70 X 7 Turns out to be a Great Deal After all!

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother 70 X 7 times, Peter may have raised his eyebrows, questioning if that was a little much. But after Peter cut off a man’s ear, and denied he even knew Jesus, while weeping in bitterness for his own sins, I imagine 70 X 7 didn’t seem too much after all.

Much hope can be drawn from Peter’s ministry. He made big mistakes, like cutting off a man’s ear and even denying he knew Jesus. If Peter was anything like us, I imagine those mistakes deeply haunted Peter while Jesus was in the tomb. Imagine his surprise and joy, when the angels said,

go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” Mark 16:7 NKJV

After a series of disgraceful blunders Jesus still loved and wanted Peter to stay with Him. Not only did Jesus live, but hope for Peter lived as well! No matter our mistakes, hope lives for us as long as Jesus lives! When Jesus and Peter first met, Peter said,

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8 NKJV

Jesus refused to leave Peter to perish in his sins. Its ironic that while Peter tried to convince Jesus he was a sinful man, Jesus knew way more than Peter did as to just how sinful Peter really was. When they both met there were two things Peter had no comprehension of. He was much more sinful than he could even imagine, but he was also more loved than he could ever dream possible!

Jesus did not leave Peter to perish in his sins when he first met him. As time went on Peter made even bigger and more disastrous mistakes than before, but Jesus still refused to leave him to perish in his sins. I imagine resurrection morning Peter was pretty glad the limit for forgiveness had been raised from his suggested 7 times to an astronomical number of times. Peter thought 70 X 7 was a great deal for his brother, but it turned out to be a great deal for him too!

The amazing grace Jesus had for Peter was not in vain. This relentless loved drastically changed Peter’s life. When Peter surrendered to this love he was just like Jesus in many ways. Many think that walking on water was a sign of divinity, but even in the midst of Peter’s blemished ministry, he too walked on water while surrendered to God’s love. Many think Jesus raised the dead as a sign of His divinity, but Jesus said in John 14:10 that it was actually His Father doing all the work. In Acts 9 the same God that worked in Jesus was working in Peter when Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. And now wonder, didn’t Jesus say,

“he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12 NKJV

And didn’t Paul say,

that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19 NKJV

Peter was practicing what he preached when he wrote:

you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NKJV

When Peter walked on water, raised the dead, and even surrendered his own life to crucifixion he was partaking of the divine nature. Peter’s ministry became very amazing when he became immersed in God’s forgiveness and love. Peter’s ministry is an example of what your ministry will be as God immerses you in His forgiving love.

When Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother 70 x 7, Peter may have thought that was a little much. I imagine when Peter was bitterly weeping over his terrible mistakes, he was glad the forgiveness bar had been raised from his suggested 7 times, to 70 X 7. Don’t hesitate to forgive your brother and sister 70 X 7. If you are like Peter and me, it will turn out to be a great deal for you too.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

The Jesus Peter Knew

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I have met a few people who have an image of Jesus in their minds, not based on Scripture, but on pure speculation. As a child I became interested in futball (soccer for U.S.A readers) and mentioned to my family that the game is so old Jesus may have played a form of futbal as a child. A matriarch in my family told me there was no way Jesus would ever play a game. I asked her why she said that. She said, “Jesus would never do anything to dishonor His Father!” I left it at that, but always wondered why she thought kicking a ball around with friends would be dishonoring to His Father? She had a picture of Jesus that was not based on Scripture, but on her imagination.

Some have an imaginary Jesus in their minds, nothing like the Jesus Peter knew. Some believe Jesus found doing the right thing quite easy since He was after all God. In their imagination perfection came easy for Him. It was no sweat. Really?

Luke told Theophilus that Peter was only about a stone’s throw away from Jesus, when, 

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became

like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44 NKJV

I don’t know if Gethsemane was a state park or not, but it was no walk in the park for the Son of God. There was nothing easy about His victory. He didn’t go back to heaven and tell the angels it was no sweat. He sweat drops of blood! Peter would not be familiar with the Jesus that many imagine in their heads. So when we got the throne of grace in Hebrews 4:15-16, we see that our high priest is touched with our human weakness as His victory came by sweat and tears! Later in Hebrews Paul tells us,

You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. Hebrews 12:4 NKJV

Paul is referring to Jesus sweating drops of blood to get His victory over self and sin.

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41 NKJV

Jesus showed and told Peter that he too must pray in order to overcome temptation. He acknowledged that Peter had a willing attitude, but his flesh was weak and needed strengthened through prayer. After vehemently promising to never deny Jesus, weary Peter would fall asleep again, and end up denying Jesus three times that night. Did the Jesus Peter knew disown him?

How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour….-Ellen White, Our High Calling, Page 49

The Jesus Peter knew didn’t want Peter to despair, so at the resurrection the angel gave this message.

But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” Mark 16:7 NKJV

The Jesus Peter knew was the real Savior and did not want Peter to despair! He made sure Peter knew he was included even after failing three times in one night! The Jesus Peter found and fell in love with was perfect and yet so forgiving of others. Peter tells us how we can become like the Jesus he knew.

