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All posts for the month August, 2018

Ten Virgins, Revisited

Published August 29, 2018 by Dawn

As I climbed into bed early last night, the Lord laid a story on my heart that promised I’d be up learning from the Holy Spirit for way past my bedtime. It was the parable of the ten virgins.

Recap for those who need it: these ten women were awaiting a wedding party. They all brought their lamps (I guess because they didn’t have electric at the time), and they all fell asleep waiting for their friends to show up. When they awoke at the sound of a wedding celebration heading into the venue, five of them were ready to go in and celebrate. The other five were mortified to find that their lamps were useless! They had neglected to prepare and had to run into town for more oil, while the party started without them. When they got back, they couldn’t get in!

I’ve always read this story with a vague understanding of what it meant. I hope I’m not the only one because that’s embarrassing, but when I read the part about the oil and being unprepared, I just took it to mean you have to be ready when Jesus comes … whatever that means. As I laid in bed listening, the Holy Spirit reminded me that in scripture, the oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit’s presence and anointing in one’s life. Suddenly, I realized what it meant to be prepared!

The Holy Spirit is a friend of fellowship. You don’t walk in with the Spirit just because you asked Jesus into your heart. You walk with the Spirit as you get to know the Spirit. How do you get to know the Spirit of God? The Word of God. Because according to John 1, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Akin to this verse is the whole of Proverbs 8, which I believe is the Holy Spirit’s autobiography. The narrator of that chapter is Wisdom, and Wisdom claims to have been with God from the beginning as well. Our spiritual wisdom is imparted through the Holy Spirit, because who knows the mind of God? The spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11). We can only know God through His Spirit, and we can only get acquainted with the Spirit of God through prayer and Bible reading.

This parable, then, isn’t an ambiguous statement about being prepared for Jesus’ return. It’s a parable that highlights the importance of fellowship with the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. According to this parable, if we aren’t prepared with the oil, we’ll miss it. We’ll be left outside the gate, which symbolizes eternal damnation.  Our time in the Word and in prayer prepares us for our eternal fellowship with Christ. If we aren’t fellowshipping with the Spirit of God now, why would we ever think we’ll be comfortable in Heaven? Because in truth, God makes flesh uncomfortable. To the point of death! If we walk in the flesh here, we’ll not be prepared for the presence and atmosphere of God. We’ll be unable to partake in His gift of eternity.

I think this parable is so important. It’s a warning, really. If you aren’t in your Word, and don’t have a strong prayer life, you will not be ready when Jesus comes to take His bride. I certainly do not want Him passing me by and telling me He doesn’t know me when I come knocking! Do you?

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A Single Heartcry

Published August 27, 2018 by Dawn

A friend of mine very recently got engaged. She’ll marry into a family, with children, and reap an abundance as God promised her many years ago. The reactions have been nothing but gracious and loving; some have proclaimed God’s goodness, others His faithfulness, and still others, His miraculous abilities. Thank God, she’s about to be married!

I’m super excited for her. I’ve shared her secret anguish, holding onto a promise for so long. Having an unfulfilled desire and having to lean into God in weak moments of despair. Biting the lip and fighting back tears while others rejoice at God’s faithfulness at the altar of matrimony. Always wearing the bridesmaid’s dress and dying inside. I’ve lived there for a long time myself.

I stood in the kitchen with my 15-year-old daughter last night, making burgers and talking about heart longings. She asked me, “Why does the church make marriage seem like the ultimate thing?” I knew exactly what she was asking, even before she poured it out for discussion: why is marriage such a big deal to the church? Why do you only get validated in the church when someone’s ringed you up? Why are people so impressed by that ultimate validation of worthiness in another’s eyes?

I’ve recently been invited to join a singles’ group online, which I swore I would never do, but suddenly, it seemed like a community of believers I wanted to be a part of. They get me. The silent despair. The loneliness. The pressing in. The feeling of isolation, and being overlooked all the time. I joined and found that most of us feel this deep pain because we have fed into the lie that marriage makes us complete. That when someone else chooses us over all others, it’s because finally, there’s something about us worth choosing.

In response to the news, many have exclaimed, “It’s such a miracle!” I know that my friend will agree that God has been working miracles in her life through all her sojourn of singleness. She gave her singleness to God and He used it to the fullest. He took her places she might never have been as a married woman and mother, and used her in the lives of many children while her heart pined to hold a child of her own making. The miracles didn’t start with this one, church!

