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.

Alive!

Although CO-VID-19 may have hijacked the way we usually celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year, the truth remains, Jesus is alive! Nothing. Absolutely nothing can change that most glorious fact. Amen?

In the story of Jesus’ arrest, we read Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Not just once, but three times. The exact number of times Jesus predicted.

In the Resurrection account recorded in Mark, specific mention is made that Peter be told the Good News. Jesus is alive. That glorious information was not to be kept from the apostle. Peter needed to know Christ rose from the dead. Peter needed to know Jesus was alive. Peter needed to know Jesus wanted to include Peter in Jesus’ story.

Maybe we’ve been like Peter. One way or another, we’ve denied we knew Jesus. Maybe it happened through our careless words or thoughtless actions. Maybe we hid our light under a bushel when given opportunities to represent Christ in this dark world.

But you know what?

Jesus loves each of us. He really does. He loves us so much he willingly paid the price for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. He took the nails and sadistic lashes we deserved. Jesus took the punishment and wrath of God that was headed our way upon his perfect, sinless self.

He did that for you. He did that for me. All so we could be included in Christ’s story of Good News. Jesus is alive!

Jesus is not the Great I was. Jesus is the Great I AM.

Even after Peter’s denial, Jesus invited Peter to eat some grilled fish by the seashore before his ascension into heaven.

We may not be invited to eat fish with Jesus by the seashore, but he invites all who name him as their LORD and Savior to come to the table set in his presence.

The question for us is, what are we going to do about it?

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The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased embalming spices.

Early the following morning, just at sunrise, they carried them out to the tomb. On the way they were discussing how they could ever roll aside the huge stone from the entrance.

But when they arrived they looked up and saw that the stone—a very heavy one—was already moved away and the entrance was open! So they entered the tomb—and there on the right sat a young man clothed in white. The women were startled, but the angel said, “Don’t be so surprised. Aren’t you looking for Jesus, the Nazarene who was crucified? He isn’t here! He has come back to life! Look, that’s where his body was lying. Now go and give this message to his disciples including Peter:

“‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died!’” Mark 16:1-7 (TLB)

 

He Is Alive!

©Frances Gregory Pasch

“Where has he gone?” the people asked.

“Who rolled the stone away?”

Most shook their heads in disbelief

And knew not what to say.

“Could this have been the Son of God?

Could all he said be true?”

Then angel smiled, “don’t be afraid

He’s gone ahead of you.

He is alive! He conquered sin!

He’s risen from the dead!

He’s on His way to Galilee,

Exactly as He said.”

How blessed we are to have a God

Who reaches out with grace

And promises if we’ll believe,

We’ll see Him face to face.

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.

I Want To Be A Part Of The Story

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

This time of year is a flurry of activity with plays, music performances, Nativity reenactments, and stories galore. Seems everyone wants to be a part of the story of Jesus’ birth.

The Christmas before Pie’s fifth birthday he was a shepherd in the church Christmas program. He knew his part, and the parts of everyone else in the play. When the teen next to Pie forgot his part at one point of the performance, Pie nudged him with his elbow and said, “It’s your turn.” And fed the boy his lines. Too cute.

 

While we want to be a part of telling the story of Jesus’ birth through plays, concerts, and stories, I wonder. Are we equally excited to be a part of telling the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and what that means to the world?

As the last days of the Apostle Peter’s life drew near, he made it his mission to remind his listeners of the truths he told them. He wanted to “wake them up with a reminder” so they would not forget the story of Peter’s life that was entwined with the life of Christ.

The words Peter preached were not cleverly contrived myths. They were eyewitness accounts of Christ’s majesty.

Peter warned the early believers not to become complacent. He warned them not to let the things of the world influence their life story. The same warnings hold true for followers of Jesus today, just as surely as they did when Peter spoke them.

Peter was an eyewitness to Jesus’ glory. He heard God say Jesus was God’s son in whom God was well pleased. Peter was part of Jesus’ story.

 

While we may not be a part of the Christmas pageant, we can be part of Jesus’ story by being eyewitnesses who share the story God is writing on our life with others. Our story is not cleverly contrived. It is the truth as God has shown it to us.

How are you a part of someone else’s story?

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I plan to keep on reminding you of these things even though you already know them and are really getting along quite well! 2 Peter 1:12 (TLB)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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The Past Has Passed

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Before the rooster crowed  on the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied Christ three times. We remember this as part of the Crucifixion story. I’ve written about Peter several times on Woven and Spun. It seems lately I learn something new through studying Peter’s life.

