Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

John The Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, 5th Sunday After Pentecost

Volume 5 No. 292 June 26, 2015

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St. Peter and St. Paul - Painting from the St. Peter and St. Paul Syriac Orthodox Church, Southfield, MI
St. Peter and St. Paul
Painting From St. Peter and St. Paul Syriac Orthodox Church
Southfield, MI

Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

I. This Sunday in Church

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 28)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_5th_sunday-after-pentecost.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (June 28)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_5th-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

4. From Malankara World Journal Archives

Malankara World Journals with the Theme: St. Peter and St. Paul

Volume 4 No 225: June 27, 2014
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_225.htm

Volume 3 No 149: June 27 2013
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_149.htm

Malankara World Journals with the Theme: Birth of John The Baptist

Volume 4 No 251: December 5, 2014
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_251.htm

Volume 2 No 112: Dec 6 2012
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_112.htm

II. Saint Peter

5. Inspiration for Today: Peter's Command

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. - 1 Peter 3:8

6. Peter's Old Simon Nature Revealed

The biography of Peter - just as the one of David - teaches the true character of old human nature. Jesus had just admonished Peter in John 21:15 for comparing himself to others. Yet after this admonition, Peter takes his eye off the commission Christ gave him, takes his eye off of Christ and asks how his commission will compare to that of John's. ...

7. Most Embarrassing Moments: Lessons I Learned from Bumbling Peter

What was my most embarrassing moment? Combine my brash disregard for tradition, my total lack of tact, my predilection for clumsiness and the possibilities for humiliation are endless. The longer I live, the longer the list. But I draw a great deal of comfort and hope from the life of Peter: his screw-ups and his terrible case of foot-in-mouth disease give me hope. ...

III. Saint Paul

8. Who Was Paul and How Should We Understand His Epistles?

Besides Jesus, no single figure was more influential in the beginnings of Christianity than the apostle Paul. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, 13 are attributed to Paul. Take a look at a Bible map showing the missionary journeys of Paul, and you will be astonished to see the territory he covered - not just geographically, but culturally as well. ...

9. What is Godliness? Paul's First Letter to Timothy

It is clear that when the Apostle Paul focused on the practical life of the church, the godliness of the people was of intense concern. Of the fifteen occurrences of godliness in the New Testament, thirteen are in the brief span of the Pastoral Letters (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), with a whopping nine in 1 Timothy alone. ...

IV. John, The Baptist

10. The Greatness of John the Baptist

John the Baptist is a great example of what it means to be ordinary. Fact is, there is much greatness in being ordinary. Even though John felt he was not worthy to untie Jesus' sandals, Jesus did turn round to say of him, "Among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist" (Matthew 11:11)...

11. Facing Failure: What We Learn From John The Baptist

When I grow up, I'd like to be like John, the Baptizer. How is it that he was able to take those lovely words upon his lips? What was it that prompted him to be able to look past the failure and see the hope? John enumerates three reasons for his confidence, and they are a help for us today, as we face the dilemmas and failures in our lives. The first principal is found in John 3:27. The authority of heaven precludes rivalry. John said a man can receive only what is given him from heaven. No person can receive more than God gives. ...

12. About Malankara World

Foreword
This week and next, we remember several apostles and saints in our church.

June 24 - Birth of John The Baptist
June 29 - St Peter and St. Paul
June 30 - 12 Apostles
July 3 - St. Thomas, the Guardian Saint of Malankara
July 5 - 70 Disciples (Luke 10:10-20)

So, as the sun warms up in North America, and slowly starts to cool down in Australia, with the graduation ceremonies peaking, we have our plate full with church feasts, Family Conferences, Vacation Bible School (Now they are called Vacation Bible Camps), family vacations, etc. etc.

In this issue of Malankara World, we recall three Saints - John the Baptist, the forerunner of Messiah, St. Peter, who holds the "Keys to the Kingdom" and Chief of the Apostles and St. Paul who is, without doubt, the greatest evangelist. [This Sunday's Gospel reading is on Jesus feeding the 5000. Since this miracle was covered in earlier issues of Malankara World Journal and in the Sermons Collection, we will not cover it in this Journal to keep it within the space limits.]

What is special about these three saints is that they are very different from each other; but they provide us an opportunity to learn from their lives. Three people, entirely different in their background, but blessed because of their dedication, faith and obedience to God.

John the Baptist, is perhaps the most difficult to emulate. He is the perfect example of submission to God. He probably was very knowledgeable about the history of Jewish people, the covenants entered by God, and theology from his father Zechariah who was a senior priest. John knew his mission and role; he faithfully executed them. In that sense, he was surreal. He knew his role was to introduce Jesus and then slowly fade into the background, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). This is easy to say and hard to do. It is a mission that is doomed to fail, something that is difficult to imagine for us who are brought up in a generation where everything is based on succeeding. The article "Facing Failure: What We Learn From John The Baptist" by Alan J. Meenan is a must read. The article goes in depth about what John the Baptist went through and his true greatness. Rev. Meenan concludes:

"John, the Baptizer, relies on what is truly important in life. Unless you are in Christ, it is terrible to see other people achieve the prize on which you have set your heart. It is terrible to live in a world that sometimes deals out devastating disappointments. With Jesus, though, we recognize that we have everything we need in Him. As the gospel song says, "The things of the earth grow strangely dim in the life of His glory and grace. For we recognize we are with Christ." Ultimately that is the only thing that matters."

