Tag Archives: Peter

Praying and not believing

“He (Peter) went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people gathered and were praying.  Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door.  When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’  ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her.  When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel.’”  Acts 12:12-15.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading: Exodus 39-40, Psalm 15, and Acts 12.

Nice story.  Peter had been led out of a high-security prison.  Now free, he goes to find his friends.

Note what his friends are doing: they are praying.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ASK…..”  No doubt they were asking for Peter’s release because another apostle (James) had just been killed by Herod.

Now the story turns to the just-like-us part.  We pray but we don’t believe we will get what we ask for.  How do I know that these folks didn’t believe what they prayed?  When Peter showed up they refused to believe that it could be him!

We often look at the things we pray for from OUR perspective.  I have this is a BIG problem.  What can I do about it?  I guess I’ll pray.

The ending of the “abide” verse sorts out what is wrong with this thinking.  At the end, after “ask whatever your wish,” is followed by, “and it will be done FOR you.”  See the difference?  God does the heavy lifting.  We are to abide and ask.

Many of us have the abide-and-ask part down but often we want to do the heavy lifting.  Peter’s friends did nothing to get him out of prison except abide and ask.  They forgot that what THEY did was enough.  Now it was up to God to make it happen………and He did.

“Lord, forgive me for messing so many things up.  I read/study Scripture and so often miss what’s going on there.  Open my heart to follow You accurately.  Help me to trust You with the details of my life.  Help me to abide in You, ask, and let go of where things go from there.  I love You, Father.”

Will we abide in Him, ask Him, and then let Him do the rest?

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God’s got this

“So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I (Peter) to think that I could stand in God’s way?”  Acts 11:17.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading: Exodus 37-38, Psalm 19, and Acts 11.

Peter went to the house of a Gentile named Cornelius after getting divine guidance to do so.  After a successful visit with Cornelius, Peter returned to Jerusalem and encountered criticism from his associates.  Jews did not mix with Gentiles.

Peter’s response is quoted above.

How often believers decide how things will be.  We give God directives and wait for Him to follow our lead.  What could we possibly be thinking!

We ignore bringing God into the lives of those who hate us, whether that is individual or universal.

We must live as if God is amazing, because He is!  His powers have NO limitation.

Paul (Saul) was the enemy.  He was determined to hurt believers.  Good person to avoid and that was the approach Ananias voiced when an angel appeared to Him saying to go to Paul.  Ananias, like us so often, had a “small” version of God in His mind.

We are told to pray for our enemies.  Let them bring out the best in us.  If we can get in our heads that God can turn His enemies in to followers, then of course we’ll pray for them!  If we think otherwise, we will let them continue as they are.

We have Muslims in our midst.  We have the avowed godless in our midst.  Can God work in their lives?  We must take Peter’s approach: “who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way.”  Pray for them.

“Lord, forgive me for limiting You in thought, word, and deed.  You are omnipotent.  No one, no religion is beyond Your reach.  I ask for Your life-changing interaction in the lives of those in my family who are most resistant to You.  Turn them, Father.  I know that You can do it!”

No one, and that includes those who dislike us and our way of thinking the most, is beyond the touch of God.  Pray accordingly.

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Peter gets a nose full and assorted earfuls!

“You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31.

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.” Matthew 16:17.

“Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me.” Matthew 16:23.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading: Matthew 14-16.

Since Peter had a mother-in-law I will assume that there was someone at home ready with the, “How was your day, dear?” question.

I don’t know the amount of time between the episodes that were part of the selected verses.  I am guessing that if Peter did come home after each of them his answer to his wife’s question might have started with, “You won’t believe what I did!”

You talk about highs and lows.  Peter does the supernatural, gets it right on Jesus being the Messiah, and then gets it totally wrong when he chooses to dissuade Jesus from His plan.

The gentle Jesus of Sunday School pictures fits nicely with the second encounter.  The other two encounters show us the Jesus that reacts firmly to us wayward folks.

We mess it up so much.  Why?  We get the idea that we are an equal with God.  We talk big but wilt in crunch time.  We can say either the right thing and or the completely-wrong thing.  How does He stand us!

The disciples, at this point, are not filled with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is still in their midst.  They have been with Him for several years and know of Him but are not filled with Him.

We, on the other hand, have His Spirit with us.  We can be taught and comforted by the Holy Spirit.  Our connection to God can be a close one.  The closer we are to God the more pronounced our encounters with Him will be.  Peter certainly found that out.

“You are great.  Forgive me for getting things wrong.  I love You and desire to please You in rightly representing You.  Thank You for the stories in the Bible where good examples and bad examples are on display.  I can learn from both.  Guide me, O thou great Jehovah this day.”

Peter is one of us: sometimes good and sometimes not so good.

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Not me!

“Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’”  Mark 14:29.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading: Job 25, and Mark 13-14.

All of us named, “Peter,” cringe at this verse because we know what happens shortly after.

The lesson to be learned is very clear: We are not immune from saying regrettable things.

