Today is the day the Lord has made; stay focused, stay present, stay faithful.
God never promised that if you would follow Him, your life will be perfect. He never promised the sun would always shine or that you would never experience pain. The truth is, this journey here on earth is difficult and challenging. There are so many twists and turns to life and through it all it is critically important to stay focused on Jesus.
The devil would like nothing better than to separate you from the only One who can save you, and he will stop at nothing to get your attention. He loves to plant seeds of doubt–especially when you are going through a crisis and are the most vulnerable. Satan loves to whisper his lies, encouraging you to blame God for your troubles. But Satan is the creator of sin and he gets all the credit for pain and heartache–not God!
Stay focused on your heavenly Father who loves you more than anyone else ever could! When you are in trouble–call upon Him for help. The Bible says in Psalm 34:17-19, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
You don’t have to be afraid of life’s challenges, heartache, and pain because you are never alone! Stay faithful–stay focused on the only one who can save you from all your trials, misery, and suffering–Jesus Christ, your Lord, and Savior.
Christ renamed several of His disciples to give them a new identity, demonstrating their new creature in Christ. While our names may not have changed, we, like Peter, battle the old man-the natural man, while maturing into the new man. The process is worth examining.
Christians, as with the case of most people today, question who we are. We know we are new creatures in Christ, but that does not magically eliminate our carnal or natural being. This is only the beginning of our evolution. Before being saved, our values are variables that change depending upon conditions and circumstances. We are comparable to chameleons.
This Post is a short study on the evolutionary growth of Peter, who was born Simon Peter, the natural man, and transformed into Peter, the new man. It highlights his struggles, weaknesses, strengths, as well as his growth. Examining Peter’s life should give any believer hope. Simon Peter evolved into Peter over time, it was not miraculous, or immediate, it was an expansive timeline. Our evolutionary process may take as long or longer than Peters took. The important things to note are: have hope, stay in prayer, and allow God to direct your path, always examining if it is the old man operating or the new man of God moving forward.
The Evolution of Simon Peter
Peter’s birth name was Simon Peter. He was outspoken, strong-willed, and impulsive. He was a husband, father of two, and a partner in a thriving fishery; he was a fisherman. It could be said, his life was full. He knew himself as Simon Peter, the man, was a practicing Jew and followed the Law of Moses. Was he content with his natural self? We do not know. Was he seeking his real self? Who knows. Did he innately know he would one day leave everything, to follow Christ, and become his real self, Simon Peter, probably not? Do we know who we really are in God’s eyes, or the plans He has for us, probably not?
Simon Peter didn’t stand out. He was an uneducated Jew, Acts 3:13. He was a Hebrew, a follower of The Mosaic Law, like most. However, despite his failings and his strengths, the Lord chose to mold Simon Peter into whom He created him to become – Peter, a member of Christ’s inner circle of disciples. As time progressed and Peter accepted Christ as His Lord, Peter walked, learned, and loved Christ. He was a witness to miracles and wonders. But, despite his first-hand knowledge and witness to these events, Simon Peter continued to resurface. The transformed Peter, (Christ, gave him the new name indicating he was a follower and believer), became a new man but remained brash and impulsive. He was the person that stepped out of the boat and onto the surface of the sea to walk to Jesus.
~It was Simon Peter, not Peter, who looked down as he was walking on water (a sign and wonder), lost faith, and began to sink, Matthew 14:28-30.
~It was Simon Peter who calls us to serve but stayed seated and did not join Christ when he washed the disciples’ feet, 1 Peter 5:2.
~It was Simon Peter that told the believers to stay clear-minded and have self-control at all times to pray, 1 Peter 4:7.
~It was Simon Peter who rebuked Christ for speaking of his death, Matthew 16:22.
~It was Simon Peter who fell asleep while Jesus was praying and sweating blood, 1 Peter 2:13.
~It was Simon Peter who slipped back into the Law and suggested they erect three tabernacles, one for each—Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, clustering Jesus with the Old Testament prophets, Matthew 17:4.
~It was Simon Peter who grew angry drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest, John 18:10.
~It was Simon Peter who swore that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did, and you know the story, he denied Christ three times when he was arrested, Matthew 26:70-74.
~It was Simon Peter who fled when Christ was hung on the cross and hid in fear, 1 Peter 5:1.
How often do we capitulate under challenging times and employ our old values and behavior like Peter? Usually, the conversion is so indistinct we are there before we were aware of slipping. At that moment, we become blind to who we are in Christ, we regress to our old man. Thank God for redemption because we can repent and once again take on the behaviors of Christ who knows our true selves and is molding us to become more like Him.
