? It seems to my imagination that she probably was created as a young adult -- todays world 18; creation's world - 14/15 or so? Well, it's said that Mary was somewhere between 12 and 14 when she gave birth to Jesus and that was a whole 4,000 years after Eve! And I wonder just how many years of her 900 did Eve give birth? Did this woman even get to rest? When was menopause for Eve? Was she like 700 and she got to live the last 200 years of her life enjoying her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, know what I mean?

Seriously, though, isn't it hard to imagine what Eve went through? My mind simply cannot grasp what her life must have been like. And so my mind comes to the thought that God surely must have created Eve in a different manner or fashion from what women are like today. She certainly did not spend lots of time worrying about what to wear, her makeup, how much she weighed, what clubs to be a part of, what her home looked like. This had to be a woman focused on survival and getting her children fed, clothed and clean, and teaching them what they needed to know to survive and then on getting a few minutes of well deserved, much needed rest.

And so, I guess, therein lies what the Lord wanted to teach me tonight. We think we have it so hard in today's world, but really, we have so much to make life easier. And are we focused on the right things? Is it so important that my hair be just right, that my make up look perfect, that I not put on a few pounds and that my clothing have some designer label in them so that I meet the approval of the people around me? Isn't it more important for me to find out what I was created for and accomplish that before I have to report to the One who created me for that purpose? What will I say to Him? "Oh, I just couldn't find the time....", "I was so busy just trying to fit in to the world's idea of what I was supposed to be that I just couldn't decide how to fit in what You wanted me to do." "No, I know now that wasn't very important" and "Yes, I suppose I could have asked...."

He's our Father, our Creator, and He loves us. Don't you think He knew exactly what Eve needed to help her in accomplishing her purpose of being the mother of mankind? Even though Eve sinned, He loved her; just like He loves you and me. His Word says that if we ask anything, in His name, He will do it. And Eve had the glorious advantage that before she sinned, she walked in the garden with God everyday. What was that like, to be without sin, and walk with God; to be in His presence; to hear Him speak your name; to know that He created you and loved you and all you had to do was one thing; obey Him and you would live forever with Him.

Well, you know what? We have that today, too. Thanks to Yeshua the Christ, the God Incarnate child of Mary, we can be washed of our sins, we can walk with Him, talk with Him, hear him speak our name, and we can know that He created us, knit us together in our mother's womb, and loved us enough to die for us. We only have to do one thing; accept Him.

Have you done it? Have you cried out to Him, Oh, Lord, it's more than I can do. I need your help. Save me. Then let Him do it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Eye of a Needle

I've wondered many times about why Jesus would have used the analogy of the camel going through the eye of the needle to a rich man entering the kingdom of heaven. After all these years in church, I had never heard an explanation of it. Today I went, as I do most days, to Joseph Herrin's Parablesblog to partake of his wisdom, and lo and behold, there it was, the explanation of the camel going through the eye of the needle.

Joseph tells us "that in the days of Christ cities were surrounded by walls for protection against invading enemies. Gates were set in the walls to allow people and materials to come and go. These gates were closed at night and in times of danger, but it was still necessary to allow a limited flow of people in and out. Therefore, built into the large gates was a small door which could be opened to let a man in or out. This small door was called the eye of the needle.” How fascinating is that? It becomes easy then to see where that analogy comes from. Camels were used in those days (and maybe in these days, I don't know) to carry large loads of possessions about on their backs for their owners. From what I can remember from history, a lot of these people didn't have established homes like we do, they were wanderers on the desert, sometimes known as bedouins. So if a person came to the gate with a camel with a huge pack on its back, the owner would have to remove everything from the camel's back in order to facilitate the camel getting through the gate or the "eye of the needle".

It seems to me that lately I am seeing how we are all walking around with some kind of big pack on our back. The packs could be our home, car, furnishings, clothing, boat, miscellaneous entertainment items, games, computers; hey maybe our packs even include food or medication or alcohol or drugs. Seems to me a pack is anything that keeps us from giving our whole being over to Christ for His use and glory.