Then we come to everyone's favorite, St. Peter. We can identify with St. Peter because we can see us in what St. Peter did. He was emotional and very human. He was impulsive and talked without thinking and later regretted saying it. But he was genuine. That is why Jesus gave him the "keys to the kingdom." Peter insisted he will rather die than part with Jesus. He drew his sword out to protect Jesus at Gethsemane. But when Jesus was being tried by the High Priest, Peter denied knowing Him. He took the easy way out as we often do. When Peter realized what he did, he was heart broken. He ran away crying. Peter was a completely broken man! He was remorseful for his actions and ran away without having the courage to face Jesus or see him crucified. Jesus knew Peter; he knew that Peter had his heart in the right place. He knew He can trust Peter to execute His plan after His resurrection. That is why the angel told the women on Easter morning:

"Go, tell His disciples - and Peter - that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you." - Mark 16:7 (NKJV)

See the emphasis on Peter. He still held the "Keys to Jesus' plans."

Peter and John ran to the sepulcher to investigate when the disciples were informed that the sepulcher was empty on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:12, John 20:2-9). Peter could not wait to meet his Lord when Jesus appeared to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21). They were fishing; the boat was quite far from the shore. When John told Peter that "it is the Lord" (John 21:7) on the shore, Peter could not wait to go to shore on the slow boat with others; he jumped into water and swam to Jesus! We can feel the excitement of Peter to meet Jesus! He was a new person! Peter was reinstated by Jesus to the mission. He served as the leader and a faithful disciple of Jesus till his death by crucifixion like his master. No more back pedaling! We can identify with Peter, an ordinary fisherman with all human failures. In Peter, we see why "God Loves a person with a contrite heart" (Psalm 51:17). The article 'Most Embarrassing Moments: Lessons I Learned from Bumbling Peter' by Julie Barrier tells us why St. Peter is so likable.

Then there is St. Paul. He was a Roman citizen, quite knowledgeable about the scriptures. As Saul, he felt it is right to persecute Christians because they deserved it! - beats the ISIS people of these days.

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. - Acts 8:3 (NKJV)

Then Saul had the "encounter with the resurrected God (Acts 9:3-22). Saul heard Jesus asking him:

Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" Acts 9:4 (NKJV)

This is interesting! Jesus didn't ask Saul why he is persecuting Christians. Jesus asked him why he is persecuting Jesus! It is personal. When you harm even the smallest of the followers of Jesus, Jesus makes you accountable for it! It is persecution of Jesus!

Paul was fully transformed after meeting Jesus. We see the fastest turnaround in faith in case of Saul. Like Peter, he also gets a new name, St. Paul.

Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
- Acts 9:20 (NKJV)

If Saul was the chief persecutor of Christians, St. Paul was the greatest evangelist for Jesus Christ! From the time of his conversion, Paul's life was one of almost constant travels punctuated with a few periods of staying in one location for a time. In the article, "Who Was Paul and How Should We Understand His Epistles?" Mel Lawrence says,

"Besides Jesus, no single figure was more influential in the beginnings of Christianity than the apostle Paul. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, 13 are attributed to Paul. Take a look at a Bible map showing the missionary journeys of Paul, and you will be astonished to see the territory he covered - not just geographically, but culturally as well..."

We are remembering these 3 stalwarts of Christianity, who left their indelible mark on the history of Christianity this week. They were very different, with different missions. What made them who they were was their faith and obedience and willingness to die for what they believed! Yes, I love St. Peter!

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

PS: Due to lack of space, we don't have any General Articles like Health, Family or Recipe in this issue of MWJ. Next issue is a special on St. Thomas. The General Articles will return with issue 294.

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 28)
Sermons for This Sunday (June 28)

From Malankara World Journal Archives

Saint Peter

Inspiration for Today: Peter's Command

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. - 1 Peter 3:8

Though Christians cannot always be exactly of the same mind, yet they should have compassion one of another, and love as brethren. If any man desires to live comfortably on earth, or to possess eternal life in heaven, he must bridle his tongue from wicked, abusive, or deceitful words. He must forsake and keep far from evil actions, do all the good he can, and seek peace with all men. For God, who is all-wise and everywhere present, watches over the righteous, and takes care of them. None could or should harm those who copied the example of Christ, who is perfect goodness, and did good to others as his followers.
(Adapted from 1 Peter 1:1)

A Thought to Keep

If we're busy practicing Peter's exhortation, we have less time to be offended when our brother inevitably stumbles. Likewise, grace will be there for us when we fall short of perfection in this life.

Source: Beyond Sunday

Peter's Old Simon Nature Revealed

by Ralph Bouma

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me (John 21:20-22).

The biography of Peter - just as the one of David - teaches the true character of old human nature. Jesus had just admonished Peter in John 21:15 for comparing himself to others: "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." Jesus addressed Peter as Simon, son of Jonas, his old nature name, to remind him of where he was before He gave him the surname Peter. Yet after this admonition, Peter takes his eye off the commission Christ gave him, takes his eye off of Christ and asks how his commission will compare to that of John's.

Peter had confessed his transparency, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee" (verse 17), when Jesus asked him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" Here the phrase "lovest thou me," as in the original, means, "Hast thou any affection or attachment to Me?" Three times Peter had denied his Master, and his Master challenged Peter's love three times.

See how Peter's affection was questionable as he followed Jesus afar off as we see in Luke 22:55: "And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them." He was warming himself by the fire built by the enemies of Christ. The Lord Jesus had reason to question his affection for Him.

