Who doesn’t love Peter? Big, tough guy fisherman, boldly going where no disciple has gone before, first to speak up, first to react with the sword, first to proclaim who Jesus really was, first to swear undying love and loyalty to the Lord, and the first to openly deny Him! Peter was quite a guy, one to which we all can relate. After His resurrection, when Jesus confronted him on the beach three times about his love for Him, Peter’s heart was grieved. “You know I love You Lord” was all he could say. Three declarations for three denials. How many times would Jesus ask you, “Do you love Me?” How many times, whether by words or actions, have you denied Him? How many times, from watching your lifestyle or listening to your speech, would people question your love for the Lord? We aren’t a perfect people, and like Peter, we all have failed Him one time or another. Maybe not blatantly, maybe only subtly, but we still have let Him down. Yet the beauty of His amazing grace is that just like Peter, we may have failed Him in some way, but He knows if we still love Him! Funny how it was Peter who encouraged the churches to be holy because He is holy. We won’t be perfect, our holiness may waiver, but we need to never stop trying! Then someday if He asks you “Do you love Me?” you will be able to answer, “You know I love You Lord … and He will!
You have been working hard all day, your body is tired, borderline exhausted, all you want is to go home and lay down, and then the boss comes along and says he has one more thing for you to do. Do you jump right up and say yes sir whatever you want? Yeah, thought so. Yet that is what Jesus did to His disciples, twice! Once after He had taught a multitude by Lake Gennesaret and again after His resurrection. Both times the disciples had been fishing all night, caught nothing, and were tired. Real fishing, manually casting and hauling in heavy nets for hours is back breaking work, they were beat, but at Jesus’ request to cast their nets one more time, they responded in obedience and were rewarded with more fish than they could handle! They didn’t whine or complain they simply obeyed. How do you respond to what Jesus requests of you? Whether extremely tired or fresh as a daisy, do say yes Lord or make excuses? Paul encouraged the churches in his letters to never grow weary of doing good works and doing good works is seldom that tiring but always rewarding. Seek and listen for what the Lord wants you to do, to go where He wants you to go. Don’t question it, He knows what He’s doing and of what you are capable. Heed the Psalmists words, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.” You will find that is a very rewarding thing to do!
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” isn’t just a proverb but a theme that runs through the Scriptures. Too often we get so caught up in how much God loves us and has done for us, that we allow our personal relationship with Him to become too familial.
Yes He loves us, yes He gave His Son for us, yes He forgives us time and again, but He is the great I AM, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and we still need to fear and revere Him! Our finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite. How Someone who can masterfully design universes and multitudes of life forms want a personal relationship with each one of us is well beyond our grasp, but that Someone deserves all the reverence we can give Him! People love to make new year resolutions (not that Jan 1 is the only time you can do that) so let’s do some resolving! Make it a point to become wiser; fear and revere the Lord more every day. Show Him your love by doing as Jesus said. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” It’s a new year yet He hasn’t changed. He still “is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” but we can continue to change and grow and become wiser. Let us resolve to do just that!
December is a great month; celebrations, parties, decorations, parades, almost everybody is happy, smiling, kind to one another, and then, it’s over! For some cynical people, December 26th is their happiest day of the year because Christmas is over. For many people, December 26th is their saddest day of the year because Christmas is over. But … it isn’t! Jesus came to be our Lord and Savior every day, for all our lives, for eternity! The world accepts the babe in the manger but not the man on the cross and that’s where the celebration really is! While it’s not realistic to do the outward December celebration all year long, inwardly that celebration should be going on every day. If you accepted God’s grace and given your heart to Jesus, it’s not over. The celebration is never over! You’ve got a loving Heavenly Father, a personal Lord and Savior, a 24/7 on call Councilor, and a Heavenly home waiting for you! The lights may come down, the parties may end, but it’s not over, it barely has begun!
It’s your 50th birthday. Family and friends plan a big fete. They book a fancy hall, hire an exclusive caterer, buy expensive presents. The big day comes and the band they hired rocks as everyone dances the night away and has a great time … except for you … because you weren’t invited! Sounds ridiculous, ask Jesus. That’s what the world is doing to Him more and more every year. It has this big December bash but doesn’t invite the guest of honor! Sadly too many people in the world echo this statement a co-worker once made to me. “Christmas would be really great if it wasn’t for all the Christianity!” We can’t control the world’s mindset but we can control how we respond to it. We can say Merry Christmas as often and to whomever we want. We can give to those in need rather than indulge those who have more than enough. While commercialism may use Christmas to fuel the economy, we have all year to give each other gifts. Focus on the gift God gave us, help others to focus on Jesus too. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but don’t be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings because you are honoring the Lord. Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year, as it should be. Have your celebrations, exchange your gifts, but make sure you save the best seat for the invited guest of honor!