It also becomes more and more clear to me that we Americans have had it all wrong. How many of us teach our children from the day they can first understand just how important a relationship with Jesus the Son, God the Father and the Holy Spirit Comforter is? Instead we teach our children how to save up and buy things. The American Dream is to own a home.
We have become a nation intent on owning things and pursuing our own pleasure at all costs. I'm not judging, believe me, because I have been right in there with the crowd, buying and hoarding and looking for my next acquisition which might somehow show everyone else how "succesful" I am.

And we have this notion that somehow we lacked something and that our children need to have it better than we did. But good grief, did we ever stop to look around and see who truly did not have what we had. I think I heard Francis Chan say in one of his sermon's that the average American family spends around $800 at Christmas and the average daily rate of pay in underprivileged countries is $2.00 for an annual salary of somewhere between $600 and $700!!! Yet in many of these countries Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in the underground Churches, and these same people are giving their lives for Christ in martyrdom and being persecuted in ways we can't imagine.

This pack on the backs of Americans is looking like a cheap substitute now for the only possession in this life which amounts to true wealth...the gift of eternal life in Christ, being a friend of God, and living to accomplish God's purpose in this life.

Jesus told the rich young man in Luke: 18:22 ... Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

That's a hard pill to swallow for most of us. We love our "stuff" and we don't want to have to give it up, it's our "security" in a world where there really is no security except that given to us by our heavenly Father. Who knows what the day will bring, a fire, a tornado, an earthquake, a flood...and your home, your car, your stuff is gone; and what happens if the economy truly does go bust? There could come a time when insurance companies have so many claims to fill that they go under, too.
Where do you put your trust then?

I'm not sure God wants us all to give up everything as Joseph has, maybe there's one thing you or I are putting more trust in than God. He is a jealous God and wants to have our first love, devotion and trust. So, for today, I ask you and myself, do you love and trust God more than anyone or anything else in the world? If not, what are you going to do about it?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

All Glory, Laud and Honor

This weekend marked an important date and time in my life. It was the date and time appointed to me by God to come face to face with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. We all think we realize that when we accept Him as Savior, but for some of us, it takes time for us to really digest what He did. That's me, I guess, but I'm all the more thankful for it taking 30 years to do it.

On Friday, He showed me Peter and and how but for His gracy and mercy, I, too, would deny Him. Oh the pain of having to admit that still after all this time, I am not strong enough in and of myself to face up to the criticism and mocking of unbelievers, and how I might react to real persecution. Like Peter, I need your Holy Spirit, Lord, to overcome temptations and to stand for you when everyone else is against you.

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessèd Son.

Then, yesterday, He really opened my eyes to the pain and the suffering He went through for me because He loved me so much and there was no other way for Him to rebuild the bridge to me but to suffer and die. For some reason, I keep thinking about how I've pricked my fingers on thorns while working in my flower beds and how badly that hurts; and then I imagine having a crown of thorns thrust into my head, not to mention the beating He took and the crucifixion, itself. He was beaten with a flagrum. The Jews were limited to giving 40 lashes with it, but the Romans had no limit. He was probably beaten to within an inch of His life. The crucifixion, well, it was purely for torture and slow death. The legs were usually broken in order to promote suffocation and speed of the process. All for me....and for you. Romans 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. Jesus was willing to die for ALL the unrighteous that His righteousness would be imputed to them (us).

And today, in Church, I worshiped like never before because I realized what He accomplished for me. I could lift my hands in holy prayer and praise for Him freely and with abandon. Like David, I wanted to dance! I can see how He's working in me, and leading me, and yeah, it's a little unsettling because I can't see where we're going, but it's becoming more and more real to me that I want to go wherever it is that He's taking me. Each day a little more and a little of more of me commits to doing whatever it takes, and my prayer tonight, Lord, as I close my eyes, is:

I trust you, Lord, in life, in death in resurrection; in my life, in my children's lives, in my family's lives and my friends; you who began the good work are faithful to complete it. You are worthy of my trust, my love, my worship, my ALL. Hallelujah to you Jesus. I bless your name, and I thank you for the great, life changing, eternity transforming power of your love.