She gave her time to God and He blessed her with His presence. She was never alone. Just saddled with a feeling of loneliness because Satan knows it’s an effective way to derail a single Christian. That woman became strong in solitude, held onto God in desperation and got to know her Savior as her Husband and Friend. She’s been strengthened to know where her help comes from, should her earthly husband fail her. She’s held the hand of Jesus in dark places and He’s brought her out.

Someone else proclaimed, “God is so good!” Hadn’t He always been good? Wasn’t He good even in the trying times? Have we learned nothing from Job? God was good to this woman despite her suffering. He was good to her despite the times she lashed out in frustration during the wait. He continually did good for her, even if it didn’t feel good at the time. She’ll agree that although the wait being over is the best feeling in the world, God has always been good to her.

We have to stop glorifying blessings, Church. We need to start glorifying God. Despite our experiences, God is good. He’s always been good. He is miraculous, working in ways we can’t even perceive. There’s a world out there that’s not experiencing only wonderful things. People are broken. They need to know that it’s ok if God is the only one who sees you or calls you worthy. We do a disservice to the lost and dying world around us if we only acknowledge the greatness of God in our blessings. Wouldn’t they love to be held in the pain? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they knew how to lean into God while they suffer? Isn’t this of great worth in our walks with God? Shouldn’t we tell them? Shouldn’t we be proclaiming God’s goodness while the world comes down around us? If we can’t worship while we suffer, we’re in a relationship with God’s hands, and not Himself. Doesn’t He deserve more of us than that?

This is my #sorrynotsorry moment: we especially have to stop glorifying marriage as the ultimate “thing” in life. Especially in ministry. God used many single people in the Bible. They were not less than and they were not used less. God has given some a ministry of marriage and others a ministry of singleness. Both are precious in His sight and He can use either situation equally effectively. The church is hurting single people, it’s true. But God is holding them. For this, we can praise Him in our suffering, thanking Him that all this pain makes us cling to Him.

Be encouraged, single friends, you are being held by the Maker of Heaven and Earth. He knows your name. He’s pressed into your heartbeat and that kind of validation trumps any eye-catching moment here on Earth.

Conquered by God

Published August 22, 2018 by Dawn

I took a moment this morning to ask the Lord where in the Bible I should read, to be ministered to according to His will. I felt the need to go back to Joshua. I love Joshua and read it A LOT, but this morning, the Lord pointed out a group of words I had never mulled over before: “the reproach of Egypt.” The scripture, Joshua 5:9, says, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’” I couldn’t move past the promise of this scripture.

It was a pivotal moment for the Israelites. They were on the cusp of walking into their Promised Land. All that they had been wandering about in the desert hoping for was about to become a reality. They were about to capture the first city in the land God was releasing to them in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham somewhere around 500 years before. They were about to step into battles they didn’t even have to fight. Walk into houses fully furnished for their arrival. Settle into a land that they had never known, but had envisioned through the wistful smiles and dimming eyes of their elders. Their castles in the sky were settled into a land called Canaan and spread out before their ever-wandering hearts.

Let me set the stage a little for this verse: Moses had died and Joshua was roused by God to lead the people forward. The dust had hardly settled over the grave and God was telling Joshua, “It’s time to get up and move into the land. Prepare the people to walk through the Jordan.” I find it interesting that they wandered 40 years between two large rivers that held them captive in the desert until God was ready to make a way for them.

Three days later: the Israelites had been instructed. They had consecrated themselves and packed up. They were waiting for further direction. Joshua told the Levitical priests to pick up the ark and move forward. The people were instructed to follow the priests because they had never been that way before. Don’t miss the fact that someone else was supposed to lead them. They were not to rely on their own understanding. “Clearly, we walk forward.” No. Clearly, you follow.  The leaders of the tribes were to pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan to build a memorial with. When they all crossed, the priests moved forward and as soon as their feet were out of the water, the river returned to flood stage.

