Palm Sunday Reflections: A God of Second Chances

AdobeStock_21347373.jpegAs we reflect on this Palm Sunday, I think it is important to read the resurrection and truly understand the magnitude of what Jesus did for us. I want to take today to revisit The Resurrection from the book of Mark.

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” Mark 16:1-7 (NLT)

I keep thinking about verse 7: “go and tell his disciples, including Peter”. I pondered here for some time because Peter was one of the twelve disciples so why does it read his disciples and Peter?

I had to study this further to truly grasp the context here. Peter walked with Jesus and had the opportunity to see first-hand some of the most amazing miracles. But Jesus made it clear before he was nailed to the cross that Peter would be the one to deny him three times. It’s hard to grasp how someone who experienced so much could deny Jesus but he did.

In the book of Luke, it says that after Peter denied him the third time, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. I imagine that it was that look your mom would give you as a child when you were misbehaving: that look of disappointment that makes you want to go cry in the corner.

I can only assume that in that moment, Peter no longer felt worthy of being a disciple. Peter had done the very thing he said he wouldn’t do. He disappointed his Savior in a way that he probably felt could not be forgiven.

I truly believe Peter was called out in this conversation to show that our God is a God of second chances. It was a sweet and humble reminder that although Peter denied Him, God still welcomed him with open arms.

That same invitation is available to us. The Lord knows we will make plenty of mistakes and will fall short but He is here, available and waiting for us. I think we could all substitute our names there to show that regardless of our past mistakes, our Savior will still make sure the invitation is given to us.

I pray that as we enter into this week, we truly take time to reflect on the greatness of our Lord and all that’s available to you today because of His sacrifice for you.  It doesn’t matter how much you have fallen short there is nothing too bad that you can keep you away from His presence.

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When Your Doubts Become Your God

StormWhen studying Peter, I couldn’t help but revisit the story of Jesus walking on water. Matthew 14 begins with the death of John the Baptist. After this happened, Jesus needed a moment to himself but was not really given that opportunity because crowds of people followed Him. Once he saw the crowds, He had compassion and begin healing the people and this where we see the story of Him feeding about 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.After this happened, Jesus insisted His disciples go ahead of Him on the boat as He went up the hill to be alone and pray.

The disciples encountered some strong winds, but Jesus showed up in the middle of it; however they didn’t recognize Him. He was walking on water towards them but instead of embracing Him with gladness to help them, Peter decided to test Jesus to make sure it was really Him.

Then Peter called to Him:

“Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”-Matthew 14:28-30 (NLT)

I had to read different variations of this story and I really enjoyed the Message translation because it said: “Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink.      -Matthew 14:29-30 (MSG).

Peter looked down at the waves…..

As I read it, I visually saw this in action and I immediately recognized how relatable this story is today. Often times, we get discouraged once we look down  at our circumstances. We see what we have available in that moment and in our hands and then we begin to sink. All of the looking around makes us take focus off of Jesus who is right in front of us.

He’s available with open arms waiting on us to come but because our focus was taken off of Him, we sink.We sink back into the same cycle because we allowed our doubts to become our God.

I think this is why Peter became afraid and started to sink. He started off confidently walking on water and looking ahead to Jesus but then he remembered his current circumstances so he looked down and begin to doubt.

But Jesus is asking “Why do you doubt me?”

I believe we doubt because we are just looking at the natural and not looking through our spiritual lens.

I wonder what life would be like if more people regained focus on the things that mattered. If we shifted how we think of the storms in our lives and if we stopped giving so much attention to our current circumstances (which can cause doubt).

I know I have been Peter in many moments in my life where I have put too much focus on my circumstances which took focus off of Jesus. When you give your doubts too much space, you allow frustrations and worry to creep into your thoughts. So it’s time to stop looking down at our circumstances and start staying focused on Jesus and what the Word says.

 

 

Gone Fishin’

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Oh Peter. I felt compelled to study this man a little further. Peter, also called Simon, was one of the twelve disciples. What I love about Peter is that he had a heart for Jesus but he also struggled with his faith. At times, he needed Jesus to “show him” things to increase his faith.

While studying Peter, I couldn’t help but relate to him in so many ways. As I read a few stories again, I received some new revelations and I want to take today’s post to discuss one of them.

Luke 5:1-5 (NLT) reads:”One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.”

While reading it, I had a hard time moving from the word “deeper.” I imagined Peter and others would go fishing in an area where they frequented. An area that was familiar to them. But then Jesus said “go where it is deeper.”

Deeper than where they’ve been….deeper than the norm. And it is in that place where they received more than they intended.

It made me think and dwell about this deeper place. I consider myself to be a “go-getter”…..but I’m safe. I like things to be comfortable. I don’t mind change but usually like to be the one who initiates the change.

But could it be that the very things we believe and pray for cause us to go to a place where we aren’t comfortable, a place that’s unfamiliar, a place that’s deeper.

I believe if we can push past our fears and move towards the unknown in faith, God will honor it. I often believe that sometimes the thing that gives us anxiety and makes us terrified, is the very thing that is needed to pushed us a little deeper…deeper in faith and obedience.

I have known someone to struggle with her finances. She grew up with financial struggles and is now at a place where she’s comfortable. God has placed business ventures on her heart but the fear of going back to struggling keeps her from experiencing what God wants for her life. There is a fear of going deeper because in her mind, if she fails, she will be without. However, I believe if it is truly a God idea, it will prevail. If you are obedient to what God wants from you (even when you don’t have all the details) and you move in faith anyways, He will open the doors needed to bring the idea to life.

God wants us to be comfortable being uncomfortable. He wants us to get to a point where we don’t allow our fears to keep us from anything he’s calling us towards. He wants us to trust him and his plans. And once we do, we will realize that his plans are (and have always been) so much greater than ours.

I want to be like Peter in this story who went deeper even after he had worked hard previously and saw nothing from it. He could have easily gone back and forth with Jesus based on his previous experience but he chose to be obedient…. and through his obedience he found an even bigger blessing.