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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Don't Live A Defeated Life!

If I could name one thing that causes me to be in awe of God it is His mastery at orchestrating across time immortal all the things of life. I mean, I can barely plan out a week at a time and He planned for ALL time from the BEGINNING of time. I can't even conceive of it.

In a more practical, tangible sense, one of the things that awes me about my walk with God is how He brings several things to bear and brings them to my attention when He is trying to teach me a particular thing. For example, you hear the topic on the radio message, Dr Stanley speaks on it, your pastor speaks on it, and sometimes you even see an internet article on it. Even the youth in our group have talked about seeing this truth about God at work in their lives.

And the thing I've been seeing is how God is using several of His people to speak to me about probably my biggest struggle--living a defeated life, even though I know the battle is already won.

When troubles pile up on you and there is no end in sight, you do feel defeated. You feel God doesn't even hear your prayers. You've asked for forgiveness for every sin you've committed and even some you haven't but you just want to cover your bases. Still, nothing happens.

What's the core of all that defeated living?

Taking our eyes off Jesus.

So simple yet so complicated (from our weak human standpoint).

Today our pastor spoke about the passage in Luke 22:31-34, where Jesus tells Peter that despite Peter's insistence to the contrary, he will soon deny him 3 times before the rooster crows.

I've read that passage a million times. But to be honest, most times when I read it I think about the typical human failure exemplified in that warning. I think that's why I identify with Peter most of all the disciples. They all stumbled and fell, but Peter's dirty laundry is aired right out there in the Bible for all the world to see, much more than the other disciples. No doubt to teach people like me who came centuries after.

And without fail, every time I read Luke 22:62 "So Peter went out and wept bitterly," it never fails to make me cry too. To me, that's about the saddest verse in the Bible. And if that were all there were to Peter's story, it would definitely be unalterably sad.

But back to Luke 22:31-32, which says:

And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

I've read this passage many times, but today much more of these two verses came alive for me. And it all boils down to this---Jesus is constantly interceding for me, so why do I live in defeat? Jesus KNEW Peter would deny Him. He knew Peter would falter and fail. But He also knew that after that failure Peter would be strengthened in his faith and would go on to do great things, including preaching a message at Pentecost which resulted in 3000 being saved and continuing on as a leader in the church.

I need to view me as God views me--He sees past all the failures and stumblings to the finished product. I may live in periods of trial and defeat but He knows exactly how He's going to use what I learn from those experiences to be part of that timeless plan He has had from the beginning to reach other people.

I'm not a big fan of pain and suffering. Who is? But if I keep my eyes fastened on Him, the load will be easier to bear, especially when I remember that it will all be used for good.


Patti Shene said...

Brenda, I find the story of Peter and his denial of Jesus to be one of the most heartrending of the scriptures as well. How often do we deny our Lord, sometimes without even realizing it, in our daily lives. The amazing thing, as you said, is that God knows we will do it, and still He sent His son to die for us. The realization is staggering!

Cathee said...

I could so relate to this post. I'm the poster child for feeling defeated, and often wonder why God hasn't raised His hands as He looks down and me and says "Forget it! I'm done with you! You'll never get it!" Thankfully He hasn't, though and still believes I can have some purpose here on earth.
I also find it amazing that He not only knew what would happen before it did, but He also planned and knew each one of us before time began, and knew when He wanted each one of us to exist! - like it says in Psalm 139
I've caught myself being arrogant at times after reading about Peter denying Jesus and thinking "Wow, I would never do that?" And I seriously don't think I would, but neither did he - and he knew Him when He walked the earth.
You're right, God never allows our mistakes to interfere with His plans, He's bigger than everything we could ever go through.