Peter had denied any attachment to Jesus before Jesus' enemies as we see in verses 56 to 58: "But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not."

See why the Saviour's question went to whether Peter could even claim any affection for - or attachment to Him - after that third denial. We read in Matthew 26:74-75: "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew."

Our text begins with the word Then. Our Lord had just convicted Peter's conscience of his base, boastful pride in thinking he loved Jesus more than the other disciples. Jesus had just told Peter that he should glorify God by dying the death of the cross, admonishing Peter to follow Him. Verse 19 says: "This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me." We must die the death that Christ died as we read in Romans 6:10: "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God."

What a revelation of human nature is this? Peter had just been fully restored into communion with his Lord in the presence of Christ after such a base denial. Peter had just been bidden to follow his Master in the way of the cross with his conscience reproved for his pride, admonished of dying to the flesh, yet in our text we find Peter taking his eye off from Christ, and comparing himself again with John.

Is this not true to our character by nature - even after we have had such blessed communion and revelation from Christ, that our human nature right away wants to focus on the things of the flesh.

When Jesus told Peter, "Follow Me," this is what Peter pretended he could do as he said in Luke 22:33: "And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death."

Because Peter thought he could do this in his own strength, Jesus told him in verse 34: "And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." Do we understand that to follow Jesus in the way of the cross, to crucify the flesh, that we need the grace of God to do this? It is by enabling grace that this can be done. When the Lord Jesus says, "Follow Me," we should immediately turn to Him and say: "Help me. Deliver me from the power of the flesh and sin. Give me enabling grace to be able to do this."

However, Peter had learned his own weakness in the flesh, so when his Lord Jesus says, "Follow me," it is to test the genuineness of Peter's love. After he became converted, his love was immediately put to the test. Instead of having his eye fixed on Christ, his eye is still wandering. This is true in our lives as we must fight every day to crucify the old man of sin, the old impulses and desire for sin. We have to pray daily for the Lord to deliver us from ourselves.

Our Lord had just taught Peter that to follow Him as He taught His disciples in Matthew 16:24: "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." The first step toward following Christ is to deny ourselves. Peter had such a struggle with that one. Denying ourselves means to put the will of God ahead of our wills. That means we put our fellow man ahead of ourselves.

Following Jesus is to be conformed to His death as well as to His image. Jesus cautioned Peter that he was not able to follow Him until after he was converted. Some people mistakenly try to make conversion and the grace of God one and the same thing. Conversion is a lifetime thing, a daily change from being strong in ourselves to being helpless in ourselves and strong in Christ. Conversion is one and the same with sanctification. It is a progressive work of grace.

Peter certainly possessed grace, but he still needed conversion. All of us who possess grace need continued conversion, a continual change of attitude and growth in grace. We must be conformed to Christ's death and also to His image. We cannot be conformed to His image without being conformed to His death, dead to sin and all that is of the flesh.

Jesus cautioned Peter that he was unable to follow Him until he was converted. John 13:36 says, "Simon Peter said unto him, 'Lord, whither goest thou?' Jesus answered him, 'Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.'" Peter had to understand what it meant to be crucified in the flesh, that his proud self had to be crucified. You cannot follow Christ in the way of the cross until you are converted, until the Holy Spirit makes you a new man and works in you the work of self-denial.

Our text reveals that even after conversion the old Simon still remains. Galatians 5:16-17 says: "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." This is a continual battle as long as we are in the flesh. God forbids us to do what flesh would entice us to do.

Even after Peter's conversion, after Jesus had convicted his conscience for comparing himself with others, John's love for Christ is again at issue in Peter's heart.

At the beginning of this Gospel, our Lord and Saviour is seen in the bosom of the Father as Peter recalls John in the bosom of Christ at the supper. We read in John 1:1-3: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." We see that bosom relationship between Christ and the Father, and Peter recognized that same bosom relationship between John and Jesus, and this troubled Peter.

After Peter had received his clear commission from Christ, yet he suffered rebuke from Christ for being a busybody in other men's matters. That old Simon nature raised its head. Jesus told Peter not to pry into Jesus' will or Jesus' or John's business. You have your commission and instructions. You are told to follow Me.

That verse has been a consolation to me when I see what others are doing. The Lord tells me not to concern myself about what He is doing in the lives of others. He has told me my commission clearly. This helps me keep my focus on the commission God gives me to do.

Peter needed to learn the fallacy of this principle by his own experience so he could teach it for you and me to observe as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:15-16: "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." Peter equates being a busybody in someone else's matters with being a murderer or a thief or an evildoer. Peter learned this by the prick of his own conscience. Yet, if we suffer for being a Christian, we are to glorify God for this.

It is so natural to our fallen nature to be quick-sighted abroad, but shortsighted at home. We see evil in others but fail to see it in ourselves. This is what Jesus cautioned of in Luke 6:41-42: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye."

There is a fine line between Peter's vain curiosity into other men's matters and Cain's arrogance recorded in Genesis 4:9: "And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?" Satan loves overreaction. However, we see in Galatians 6:1 that those who are spiritual should restore one overtaken in a fault. We are not to totally ignore the evil that others do. We must restore them in a spirit of love.