On the other side of the Jordan, they were officially in Canaan. They camped under the stars beneath the shadow of the walls of Jericho. Here, in this foreboding position, God told them to circumcise themselves. Not just their hearts, but their physical selves. It’s curious that God would lead them to such a vulnerable position their first night in Canaan and then command them to make themselves easy prey by undergoing circumcision. Encroaching on Jericho was an act of war and here they were signing their death warrants … except God had already stepped in. Every warring faction in Canaan was afraid of them, even while they were helpless. The Israelites, in a radical act of obedience, physically disabled themselves from fighting and their first week or two in the land, had to trust God for protection from unknown enemies while their bodies healed. From the start, they were utterly dependent on God for survival there.

Their obedience led to their freedom in this new place. Because of their obedience, God removed their reproach. They would not be slaves in Canaan, so they couldn’t take their slave mindset into the land. They were going to be victors in Canaan, so they couldn’t take their victim mindset into the land. They were going to see new things in the land, so they had to forget the old things. God removed their reproach so that nothing of their old life would follow them into Canaan. He removed their shame. He removed their insecurities. The men in the camp had never seen warfare, but they had been raised by a generation who had only known defeat and captivity. God had to remove that from their hearts and minds. Instead of scorning the Israelites for their past, the nations in Canaan were filled with awe and dread because they knew God was moving the Israelites in, one victory at a time.

This one verse signified that God was removing all the former shackles in their hearts and minds so they could walk into Canaan as free men in their hearts and minds so that they could be victorious. They needed to see themselves as God saw them. As Beloved. As warriors. As owners and not beggars. You see, for forty years, Egypt might have speculated that God had led the children of Israel out into the wilderness to kill them off (Deut. 9:28). But God was about to exalt this nation that had been bowed down in defeat for so long. His glory was tied up in them and He honored them so that all people would honor Him in their hearts. After the Israelites were settled into the land, all people would look at the progression of victories and be unable to deny that these were a people God loved and cared for. Before they were conquerors, they had to be conquered by God. Their obedience was an act of surrender. Their faith was set in motion. Their God was about to deliver on His long-awaited promise.

Perhaps you’re there, friend. Poised on the edge of your promise. I was reminded of my promise the other day and I’ll be honest: it really ticked me off. There was no humility as I approached God’s throne in open defiance. “I am sick of hearing about this promise! Stop telling me that just over this mountain is the Promised Land because I feel like I keep getting to the top only to find it’s not the top and I still have climbing to go. I’ve been trudging toward it for so long! I’m weary and I can’t keep getting my hopes up!”

Maybe this is why the Holy Spirit led me back to Joshua today. Clearly, there are some things in me that God needs to deal with. You too? For instance, I can clearly identify that I’m throwing shade at God for promises I’ve been waiting on a long time. Not anywhere near 500 years, but for me, it’s felt like FOREVER.

Remember the two large rivers they crossed? The Red Sea separated them from Egypt, the place of their captivity, and the Jordan kept them from their promise until God was ready to release them. God had created a way of getting these people to look to Him for everything. Their waiting period was divinely orchestrated to draw them closer to God and prepare them to have all that He wanted to gift them. Us too, friend!!

One last thing before Jericho: they had to be circumcised. They had to cut away the things God said to cut away. They had to rely on Him for healing, and not only, but for safety in their time of healing. They had to become reliant on God for everything. They had to know who gave victory. They had to know the sheltering of the Almighty in dangerous places. They had to experience the truth that victory was not on them, it was on Him. Looking back at the last few years of my life, I can easily recognize that this has been God’s purpose; to destroy the fiercely independent woman I have become and create in me a heart that relies solely on Him for everything. To remove the things that can’t go with me into His Promised Land and heal me. I can’t take insecurities into His promises. I can’t take past defeats, or fear. I can’t take a victim mentality, or any abandonment issues I’ve had. I can’t take my own strength. His glory is tied up in honoring His promises in my life and He has to fulfill His promises because He cannot lie! Your life too! Be conquered by God, friend, so He can bring  you into the Land overflowing with goodness that He promised you so long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pharisee Within

Published August 22, 2018 by Dawn

“Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you” (John 14:37)

All four Gospels share this exchange. Peter vowed to Jesus that he would go with him to prison and even death, rather than disown him. What a friend, right? Of course, we all know what happened just a few hours later. In what must have been the scariest moment of his life – and probably the most disappointing as well – Peter watched Jesus be lead away in chains and then tormented in every sense of the word. He no doubt felt the loss of every hope he had of seeing Israel restored to God’s favor and liberated from the tyranny of Roman rule.

