"My child, don't make light of the Lord's discipline, and don't give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child." (Hebrews 12:5-6)
The apostle Peter is the best known of the apostles and possibly the best loved by most Christians. He was courageous, brave, full of life and a born leader.
Despite this, Peter didn’t always get things quite right but, we can learn much to help us by observing how he dealt with the aftermath of these situations.
We are all familiar with the cry of Peter, when having stepped out of the security of a boat on a stormy night, he begins to sink as he walks towards Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me! (Matthew 14:29)
On another occasion, when Jesus began to explain to his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.””
Finally, in a time of extreme weakness Peter did the unthinkable, he denied three times that he knew Jesus.
One reason why Peter came through these times to victory was that he refused to give up. He refused to throw in the towel. Yes, he had made a mistake, but he didn’t allow that mistake to end his relationship with Jesus. He didn’t go to Jesus and hand in his resignation as an apostle, citing that he just wasn’t the man for the job.
Peter didn’t sit down and take offence when Jesus rebuked him. Nor did he have a pity party and buy into the lie that he just wasn’t good enough. He accepted his mistake and got up to try again.
I think, however, the main reason why Peter stuck to the course even in times of failure was quite simply because he loved Jesus. The thought of not having Jesus as a part of his life was unbearable. He would have taken any rebuke, public or private, so long as he had his friend Jesus on his side.
Aren’t you glad that Peter didn’t let his failures define him? Aren’t you glad that he repented, got up and got on with the task in hand? I am.
“Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again." (Micah 7:8)
When we read the story of Leah, the daughter of Laban, we find a woman who truly drank the bitter draught of disappointment.
Leah was his older daughter yet, for some reason, was still unmarried. We are told that she had ‘weak eyes’ and was outshone in beauty by her younger sister, Rachel.
When a potential male suitor named Jacob arrived, she was spurned and her sister was preferred..
She took part in a plan of deception where she married Jacob but, awoke the first morning as a new bride to hear her husband probably shouting at her father saying, “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”(Genesis 29:25) Not the words of encouragement and endearment a bride wants to hear on her first day of marriage!!
One week later, Jacob takes Rachel as his bride and we read ‘the LORD saw that Leah was unloved’.
Poor Leah! Even after bearing four sons to Jacob in rapid succession, she is left in the shadows, battling rejection, un-love, humiliation and disappointment. She would walk through life feeling second best, never quite good enough. Nothing she achieved seem to bring the response from her husband that she desired. Disappointment would never be far from her door.
However, this is far from being the end of the story. Rachel was loved by Jacob, but Leah was chosen by God! When God chose a woman to be the mother of the priestly tribe of Levi, it wasn’t Rachel who was afforded the honour; it was Leah. Through that same tribe, Moses the Lawgiver would emerge and would point the people to God. And it was the Levities, into whose hands were entrusted the holy articles of the Tabernacle, and later, the Temple. However, undoubtedly, the greatest honour that was bestowed upon Leah was that she was the mother of Judah, whose tribe became the kingly tribe. It was from this tribe that King David would come and, ultimately, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Saviour who would deliver us from our sins. In her disappointment, Leah could never have imagined what honours were being bestowed upon her.
Sometimes, our dreams and desires don’t materialise the way we had hoped. Leah could only see a small part of what God was doing in her life. She didn’t understand that, in spite of the seeming failure, he was working to perform a feat that would bring blessing for all eternity to mankind. I think she would now agree that that was of more value that the fleeting, momentary love of Jacob.
Let’s learn from Leah’s experience to trust God in our times of disappointment and remember the principle:
"Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)
By looking to Him, we ‘will rise again’ and move forward to face our tomorrows with new joy in our hearts. As Spurgeon said, ‘Don’t say disappointment. Say His-appointment’.
You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
When I was young, my parents used to take me and my sisters to a little town on the east coast of Scotland each year on holiday. For seven consecutive years I splashed about in the sea and loved the feel of the sand under my feet. There was a park near to where we stayed. It had tall fir trees that generously shed their cones and these provided an abundance of ammunition for our fir cone fights.
There was an old castle which had been turned into a museum. Since one of my sisters and I had made friends with the staff, we had the jaw dropping privilege of getting taken out onto the battlements one evening to lower the flag. We were taken down into the dark dungeons where suits of armour etc were stored. To a nine year old, that part was a little bit scary. We were practically given the run of the castle for two weeks each summer.And then there were our holiday friends, our unhealthy café lunches of pie, beans and chips followed later in the afternoon at times with ice cream.
I never willingly left that place. I harboured a longing that my parents would one day announce that we were leaving Glasgow and going to stay in my beloved holiday haven. As a child, it was my little bit of heaven on earth.
I have often pondered the sacrifice of our Saviour on leaving Heaven to rescue us from Hell. We read that;
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
He lived as part of the Godhead in Heaven, one with the Father and the Spirit. He spoke creation into being, He watched the fall of man and he looked on as men continued on their downward spiral of destruction.
He knew the time was coming for Him to leave Heaven and ‘He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). And what’s more, He did it willingly.
Friend, are you struggling to give something to Christ today that is dear to your heart? Are you trying to hold on to a childhood dream, a long held ambition?
Could you now, quietly but willingly, approach Him and give Him what he is asking of you? You may not be given your dreams back but, in return he’ll give you His dreams. Christ was glad to make the great sacrifice that He did for us; you’ll never regret making that sacrifice for Him.
Pauline Ann Anderson
You make known to me the path of life. (Psalm 16:11)
Recently I was listening to a story where a group of people aboard a small rowing boat were navigating their way through the entrance to an island. Between them and the island lay a minefield of dangerous rocks with the waves crashing mercilessly upon them. An encounter with any of the rocks could have led to injury or death. However, the navigator being familiar with this island, knew every danger and had learned deftly how to avoid them and land themselves and their crew safely on shore.
Life can be a bit like navigating precarious pathways through the sea. The sea of our lives is filled with rocks called temptation others called bitterness, jealousy, resentment, fear....the rocks are endless. They are waiting for us to crash into them and wreck our little boats. So how can we navigate safely through this pathway until we reach our final destination?
The opening verses in the Book of Proverbs can help us.
These are the proverbs of Solomon... Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. (Proverbs 1:1,3 NLT)
As we read Proverbs and other books in the Bible, we learn how to sail wisely, in ways that will enable us to recognise the dangers lurking in our path, and to steer a course that keeps us sailing Godward.
Nicky Gumble of Alpha course fame said:
‘Wisdom is the art of steering through the battles and blessings of life and living skilfully in whatever conditions you find yourself.’
The Bible is the navigation chart that God has provided for us on our sometimes-dangerous voyage. It guides us as we seek to make right choices. Let’s make full use of this and other guideposts during 2021.
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