When You Turn Back

Did you ever notice when Jesus met the disciples on the seashore with a breakfast of grilled fish which he cooked for them after his resurrection, he called Peter Simon?

Jesus didn’t call the apostle Peter, the rock; the name Christ gave him. Instead, Jesus called the apostle by his birth name. I hadn’t paid much attention to that detail until I prepared this month’s Easter posts.

Also, I love the fact Jesus didn’t say if you turn back. No. Jesus said when you turn back.

Thank you, Jesus, he tells us the same.

It’s not one strike and we’re out. Not even three strikes and we’re out. Jesus tells us after we fail, after we fall, when we turn back to him his grace is sufficient. His sacrifice is sufficient. He is sufficient.

Do you think when Peter heard Jesus call him Simon, it was similar to the feeling we get when our parents call us by our first AND middle names? Maybe.

Jesus spoke Simon’s name twice. He needed Simon Peter’s full attention. The words Jesus spoke were extremely important. Especially given Peter’s previous denial as the Lamb of God awaited crucifixion.

Yes. Jesus named Simon the rock, however, Peter needed to understand in addition to his strong side, Peter also had a vulnerable side. Just like the rest of the disciples. Just like the rest of us. Every single one of our strengths can be turned into our weaknesses. Those are the areas where Satan shows up. He takes the good and twists it into something bad.

Peter felt confident he would never forsake Christ. Satan took that confidence and twisted it into self-pride. That prideful spirit allowed Peter to care more about protecting himself, and what others thought of him, than he cared about protecting Jesus.

Each of Christ’s disciples have a vulnerable side, a target Satan intends to penetrate to destroy our testimony about who Christ the Risen Savior is. It is a target Satan can only attack with God’s permission. A target of temptation Jesus prays we will withstand  through the power of the Holy Spirit in those who belong to him.

Peter’s story didn’t end when he denied Jesus around a fire the night Christ was betrayed. After he repented, turned back, and set out to proclaim Christ and him crucified, Simon Peter preached a sermon during Pentecost that saw thousands confess Jesus as Lord. And that was just the beginning.

Like Peter there are times we fail. We deny we ever knew Jesus through our careless words and actions. Jesus knows the outcome before Satan even draws back his bow and sends fiery darts our direction.

Like Peter, when we fall we have a choice.

Will we let our failure define us, give up, and walk away? Or will we acknowledge our fall, get back up, repent, and when we turn back, strengthen those around us?

Who knows? But one thing is sure. Whatever we do after we fall is just as important as what we did before we fell.

Grace. God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sins.

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Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

A Somber Celebration

When the hour for the Passover meal came, Jesus and his apostles reclined on cushions around a low table. Although usually a joyous occasion, this Passover meal would be a somber celebration. It would be a time of revelation, new covenant, and request for remembrance.

Jesus told the twelve he eagerly desired to eat this meal with them before he suffered. His statement held both an eagerness in eating the meal and a sense of finality. Once again he told the disciples, his closest companions, his time of suffering neared. Jesus told them there would be a time when he would eat with them again.

Later.

When the kingdom of God came.

While offering the final cup of the Passover meal, Christ told his followers the cup was a new covenant in his blood poured out for them. It was a new agreement between God and his people. This covenant was superior to the covenant under the law handed down to Moses.

As soon as Jesus offered the bread and cup to his disciples, he revealed a traitor was in their midst. He knew Satan would enter the one who walked with Jesus for the past three years. Jesus knew the plot would unfold quickly in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew whose hand would receive blood-money from the high priest. Jesus knew who would betray him with a kiss.

While Jesus knew all this, the disciples wondered who the betrayer could be. Jesus prepared the disciples for what would soon take place that evening and the next day, yet they didn’t understand the gravity of his words. Instead, in their need to prove they weren’t the betrayer, they argued over who was the most loyal. Who was the greatest.

Jesus reminded his disciples they were not to be like those in the world who boast and try to outdo each other. He told them the greatest should be like the one who serves. He reminded them greatness in God’s kingdom is found in serving others instead of serving self. As an example, the Son of God stooped to wash the feet of men.

Jesus reminds us the same thing today. We are not to be like the world, boasting and trying to outdo each other. We are to be like Christ. Humbly serving others with a heart like his.

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“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. I must die. It is part of God’s plan. But, oh, the horror awaiting that man who betrays me.”

Then the disciples wondered among themselves which of them would ever do such a thing. Luke 22:21-23 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Jesus is Our Living Hope

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is our Living Hope.

The Lion of Judah roared mightily that Resurrection Day so long ago, and his victorious voice continues to speak to all with ears to hear.

He set us free. He broke every chain that bound us to the evil one.

Jesus is the Victor. The Mighty Warrior. The Conqueror. He defeated Satan, hell, sin, and death.

Jesus Christ is the One in whom our hope is found.

He sits at the right hand of his Father in heaven, waiting for the day he returns for his Bride, the Church. On that day, Christ will take those who confess their hope, trust, and allegiance to the King of kings and LORD of Lords with him to their eternal home in heaven.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

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Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry — We Come Before You, Jesus

Welcome to Pause for Poetry, featuring a poem written by my writer-friend, Frances Gregory Pasch.

We Come Before You, Jesus

We come before you, Jesus,

In humble adoration.

We ask that You will lead us…

A complex, confused nation.

We pray that You’ll be at our side

As each new step we take.

If we’ll walk hand and hand with You…

We will make less mistakes.

You are our refuge and our strength,

Creator of all things.

We’re blessed to have You in our lives…

Our Savior—King of Kings.

Frances Gregory Pasch’s devotions and poems have been published hundreds of times in devotional booklets, magazines, and Sunday school papers since 1985. Her writing has also appeared in several dozen compilations. Her book, Double Vision: Seeing God in Everyday Life Through Devotions and Poetry is available on Amazon. Frances has been leading a women’s Christian writers group since 1991 and makes her own holiday greeting cards incorporating her poetry. She and her husband, Jim, have been married since 1958. They have five sons and nine grandchildren. Contact her at http://www.francesgregorypasch.com.

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Gifts Fit For A King

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Although many nativity scenes place the Wise Men and their gifts at the manger where Christ was born, Jesus was probably one or two years old when the Wise Men found him. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were no longer in the manger. They were living in a house in Bethlehem.

The Bible doesn’t tell us much about these men, only that they knew the Old Testament prophesies and followed the heavenly star traveling from the east toward Bethlehem. We sing “We Three Kings”, but just because someone penned a song about three kings does not mean there were three wise men, or that they were kings.

We do know from the scriptures they presented Jesus with gifts fit for a king. Gold. Incense. Myrrh. These gifts were not second-hand leftovers. These gifts came at a cost to the giver. The journey to Bethlehem itself cost time, resources, and effort. These were all valuable commodities the men were willing to pay. Because, after all, their gifts were given in honor of the newly born King.

In the Wise Men’s story I find it interesting they did not go back to the earthly ruler, Herod, with news of Jesus’ location. After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they listened to the True Ruler of Heaven and Earth, and returned home a different way. They obeyed God instead of man. How refreshing.

What gifts fit for a King will we offer Jesus to honor him and show our gratitude for what he has done for us? Maybe the best gift we can give is our self.

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Herod secretly called in the wise men and asked them when they had first seen the star. He told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, let me know. I want to go and worship him too.”

The wise men listened to what the king said and then left. And the star they had seen in the east went on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. They were thrilled and excited to see the star.

 When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and gave them to him.  Later they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they went back home by another road. Matthew 2:7-12 (CEV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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