Despite Peter’s shortcomings, Jesus continued to affirm Peter as the “Rock,” Matthew 16:18-19 and promised him that he, Peter, would become instrumental in establishing Jesus’ Church. After Christs’ resurrection, he named Peter as the one who needed to hear the good news, Matthew 16:7. Jesus made a point of forgiving and restoring Simon Peter to accept and regain his new name, Peter, and recommissioned him as Christ’s’ Apostle, and high priest, John 21,6, 15-17; Hebrews 3:1.
Even after being restored, Peter, who preached on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, was present when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit, Acts 8, and was summoned to the home of Roman centurion Cornelius, Acts 10, initially resisted following the instructions to go to Cornelius’ home. Simon Peter struggled with the transformation of his old man to the new man – Peter. We are no different, there is a raging battle between our old man and new.
Peter, the new man, who was not wrought with doubt and fear, ultimately obeyed and went to Cornelius’ home. If Peter had not gone to his home, we might not have witnessed Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit, Acts 10. Only God knows why he is directing our path. Seemingly at this point, the new man, Peter, should be steadfast. However, that is not the case.
When Peter, the new man, went to Antioch to fellowship with the Gentiles, all was good until the Jews appeared. However, when the legalistic Jews, of which he was as Simon Peter, arrived, he sought to appease them and separated himself from the believing Gentiles, Galatians 2:11-14. Paul admonished him for being a hypocrite. None of us can merge our old man and the new man. We are either one or the other. The battle will continue through this life, but when the old man surfaces, we must repent and pick up our cross in the new man.
Jesus forgives our unfaithfulness. He sees us as He intends us to be, not who we may currently be or were in our pre-redemptive life. Jesus knows our birth/carnal name and receives us as his own, the new man. In today’s times, He may not actually rename us, but he does give us a new life.
Jesus was patient with Peter through his disobedience, arrogance, fear, and denial. Peter was a fisherman and became a fisher of men, who matured into one of the Lord’s most dedicated apostles. He is known as one of the most well-known disciples and was instrumental in establishing the church in Samaria, Act 8. He brought the gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10-11. He preached the sermon at Pentecost, where three thousand believers received the Holy Spirit, Acts 3.
The point is, God is patient and will wait until he can change you. If He does not give up on us, neither should we give up on ourselves. He created us to do His work. To paraphrase the scripture, God has plans for us that will prosper us and not destroy us. God, is patient and monitors us as we evolve into the person He envisioned. God knows our challenges, our setbacks, and our victories.
As we mature in the Word and obey God, our story will unfold just as Peters did. Was Peter perfect? No, absolutely not. Were there moments when the natural man won out? Yes. We were born into sin, we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us is perfect; only Jesus is perfect. God could have created us as automatons. He chose to create us in His likeness and instilled us with his own will and desires. Why, because God wants a relationship with us. He sacrificed His only Son to save us from sin. He knows we are a work in progress, He created us to desire His will and not our own, and that is all God requires that we surrender, depend on Him and be obedient to the Word. He wants us to evolve from our natural man to our new man.
The Bible is replete with sinners who received salvation after leading destructive lives. I also find it interesting that these examples clearly exemplify God’s expectations for all believers. No excuses, God laid the foundation demonstrated in Peter’s character study. Now it is time to become who we really are; we are His workmanship, ever-changing in His likeness. This leads back to – only God knows the real you and through prayer and obedience we will learn who we are in Christ.
Images – Google Images. LAB Photos
Resources – Who is Peter in the Bible? GotQuestions.org; Bible.com; Peter: A Case Study in Character, KenBoa.org; Peter, studyandobey.com
Jesus humbled himself to the point of death to give us life. We should be able and willing to humble ourselves and, honestly, repent for our sins (stating what they are or were) and start anew (fresh). It is never too late, God forgives us when we repent, allowing us to move-on shackle free. Christ gave us the opportunity to rise above who we (presently) are. It is time to change our home location, we are in this world, but not of this world.
Go to a quiet place and speak to God, ask Him to forgive you. You choose the place. It could be in the midst of a train station, bar, standing on the corner in busy traffic. Just still yourself and pray. He will receive you wherever you are at the moment.
The Bible offers everything we need to be active Christian Warriors. It gives us spiritual authority and is our manual for living a Godly life. While in prayer this morning, something came to light. Many of us may read parts of the Bible from time to time, But we do not study what we have read. We understand what we read intellectually, but there is so much more. To understand the spiritual intent, we have to study what was read. When reading Ephesians 6:10-18, we understand we should clothe ourselves in the armor, but do not necessarily understand why we should do so, or what each piece represents. This Post will explain the what and the why. The most important point is that we are naked and vulnerable without the armor. As the adage says, ‘don’t leave home without it.’