What exactly was Peter getting at when he said, “Even if all fall away, I will not” (Mark 14:29)? Furthermore, what did Jesus mean when, later in John 21:15, he asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Allow me to share what I felt the Lord laid on my heart a few weeks ago in regard to these scriptures.

There was something undone in Peter that had to be exposed and removed before he could effectively do what God had purposed him for. His question, “why can’t I follow you now?” was a foreshadowing of the hindrance God was about to uncover in his heart. When Peter told Jesus, “Even if all fall away, I will not,” what he was baring for all to see was the Pharisee within. Peter thought there was something in everyone else around him that he could never be guilty of. He thought his devotion to Jesus eclipsed that of his partners and friends. In essence, he thought he was incapable of falling in the same way everyone else was destined to do that night, per the prediction Jesus had made. Christ gently affirmed Peter’s eventual course, which Peter again refused to acknowledge his propensity toward.

Peter couldn’t avoid the falling away. He was destined for it. His weakness was about to be exposed. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). How wonderful that Jesus knew his failure before it even occurred and had already interceded for him!

I can’t imagine how painful the next few days were. Peter had to live with the guilt of his betrayal while he mourned the loss of his best friend. They had met eye-to-eye as the rooster crowed. Peter had wept bitterly knowing that Jesus hadn’t missed the sign he’d spoken of. The guilt must have been very burdensome, because when the disciples saw Jesus on the shore of Galilee after the resurrection, Peter jumped overboard and swam to Jesus while the rest of them rowed the boat back in. He was miserable, I’m sure, until he could repent at Jesus’ feet. Later, they walked side by side and Jesus said, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” I never understood that question before, but now I think I do: Jesus was addressing the original thought in Peter’s heart, where Peter thought he loved Jesus more and that was why he believed himself utterly incapable of sinning in such a way.

Peter was hurt. Ashamed. Still comparing himself, as he nodded toward John and said, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus simply said, “Don’t worry about him. You follow me.”

I believe it’s true that many Christians are really good at watching their lives and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16), and that’s scriptural. Nothing wrong with that. But I think we can also become so focused on our own efforts and our perceived goodness that we look at others and think, “Oh, I would never do that.” This attitude can be a hindrance to our ministry to love others because it’s not humble, and just as surely as Peter had to get that out of his system before he could see thousands respond to the Gospel, we will also stumble on all the things we are certain will never trip us up, until we hang our heads in shame, seek forgiveness and walk in humility among the people God has called us to minister to.

We can take heart in the fact that Jesus is never disillusioned about us. He knows what we are capable of far better than we know ourselves and intercedes for us according to his foreknowledge. He’s never surprised. There’s incredible comfort in that!

Ultimately, we must acknowledge the truth of Galatians 5:17, that the spirit and the flesh are at war and we are fallible to our fleshly nature at any given moment that the Holy Spirit is not leading us. But thankfully, there is redemption written for every failure because Jesus was victorious. He prayed for us so that we can be strengthened in our areas of weakness. God loves the humble, and these failures bring us nearer to the heart of God rather than further away, if we are willing to be guilty before him, as Joshua was in Zechariah 3. There are so many tremendous examples of failure followed by God’s forgiveness and redemption. The Christian should be relieved to know this, as the Pharisee within must be removed before God can use us like He used Jesus. Lift your head, friend, redemption draws nigh!

Conquered by God

Published August 22, 2018 by Dawn

I took a moment this morning to ask the Lord where in the Bible I should read, to be ministered to according to His will. I felt the need to go back to Joshua. I love Joshua and read it A LOT, but this morning, the Lord pointed out a group of words I had never mulled over before: “the reproach of Egypt.” The scripture, Joshua 5:9, says, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’” I couldn’t move past the promise of this scripture.

It was a pivotal moment for the Israelites. They were on the cusp of walking into their Promised Land. All that they had been wandering about in the desert hoping for was about to become a reality. They were about to capture the first city in the land God was releasing to them in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham somewhere around 500 years before. They were about to step into battles they didn’t even have to fight. Walk into houses fully furnished for their arrival. Settle into a land that they had never known, but had envisioned through the wistful smiles and dimming eyes of their elders. Their castles in the sky were settled into a land called Canaan and spread out before their ever-wandering hearts.

