Revolution Series: Peter

Read through these verses to get a brief snapshot of the character of Peter:

  • Matthew 4:18-22,
  • Matthew 8:14-17
  • Matthew 14:22-33
  • Matthew 16:13-23
  • John 18:10-11
  • Matthew 26:31-35,69-75

Peter didn’t ask a lot of questions. He just acted.  Things didn’t always go as he imagined.  In fact, sometimes the results of his actions were extreme.  But Peter did not allow his failures to stop him from pursuing Christ.  Even when he was utterly foolish or acted totally against the will of Christ, he eventually was able to recover.  Peter was a dedicated follower of Christ from the very beginning.  Jesus says, “Follow me”. Peter drops his net and follows. Jesus says, “Come to me”. Peter steps out of the boat and starts walking on the water. Jesus asks. Peter answers (many times being wrong).  Jesus gives his life for those that he loves. Peter continues to follow despite the risk and persecution that will come.

This is what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  This is what it means to have faith.  Peter didn’t always get it right but he never gave up trying.  And even in his weakest, most vulnerable moments, the grace of God flowed through him and brought him back to the presence of God.  Read John 21:15-17 to see how Jesus responds after Peter denied him 3 times.  “Feed my sheep”. Jesus stills wants Peter do his will despite failing time and time again.  There is so much we can learn from Peter.

How much faith do we have? Are you willing to step out of the boat to follow Christ? Where do you put your trust? In God? In man? In money? In the world? Do your words match your actions? Do live the life of a Christ follower or are you merely an admirer of Christ? Soren Kierkegaard explains that there is a great difference between following verses admiring. “A follower is or strives to be what he admires. An admirer, however, keeps himself personally detached. He fails to see that what is admired involves a claim upon him, and thus he fails to be or strive to be what he admires.”

Let us not be merely admirers of Christ. Let drop our nets and follow.  We are bound to make mistakes and come up short but that doesn’t mean that we give up.  It is important to also surround ourselves with an uplifting community of peers and mentors in order to keep on track during the most difficult of times and the most joyous.

Consider this quote from Madeleine L’Engle:

“In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do His work, to bear His glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we will confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own.”

None of us may be qualified, but God chooses to use us.  He loves us and pursues us daily.  Step out in faith. And follow.

This week spend time reflecting on the life of Peter and what it means to follow Christ Jesus.  Read through 1 and 2 Peter.  Examine how Peter continued faithfully in his call to follow.  And the cost of following.  Allow God to speak this week.  Be still and listen.

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Revolution Series: The Woman at the Well

Read John 4:1-42

As you read, pay attention to the different people in this story and how they change. What stands out to you? What is odd or unusual about this story?  How does Jesus present a revolution to this woman? To his disciples?

There is a lot to learn from this passage.  We see Jesus speaking with a Samaritan woman, which would be very strange at that time. Jesus’ disciples noticed this odd behavior.  We learn about the living water of Christ Jesus.  We observe a changed woman who can’t help but tell others about what has happened to her.  The others heard her and they, too, were changed. What an incredible story!

Take time to reflect on these main points from the passage.  We can learn a lot from both Jesus and the woman in this story.  Think about how significant it is that the woman is changed, shares this news with others, and then they change as well.  Isn’t this Christ’s call for our lives? “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  How are we presenting the love of Christ to others?  How excited are we about this Living Water that Christ offers?  How much faith do we have in Jesus?

Let these words become truth.  Let them motivate you into action.  Love unconditionally. Listen without distraction. Be welcoming to all because you never know what may come from even the simplest interaction.  Be a light.  Be honest and true to others.  Allow Christ to work in you and through you.

Take a little more time to think though the significance of this story and what it means to you today.  How will this story change you?

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Revolution Series: The Transfiguration

Read Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36

Transfiguration: a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.

This is the moment in the Bible when Jesus reveals that he is who he claims to be.  This is the moment when Jesus demonstrates to 3 of his beloved disciples his divine glory.  His physical body transformed, and he became as bright as the sun.  Moses and Elijah appear with him.  Jesus is fulfilling both the law and the prophecies in this moment, proving that he is the divine Son of God.  The Kingdom of God is near.

Today take time to reflect on this beautiful picture.  What does it mean to you? In this moment Jesus goes beyond claims and shows that he divine.  His real self emerges.  What lives within you?  If you were to change into what lives within you what would you become? Do you need to change?  Where does a revolution need to occur in your life?  

This process of transformation can be painful for us, but it is necessary.  In order to be set free and to learn who we are in Christ we must let go of things we have a tight grasp on.  We cannot merely silence these things but we must remove them completely from our lives.  C.S. Lewis presents this process beautifully in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as Eustace describes his transfiguration from dragon back into a boy.  

“Then the lion (Aslan) said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

This is the kind of transfiguration we must all go through as broken, hurting human beings.  We are not divine but we have a God who loves us unconditionally.  He is calling and has a seat set for you at the table.  Step forward and allow the love of Christ to tear away the lies and shame.  Allow a revolution to occur deep down within you so that you can better pursue Christ Jesus.  Take time to be still and listen today.  Allow the Spirit of God to fill you and renew your mind.

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Rule of Life Series: Serving with Compassion

1 John 4:19-21

1 Peter 4:10-11

Matthew 20:26-28

Galatians 5:13-14

John 13:1-20

Matthew 25:31-46

Romans 12:9-13

Luke 10:25-37

Serving others is a major part of following Christ.  If you study and analyze the life of Christ you will begin to recognize that he served others with his life.  Christ demonstrated and spoke about the importance of serving others with compassion.  It should be obvious that those who say they are following Christ should also be serving others.  They must not just be serving them, but serving them with a type of love that desires nothing in return. This type of love is not about what will happen to me, but what will happen to others.  It is a love that focuses not on our glory, but God’s alone.

