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Sermon Summary. Peter, like many of us was an ordinary man that God used to do extraordinary things. He was the leader of the early church. He preached 3,000 people to salvation on the day of Pentecost. But he, like us, also wrestled with his faith. In Sunday’s sermon, failing faith versus fighting faith, Jesus ministered to Peter in advance of his failures and his successes. He made clear to Peter that being a follower of God puts a big target on your back for tests and temptations. Peter would later fail in a dramatic and visible way when he denied Christ three times. But Christ anticipated Peter’s stumbling and promised him that he would restore him when he got up. And not only that but that Peter would do a powerful work in the lives of others. This is a message for us. Yes our faith is sometimes failing and we stumble and fall. God knows and anticipates us falling but he prays that we will hold onto our faith and fight for our faith. And he sees further into our future that once we rise we will do extraordinary work for the people he has placed in our care.
Peter. Take a few minutes to read Luke 22:57-62. And, then read what Peter does in Acts 2:37-41. These are two related events in the life of Peter – both are relevant for our sermon text.
Peter’s Faith. What is happening in these 2 narratives? What is the difference in Peter’s faith in the Luke 22 text versus the Acts Chapter 2 text.
Satan Seeks to Devour. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat” At the close of the Last Supper, Jesus is warning Simon Peter (and us) of the intensity of Satan’s desire to grind the life out of us. Satan is an accuser and he wants to stop us from carrying ourselves as the royalty that we are.
Warning. How significant do you think it was for Peter and the disciples to hear Jesus’ warning in this moment? Do we listen for warnings from God during our time of prayer or study?
Years later we see Peter got the message when he wrote in 1 Peter 5:8 for us to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan desires to tear us apart.
Intense Attack. Our royalty, in Christ, marks us for attack. Do we think Peter was really ready for his test? Do we prepare ourselves for intense tests and temptations? Why or why not??
Faith, Strengthened by Prayer is the Key. “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” Jesus knew Peter and he knows us. He prayed, in advance, for our faith. He made clear that the answer to the roaring lion is prayer and faith.
Jesus Prays. I envision Peter’s mind and emotions racing in this moment. Nervous about the truth and searching for the “right thing to say.” What do we do when we find our minds and emotions racing? Do we search for the right thing to say or how we might strategize to figure things out?
Meditate and reflect on the fact that Jesus – who is headed to the cross – prays for us in those very moments.
Failing Faith v Fighting Faith. “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” There are three truths that Jesus lifts in this last sentence. We will stumble and fall. We have the capacity to get up and fight again. And when we rise, God will use our rising to empower others.
Faith. Because of how we are wired, we often lean on our understanding, our ability to think, our money or our friends for solutions during times of crisis. These are good resources but they are not the best resources. What does Jesus says is the key to addressing our roaring adversary? What are some of the ways that our faith can fail us (failing, foolish, fatigue, fear, etc)?
Jesus Knows We will Stumble. Don’t let the accuser trick you. Some of us our bound by our mistakes. Remember Jesus forgave the dying thief AND those who crucified him. He expected our fall. He prayed for our resistance and for our getting up. Do we ever let our past or our baggage stop us from being what God has called us to be? Does Jesus accuse us? Who is the accuser? What does Jesus say? Quit or get up again?
Strengthen the World Around You. Look at the world around you . . . chaos and ugliness. There is a spiritual battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. God knows we will fall on the battlefield. But, by faith, what does God call us to do?
Remember, especially on your weary days, that the Lord knows our struggle, that we will sometimes stumble and fall. But, by faith, rise, represent your God and strengthen your people.