Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rise up again

Proverbs 24:16A--For a just man falleth 7 times, and riseth up again . . . .

In my devotions recently, I have been studying the life of Peter. Actually, for the last semester and start of this semester, I've been studying Peter. I had to write a paper for one of my block classes last semester where I had to choose a Bible character that I most identified with or wanted to be like (not sure exactly what the instructions were, to be honest). This is what I wrote:

"One of my favourite Bible characters (and the one I relate to the most) is Peter the apostle. I found a very interesting article about his life here: When people think of Peter, they think “Open mouth, insert foot.” I’m so talented, I’ve often stuck both feet down my throat. I get excited and blurt out whatever happens to be on my mind without thinking first. And Peter never completely “grew out” of this. We see him arguing with Christ when Christ was on earth many times. But even in the book of Acts, we still see him arguing with God. . . ." 

 I went on to compare my life with Peter's, identify strengths and weaknesses, etc. I understand that we aren't trying to be like other Christians and followers of Christ. Our ultimate goal is to be like Christ. But it is interesting to study the lives of people we look up to.

Heroes of the faith, if you will.

Peter had his definite strengths. He was willing to literally step out by faith--into a swirling ocean. Looking rationally at his situation, he should have assumed he would sink the moment he stepped out of that boat. But he looked to Christ and walked on the water. He stood up when surrounded by the religious leaders and told them, point blank, that he and the other apostles were going to do what God said. They had to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). He was bold in His witness, and quick to defend right when he could. He is, for me, an example of one of the greatest teachers in Scripture (the greatest is obviously Christ). He is caring, passionate, knowledgable, focused, and dedicated. He gave everything he had for the message he wanted to share, ultimately giving his life.

The reason Peter is one of my favorite Bible characters is because he is so human. We put Peter up on a pedestal as one of the greatest Christians to ever walk the planet. Yes he was a faithful servant of God. Yes, he did great things for Christ. Yes, he gives one of the most straightforward confessions of who Jesus is (Matthew 16:16).

Peter was a sinner.

We often think of his pride and out-spokeness when we think of Peter.
How he rebuked Christ later in Matthew 16. How he was always the first to speak up.

Then he denies Christ just before Christ is crucified.

For some reason, I think that after Christ forgives Peter (John 21), I think that Peter never sinned again. He totally got control over that life-dominating sin (or whatever you want to call it).

But then in Acts 10 (which is after his powerful sermon at Pentecost), we see God tell Peter to rise, kill, and eat (the unclean animals in the sheet). Peter says that he can't. I guess he never really completely stopped questioning and arguing with God.

That is such an encouragement to me. I don't feel like any of that made sense above. And the rest of this may not either. But Peter, one of the inner-circle of the apostles, a man who God used in tremendous ways, had his besetting sins just like I do.


And God can still use you. And me.

We just have to let Him completely control every part of our lives. And every time we fall, we go to Him for forgiveness, and rise up again to serve Him.