This spirit of Cain ("am I my brother's keeper?") has become Satan's cold atmosphere that dominates society today. This is so frightening. People will not help restore others taken in a fault. It is total democracy, where everyone has the freedom to do his or her own thing. However, we are responsible for our fellow man as far as helping and restoring them. See what we read in Ezekiel 33:8-9: "When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul." This is not making ourselves busybodies in others' matters. Satan wants us to either be busybodies in other people's matters or to not be our brothers' keepers. Yet, we have a responsibility to our fellow man if we see him committing a sin. We must warn him.

Cain's uncharitable selfishness as well as Peter's curiosity about other men's matters must be seen as an admonishment as the one found in Song of Solomon 1:6b: "They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept." We must not neglect our own business trying to run the affairs of others.

Our Saviour's rebuke to Peter, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me" (John 21:22) was to correct this tendency in Peter. Peter was neglecting the commission Christ gave him and was concerned about John and what commission Christ had given him. This is being a busybody. John was not sinning. He was following Christ.

In principle this is what Jesus taught in Luke 13:23-24: "Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are." Is it any of our business how many people the Lord will save? We are not the judge of who is going to be saved. Our primary concern should not be what the Lord's will is with others, but what His will is for us personally. Why do we pry into the Lord's secret will?

The bottom line of any glory Christ receives from His disciples is being our first love. Jesus had just gone over this with Peter in John 21:17: "He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" The Lord Jesus Christ must be our first love. Where are our affections? What are our attachments? We read in Colossians 3:2-4: "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."

The reason Christ commands us to take up our cross and follow Him is because our flesh and carnal affections must be crucified. Can we give ourselves into the hand of the Lord and trust Him? Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-26: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."

We must ask ourselves: Are we Christ's? Have we crucified the flesh? Is the will of our Lord our strongest attachment? If we love Christ, why is it so? We read in 1 John 4:18-19: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us." Do we see that Christ's love for us is eternal? That is why we love Him-because He first loved us.

We can be quite religious, yet lack love as a motive. Yet, if we love Christ, we find it necessary to crucify the flesh. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:14: "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead."

As we conform to the image of Christ–living in the Spirit of Christ–our love for Christ reveals itself by our attitude and actions. Psalm 40:8 says: "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." When the law of love is in our hearts, our affections are not centered in self.

Genuine love for Christ is the first essential qualification for those who are commissioned to feed the flock of Christ. Ezekiel 34:1-4 says: "And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them."

This tells us what a heavy responsibility it is to lead the flock of Christ. We must strengthen the diseased, that is, those who have spiritual faults. Peter, when he was converted, could then help others by coming down to their level and telling them he knew their problems because he had been where they are. He understood the power of sin, but he could tell them to turn to Christ and be saved.

Can you imagine approaching a pastor and asking him to go with you to help a member return to the church and the pastor say that he did not want him back? This is what the Lord is talking about here, those pastors who will not seek the lost.

Peter fell and denied his Lord, but Jesus prayed for him that his faith should not fail. Therefore, he was restored to his official ministry. Of Judas we read in Acts 1:20: "For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take." Judas was not restored to his ministry. Peter fell, but Judas fell away.

Christ's intercessory prayers – seeing we love Him because He first loved us – is our only foundation to believe we will never fall fatally. He intercedes for us. Those intercessory prayers are the everlasting arms that are underneath us that keep us from falling away. Though we fall, we have hope. We return and plead the blood of Christ. However, we are admonished to strive to enter in at the strait gate. Even though we have His intercessory prayers we are not to fatalistically fall through the cracks.

Most Embarrassing Moments: Lessons I Learned from Bumbling Peter

by Julie Barrier

What was my most embarrassing moment? Combine my brash disregard for tradition, my total lack of tact, my predilection for clumsiness and the possibilities for humiliation are endless. The longer I live, the longer the list. But I draw a great deal of comfort and hope from the life of Peter: his screw-ups and his terrible case of foot-in-mouth disease give me hope.

Where shall I begin?

Like Peter, my mortifying moments never ended.

I taught an entire marriage conference session with my fly down sporting stripey Fruit-of-the Looms for all to see. Fortunately, we were in Greece, so the congregation thought my wardrobe malfunction was a new American fashion trend. Soon after, I visited the little girl's room during a youth choir rehearsal break and forgot to turn my wireless microphone off. Oh no!!! One spring Sunday morning, I wailed away on my B-3 rock organ for three services with my shirt inside out and nobody even told me. I guess I wouldn't have minded much but the tag had XL in enormous letters on the back.

One sweltering June afternoon, our church rock band played a water park gig in L.A. Suddenly, the wave machine dumped two gallons of water on my leopard print leggings. They became transparent! I crawled behind the drummer and grabbed a nearby beach towel. I still cringe!

One sizzling July afternoon, I stood to conduct an orchestra the size of Nebraska for a city-wide outdoor patriotic event. The blistering heat in the ballpark caused the shellac to peel off the $15,000 cellos. I raised my baton on the towering podium and realized that the short red, white and blue skort I sported so distracted the audience, some forgot to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner. I guess I was “spangled” enough!

I sold my best friend's handmade Christmas present for fifty cents at a yard sale. Guess what? My friend was sitting right next to me. I forgot I had received it from her. Then I gave a lovely wooden salt and pepper shaker to our head deacon's wife for Christmas. She opened it, glared back at me and reminded me that she had given it to me last Christmas. Bad for business.

I confided to a young pastor that the marriage manual we were required to use for our conferences was really, really lame. He let me know that his father-in-law had written it. Oops. I probably shouldn't have called the Women's Missionary Union ladies “biddies.” Awkward. The worst was the day I hugged a friend and told her how sorry I was that her husband was having an affair. He hadn't told her yet. The list goes on. And on. And on.