Let me set the stage a little for this verse: Moses had died and Joshua was roused by God to lead the people forward. The dust had hardly settled over the grave and God was telling Joshua, “It’s time to get up and move into the land. Prepare the people to walk through the Jordan.” I find it interesting that they wandered 40 years between two large rivers that held them captive in the desert until God was ready to make a way for them.

Three days later: the Israelites had been instructed. They had consecrated themselves and packed up. They were waiting for further direction. Joshua told the Levitical priests to pick up the ark and move forward. The people were instructed to follow the priests because they had never been that way before. Don’t miss the fact that someone else was supposed to lead them. They were not to rely on their own understanding. “Clearly, we walk forward.” No. Clearly, you follow.  The leaders of the tribes were to pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan to build a memorial with. When they all crossed, the priests moved forward and as soon as their feet were out of the water, the river returned to flood stage.

On the other side of the Jordan, they were officially in Canaan. They camped under the stars beneath the shadow of the walls of Jericho. Here, in this foreboding position, God told them to circumcise themselves. Not just their hearts, but their physical selves. It’s curious that God would lead them to such a vulnerable position their first night in Canaan and then command them to make themselves easy prey by undergoing circumcision. Encroaching on Jericho was an act of war and here they were signing their death warrants … except God had already stepped in. Every warring faction in Canaan was afraid of them, even while they were helpless. The Israelites, in a radical act of obedience, physically disabled themselves from fighting and their first week or two in the land, had to trust God for protection from unknown enemies while their bodies healed. From the start, they were utterly dependent on God for survival there.

Their obedience led to their freedom in this new place. Because of their obedience, God removed their reproach. They would not be slaves in Canaan, so they couldn’t take their slave mindset into the land. They were going to be victors in Canaan, so they couldn’t take their victim mindset into the land. They were going to see new things in the land, so they had to forget the old things. God removed their reproach so that nothing of their old life would follow them into Canaan. He removed their shame. He removed their insecurities. The men in the camp had never seen warfare, but they had been raised by a generation who had only known defeat and captivity. God had to remove that from their hearts and minds. Instead of scorning the Israelites for their past, the nations in Canaan were filled with awe and dread because they knew God was moving the Israelites in, one victory at a time.

This one verse signified that God was removing all the former shackles in their hearts and minds so they could walk into Canaan as free men in their hearts and minds so that they could be victorious. They needed to see themselves as God saw them. As Beloved. As warriors. As owners and not beggars. You see, for forty years, Egypt might have speculated that God had led the children of Israel out into the wilderness to kill them off (Deut. 9:28). But God was about to exalt this nation that had been bowed down in defeat for so long. His glory was tied up in them and He honored them so that all people would honor Him in their hearts. After the Israelites were settled into the land, all people would look at the progression of victories and be unable to deny that these were a people God loved and cared for. Before they were conquerors, they had to be conquered by God. Their obedience was an act of surrender. Their faith was set in motion. Their God was about to deliver on His long-awaited promise.

Perhaps you’re there, friend. Poised on the edge of your promise. I was reminded of my promise the other day and I’ll be honest: it really ticked me off. There was no humility as I approached God’s throne in open defiance. “I am sick of hearing about this promise! Stop telling me that just over this mountain is the Promised Land because I feel like I keep getting to the top only to find it’s not the top and I still have climbing to go. I’ve been trudging toward it for so long! I’m weary and I can’t keep getting my hopes up!”

Maybe this is why the Holy Spirit led me back to Joshua today. Clearly, there are some things in me that God needs to deal with. You too? For instance, I can clearly identify that I’m throwing shade at God for promises I’ve been waiting on a long time. Not anywhere near 500 years, but for me, it’s felt like FOREVER.

Remember the two large rivers they crossed? The Red Sea separated them from Egypt, the place of their captivity, and the Jordan kept them from their promise until God was ready to release them. God had created a way of getting these people to look to Him for everything. Their waiting period was divinely orchestrated to draw them closer to God and prepare them to have all that He wanted to gift them. Us too, friend!!