When Peter said, “I will not,” we can be sure that he meant it.  No one in the group laughed at it, in fact they all echoed the same sentiment.  Jesus would have been the only one who could have laughed because He knew the future.

It is a serious problem to see ourselves strong in our own strength.  We aren’t and I believe that much of our trouble comes when we part company with God and set off on our own.

We may well be capable of great deeds but minus God we are more likely to perform unthinkable deeds.

My walk with God must be persistent.  I must be looking to learn and looking to gain strength from Him.

What should Peter have said?  “Lord, You know me better than I do.  Help me to do what is right.  I love You.”

“Lord, I am weak and in need of You every second.  Forgive me for acting independently of You.  Never goes well and never will go well.  Fill me with You this day, I beg.”

We are all capable of the unthinkable.

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“Are you a believer?”

“’You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?’ she asked Peter.  He replied, ‘I am not.’”  John 18:17.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading: 2 Kings 24, Jeremiah 22, Psalm 112, and John 18.

What a liar!

Peter, with a chance to stand up, chose to step down.

Embarrassing behavior to say the least.

Of course Peter was one of Jesus’s disciples.  Of course he knew Him.  But when association would exact a high price Peter opted for safety instead.

Sadly, most of us are just like Peter.  How?  When being a believer will carry a price we opt for safety.  We low-key our relationship to God so that it doesn’t get us into any sort of difficulty.

We are nearly at the “Judas” level.  Our faith is so shallow that it hardly covers our feet!

Folks in other parts of the world are put into life-or-death scenarios over what they believe.  We are HARDLY put in any danger in the US that compares to that.  Are we willing to stand up for Him?

When Jesus left the earth He sent the Comforter to be with each of us.  Instead of Jesus being in one place at one time, we have Him all the various places believers are located.

We can have a relationship with Him.  I am back to reading Brother Lawrence’s book (The Practice of the Presence of God) again.  God, via the Holy Spirit, is in the space I’m in.  Being aware of Him being nearby revolutionizes me.  His presence has me doing things as well as not doing things.  I can’t be the same as I was when the reality of His presence sinks into my life.

“Lord, You are in my midst.  Thank You for that.  Show me what needs to be done.  I ask You for Your help.  I dare not offend You by my thoughts, words, and actions.  You are the great God.”

Practice the presence of God.

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Stay strong in Him

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38

(Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading – Job 25 & Mark 13-14)

Self-confidence has no place within a true follower of Christ.

Peter had just claimed his undying allegiance to Jesus and then gone out on the same day and denied he even knew Jesus three different times. In this event Peter’s undying allegiance talk had no legs.

But here in the Garden of Gethsemane comes another chance get things right. Sadly, today’s chosen verse is followed by yet another loyalty collapse by the disciples.

In the Garden, Jesus tells the disciples to, “watch and pray.” Stay alert to what I am doing. Stay connected to Me. The disciples fell through the cracks on both counts.

Jesus also told them that in their hearts they were well intended. They were committed to following Jesus.

Jesus told them, however, that despite their good intentions their “flesh was weak.” Their own strength would collapse despite how strong they thought they had become in trusting Him.

More lessons for me in this Scripture. I cannot trust myself. I don’t care if I read Scripture and pray continuously, I still will never be strong spiritually unless those two things increase my dependence on God. I am weak. I may walk on water (briefly) but I am quick to sink apart from Him.

I cannot be examining my surroundings and thanking Him for blessing me if the undercurrent is that I’ve earned His goodness. A lie from Satan! I have “earned” nothing. It is all a gift from a God Who has His own agenda. My reading of Job is very sobering in that regard.

“Lord, You are in charge. I submit my plans to You. I ask for direction. Fill me with You because I am always limited without You. I want no voids in my life in which I’m making solo choices. Cleanse me. Guide me, O thou great Jehovah.”

Are you acceptable to God?

+13 – Progress.

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Words

“(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)” Mark 9:6

(Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading – Psalm 121 & Mark 9-10)

Say the first thing that comes into your head. That seemed to happen to Peter often.

How often do words escape that you wish you could have back? “Too often,” is my answer.

You let the words loose and you hear them making a good time bad and a bad time worse. You know, as a believer, that you will have to deal with the consequences of what you said afterwards.

If I am filled with God, then I believe that I will always have the “right” words ready to be spoken.

The problem is that often I think I have the “right” words but instead I have “my” words. There is a significant difference!

“My” words sometimes sound pretty good but like someone leaving the trunk and venturing out on the branch, there could well be a breaking point.

Every time I mess things up verbally there seems to be a Scripture that comes to mind or one that I’m currently reading as part of this devotional. Today was the latter as I discuss someone blurting out something stupid. Peter’s idea that Elijah and Moses were equal to Jesus (“Let’s build three tabernacles.”) had no connection to anything Jesus had taught him. It was an “open mouth, insert foot” moment…………that I’ve had plenty of. I am guessing some of you have as well.