That's why Peter's feet of clay mean so much to me.

Peter, the apostle was not alone in his uncanny ability to say and do the wrong thing at the wrong time on a daily basis. Jesus took his awesome threesome (Peter, James and John) up to the Mount of Transfiguration to rejoice with Him on the greatest day of His life: the day He shown with heavenly glory, talking with Moses and Elijah. (Matthew 17:1-9) Instead of reverently worshipping in silent humility, Pete piped up that they should build three memorials and invite the crowds to view the supernatural spectacle. Father God shut him up. "This is my Beloved Son. Listen to Him." (v. 5) Way to go, Peter.

Jesus confided in His beloved twelve that He had come to earth to die. "Oh no, not you, Lord!" "Get behind me Satan," Jesus retorted. (Matthew 16:23) Oops. Peter just affirmed Jesus was the Christ and the very next second he's the mouthpiece of Satan. How humiliating!

Christ needed comfort and support in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Mark 14:37-38) Jesus was weeping and Pete started snoring. Wounded Jesus looked for his buddy the night of His trial and Peter denies Him like a yellow-bellied coward. Wow.

Peter's three-time denial of Jesus was a new low…even for him! (Mark 14:66-72) The rooster crowed and Peter cowered. The coward!

Peter was embarrassed, humiliated, mortified. But his story wasn't over. Jesus wasn't finished with him. And he's not finished with you or me either.

Jesus patiently came alongside Peter at the seaside as the disgraced disciple chomped on his McFish sandwich. (John 21:16) How remarkable! Peter had forsaken his holy calling post-crucifixion, and had returned to his stinky angling profession.

Jesus still didn't shame Peter. Instead, Christ affirmed him by entrusting him with a life-long pastoral ministry. He called him to be a shepherd, just like the Him, the Good Shepherd Himself.

The fact that Jesus gave Simon Peter grace instead of condemnation is a great encouragement to me. I still marvel that after his bloopers, his missteps, even his denial, Jesus restored the crusty fisherman and prepared Him to spearhead the Christian church.

As I recall my multitudinous misspeaks and missteps, I am no longer surprised by my feet of clay. I know that God loves me in my broken state, and I trust that He will patiently continue to conform me into His image. I need His love, understanding and forgiveness. I've walked in Peter's shoes. And so have you.

That's why Peter writes, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Source: Live It Devotional

Saint Paul

Who Was Paul and How Should We Understand His Epistles?

by Mel Lawrence

Besides Jesus, no single figure was more influential in the beginnings of Christianity than the apostle Paul. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, 13 are attributed to Paul. Take a look at a Bible map showing the missionary journeys of Paul, and you will be astonished to see the territory he covered - not just geographically, but culturally as well.

He was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, and he became an impassioned member of the Pharisees (Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:4-5; Acts 23:6). He came from the city of Tarsus, grew up in the midst of Greco-Roman culture, and was a Roman citizen. This remarkable background meant he was able to speak the gospel into urban settings. He was comfortable in Jerusalem, but also capable of moving into places like Crete, Greece, and Rome. His adaptability was amazing. He spoke with magistrates and philosophers and trades people.

His strong views about faith in Christ were most certainly tempered by his dramatic conversion. In the New Testament there is no more radical story of personal change than the story of the young man who was drafted by his fellow Pharisees to actively investigate and prosecute the early followers of Jesus. He stood by as the first Christian martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death. But while traveling to Damascus in Syria to find and arrest more of Jesus' followers, he had a supernatural encounter with Jesus and would soon undergo the utter change of mind and heart, which in his epistles he describes as conversion or repentance.

It wasn't easy for the other apostles to accept this persecutor in their midst, much less endorse him as a teacher. But with the passing of years, Paul eventually set out on his first great journey with a few close companions in tow.

There is quite some variation in the epistles of Paul. Four are called his "prison epistles" because he wrote them from prison (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon). The stress of being in prison comes through at points. For instance, while writing the epistle to his dear friends at Philippi, he believes he may be close to execution.

Of these four, one is written to one person about a runaway slave (Philemon), whereas another, Ephesians, seems to have been written for a whole region of churches.

Three of the epistles, written very late, are usually called "the pastoral epistles" because they contain instructions to Paul's companions Timothy and Titus on how to protect order, harmony, and correct teaching in their churches. Not surprisingly, these are epistles that church leaders look to in shaping ministry roles in congregations. The qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1), for instance, describe essential leadership character and are easily applied in our own churches today.

Romans is a powerful, comprehensive description of the whole of the gospel. It covers creation, sin, redemption, and eventual restoration. The special issue of righteousness and grace is emphasized in Romans, as it also is in the epistle of Galatians. First and 2 Corinthians offer great insight into an apostle trying his best to respond to tensions in a troubled church, to challenge bad values, and to call people to action. There is a special poignancy in 2 Corinthians as Paul describes his own hurt through the efforts of those trying to discredit him, and his anxiety about his relationship with the Corinthian church. Here we see the humility of Paul, even as he describes himself as unimpressive in physical appearance and unremarkable as a public speaker. Now that is astonishing to read! The apostle Paul, a so-so preacher.

What should we bear in mind as we read and try to comprehend the epistles of Paul?