This week take some time to read through each of these passages and spend time reflecting on each one.  Spend time praying each day asking him how you can better serve those around you.  Listen and obey.  Serving other with compassion, with a love that has no conditions, can be extremely challenging.  It is hard not to want something in return, even if that something is as small as a good work, or thank you.  This type of service is about expecting nothing except for God to be glorified.  Be still and know that he is God of all.

Rest in God’s presence this week and allow the Spirit to restore you.  As we bring this series to a close think about all of the commitments and changes you have decided to make in your life.  How are you doing?  What is changing?  What still needs to change?  Allow God to move.  Be present, accepting grace, and be transformed.

Rule of Life Series: Silence

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.” 

-Mother Teresa

There is a lot that could be said about silence but it seems that it would make sense for us just to experience it, and learn from it.  Silence is hard to come by with so many distractions pulsating through our minds, but it is necessary.  It should be a daily practice because it causes us to become vulnerable.  It is precisely because of this that silence is so hard to practice, but it is also what makes it so powerful.

Find time for silence today, and every day this week.  One day this week set aside a large portion of time that you will dedicate to silence.  No phone. No music. No distractions.  Just you and God.  Let your mind rest in his presence and listen.

“Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” Zechariah 2:13

Pray through Psalm 121 to guide you into a time of silence.

Psalm 121

I lift my eyes to the hills

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is you keeper;

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you form all evil;

He will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forevermore.

Rule of Life Series: Worship

Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 150

Worship is a lifetime’s worth of exploration.  We worship the name of Jesus, offering our souls and bodies to be transformed that our whole beings may be filled with His presence as we are living temples of the Holy Spirit.

When you hear the word worship, what comes to mind?

Many of us think about singing in a church service, or bowing down to someone or something.  Worship is more than these acts; worship is life.  We are all worshiping something with our life whether we know it or not.  Some worship money, others worship self.  There are a number of things that people worship, but how many of us are truly worshipping God with our lives?  What exactly does this look like?

Whatever your main focus is in life is what you are worshiping.  If you are more concerned about money than anything else that means that you are most likely worshiping money.  If you love sports and are constantly watching Sports Center, checking updates, and watching games, you may be worshiping sports.  It all comes down to how we spend our time and what is most valuable to us in life.  Sometimes we may be spending our time doing good things, but if we are not living for God’s glory then we are not worshiping God.  It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your actions.  If you are doing things for your glory then you are not allowing God to receive the glory.  This is a tough reality for Christians to be faced with but it is necessary.

Too often Christians aren’t allowing God to be God.  Instead, we make ourselves to be God without really recognizing it.  We don’t intend to do this, but sometimes this just occurs.  Let God be God.  Live for his glory and not your own.  Worship God with your life, rather than focusing so much on your own desires.  This is not an easy task, but this is what God desires from us.

Take some time this week to reflect on your life.

  • What are you spending a majority of your time doing?
  • How do we find time for God in our crazy schedules?
  • What can this look like for you from day to day?
  • How do you allow God to be God?
  • What needs to change in your life today?

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.”

-St. Augustine

“That is what worship is all about. It is the glad shout of praise that arises to God the creator and God the rescuer from the creation that recognizes its maker, the creation that acknowledges the triumph of Jesus the Lamb. That is the worship that is going on in heaven, in God’s dimension, all the time. The question we ought to be asking is how best we might join in.”

-N.T. Wright

Rule of Life Series: Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:17-20

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation with us. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you of behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Reconciliation-the restoration of friendly relations, the action of making one view or belief compatible with another, or returning to faith or harmony after conflict.

In the verse above we learn that we are ambassadors of Christ, entrusted with the message of reconciliation. This means that we should be striving to return harmony to broken relationships. We should be seeking ways to repair broken relationships between families, friends, communities, and God. There is a need for reconciliation wherever you go. We are all broken people, human beings with flaws, so we must learn to forgive and seek forgiveness. We must let God into our lives so that his grace and love can restore us.

One of the most critical aspects of reconciliation is listening. We must listen to others, getting to know them and where they come from. We have to learn stories and build deeper relationships. Once we begin to understand those that are different than us then we may begin the process of reconciliation, and this process must be done with gentleness and grace.

Too often today people listen defensively, meaning that they are developing their response while the other person is speaking. This is not really listening, and it will lead nowhere.  There are never-ending arguments and fights occurring on social media, the news, among peers, and on numerous other platforms that are corrupting our minds, and preventing genuine transformation from occurring. This happens too often within the church and among Christ followers as well. It is giving the world a false image of what it means to follow Christ.

Slow down and listen. Build relationships. Work towards reconciliation. Reflect on this idea of reconciliation. Pray about it. This process takes time. It requires patience and persistence. Be encouraged and allow the Spirit of God move.

  • Where is there a need for reconciliation in your life?
  • How can you achieve reconciliation within these broken relationships?
  • What does reconciliation mean to you?
  • Where does this nation, this world, need reconciliation? How can you help?
  • What must change within you so that you can reconcile any broken relationships in you life?

Ask God to guide you as you reflect on these ideas and issues. Be still and listen. We live in a broken world with broken people. Let the Spirit give you strength and encourage you today.

Sometime this week check out these stories of reconciliation. These stories are profound and difficult to grasp, but so powerful. Let them transform you.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/06/magazine/06-pieter-hugo-rwanda-portraits.html?_r=0

 

Want More?

Romans 5:10

Ephesians 2:4-5

Ephesians 4:32

1 Peter 4:8

Colossians 3:1-17