Daily Devotional 21 Sept 2020
“When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too” (Mark 11:25).
“It’s not fair!” Haven’t we all caught ourselves pouting this common refrain? The problem with ‘fairness’ is that it is entirely subjective. What one person deems fair, another protests unfair. For example, is it ‘fair’ to give each child a piece of cake that is identical in size or give a portion that is in direct proportion to the child’s size and appetite? Is it ‘fair’ that the young adult born into a wealthy family owns two vehicles, while another from a less affluent family must take the bus? Is it ‘fair’ that one individual grows up with opportunities to go to school, sleep under a roof in safety and eat when hungry, while others have none of these? When asking the ‘fairness’ question, the correct answer is judged by the responder. Depending on your point of view, we can argue the fairness question from both sides and come up with entirely different results. Which is why God doesn’t. He isn’t concerned with fairness; His concern is for justice. In fact, if there’s one thing that God cannot tolerate it is injustice.
Daily Devotional - 6 August 2020
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell...Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:28,32-33).
Yesterday, we left Peter running for his life from the Garden of Gethsemane...in fact, all the disciples were running for their lives. These followers of Jesus had only hours earlier pledged their willingness to die for Him and unhesitatingly declared their allegiance to Him–never would they disown Him. Yet just a short while later they are running, scared witless. Why? Because in that moment they were entirely confused. These were brave men; these were loyal men; but they also found themselves disappointed and confused. The Messiah, the man they thought was going to lead them in military victory over the Romans, had submitted Himself to his captors without a fight! Everything they thought they knew about the future had come unanchored in the aftershock of Jesus’ arrest. This was simply Peter’s first taste of disappointment.
Before we’re too hard on the disciples, let’s take a closer look at what happens next. They may have run, but we know that at least some of them did not entirely abandon Him. In John’s gospel, we read that, “Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in” (John 18:15-16). Both John and Peter stayed close to Jesus during his trial before the high priest; we don’t know how John interacted with the others, but we know that Peter had jumped into self-preservation mode. Prior to being let into the courtyard, the woman who let him in asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?” And he answered with his first denial, “No, I am not” (18:17).
The gospel writers leave us somewhat confused concerning the exact events that took place over the course of that night–each emphasizing different details–but one thing is certain. By the end of the night, Peter has disowned Jesus not just once, but three times. As the rooster crows, signalling the beginning of a new day, Peter has proven Jesus’ words to be true, but which he had refused to believe, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me” (Matthew 26:34). It’s at this point that Jesus turns and looks directly at Peter and he is thunderstruck by the realization of what he has just done (Luke 22:61). As much as he may have felt confused and disappointed with God, he is overcome by his disappointment with himself. He could no longer face Jesus; he left weeping bitterly (22:62). The Bible doesn’t tell us where Peter spent the days between this moment and when the women came to tell him that Jesus had risen from the dead...we can only guess.
I suspect Peter spent the next days beating himself up, probably depressed, possibly even contemplating suicide. How these words of Jesus’ to the disciples must have haunted him, “everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). He was a broken man. Everything he thought he knew had been torn from him. Had the last three years all been a deception? How had he gotten things so badly wrong? What had he missed? Could he ever overcome such great a failure?
We really don’t know, but one thing we do. Early in the morning on the day after the Sabbath, the women traveled to the tomb to tend to Jesus’ body–but found it empty! When Jesus appeared and spoke to the women about telling the disciples, He singled Peter out. Jesus knew the struggle that Peter had endured over the course of the past days; word had probably gotten out about Peter’s denial. Jesus wanted it known that Peter was to be told, too, about His resurrection. Despite what had happened, and Peter’s overwhelming disappointment in himself, Jesus was not finished with him. He still had work for him to do. Peter had been thoroughly humbled–and he would soon be ready to lead The Way!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 5 August 2020
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
We’ve all known someone, who despite professing faith in God, has at some point turned away; people, who despite appearing to have a solid belief in Jesus, have chosen to reject what they had once held so firmly too. Maybe that person is the person we see looking back in the mirror at us. What happened? We hear lots of reasons, but I think that the main one is disappointment with God–He didn’t come through when we needed Him to or in the way we expected Him to. I would suggest that whenever we have been disappointed with God, He is not the problem, but rather a misunderstanding on our parts. For an example, let’s take a look at Peter.
Peter was called by Jesus to follow Him...and after seeing the miraculous catch of fish, Peter hadn’t hesitated. When Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was, Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). When Jesus had predicted that all the disciples would desert Him, Peter was adamant in his loyalty, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you" (Matthew 26:35). He was a member of Jesus’ inner circle. He was with Jesus when Elijah and Moses appeared–he saw Him transform and heard the voice of God, “This is my Son, listen to Him”...and was terrified (Matthew 17). He was one of Jesus’ closest friends, and in His time of anguish, Jesus asked him to lend his support in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37-38).
But it was during this time in the Garden of Gethsamane that Peter had his first real taste of disappointment with God. Judas Iscariot, the traitor, kissed Jesus in greeting; this was the prearranged signal between Judas and those who were going to arrest Jesus, identifying which man they wanted. Peter, sensing his time to act had arrived, pulled out his sword and sliced off the ear of the high priest’s slave. He was fully prepared to put his earlier declaration to action–he was willing to die for Jesus. But what happened next, left him confounded. Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him to put away his sword and then turns and heals the injured man. Jesus doesn’t even try to resist his capture! At this point all the disciples scatter...these men who only hours earlier had pronounced their willingness to engage in a battle to the death for the Messiah, scrambled away as they came to realize that the fight they thought they had signed up for wasn’t going to happen.
Over the next 24 hours they would see the Messiah, the promised Rescuer, the One who they were counting on to overthrow the Romans in a glorious battle and assume the position of King over the Jewish nation...die. How could this be? This was not what they had assumed would happen. Jesus had told them He had come to die, but they had never understood what He was telling them; they had refused to have their expectations of the Messiah derailed by the words of the Messiah. As a result, they suffered a great disappointment and were left floundering...what next? Well, for the answer to that question, you will have to wait for tomorrow’s post. But one thing I would like to leave you with, when faced with disappointment, take care not to allow your limited perspective to reject God and His plans. He is the only One who sees all and what you experience as a disappointment today, might bring about your greatest joy in the days to come...as was Peter’s experience!
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!