Friends

Have you ever thought about what real faith looks like?  When I talk to people about faith and we talk in honest terms, I often hear some things people struggle with.  People who are trying to live a life of faith sometimes say “I am really trying to make this thing work but it’s wearying.  I am constantly trying to do the right thing and say the right thing and be in the right place and do all the things I am supposed to do.  I really want to do it, but I feel like I’m wearing myself out trying.”

Then I talk to other people who are considering living a life of faith.  They are not a person who has faith in Jesus yet.  They say “I don’t know.  I look at people who say they are living this life but it does not seem that attractive to me.  For one thing they all look so tired.  They look truly weary and I am not sure I want that.  For another thing it does not always look real to me.  There is this Christian subculture thing where they say things I don’t understand or believe.  Sometimes it feels like they are just kind of painting a smile on.” 

Let me just say to you as we talk about faith, before you throw it out because you are so tired, or don’t consider it because you’re looking at others who look tired, make VERY sure that what you are looking at is the real thing. There is a phony sort of faith that smacks of Reality TV!

I know most of you know this but for some of you it may be a revelation; everything on reality tv is not real.  There, I said it. Much of it is scripted -to get ratings, to get you to come back each week and tune in. Now some of you will know right away that the WOW moments in these shows are scripted, and you think, “Nah! That’s not real.”  And sometimes people look at a life of faith and think “Nah! That’s not real.”  Sometimes as a follower you are trying to script your Christian life, instead of living it as God directs it. When that happens, you can bet that others are looking at you and thinking “Nah! That’s not real.” 

For the past six months I have been doing a lot of looking at the life of Simon Peter, one of the first followers of Jesus. He was a famous follower of Jesus, in a time when becoming famous meant living a real life of unscripted moments. He lived a real kind of faith.  In the words of Jesus himself, Peter had real faith; He called Peter “the rock” and told him “On this rock I will build my church…”   (Matthew 16)

This coming Sunday we are going to be looking at Peter’s life and learn from him what real faith looks like.  Get ready to see a life of struggle, of doubt, of ups and downs and even failures. But he never gave up, he never tried to script his life in the direction he thought it should go. He trusted faithfully in the life that God had planned for him. Through every test, through every storm, his faith developed and grew.

Remember that when you are tested; these challenges in life are what develops your faith.  Does failure mean that God is done with you?  NO!  God is going to help you through the different struggles because He wants you to grow strong in your faith walk and to help others grow strong too!

One of the amazing aspects of Peter's life is his recovery by God's grace from one of the most public failures, and one of the deepest personal embarrassments of all time.  Peter is forever on record for denying that he even knew Jesus not once, not twice-but three times.

Peter's testimony gives us an example of God’s forgiveness and restoration. When we mess up, God gives us a second chance (and a third, and a fourth…do you see a pattern here?)  Peter is a great hero for any believer who has ever failed.  He is the premier example in God's Word about hope; hope for a new start, hope for complete forgiveness, and hope in the God of the ‘second chance.’

Start at the beginning when Jesus calls Peter along the shores of the Sea of Galilee in Mark 1:16-20, Peter could easily be observed as loud, brash, direct, and hard to intimidate.  He was probably strong and big.  As a businessman he was very good at what he did and appeared to be a successful fisherman.  Those around him looked upon him as a natural leader who drew people's loyalty.  But from Christ's perspective this man he chose was also selfish, unclean, outspoken and stubborn; all that combined to make him a bully.

But Jesus changed Peter!  As we read the chapters that capture Christ's ministry with the disciples we see that once Jesus began to teach Peter, and whenever Peter was in Christ's Presence, he was different.  Jesus transformed his life, and as a result, Peter was to go out proclaiming that life transforming message.

Peter had walked with Jesus every day, continuously exposed to the wonders of God in a human body.  Imagine being with Jesus who never lost His temper, was always righteously indignant over things that took glory from God; who never cared about Himself, but instead gave Himself to everybody else; who was totally consumed with helping others, even to the point of fatigue; who loved everyone impartially; who possessed such power that He could raise the dead, heal any sickness, give sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. Can you even imagine what that was like???

Peter was being tutored by Jesus every day.  But sometimes in weakness, forgetting about Christ's Presence, Peter would go back to what he was like before.  This is the battle you and I face daily.  That is why you and I must totally trust God and walk by faith daily. 

Please come Sunday and let’s walk with Peter to see how he grow his faith.

Make Every Day Count!

Barry