In order to understand the epistles of the New Testament, we must begin with context. Every epistle was written to a specific audience and for a specific purpose. If we dig around, we can figure out what false teaching the book of Colossians is countering, what slavery looked like, what family life was like, what the features of the culture were at the time. Then we can ask: "What universal and timeless truths is the author drawing on, truths that apply to us today?"

We may not "greet one another with a holy kiss" (Rom. 16:16) today, but Christian grace and civility still apply. First Peter 3:3 recommends not wearing gold jewelry because in that culture it was ostentatious to do so. Today, avoiding ostentatiousness still applies, though having a gold ring or a gold cross does not rise to that same level. Having elders oversee the ministry of churches today still applies, although having one man appoint them (as Paul instructed Timothy to do) isn't typically the method of selection that is used.

The epistles extend the richness of Holy Scripture, and they remind us once again that the word of God is truth in relationship.

Source: How To Understand The Bible by Mel Lawrence

What is Godliness? Paul's First Letter to Timothy

by R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell

It is clear that when the Apostle Paul focused on the practical life of the church, the godliness of the people was of intense concern. Of the fifteen occurrences of godliness in the New Testament, thirteen are in the brief span of the Pastoral Letters (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), with a whopping nine in 1 Timothy alone. Since the Pastorals are the last of the old apostle’s letters, the matter of godliness is naturally charged with final urgency.

For Paul godliness is no static, stained-glass word. It is active - kinetic obedience that springs from a reverent awe of God. It is the Isaiah-like action that has a man, awestruck by God, rise from his face saying, "Here am I! Send me" (Isaiah 6:8). Awe - then action! Godliness is not piety as we generally think of it - upturned eyes and folded hands. Godliness cannot be cloistered. The godly among us are those people whose reverent worship of God flows into obedience throughout the week. Only God-struck doers of the Word can rightly be termed godly.

Furthermore, true godliness is rooted in the mystery of Christ. The last verse of 1 Timothy 3 sings about this:

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16)

Jesus is the essence and wellspring of godliness. He lived in godliness, and now as ascended Lord he gives us godliness. Godliness is not external but is the inner power to live a godly life (cf. 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Peter 1:3). The mystery of Christ makes godliness possible. Jesus strikes us with awe and then enables active obedience.

In the following paragraphs (1 Timothy 4:6-10) Paul lays out the correct approach to godliness - which he describes as coming through diet and discipline.

Diet for Godliness (vv. 6, 7a)

Paul first addresses the matter of a good spiritual diet: "If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness" (1 Timothy 4:6-7).

Reject bad doctrine. Essential to a health-giving spiritual diet is rejection of junk food, here described as "irreverent, silly myths." The trash that was coming from the false teachers was "irreverent" in that it was radically opposite to what is sacred. In calling it "silly myths," Paul issued a sarcastic insult, seen frequently in Greek philosophical polemics, meaning "limitless credulity" - they would believe anything. What a concoction it was! The primitive history of the Old Testament was overlaid with ridiculous legends, its genealogies were given absurd symbolism, and then it was sugarcoated with demon-inspired asceticism that promised spiritual superiority through sexual and dietary abstinence. Junk teaching! Reject it, says Paul.

Dine on good teaching. Positively, Paul encourages Timothy to "put these things before the brothers." In doing so, he tells Timothy, "you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in [literally, "nourishing yourself in"] the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed" (1 Timothy 4:6).

Timothy is to be continually feeding himself with the content of the gospel and apostolic teaching. Significantly, this nourishment in the Word was essential to Timothy’s being "a good servant." The word "servant" here could also be translated "minister." A good diet makes a good minister. The most effective ministers have been those who persevered as students of the Word. Paul is repeatedly adamant about this to Timothy. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2).

Source: Taken from '1-2 Timothy and Titus: To Guard the Deposit' by R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.

John, The Baptist

The Greatness of John the Baptist

By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSP

Scripture:

Isaiah 49:3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
John 1:29-34

A kite was consumed by envy of the eagle. "How come he can fly so high? Everyone admires him and no one admires me." One day the kite sees a hunter and calls out to him to shoot the eagle. The hunter replies that he would need to add some feathers to his arrow for it to reach the eagle. The kite pulled one of his best feathers and gave it to the hunter. That was not enough to reach the eagle. So the kite pulled another and then another and yet the arrow was not quite able to reach the eagle. Before long all the kite's best feathers were gone and he was no longer able to fly. The hunter simply turned round and shot the kite as his catch for the day. The moral of the story: envy and jealousy consume the person who harbors them before the person for whom they are harbored.

There is a difference between envy and jealousy. Envy is dissatisfaction with what belongs to us and coveting what belongs to another. We can envy people for their looks, their possessions or their relationships, wishing we could take their place. Jealousy, on the other hand, is the fear that what is ours may be lost to another. Both envy and jealousy rob people of their inner peace as they devise ways to eliminate the person they perceive as standing in the way to their personal fulfillment.

Looking at the way things are in our world today, it would seem that envy and jealousy are normal human traits. But the example of John the Baptist shows us that true personal fulfillment and greatness lies not in how we may compare with others but in how faithful we are to our God-given roles in life.

How many people like to hear that the person who succeeded them is doing better than they did? Nobody. Here John is a rare example. John started the Kingdom of God movement. Jesus succeeded him as leader of the movement after Herod imprisoned John and had him executed. Yet whenever John speaks of Jesus he speaks of Jesus as better than him. He describes Jesus as the bridegroom and himself as only his best man (John 3:29). Notice how he introduces Jesus to his own disciples in John 1:29-30:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, "After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me" (John 1:29-30).

