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You Can’t Make Me May 18, 2010

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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Luke 22:31-34, 54-62
Here’s a passage we don’t like to look at much. It reveals our shortcomings. Peter was a fiery man. He was also devout and one of Jesus’ inner circle. When we consider ourselves alongside Peter we see how easy it is to fail. If Peter could fail… If Peter could denounce Christ having seen Him… Having touched Him… Having been so close personally, what hope is there for me? Consider verses 31 and 32. Two things: one, Satan had to ask. Second, Jesus prayed but knew Peter would fail and loved him anyway.
“Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.” How would Jesus know that? If Jesus were a mere human, there is no way He could have known that for certain. But, Jesus was not just a man, He was also God and remains both even now. We cannot comprehend the one hundred percent two times, but there it is. Many of us have an understanding of heaven and hell that heaven is above and hell is below. We point to it and say, “I don’t want to go down there. I want to go up there.” Critics ask, “why when you pray do you look down toward hell if you are praying to God in heaven above?” This is a very Hebrew mindset. The Hebrews believed that heaven was above and hell was below. I believe that the spiritual world is all around us, all the time. It is veiled from our sight. If there were some way for us to pierce the current reality, to tear a hole through it, we would see it. We would see the battles being waged for our attention, for our lives, for our very souls. The fact that Jesus left the splendor of heaven does not mean that He lost any connection with it. He would have an unlimited connection with the spiritual realm regardless of location. But, we do not. We must rely on our spiritual parts to connect with it.
Jesus prayed for Peter to persevere in his faith, but then says, “when you have turned back…” Jesus knew Peter would denounce Him, but loved him anyway. Peter had no idea what Jesus was referring to. At that moment, Jesus’ statement would have seemed very ambiguous to Peter. Turn back from what? Peter’s response was one of total commitment. “I am ready to go to jail or to die with you.” We have moments like this also where our faith is unshakeable, our devotion is unwavering. Then the world creeps in and we lose it for a bit. Some people go to conferences and come back full of good intentions. They get all excited about Jesus and church and stuff. They buy new Bible covers and highlighters and devotional books. They make grandiose plans for quiet times extending for hours. The excitement begins to fade and they start making excuses like, “I’m sure God will understand.” I call this getting on a ‘Jesus Kick.’ They seldom last. Devotion is much more deliberate. Realistically, it is better to start small. Never had a prayer time, quiet time? Start with five minutes and see what God will do with that. Until something becomes habit, until it becomes part of your everyday life, it has no meaning. It will quickly fade into a dream of good intentions.
‘Jesus Kicks’ aside, I also want to point out that Peter did just what Jesus said he would do. But, Jesus did not make him do it. Peter did it. Peter made the choice. Peter cannot even blame the devil. The devil cannot force anyone to do anything any more than God can force anyone to do anything. God calls. He beckons. He woos. But, the choice always remains. Jonah could have stayed in the belly of the fish. God’s calling is for our good. When the devil tempts it is for our demise. But we cannot say, “the devil made me do it.” It is our choice. It is a poor choice. It is a lack of discernment. Not making a decision is still a decision. The choice becomes, “whatever, come what may.” We have a choice. Peter had a choice. He could have accepted the consequences of indentifying with Jesus. He said he was willing to in the garden. But, when real life gets in the way, our intentions are often disregarded. So what do we do?
Trust God. He intends for our good. Even in His discipline He intends for our good. In Christ we can know the right answer to the question we are asking. In Christ, we can resist the devil and force him to flee. Not in our own strength or will, but in Christ. In Christ our devotion is directed toward the One who is worthy rather than it being pulled in numerous directions. In Christ we have a guide that is the Spirit. We were not left as orphans. In Christ we are redeemed. We will still fail because the flesh wants what the flesh wants. But, in Christ we will not be abandoned. In Christ we will find forgiveness and love. Are you in Christ?

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