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4 NKJV 

Peter learned real quick not to make his own promises anymore, but instead to trust in Jesus’ exceedingly great and precious promises. While Jesus took on our humanity, Peter invites us to partake of Jesus’ divine nature. I have heard many arguments over just how human Jesus was. We saw in Gethsemane just how human He was, but Peter makes the debate of Jesus’ humanity unnecessary, when he tells us we can participate in Jesus’ divine nature, escaping the corruption in the world.

The Jesus Peter knew had to sweat to overcome. He sympathized with Peter’s struggles and weaknesses. He forgave Peter. When Peter’s promises failed, Jesus promised to share His divine nature with Peter so he too could overcome the corruption in the world. Peter has invited us to have faith in the same Jesus he had faith in.

To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 2:1 NKJV

Study more about Peter’s letters here. 

Was Peter Demon Possessed?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:21-23 NLT

Years ago, I was eating at a restaurant with a lady friend. The waitress politely showed the dessert tray to us, when my friend, trying to watch her own figure, put up her hand and said, “Get thee behind me Satan!” The waitress turned red in the face and walked away rather miffed. I did not blame her! I explained to my lady friend that the waitress thought she was calling her Satan. That was very rude, especially when she was only doing her job and being polite. My friend felt terrible and apologized to the waitress even though the waitress really did not want anything to do with her at this point. Regardless if the temptation to eat sweets was actually from Satan or not, the waitress was not Satan!

Jesus realized Peter was not Satan. Jesus was not calling Peter Satan. Jesus was just looking at Peter while He was talking to Satan. Maybe Jesus just wanted Peter to know where that idea that He should not have to die was coming from.

So why was Satan using Peter to sway Jesus from dying? By the way just because Satan temporarily used Peter, did not mean Peter was “demon possessed.” Let’s relax a little and give our Christian brothers and sisters some slack when they make bad decisions in the church. Even if a pastor or church leader does make an actual error, it does not mean they are demonic and part of an underworld conspiracy to destroy the church. It just means they are human like you and me. Even when Aaron made the golden calf, as stupid as that may have been, and we all agree 4,000 years later it was pretty stupid, neither God or Moses accused him of being demon possessed or intentionally trying to destroy God’s movement. Moses berated Aaron’s actions without ever berating his motives.

But I digress. So why was Satan using Peter to sway Jesus from dying? Because Satan knew that if Jesus died His power would be destroyed.

But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 1John 3:8 NLT

Jesus destroyed Satan’s works of deception when Jesus showed God’s true character on the cross. If Jesus had an ego or love for self then Satan would have had power over Him, but Jesus had no ego and no love for self or self preservation, therefore Satan had no power over Him! In order for my phone charger to influence my phone with its electricity, my phone must have an outlet that will connect with my charger. In order for Satan to influence us, we too must have a little outlet where he can connect with us. Our ego and love of self is that outlet that lets Satan connect with us! As long as we are alive to self ego and self interest Satan will have a connection with us. The way to break  that connection is to die to self!

For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.Romans 6:7 NLT

Satan wants us to keep ourselves and our selfish ambitions alive, because by doing so he will always have a powerful influence over everything we do-even in the church! But if we die to self we are free from Satan’s power. Truly this is why Jesus said,

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?Matthew 16:24-26 NLT

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

Is the Church Infallible?

Tampa Hillsborough Bay

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 NLT

Many believe that in Matthew 16, Jesus was setting Peter up as the first pope and giving the church unconditional authority. This comes from reading more into Jesus’ Words than what He intended. Instead of giving the church authority over the consciences of individuals, in making its own laws Jesus was declaring just the opposite. In Matthew 16:9Jesus is not giving the church license. To the contrary He is giving it limits in what it can and should teach. The keys of the kingdom that Jesus gave the church were not keys to authority. The keys of the kingdom are the knowledge of Jesus’ teachings.

What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” Luke 11:52 NLT 

Jesus made it clear that no man is authorized to make ecclesiastical laws that man must submit to, much less that heaven must recognize!

Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. Mark 7:7-9 NLT

Contrary to the idea that Jesus told the church that it could make laws that would be recognized in heaven, Jesus told the church to teach completely those things from heaven alone.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NLT

While I was living in Texas, a police officer in a small town was fired, because he was pulling over young girls who were obeying the laws just so he could flirt with them. The town had given him authority to enforce the laws of the city but not to flirt with young girls! Likewise in the passage just cited, Jesus gives the church authority to teach everything He has commanded but nothing more and nothing less!  Just like a police officer cannot make up his own laws and pull people over who are obeying the laws of the land, so a church leader cannot make up his own laws and meddle in the personal affairs of others.