As a result of this endorsement, two of his disciples left him and followed Jesus (verse 37). These were the first disciples of Jesus according to John's Gospel. John summarized his whole attitude to Jesus in one statement: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

Why is John so content and satisfied with playing the second fiddle rather than vying with Jesus for the limelight? It is because he knows exactly the reason for him being in the world. He knows why he came into this life: "I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel" (John 1:30). Because he knows why he is here, John can tell when he has done his bit. He can tell when it is time to hand the baton to another. Why did you come into the world? What is God's plan for your life? If you do not have a personal answer to this question, chances are that you will spend your life chasing after everything and nothing, in a rat-race of envy and jealousy with those you perceive as better than you. Instead of living and working in harmony and cooperation with others, people who do not know the reason for their being are often driven by rivalry and competition.

But look at the flowers in the field. Some are shrubs and some are herbs, some are red and some are white, some are yellow and some are blue; yet all of them are beautiful. The poinsettia, the daffodil, the rose, all are beautiful because they have their different purposes. As we come to the long period of Sundays in Summer, let us have John the Baptist before us as a great example of what it means to be ordinary. Fact is, there is much greatness in being ordinary. Even though John felt he was not worthy to untie Jesus' sandals, Jesus did turn round to say of him, "Among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist" (Matthew 11:11).

Facing Failure: What We Learn From John The Baptist

by Rev. Alan J. Meenan

Gospel: John 3:22-30

A coach was offered a position with a football team that had suffered a very bad season with a prior coach. When he accepted the position, the new coach was given two sealed envelopes. He was told that if the season opened badly he was to open the first sealed envelope. This happened, so the new coach opened the first envelope. Inside was a note from the previous coach that said, "Blame everything on me." It went on to say that in the event that things did not improve, he should open the second envelope Things did not improve, and the coach opened the second envelope. Inside this one, was a note that said, "Prepare two envelopes."

Scientists make great discoveries and develop inventions by a process of hypothesis and experimentation. It is permissible to fail many times in order to finally arrive at a place of success. Why is it that scientists get away with that, but politicians never do? If politicians hypothesize and experiment unsuccessfully, either they are generally out of a job, or their head is cut off. The punishment depends on where they live and what the year is. Failure continues to be one of the great dreads of our age. We live in an age of frustrated ambition and empty promises. We live in a society, so success-oriented, that it encourages and breeds the fruit of uninhibited self-interest and bold self-assertion. Competitive living is part and parcel of the American life.

Our story today is refreshing in its loveliness. In it, we stumble upon a person. John the Baptizer is assured of a task well done, accepting of his station in life and joyful in celebrating the popularity of another person. His words come as a glad beacon in the dark night of our souls. In John, Chapter 3 verse 30, he utters the words in reference to Jesus Christ, "He must become greater, I must become less."

Now I want to take that statement and set it against our conditioned life styles. Here is John, the Baptizer, facing ignominy, failure, and defeat yet in it seeing the hand of a loving God. By any conceivable standard, John, the Baptizer, was a solid success. Crowds followed in the wake of his popularity! In verse 23 of this passage, we read, "Now John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water and people were constantly coming to be baptized." The Gospel goes on to tell us that crowds came to him from Jerusalem, from all Judea, and from every region surrounding the Jordan. This is fascinating. He didn't beg them to come. He didn't advertise in the Los Angeles Times or a local radio station. He didn't announce brief services, short sermons, and special music in order to get them to come. They were not cajoled. They were not bribed. They were not enticed. They just came. Tens of thousands of them just came. John attracted all kinds of audiences. On one hand were the soldiers, publicans and sinners. On the other hand were the Pharisees, the great names in theological circles and the Sadducees, the scientific intelligencia of the day. People of every social class were clamoring to be baptized. People's lives were being transformed. People were being changed by the power and the grace of God. This was no cheap meretricious revival. These were real conversions. People were turning away from the power of Satan to embrace the service of the living God. By any standard imaginable, John, the Baptizer's ministry would be considered a supreme success.

Then one day everything changed. Another preacher appeared on the scene, a young carpenter from Nazareth. In a moment, the crowd that once surrounded John, the Baptizer, had gone. John found himself standing on the banks of the Jordan watching the crowd dwindle. Even some of his own disciples left. I wonder what he must have thought, as he watched them dissipate and disappear. I wonder if he thought, with some degree of resentment, that he had sacrificed everything for his life's work. He had become a hopeless dweller. He had given up comfort, ease and security. He had given up human love. He had given up the possibility of children. Now, all he faced was failure. Even his disciples sensed the injustice saying in verse 23, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - well, he is baptizing and everyone is going to Him." In effect, they are saying, "It doesn't seem fair John, after all that you have done and given up, that these people would leave you and go to Him."

Indeed, John might have been incensed at Christ's popularity. He might have been disparaging of Christ's work. He might have belittled his rival's achievements. He might have been torn apart by jealousy, as thousands of others have done with far less cause. However, even though his heart ached, he stood before his disciples and resolutely declared his confidence in God: "He must become greater, I must become less."

When I grow up, I'd like to be like John, the Baptizer. How is it that he was able to take those lovely words upon his lips? What was it that prompted him to be able to look past the failure and see the hope? John enumerates three reasons for his confidence, and they are a help for us today, as we face the dilemmas and failures in our lives.

