Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stepping Up

Peter often gets a bad rep because he denied Christ three times... couldn't keep his eyes on the Lord when he was walking on the stormy sea... opened his big mouth on several ocassions... even had Jesus say to him, "Get behind me, Satan." In some ways, he deserves that bad rep. But, as I look at my life and my heart, I see many of those same characteristics, perhaps not in such big situations and written down in a book that will last forever... but if I am fully honest with myself, there are many times where my actions deny Him even if my mouth does not. There are times that the words that come out of my mouth are not seasoned with salt, bringing grace to the hearer. The fact is that anything that is not of faith is sin. If my words are not of Him, they are of Satan. There is no middle ground. As Paul says in Romans, we are slaves either of righteousness or of sin.

I was reading in Acts 1 this evening and am just amazed by what the Lord does through Peter. God used him in a mighty way... yes, the fearful man that denied Christ three times even after being warned about that very thing just hours earlier. God used him. This gives me great encouragement when it comes to areas of failure. It is when we are weak that He is strong. When the apostles were sitting around praying and kind of not knowing what to do, Peter stepped up to that plate.
At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it'; and, ‘let another man take his office.’ Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
In the midst of this difficult time where Christ had just left them, Peter is there thinking clearly through God's Word and applying it directly to the situation. That is what makes a good leader. Yes, leaders have weak spots. Yes, they will stumble and fall at times. But, it is in those difficult times when they are able to listen to the Spirit within the noise of life and hear His voice through His Word. Leading isn't just hearing His voice, but rather, hearing it and being the first to obey and apply it. That is what Peter did. He explained God's Word to them and then acted on it with their full support. They kept their dependence on the Lord... "Lord, You know the hearts of these men..." and they made their request known to God. There was a healthy simplicity about their faith. They trusted the Lord fully. They humbled themselves before Him. They listened to Him. They loved Him. They obeyed Him. God, give me a heart that listens and obeys.

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