One last thing before Jericho: they had to be circumcised. They had to cut away the things God said to cut away. They had to rely on Him for healing, and not only, but for safety in their time of healing. They had to become reliant on God for everything. They had to know who gave victory. They had to know the sheltering of the Almighty in dangerous places. They had to experience the truth that victory was not on them, it was on Him. Looking back at the last few years of my life, I can easily recognize that this has been God’s purpose; to destroy the fiercely independent woman I have become and create in me a heart that relies solely on Him for everything. To remove the things that can’t go with me into His Promised Land and heal me. I can’t take insecurities into His promises. I can’t take past defeats, or fear. I can’t take a victim mentality, or any abandonment issues I’ve had. I can’t take my own strength. His glory is tied up in honoring His promises in my life and He has to fulfill His promises because He cannot lie! Your life too! Be conquered by God, friend, so He can bring  you into the Land overflowing with goodness that He promised you so long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pharisee Within

Published August 13, 2018 by Dawn

“Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you” (John 14:37)

All four Gospels share this exchange. Peter vowed to Jesus that he would go with him to prison and even death, rather than disown him. What a friend, right? Of course, we all know what happened just a few hours later. In what must have been the scariest moment of his life – and probably the most disappointing as well – Peter watched Jesus be lead away in chains and then tormented in every sense of the word. He no doubt felt the loss of every hope he had of seeing Israel restored to God’s favor and liberated from the tyranny of Roman rule.

What exactly was Peter getting at when he said, “Even if all fall away, I will not” (Mark 14:29)? Furthermore, what did Jesus mean when, later in John 21:15, he asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Allow me to share what I felt the Lord laid on my heart a few weeks ago in regard to these scriptures.

There was something undone in Peter that had to be exposed and removed before he could effectively do what God had purposed him for. His question, “why can’t I follow you now?” was a foreshadowing of the hindrance God was about to uncover in his heart. When Peter told Jesus, “Even if all fall away, I will not,” what he was baring for all to see was the Pharisee within. Peter thought there was something in everyone else around him that he could never be guilty of. He thought his devotion to Jesus eclipsed that of his partners and friends. In essence, he thought he was incapable of falling in the same way everyone else was destined to do that night, per the prediction Jesus had made. Christ gently affirmed Peter’s eventual course, which Peter again refused to acknowledge his propensity toward.

Peter couldn’t avoid the falling away. He was destined for it. His weakness was about to be exposed. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). How wonderful that Jesus knew his failure before it even occurred and had already interceded for him!

I can’t imagine how painful the next few days were. Peter had to live with the guilt of his betrayal while he mourned the loss of his best friend. They had met eye-to-eye as the rooster crowed. Peter had wept bitterly knowing that Jesus hadn’t missed the sign he’d spoken of. The guilt must have been very burdensome, because when the disciples saw Jesus on the shore of Galilee after the resurrection, Peter jumped overboard and swam to Jesus while the rest of them rowed the boat back in. He was miserable, I’m sure, until he could repent at Jesus’ feet. Later, they walked side by side and Jesus said, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” I never understood that question before, but now I think I do: Jesus was addressing the original thought in Peter’s heart, where Peter thought he loved Jesus more and that was why he believed himself utterly incapable of sinning in such a way.

Peter was hurt. Ashamed. Still comparing himself, as he nodded toward John and said, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus simply said, “Don’t worry about him. You follow me.”

I believe it’s true that many Christians are really good at watching their lives and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16), and that’s scriptural. Nothing wrong with that. But I think we can also become so focused on our own efforts and our perceived goodness that we look at others and think, “Oh, I would never do that.” This attitude can be a hindrance to our ministry to love others because it’s not humble, and just as surely as Peter had to get that out of his system before he could see thousands respond to the Gospel, we will also stumble on all the things we are certain will never trip us up, until we hang our heads in shame, seek forgiveness and walk in humility among the people God has called us to minister to.

We can take heart in the fact that Jesus is never disillusioned about us. He knows what we are capable of far better than we know ourselves and intercedes for us according to his foreknowledge. He’s never surprised. There’s incredible comfort in that!

Ultimately, we must acknowledge the truth of Galatians 5:17, that the spirit and the flesh are at war and we are fallible to our fleshly nature at any given moment that the Holy Spirit is not leading us. But thankfully, there is redemption written for every failure because Jesus was victorious. He prayed for us so that we can be strengthened in our areas of weakness. God loves the humble, and these failures bring us nearer to the heart of God rather than further away, if we are willing to be guilty before him, as Joshua was in Zechariah 3. There are so many tremendous examples of failure followed by God’s forgiveness and redemption. The Christian should be relieved to know this, as the Pharisee within must be removed before God can use us like He used Jesus. Lift your head, friend, redemption draws nigh!