“Lord, my words continue to trip me up. No surprise because they’re not Your Words. I want to rightly represent You with every part of me. I want those in my midst to know that I love You by the way I treat them. I cannot talk trash and at the same time be a Godly representative. Clean me up, Father. I surrender to Your Holy Spirit now.)

Are you God’s enemy?

+14 – Holding steady.

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Godless thinking………….and speaking

“But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’” Mark 8:33

(Verse chosen from today’s Bible study – Job 22 & Mark 7-8)

Peter had it right just a few verses before today’s chosen verse: “You are the Messiah.”

A few verses later, he falls off the rails!

Jesus (God Incarnate) is telling the disciples what He is going to do. Peter loses track of Who Jesus is and decides to advise Him on what to do.

Seems hard to imagine a close follower doing such a thing but maybe, like us, Peter had times of closeness to Godly thinking/speaking and times not so close.

I had such a time very recently. Things were going smoothly. God’s Hand was clear in events and surroundings. But then a (simple) request was made and I cashed in everything Godly for a segment of godlessness.

My relationship with God must be overwhelming me. I must be overflowing with Him. If not, the segments of godlessness will continue to happen.

I thank God that today’s Scripture was part of my reading because it didn’t take me long to see that the New Testament Peter had more in common with me that just his name!

“Lord, forgive me for moving anywhere without You. It will be a godless mess sooner or later. Fill me with You. I want Your Holy Spirit in total charge of my life. I beg to learn more of Your Ways through prayer/Bible reading/instruction. Help me to use my time wisely and to pursue You actively in it. You are my God. Hallelujah!

Are you acceptable to God?

+14 – Holding steady.

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He’s going nowhere!

“After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.” Acts 12:4

(Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading – Job 6-8 & Acts 12)

Herod wanted to make sure that Peter didn’t escape from prison so he had round-the-clock crews of four guards watching him.

There was no way that Peter could escape. BUT GOD had other plans.

What were Peter’s friends doing? They were hiding, probably fearing that their fate might be like James (killed) or like Peter (imprisoned with the likelihood of death).

But we must not limit what his friends were doing to hiding. They were also, “earnestly praying to God for him.” This is what is called, “Praying to the Highest Power.” No doubt they couldn’t imagine, from human perspective, how Peter could get out of jail but they prayed for Peter anyhow.

God’s Ways are above and beyond our ways. We are so limited and short-sighted when it comes to what He can do. We read of Jesus calming the sea and then fall apart when a storm comes into our lives. “O we of little faith!” And I could also add, “O we of little memory!”

I love the Rhoda part of the story. Peter is led out of prison by an angel and arrives where Rhoda and other believers are located. Fear is everywhere and the locked-in believers fear a knock on their door. But one comes. Rhoda answers it, sees Peter, and leaves him locked outside while she tries to tell those who are locked inside what she has seen outside.

I must never under-estimate God. Those mountains I see, don’t exist to Him. I must look at the collection of things Jesus did and see that He had no barriers.

I have God within me in the Holy Spirit. In Him I have the ability to see as He does and hear as He does. Therefore I can trust Him when fear assaults me. I can believe that sickness can be overcome by Him Who is within me.

Stories of great faith illuminate how weak my own faith really is. My life needs to be turned entirely over to God until I can see “mountains” the way He does. So that I can hear the opposition to Him as He does. O Lord, I need You!

“Father, I thank You that You are You. I thank You that I have Your Word as a guide. Help me to understand Your Ways. Help me to see and hear as You see and hear. Give me Your Words in every conversation I’m in this day. O Lord, do I ever need You!”

Are you acceptable to God?

+17 Progress.

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God had other plans

“’You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.’” Acts 10 28

(Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading – Job 5 & Psalm 108 & Acts 10-11)

BUT God.

Peter had his own ideas about the Gentiles and they weren’t good.

But while Peter is praying God gets his attention via a trance and corrects Peter. The Gentiles are no longer out of the loop of God’s intervention. The way for them to become believers is thrust wide open. The Gentiles can believe and be saved from sin’s consequences just as Jews can.

One lesson out of this story is the wonder of prayer. A lot of us do it with great frequency. And what better place for us to pick up a message from God. You’re praying to God, “What do You want me to do now?” Suddenly a thought comes into your head of something you could/should do. That thought didn’t just happen to show up. It was a gift from God.

Peter was praying and this made it easy for God to get through to him.

Another lesson is to frequently get spiritual alignment. What seems like a good idea today, may not be right in the future. God works best with flexible believers. If we get into the, “I’ll-do-anything-BUT,” mode we’re in trouble. “I’ll serve You BUT only in this place.” God knows our strengths and weaknesses. He will not put us in places where He cannot bless us. However, we must start by letting go of the controls in our lives.

“Lord, I want You in charge of me. I will mess things up royally on my own, and have done just that far too often. I thank You that I can connect to You whenever and wherever. What a blessing that is! Help me to know Your Will this day. I want to please You, Father. Guide me O thou great Jehovah.”

Are you acceptable to God?

+17 – Progress.

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