The Power of Desperation
This message builds on the previous week's message, The Power of Desperation. What you tolerate you will never change! Ask yourself four key questions: What are you tolerating? Why are you tolerating it? What are your options? What will you do about it?
This is pretty powerful stuff. However, never underestimate the challenge of bringing about lasting change in your life. Habits are very powerful. Some of us have been living a certain way for many years. Change will take radical transformation. It is beyond us, yet requires our will in order for God to release his power to help us.Peter - A Paradigm for 21st Century Believers
We can learn much about the process of transformation from the life of Peter. Peter met Jesus and became a disciple. He heard Jesus' teaching and saw lives changed. He was used to minister to people in the Spirit's power despite his own carnality. Jesus is now on his way to the cross. At this very moment of crisis and opportunity, Peter, as well as the other disciples, failed in three areas:Serving
Jesus is about to face death and ironically, the disciples are worried about their status (Lk.22:24-27). Power, influence and image dominate their thinking, not service. Jesus taught them about serving once again. They must have felt ashamed and rebuked, and rightly so. They still were totally self-focused and more concerned about their own prominence than in serving people.Prayer
Jesus and his disciples move on to the Mount of Olives where Jesus began to pray because of the significance of this hour (Mk.14:32-42). It is a time of severe trial, so he urges them to pray with him. Jesus is sorrowful and troubled. Three times they fell asleep and did not pray as Jesus had asked them to. They could not even pray with Jesus for one hour in his most desperate season. Can you imagine the sense of embarrassment and failure they must have felt.Evangelism
Peter told Jesus that he would stand with him and never disown him (Mk.14:27-31). However, when Jesus was arrested, all the disciples deserted him and fled (Mk.14:50). Peter stayed nearby. He then denied that he even knew Jesus three times. When he heard the rooster crow and realised what he had done, he went out and wept bitterly (Mk.14:72). He was ashamed to even admit his relationship with Jesus. Imagine the feelings of failure, frustration and shame.
Then Jesus suffered a cruel death and everything they had placed their hopes in was shattered. Jesus then rose from the dead and they encountered him personally. What was Peter feeling? What was next for him? Could he be forgiven for his failures and ever have a chance again?
Peter went back to fishing (Jn.21). After a miraculous catch of fish, Jesus meets with the disciples but more specifically Peter (Jn.21:15-19). Jesus asked Peter three times whether he loved him. In doing this, Jesus was restoring Peter, checking his heart and calling him to pastoral ministry. This was a crucial moment for Peter. Would he go back to his old ways and his old life? Or would he take this second chance and follow Jesus all the way.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter and the disciples obeyed Jesus' instruction to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit, which they received on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Amazingly, Peter became a man of prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 6:4. 1 Pet.4:7), a bold witness for Jesus (Acts 2:14-36; 3; 4:31; 5:40-42. 1 Pet.3:15) and a servant. Peter "morphed" from Simon, an unstable fickle man, to Peter, a strong solid pillar for God's house.Making it Personal
Peter's story is recorded to show us the human frailty of a man God used mightily and how God changed him so that we can have hope for God to do the same in our lives. Peter's life is a testimony to the fact that we can change! We can move from frustration and failure to fulfilment and fruitfulness. This is our inheritance and the intention of God for our lives.
Jesus is encountering us right now, showing us his power, checking our hearts and seeking to restore us. Do we love him more than our old familiar ways? Do we truly love him more than anything else in life? He is coming to us and repeating his call and his question. Will we change? This is a moment of crisis, opportunity and destiny.
If we respond, he will fill us with his Spirit and his power. He will enable us to live a life of prayer and powerful evangelistic witness. The impact he has called us to have is beyond anything we have ever experienced before or dreamt of. But, like Peter, our hearts must be broken, humble and dependent.Sample Discussion Questions
- What does it feel like to fail? Describe some of your thoughts or emotions when you've let yourself or God down. The aim here is to help people identify with Peter.
- What can we learn about God's heart toward us when we fail by observing Jesus' response to Peter's failure? The aim here is to show people God's love and patience toward us, yet his continued work to bring about change in our lives.
- As a church, we have established prayer, evangelism and serving as priorities for this year. Have we changed or improved in these areas? If not, why not? What can we do to truly change and be all God has called us to be? The aim here is to have people focus on our church community and what we as individuals can do to help it respond to God's call to us.
- The infilling of the Spirit had a major affect on Peter's life. Can we expect the same today? The aim here is to lift people's
- expectation that there is "more" to be experienced in God if we will seek him with all our hearts.
- What are some ways we can keep growing and changing once the emotion of this moment is gone? How can we not only "hear" God's word to us but also "keep" them before us (see Proverbs 4) until we become different? Talk about some practical ways to renew our minds and reinforce change through the establishment of new Godly habits that replace our old way of living.
Finish by praying for one another that as they work through their list of things they've been tolerating, they will be encouraged by Peter's life that they really can change.