Several weeks ago the lesson we studied in our Bible Study class centered on the story of Tabitha, also know as Dorcas, as recorded by Luke in Acts 9:36-43. Tabitha became sick and died. As a result, her friends sent for Peter.

Tabitha was not buried right away, as was the custom of the time. Instead, she was courtesy pixabaywashed and placed in an upstairs room. That tells me her friends expected a miracle; and Peter was the one they expected God to use to perform it.

Were they aware of Peter’s past? Did they know the story of how he turned his back on Jesus? Had they heard how he failed?

Perhaps.

Whether they knew any of that or not, the fact is they expected Peter to be God’s tool. His vessel. The conduit through which their friend, Tabitha, would be raised to life. And they sent for him.

As I studied this lesson I wondered how Peter felt the instant Tabitha opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. Among the things I believe he may have considered, because it is something I may have considered had I been him, beyond immediate thanks and praise to Jesus for Tabitha’s healing, is thanks to Jesus for restoring and forgiving Peter and using him despite his past failures.

courtesy pixabayI don’t believe Peter dwelt on his past mistakes when he entered the room where Tabitha lay. I believe he dwelt on the power of the One True Lord and King that flowed through him.

He didn’t dwell on then. He dwelt on now.

Wouldn’t you say we need to do the same?

Do you find it difficult to let go of past mistakes and embrace what God has prepared for you today?

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Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. Acts 9:40 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Lord, What About Him?

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The book of John is my favorite Gospel. Maybe it is the storyteller in me, but I love the way John presents Jesus and how Christ interacted with those around him.

Today, I’m focusing on the last chapter of John.

By now, Jesus has been crucified, resurrected and appeared before Mary Magdalene at the tomb. He suddenly appeared in the locked room where the disciples, minus Thomas, hid. He appeared again eight days later in the same locked room when Thomas was present. He met the two on the road to Emmaus. And now waited on the shore beside the Lake of Galilee, preparing the disciples’ breakfast.

 

We may remember this as the scene where Jesus pointedly asked Peter if he loved him. Three times. And each time Peter said he did.

After Jesus told Peter to “feed his little sheep” and predicted the kind of death Peter had in front of him, Peter turned, saw John, the disciple Jesus loved and asked, “What about him? What sort of death will he die?”

Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.”

That’s the line I love most. Always have. But it wasn’t until recently I related it to my writing and looked at it in a way I’d never looked at it before.

Jesus called Peter to feed his sheep by preaching about the resurrected Lord. I believe as a writer, Jesus has called me to feed his sheep through the words I write.

Regardless of what abilities God has given each of us, he has called us to follow him.

Peter was given his commission but behind the one question he asked, I believe a multitude more where in his mind. What about John? What was going to happen to him? Was he going to suffer or skate through life untouched? Was John’s ministry going to be bigger than Peter’s? Was he going to receive more pats on the back? More awards? More atta’ boys? Was John going to be more popular than Peter?

Jealousy.

That’s an emotion I believe each of us can understand. Maybe we’ve had similar thoughts about those we work with. What about them? How come they got the promotion, the raise, the praise? We compare. We compete. We wonder if maybe, just maybe, God loves them more.

 

In writing, the whole purpose is to get what I write published so people can read it. Makes sense, wouldn’t you say? I send my writing to editors and often, not always, but more times than I’d like, I receive a rejection.

They wish me well and I keep writing and waiting. At times like this it’s easy to say, “What about them, the person who just got the contract, or just won the award? Does God love them more than me?”

These last verses in John tell us Jesus has a plan for each of us, and that plan is not cookie-cutter sameness. How could it be? We are all different. We don’t think alike. We don’t work alike. We don’t communicate in the same way. We have different abilities and personalities.

If what I write only reaches the editor who rejects my story, I pray God uses that story to touch that one life. I’m not going to kid you here, if I send something to an editor it is because I’m praying they love it enough to publish it and it reaches the multitudes.

 

Still, I have to remember my job is to write to the very best of my ability. God’s job is to get what I write in front of whomever he wants it in front of.

Even if that is the editor who sends me the “Sorry. Not for us.” rejection letter.

If Jesus wants someone else to win the awards, get the promotion, receive the atta’ boys and atta’ girls what’s that to us? He’s called us to follow him. And that’s exactly what he expects us to do.

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 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”  John 21:21-22 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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