Isn't it funny how 25 years of hymn playing just keeps coming to me as I write these little blurbs in my life?

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s Name comest,
The King and Blessèd One.

The company of angels
Are praising Thee on High,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went;
Our prayer and praise and anthems
Before Thee we present.

To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.

Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.


Does the Ceiling of Your House of Worship Shake From the Sound of Your Worship?

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

Charles Wesley wrote this hymn in 1739, in celebration of the first service of London's first Wesleyan Chapel. This chapel was known as the Foundry Meeting House, as it was a deserted foundry. Charles Wesley purchased the building to house his growing number of converts.

Originally published in Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739, this hymn was eleven four-line stanzas long. Martin Madan's Collection of Psalms and Hymns, 1760, included eight stanzas, with many lines rearranged. Only four stanzas are commonly sung now.

The "Alleluia" which we sing at the end of each line was not part of the original hymn, it was added later by some unknown editor, to better fit the tune. "Alleluia," or "Hallelujah" is a common expression of praise, "Praise ye the Lord," from the early Christian Church. Early Christians would greet each other Easter morning, "Alleluia, the Lord is risen!" Jerome, who died in 420, was an important leader of the early church, who translated the Bible into Latin. He wrote that the very ceilings of houses of worship were often shaken with the reverberating "Hallelujahs" when believers sang their praises to God

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What Do I Have to Complain About?

As I walked this morning, I thanked God for these things: I am taking a walk this morning, I could hear the birds singing, I could see the trees and shrubbery in full blossom, and the taste ofthat wonderful maple syrup I had for breakfast.

It seems like when you're being thankful, it never fails that thoughts of what you can't do or the problems you have pop into your mind. I thought of my feet cramping so tight that I can't walk until it goes away, then my mind cut away to the shaking and tremors that keep me from being able to type or write sometimes, and how my brain goes into an inactive state and won't move until the spasm passes. I wanted to complain to someone. The thought hit me then of what Jesus went through for my sake 2,000 years ago.

Via Dolorosa

Jesus walked the via dolorosa after he had been spit upon, whipped with a metal tipped whip to within an inch of his life, he was bruised, cut and bleeding from the top of his head to the tip of his feet, and yet he carried the cross to the place of the crucifixion. The Bible says that Simon the Cyrene carried the cross for him at some point, but maybe Simon didn't take the full weight of it off of Jesus, but only helped Him carry it?

The Lord was then nailed to the cross - nails hammered into his palms and feet - and hung up in hot sun without food or water to die.

And I want to complain? Jesus did all this without saying a word, without complaint, and with full intent to carry out the whole event to completion. He could have called down legions of Angels to protect Him or get Him out of there, but He knew God's purpose and plan and was determined that He should not fail in His part of it.

BUT, someday, someday, Praise God, Almighty, we who love Him, accept Him and call Him Savior, will look upon Him once again and the face we will see will be glorious, not bruised and bleeding, and His arms will be opened wide, welcoming us home!

We Shall Behold Him

Wouldn't you like to be a part of that homecoming? If you have not asked Christ to be your Savior, won't you do so today?

There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one.

Friday, April 2, 2010

...and Peter Wept Bitterly

Simon Peter walked in the physical and spiritual presence of Christ for three years. Just imagine that!  It is offered to us as believers and followers of Christ to be in His presence, and that is a great and wonderful thing, but think of walking with Him as your best friend every day for three years.  When you spend your life in the presence of one who only does good and gives love without measure, you come to love and respect them like no one else.  So, what Peter felt for Christ had to be immense. How could it not be? And yet, Peter denied even knowing Him when the fire got too hot for him to handle,...and not just once, but three times. Matthew 26:58 says that Peter followed "afar off unto the high priest's palace" which I'm thinking means that Peter followed along with the proceedings at a distance so as not to incriminate himself. His purpose, according to scripture, was "to see the end".

