Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 16, 2016

beyond twenty-six

This coming Sunday, one of our Journey onWord writers will continue a series he started several years ago.  Daily posts which intentionally walk from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Day in Jesus’ final week. We have found it to be meaningful and personal to our readers, and I trust you will enjoy the journey with us this year. Before we begin that journey, look with me at one of the failures from Passion Week.

As someone who depends on his phone for both work and pleasure, I must admit that cell phones have also been a source of great irritation. Several years ago, I dropped (and lost) a phone on Park Avenue in New York City (my daughter was thoroughly amused that I thought I could go back and retrieve it!). On another occasion, I left my phone at an airport in Chattanooga at 4:30 in the morning. I have dropped a cell phone in water (it died), called people countless times without knowing it, and even had a phone die on a trip while sharing Christ with someone. It amazes me that I can search Google, listen to music, check email and talk with a lady named Siri on such a small device.  You may think I’m a cell phone failure, but there is hope (I’ve actually stopped talking back to Siri)! I relate well to another failure. You may have heard of him … His name is Peter.

When reading Matthew chapter twenty-six, the garden of Gethsemane takes center stage. With good reason! Peter’s life is woven among the verses, and not in a flattering way. His weakness abounds and resounds. Talk about failure! Take a glimpse at how bad this chapter was for him.

Matthew 26

  • Peter declared that he would never disown Christ.
  • Peter and two other disciples were sleeping during a critical time for Christ in Gethsemane.
  • When Christ was arrested, Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of Malchus.
  • He and the other disciples deserted Christ.
  • Before the rooster crowed the morning after his bold declaration, Peter had denied Christ three times.

Just then a rooster crowed. Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried.
Matthew 26:75 (MSG)

Talk about a failure!

But thank goodness Peter’s story did not end with chapter twenty-six. He was restored and used of Christ to dramatically impact the world. Peter was blessed to preach at Pentecost. God used him to open the door of the gospel to the Gentiles. Peter wrote two epistles in the New Testament. And church history records that he was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified as His Savior was. Peter’s incredible failures are hard to miss, but even more incredible is the way God forgives, restores and uses someone who is fully devoted to Him.

You may not be as brash as Peter or as cell phone challenged as me, but I am sure you struggle with failure. Repeatedly, you are reminded of your weaknesses. You may even have some “twenty-six” type chapters in your life. Whether our failures are public or private, they can cause us to lose effectiveness for the Savior. I am here to tell you that God can handle your weakness and failures, and can use them for His good and your growth. Peter could have pulled back or ran away after denying Christ. But for the cause of Christ, and because of God’s incredible grace and love, Peter’s story ended well. No matter how deep and numerous our failures, our story can end well too.

I’m sure I’ve not seen the last of my cell phone frustrations. Failure will be part of the story we all write. But it should never be the end of the story. Peter’s life moved beyond chapter twenty-six. Whatever holds you back from effectiveness for Christ can be overcome. Let your next chapter be filled with growing deeper in love with the Father, and with others. Use Peter as an example!

I wonder what Peter would have done with a cell phone?!


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