A police officer and even lawmakers are sworn in or inaugurated by an oath to protect the laws and constitutions of the land. In Matthew 16:19 Jesus is swearing in the disciples, simply telling them that they are to bind (lock in or require) what is bound in heaven and are to lose (or allow) only what is allowed in heaven. Matthew 16:19 is a command to His disciples and not a license to make their own laws. Jesus told His disciples, what you forbid should be that which is forbidden in heaven and what you allow should be that which is allowed in heaven. As a young boy, when I would get out of line, my teacher would tell me, “you will march right over to the the principal’s office.” That was a command, not a license! So when Jesus tells the church that what they bind is what will be bound in heaven he was Commanding them to only bind what is bound in heaven.

The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors. –Ellen White, The Great Controversy, Page 293.

I am loyal to my parents without claiming they are infallible. I follow my parents as they follow Jesus. No more no less. I am also loyal to my church without claiming it is infallible. I follow my church as it follows Jesus. No more no less.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

Jesus Doesn’t Kick Us Off The Team When We Mess Up

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Thursday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson asks:

Have you ever messed up really badly and when you expected only condemnation and judgment, you were given mercy, grace, and forgiveness instead?

Peter  vowed to follow Jesus even if it cost him his life. When Jesus was arrested, Peter whipped out his sword and swung at a soldier’s heard catching only his ear. Then Peter finds himself in the judgment hall.

 

A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.” But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.  Matthew 26:69-70 NLT

Peter was ready to fight the soldier, but could not handle the snickering of a cute young lady. This happened not just once but three times! May I dare say, it was becoming a habit? When the rooster crowed,

 he went away, weeping bitterly. Matthew 26:75 NLT

Peter is dejected. He let Jesus down.

Roy Riegels* picked up a fumbled football in the 1929 Rose bowl. Being spun around by an opponent he lost his sense of direction and ran the wrong way, for 69 yards, until he was finally tackled by his own quarterback, thus saving him from making a score for the other team!

After the play, Riegels was so distraught that he had to be talked into returning to the game by coach Nibs Price for the second half. Riegels said “Coach, I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you, I’ve ruined myself, I’ve ruined the team. I couldn’t face that crowd to save my life.” Coach Price responded by saying “Roy, get up and go back out there — the game is only half over.”

Riegels gave one of his best performances ever in the second half of that game, including blocking a punt from the other team. Riegels won first team all-american honors that year.

Sure you say, the coach could leave him in the game, because it is just a silly little game anyway. But Peter was caught up in the middle of the greatest controversy and battle between good and evil of all time! Still, after not just one or two but three terrible blunders, Jesus does not kick Peter off the team.  After the Resurrection, an angel gives a message to the women at the tomb. It also contains a special note for Peter, to let him know He is still a part of the team.

Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there…. Mark 16:7 NLT

Peter did not take this grace for granted! He never denied Jesus again, even when threatened with prison or death.  Aren’t you glad Jesus does not kick us off the team when we mess up? Like Peter, lets not take this grace for granted, but show our appreciation by accepting Jesus’ grace and forgiveness, and doing our best out of love for Jesus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Riegels

Glimpse of the Cross Day 3; Over Zealous Peter Cuts off an Ear

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. John 18:10 NLT

Have you ever been so zealous of defending what you believed to be right, that you hurt someone? Or has someone ever hurt you? Unfortunately Peter is not the only disciple who has misrepresented Jesus through the ages. I think we all have caused needless pain, thinking we were defending the truth, and I think we all have been hurt a time or two by some else who thought they were defending truth. That is why I am so glad we have a healing Jesus! Look what Jesus does.

 But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Luke 22:51 NLT

I know when I am needlessly hurt by one of Jesus’ disciples that Jesus can heal me and take away the hurt. Meanwhile I pray for Jesus to heal those I have needlessly hurt also by my miss-directed zeal.

2 peter; The Divine Nature

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

To me, 2 Peter 1:4 is the crux of the whole book of 2 Peter. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Peter makes it clear, that my salvation is not based upon the promises I make to Jesus, but rather on the promises that Jesus makes to me! Remember Titus 1:2? “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” Remember too in Genesis 12, when God promised Abraham that He would be the father of a great nation, even though he had not even had his fist child yet, that God only required God to trust His promises. He did not ask Abraham to make promises. -Feeling the terrible power of temptation, the drawing of desire that leads to indulgence, many a man cries in despair, “I cannot resist evil.” Tell him that he can, that he must resist. He may have been overcome again and again, but it need not be always thus. He is weak in moral power, controlled by the habits of a life of sin. His promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. The knowledge of his broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens his confidence in his own sincerity, and causes him to feel that God cannot accept him or work with his efforts. But he need not despair. 

     Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength. Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart.”  {Temperance, p. 111-12}

Christ can promise us what we cannot promise Him. All things are possible when we trust His promises instead of making our own.  We thus, partake of His divine nature. Many argue over which human nature Jesus took. Was it pre-fall or post fall human nature. We need not argue, because Peter is not telling us to partake of Jesus’ human nature at all. He is telling us to partake of His divine nature! How can that be? Trust His promises.