I have friends that I have had for many years (20 years or more). We have spent those years loving each other, building each other up, suffering with each other through trials, laughing, crying, we've done it all, and I know that without those special friends, I wouldn't have come through those trials in the mostly normal condition that I have.  Christ wants our walk with Him to be like that.  He wants us to know Him intimately and even though He knows all and sees all, He still wants us to be vulnerable to Him; to open ourselves up to Him and let all our innermost feelings be poured out to Him. 

What if you could look upon the face of Christ each day as you walked with Him, while he taught you, loved, you, laughed with you, cried with you?  Wouldn't that add another dimension to your relationship with Him?  Of course it would!   Why do we look forward to being in Heaven so much? be with Him, face to face!!!   Peter got to experience that relationship full force in his human body.  Because of his great love for and friendship with Jesus, Peter had to be distraught when the soldiers, Judas and the sanhedrin showed up in the garden that night.  Scriptures show that the disciples never quite got what Jesus was talking about when He told them he must suffer, die and rise again.  So, let's try to imagine what Peter was going through as Jesus was taken away, questioned, beaten, spit upon, and mocked.

In today's terminology, we could say that Peter was "lurking" in the background, trying to hear what was said and done, watching in horror, while his teacher and friend, (who was silent) was being accused falsely of so many things by so many different people; knowing that the sanhedrin were trying desperately to find two people who would have the same accusation so they could try Him. The Bible tells us that in order to be accused of a crime, there had to be two witnesses (Deut. 19:15). Finally, it happens, two witnesses are found who claim that Jesus said He could destroy the temple and build it up again in three days.

Peter stands in the shadows watching, feeling sick to his stomach, nervous, anxious, afraid, uncertain of what was to come next; then seeing them spit in Jesus face, beating him with their hands and fists and rods. Peter takes a seat because he's feeling so weak and sick that he has to sit down or he'll fall..., he's shaking and weary because it's the middle of the night and suddenly he's confronted by a young woman as being with Jesus, and before he knows it, out slips the words, "I know not what thou sayest". He gets up and goes outside and lo and behold, another young woman says hey, you were with Jesus, weren't you? This time, Peter denied it and swore  (even though his teacher had warned against swearing oaths) that he did not know the man, Jesus. One last time, Peter is confronted by a group of men that he must be one of Jesus' followers simply because of the way he spoke. Peter, scared out of his wits, begins swearing and calling down curses on them and denied Christ just as the rooster crowed.

Picture it:  Peter is lurking on the edge so as not to be a part of the group, but still he is accused of being a follower of Jesus, he denies Christ three times as the cock crows and there in the middle of the crowd is Jesus who turns and looks at Peter. Maybe Jesus caught Peter's eye and perhaps Jesus lifted one of his eyebrows, it seems appropriate, doesn it? I know that if I had been Peter, my heart would have broken, I would have felt so much shame and disgust with myself, and I too, would have wept bitterly. As a matter of fact, as I read this account, I did weep. I wept for Peter, I wept for Jesus and I wept because the spirit of the Lord revealed to me that but for His grace and mercy, I too, could deny Him.

We don't know what we're going to face in this world before we die. It could be anything and most certainly, with the way things are going, we could be asked to deny knowing Christ. I know I'm weak in so many areas of my walk. Lord, my prayer today is that You will enable me to stand against anyone and anything who asks me to deny You.   Further, Lord Jesus, I pray for your body, my brothers and sisters.  We need a fresh indwelling of your holy spirit.  We need our faith to be strengthened and we need to be ready and willing to be and do all that you ask of us.  We need to love you more and ourselves less.  Give us  hearts that are pure and hands that are clean.  Instill a desire within us share your gospel - the true gospel - not just when we are at religous functions, but to one and all that we come in contact with.   May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  In Jesus' name I pray...