Friday, June 1, 2012

A Fragile Stone

I am currently hosting a Bible study at my home with some ladies from our congregation. We are studying the relationship between Peter and Jesus. The title of the study material is called, "A Fragile Stone." The title points to the paradox of Peter as "Cephas" or the "rock" while looking at his somewhat fragile faith. One of the passages we looked at was Matthew 14 where Jesus walks on the water. In this familiar passage after Jesus has just fed the 5,000 He sends the disciples ahead of Him to the other side of the lake. The disciples are some distance from the shore when the waves start to buffet the boat making it difficult for them to row against the strong winds. Jesus comes out to them walking on the waves. They are terrified and Jesus reassures them not to be afraid and identifies Himself. Peter asks Jesus' permission to come out to Him to prove that it really is the Lord. The rest of the story is usually the focal point of many a sermon in that Peter was fine until he took his eyes off of Jesus and then began to sink. The Lord questions Peter's faith. Many sermons make the application that we should keep our eyes fixed on the Lord in times of trouble. The point is a good one, but the Lord ministered to my heart through that same story with an additional perspective. In my devotional, "Our Daily Bread" the passage of the day was Isaiah 43:1-4, "But now, this is what the Lord says---He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers I will be with you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious  and honored in my sight, and because I love you."  The devotional thought for the day was,"Never forget in the darkness what you know to be true in the light." In my other devotional, "Jesus Calling", a similar encouragement was given. The idea was similar to the message of Matthew 14, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus no matter what is going on around me. When Jesus is central to my thinking, I am able to view circumstances from His perspective. I was then struck by the similarity to the message I received and Peter's situation. The lesson for Peter was not solely about keeping his eyes focused on Jesus but also seeing the situation from Jesus' perspective. Peter failed to see how Jesus had given him the ability to conquer the wind and waves. For Peter to have majesty over creation just like Jesus. Why? Because of Isaiah 43. Jesus had redeemed Peter and called him by name. He belonged to Jesus. When Peter passed through the waters, Jesus would be with him and when he passed through the rivers, Jesus would be there, because Peter was precious and honored in Jesus' sight, and because He loved him. It is easy to get focused on what is or is not happening around us. All of us can be "fragile stones." But like Peter, we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome and rise above our circumstances. Yes, keeping my eyes fixed on the Lord is one of my growing edges. But just as the Lord bid Peter to come to Him because He loved Peter and called him by name, so Jesus bids me to do likewise because that's how much He loves you and me.
Blessings in the name of Yeshua,
Pastor Sheree

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