The first principal is found in John 3:27. The authority of heaven precludes rivalry. John said a man can receive only what is given him from heaven. No person can receive more than God gives.

This simple principal calls for the final ultimate authority of heaven in our lives. If a new teacher, colleague, office worker or in John's case, preacher, is winning more followers, it is because God is granting success to that person.

Dr. Spence, an American preacher, was once very popular. His church was full. As the years passed, though, the crowd began to dwindle. Right across the road from his church, a new young minister was attracting the crowd. One evening with a small gathering in his church, the doctor looked at his little flock and asked, "Where have all the people gone?" There was embarrassed silence, and finally one of the church leaders spoke up. He said, "I think they've gone across the street to hear the new minister." Dr. Spence was silent for a moment and then he smiled and said, "Well I think we ought to join them, don't you?" So he descended from his pulpit and led his little congregation across the street to the new minister. Dr. Spence understood that the authority of heaven precludes rivalry!

If we insist, as many within the Christian church seem to do, that only success comes from the hands of God, we will have a Biblical problem. How do we explain Elijah hiding in the cave wishing that his life would be taken away from him? How can we explain Jeremiah's ignominious death in an Egyptian dungeon, if only success comes from the hands of God? It is a weak and anemic theology, the so-called 'prosperity gospel.' It is not a Biblical doctrine! As Job said, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord."

Many years ago, a beautiful, young woman pinned all of her hopes and dreams upon a certain gentleman in her life. Like so many others, it didn't work out. I remember looking into her teary eyes, hardly knowing how to comfort her. Through her tears she looked at me and said, "Alan, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." She's got Job's concept. If you and I were to accept that both success and failure comes from the hands of God, we would be spared such jealousy and resentment. That is why John is able to say, "He must increase, I must decrease." He must become greater and I must become less. John understood that the ultimate authority of heaven precludes rivalry.

Now look at verse 28. He says there, "You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.'" John understood that the call of God upon his life was for a specific task. He was to be the herald. He was to be the forerunner. He was to be the voice crying in the wilderness. He was not to be the leading person. John realized the limitations of the talents God had lovingly given him. Questions of precedence were of no importance to John, the Baptizer. So often, this is a cancer within Christian fellowship. John's only goal was to bring glory to his redeemer. He realizes that the person who does the work is of no consequence. The only important thing is that the work is done.

The great nineteenth century English Parliamentarian, Lord Shaftesbury, expressed this well. He said, "Perish all things so that Christ might be magnified."

Lord, where shall I serve today
And my heart flowed full and free.
He pointed to a tiny spot and said,
Tend that for me.

Oh no, said I, not there. Not anyone could see.
No matter how well my task was done,
Not that little spot for me.

But He smiled as He spoke to me tenderly,
Little child, look at that heart of thine,
Are you working for them or me?
Bethlehem was a little place, and so was Galilee.

John, the Baptizer, understood that we are called for a specific task.

Finally, John declares his friendship with Christ. In verse 29, he says, "The Bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine and it is now complete." What is John saying by referring to himself as the friend of the groom? The friend of the groom had a particular responsibility on the wedding evening. His duty was to guard the bridal chamber. He was to open the door only when he heard the voice of his friend. Once he heard that familiar voice and let the groom in, he went on his way rejoicing. His task was complete. Why? The groom and the bride were together! The lovers could consummate their love. John understood this, and he did not begrudge the groom of the bride. He didn't say, "I'm not sure if I'm going to let you in after all." No. It was with a glad heart that he swung open the door to welcome the groom. Then, he happily and willingly faded out of the scene.

John introduces Jesus to Israel. Is that not the great task of the church today? In this barbarian age, we are called to introduce Jesus Christ to the people of the world. Once the task is done, we are to fade into obscurity.

One of Charles Wesley's greatest hymns begins:

Jesus, the name high over all

but the last two verses are:

His only righteousness I know
His saving grace proclaim.
'Tis all my business here below,
To cry behold the lamb.

Happy, if with my latest breath
I can but gasp His name
Preach Him to all and cry in death,
Behold, behold the lamb.

John, the Baptizer, relies on what is truly important in life. Unless you are in Christ, it is terrible to see other people achieve the prize on which you have set your heart. It is terrible to live in a world that sometimes deals out devastating disappointments. With Jesus, though, we recognize that we have everything we need in Him. As the gospel song says, "The things of the earth grow strangely dim in the life of His glory and grace. For we recognize we are with Christ." Ultimately that is the only thing that matters.

Arnold Pratter once told a story about his dad. He was a senior on the high school football team. It was the game of the year against their archrival. In the middle of the game, the ball came sailing though the air right at him. He tried to catch it, but it hit his chest, and he fumbled it. The other team picked up the ball and scored a touchdown. Arnold's team lost 14 to 7. He was overcome with shame, and he thought he let his teammates down. So he waited in the locker room until everyone else had gone home. Then, very quietly, he gathered up his stuff and walked out into the evening darkness. There he saw someone waiting. It was his dad. His father walked up to him, put his arms around him, and said, "Just thought I'd wait and walk home with you." And together, in the darkness, they walked home.

In our world of disappointment and failure, there are times when we feel that we cannot face the world, our families, our friends or our life. We're overcome with shame and discouragement. There stands one waiting for you, and He is eager to place His arm around you and say, "Just thought I'd wait for you so we could walk home together." His name is Jesus Christ.

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