In reading the Book of Ephesians, particularly chapter 6, we see Paul wrote to Ephesus alerting them that the enemy is always near and ready to attack. In Ephesians 6: 12, 13 NASB, he warned:
” our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”
There is no question that our struggle continues to be a war against the rulers of darkness. We can see it in our daily lives, on the news, and social media. The evil forces are in play, we see violence and hate in every aspect of life. We are in the midst of an invisible war, one that works through people. We struggle with uncertainty, fears, and doubts. Scripture makes it clear that much of our self-doubt, our difficulty in keeping healthy relationships, and many of our fears are rooted in the efforts of those same ‘spiritual forces of evil’ that plagued the Ephesians. Paul warned that we cannot be passive Christians. We cannot use the term ‘Christians’ without acting Christ-like. Christians have to exude Christ-like behavior through our actions. We must actively change our position and become Christian Warriors because we live in a time of full engagement against the evil forces of darkness. The evil one is present and works through people, he will not back down and neither can we. We are in the war, like it or not, there are no deferments. God calls for peace, and the evil one calls for chaos in all that we do. We cannot go quietly in the night, we have to rage against the evil forces that try to debilitate, paralyze and destroy us.
‘The evil one continually tries to infect us through our wounds inflicted by sinful words and actions that warp and twist our self-image’. He tells us we are unlovable, useless, hopeless, frail, weak, not good enough, and failures. He intentionally places difficulties, trouble, and chaos in our paths. He tries to destroy our inner peace and distort our harmony that should exist in our relationships with others and our surroundings.
Always be alert. It is important to recognize that we are prey to the evil forces of darkness and as in other parts of our daily living, must protect ourselves, and put on the Amor of God. The Armor of God is our invisible clothing Each morning when dressing for the day, putting on our visible clothing, is the perfect time to also put on our invisible clothing. In fact, we should begin the day with prayer and put on the Armor before getting out of bed.
The Helmet of Salvation covers your head, mind, and eyes.
The helmet is our invisible filter and keeps evil out of our mind. It helps our focus on the Lords will and not on sin. It helps ward off and reject harmful words and actions directed at us by others. It protects us from evil. It deflects hurtful things people say and do to us. It protects us while we live out our ‘true identity in Christ’.
The Breastplate of Righteousness protects your heart.
Righteousness is the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit that lives in us; it is a gift from God, and cannot be earned. Righteousness is much like a filter that strains out unGodly things and reinforces our desire, to be honest, trustworthy, kind, good-hearted, loving, and joyful. (Fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23). It guards our mind and emotions.
The Beltof Truth holds us together.
It keeps all the armor in place. It is like a belt or a girdle-like support strap. It supports our core. It helps keep our heart and mind focused on Christ. Without the belt of truth, we are not prepared to stand and fight. The belt represents living a life of honesty and integrity. It supports our total commitment and devotion to God Almighty.
The Sandals of the Gospel of Peace (the Good News) weaponry covers our feet.
Everywhere we walk, we walk in peace. Our footwear keeps us from hurting our feet. The gospel of peace is the Word of God that we share with others as we walk in His Word. Without the Gospel of Peace, we are barefoot and cannot walk without fear. The footwear brings ‘inner and interpersonal peace when we commit to living by God’s Word, which means forgiving those who may have harmed us.
The Shield of Faith protects us from the weaponry of the enemy.
God gave is faith to protect ourselves from the things we cannot see and may not understand. It enables us to advance, despite adverse circumstance.
The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.
Gives us boldness to reject and attack misinformation. We can use it to defend ourselves from things we may or may not know are wrong. The sword cuts through everything the enemy can send our way. It is the only defensive weapon we have. Everything else wards off the offensives of the evil one. The sword is the way, the truth, and the light. It is the Word of God. This sword is able to cut through every defense our enemy can raise. When wielded by us, nothing can withstand its ability to cut straight to the core and uncover the truth.
We are naked when we do not wear the Armor of God. Never go out without it. We put on a coat to protect us from the cold and our armor to protect us from the evil one.
Faith, Hope, Love, Dependency, and Obedience Synopsis
Finally, our March theme is affirmed by this Post. To be Christian Warriors we must have faith, hope, and love. When we are in a relationship with a loved one, we have faith in them, love them, are in a dependent relationship with them and are obedient to the values and intent of the relationship. Putting on the Armor of God is a faith move by which we are dependent upon the fact that it works to protect us. We are obedient in that we put the Armor on every day. We have hope that our armor will hold up and invite others to live as Christian Warriors, and for non-Christians, to receive the Lord’s salvation and join our family. Love, the most important of these, operates in faith and dependence upon the Word of God and his relationship with us.
The Full Armor of God, Larry Richards
Waging Prophetic War, Jennifer Claire
The Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness. Bible.org, Mar. 3, 2018
The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Freebiblestudyguides.org, Mar. 3, 2018
Helping Children Put On Their Armor Through Prayer, Lisa Blair, Youngchristianwarriors.com