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Sunday, March 30, 2014

How God Changes the Hearts of People- The Apostle Peter...."

Who of us speaks with good intentions and yet when it comes down to it we find we have actions that do not match our expressed intentions? 


Today Pastor Jim Ewing speaks about Peter. A man who had his laundry exposed to the world beyond his own life time upon this earth. All written down in our Bibles so anyone can know Peter's life. How humbling!


His aggressiveness made Peter a natural spokesman for the twelve. Often, however, he spoke before he thought, and his words led to embarrassment.


Most of us remember Peter for denying Christ three times during the night of Jesus' trial. Following his resurrection, Jesus took special care to rehabilitate Peter and assure him he was forgiven.  


Peter the apostle is one of the most prominent characters in the Gospels, a rough and tumble man whose emotions often got him into trouble, and yet he was clearly one of the favorites of Jesus Christ, who loved him for his big heart. 


 Jesus included Peter in his inner circle when he took Peter, James, and John into the house of Jairus, where Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead (Mark 5:35-43). Later, Peter was among those same disciples Jesus chose to witness the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9). Those same three saw Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33-42). 


 Peter was a fiercely loyal man. Like the other 11 apostles, he left his occupation to follow Jesus for three years, learning from him about the kingdom of heaven. Once he was filled with the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, Peter was a fearless missionary for Christ.


How God Changes the Hearts of People- The Apostle Peter...."

Apostle Peter

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And straightway they left their nets, and followed Him". 

 -Matthew 4:18-20. ....

Is there a more interesting disciple of the Savior than Peter?

 I've heard many humorous messages over the years spoken about him because of his propensity to 'put his foot into his mouth', to speak before thinking, and for his alternate bravery and cowardice in the face of danger.

 It appears that Peter was one tough dude.

 When Jesus called him, he left all- immediately- and followed Him. He was a bold talker, his loyalty to his Lord was unfeigned and strong, and I have no doubt that he'd walk up and punch a man in the face if the man had said anything less than good about Jesus.

 Some have wondered out loud why Jesus would choose such a tactless time bomb of a man to be His disciple. I think that Peter was a wonderful example of God's grace and power, as he eventually became perhaps the most important and influential disciple that Jesus had.....

Now, we all know of his bold affirmations of his love and loyalty to Jesus, of his being the first to declare Jesus' divinity ("Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God"), of his being rebuked by Jesus for suggesting that Jesus would not go to the cross, of his denial of his Lord in the face of persecution- but it's what happened after the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples that we see a dramatic change in this wild man.

 He boldly proclaims to observers just what had happened to those in the upper room as God poured out His Spirit, he proudly testifies of Christ in the face and in the very midst of imprisonment and persecution- he is bold, sure- but no longer boastful, no longer trite, NO LONGER LIVING FROM HIS FLESH.

God had changed this man from a loud fraidycat to a man who eventually wrote two epistles dealing with standing for Christ IN THE FACE OF PERSECUTION (1 Peter deals with persecution via enemies from without, 2 Peter addresses the reality of enemies from within the Body of Christ)...

Everybody is different, and God does not make 'cookie-cutter' Christians. Peter was not a GQ kind of guy. He was 'rough around the edges', to be sure. He was also somebody whom God's hand was upon mightily.

 God help me, I want to be a man like that!

En Agape,
Pastor Jim Ewing

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